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View Full Version : Do I have a valid complaint, or should I drop it?


Simon08
09-17-2009, 12:34 AM
My DH & I had booked flights to Costa Rica for our anniversary, flying Chicago-Miami-San Jose on a Tuesday with American Airlines.

ORD-MIA left on time, then spent 30 minutes circling Miami because of weather conditions and another 45 min. on the tarmac playing pick-a-gate before we could finally disembark. We ran to the other side of the terminal (fortunately we don't check bags) so we wouldn't miss our connection.

When we got to the gate we found 100+ angry people and two clueless gate attendants. Apparently all flights to SJO that day had been delayed or canceled (4 planes sent away due to mechanical problems). Our plane (due to board any minute) wasn't going anywhere since they 'didn't have a part, didn't know when one was coming'.

So we waited.. We spent 2 hours sitting at the gate waiting for updates, while the gate attendants laughed at other upset guests (many of whom had been there 12+ hours) and refused to get their manager. Finally at the time we were supposed to be landing in CR we're told that they're taking a part from another plane and need some time to install. More waiting, then we finally board and sit for another 30 minutes. Pilot comes on almost an hour after we boarded to say we're waiting for a little more fuel, should be coming shortly. Finally after spending 3 hours sitting in a terminal and 2 on the plane we take off and land safely in San Jose.


From what I've read here, everyone seems to be experts on picking battles. I was not financially inconvenienced, though if the flight had been cancelled we would have missed a 3 day pre-paid hotel/tour/transportation package. Our flight landed in time for us to get 4 hours of sleep at the hotel before our package van picked us up, it should have been several hours' more rest. It was an extremely stressful way to start our trip, but I supposed it would have been worse if the flight had been canceled completely.

Beyond the delays, I was shocked at the lack of customer service by the gate attendants as well as flight attendants (no extra drink or meals were offered, no blankets to be found), and we were treated as an inconvenience through the entire process. Everyone working for AA seemed to think the whole situation was hilarious. I work for Hilton so I understand that it can be hard to deal with guests when the situation is out of your control, but I expected a little more respect or sympathy for the excessive delays and zero communication.

Should I even bother contacting AA about this, or is it a waste of time since I did not pay out of pocket for the inconvenience?

The_Judge
09-17-2009, 01:51 AM
It's been a while and maybe Mr. Butterfinger can verify this but if memory serves correctly, if an airline can't get you to your destination within 4 hours of scheduled arrival time, you are owed cash compensation in the way of 200% of that leg. Rarely used rule but I think that's what it says. Hopefully, he'll come and correct me if I'm wrong.

PHXFlyer
09-17-2009, 02:01 AM
It's been a while and maybe Mr. Butterfinger can verify this but if memory serves correctly, if an airline can't get you to your destination within 4 hours of scheduled arrival time, you are owed cash compensation in the way of 200% of that leg. Rarely used rule but I think that's what it says. Hopefully, he'll come and correct me if I'm wrong.

That's only when the passenger has been involuntarily denied boarding due to oversale. This was a delay. I'd say it is worth sending an e-mail or writing a letter. At the very least you'll get a cut-and-paste apology and at the most perhaps a few miles or a modest denomination voucher.

Simon08
09-17-2009, 03:08 AM
Thank you both, I appreciate it!

Gromit801
09-17-2009, 05:16 PM
I think you have something. You can't make any claims where the weather played an issue, but the mechanical delays are a legitimate gripe. Yes, planes break down, but in this case it sounds like AA didn't deal with it properly.

jimworcs
09-17-2009, 11:54 PM
Your rights are limited in this regard.... and they don't really care. You might get some vouchers, but that means flying with them again. This complaint is typical though.. it is not so much even about the delay as about the attitude of the staff...

They exacerbate the situation and make the whole experience even more stressful that it needs to be...

AirlinesMustPay
09-26-2009, 01:13 PM
For an international flight, under Article 19 of the Warsaw Convention you are entitled to damages for delay from the Airline. You had no out-of-pocket expenses, although if you were delayed in an airport and if you had bought, say a cup of coffee or a sandwich this would be an out-of-pocket expense however small. However you are entitled to damages for inconvenience which would be the hastle and lost sleep at the start of your holiday. There are ways of calculating a monetary value of such damage, but usually the airline offers miles if you complain.