View Full Version : Canceled / Delayed / Overbooked How far can I go with this complaint?

Rising Falcon
Jan 17, 2011, 5:48 PM
I had a horrible experience with AA this month. I had a trip planned with my parents and little brother to go to Colombia to visit some relatives that was originally meant to start in December but, was delayed until January 1 thanks to that massive snowstorm that hit Dec 26. So our trip was shortened so that we would be spending five days over there instead of almost two weeks. That was annoying but not AA's fault.
So after that everything went along smoothly we had fun hanging out with relatives and meeting new people. The trouble started on January 6, the day that we had originally planned to leave and had bought tickets for over six months in advance. We got up early and checked in our bags at around 5 or six am. The plane was sent to leave at 8 am. At around this time everything seemed to be proceeding smoothly. We came to the airport with a few relatives who wanted to wish us off so we all waited in the little waiting area together just outside the gates. A little over fourty-five minutes before the plane was set to leave we headed for the gate with tearfilled goodbyes and passed through the door to start the immigration process.
This is where the trouble started. A man who worked for the airline (I have no idea what he does because later on he gave very conflicting answers) came after us and told us we were late for the plane. He then seized our tickets and passports and stalked off, keeping us waiting for fifteen minutes. Keep in mind that he gave little explaination and that the security guard who had checked our passports did not say anything. So after he gave us back our tickets and passports we started rushing to go through immigration (which is going to be called DAS from here on since it is the acronym) so that we could get back home. We went through the whole process in less than fifteen minutes. Then when we were mere feet from the plane the same man who took our tickets decided to chase after us and tell us that we could not get on the plane because supposedly we we too late to go through DAS. He escorted us out through the back and deposited us unceremoniously in front of the AA ticket office. All the while my mother demanded to know his name in rapid Spanish and demanded to speak with his supervisor.
When we were in front of the office, he felt secure enough to to get in her face and say that he was not afraid of her and that he would not hide from her. Ironically his name tag was partially hidden behind his tie and he was extremely reluctant to give out his name. We waited for almost an hour before one of three supervisors decided to show herself. She was also reluctant to give her name and she was the one who snidely informed us that she was the person responsibly for ordering the man to take our tickets and turn us back. The plane that we were to take was delayed, by the way, to try to remove our luggage from the plane. In that time we would have been on the plane to Miami. It was then that we were told that apparently we were required to be in the gate 60 minutes before the plane left. We were never told this when we were recieving our baording tickets. It was then that the supervisor pointed to a tiny sticker on the boarding pass saying that it was recommended, not required, to be at the gates 60 minutes early.
After two hours of bickering back and forth, with extreme reluctance on the part of the AA staff, we managed to get standby tickets for the next day. During all of this, my mom asked the supervisor if we needed to do anything special with our passports since they were already stamped and she told her no.
The next day, we go in and get the standby tickets, paying the penalty for supposedly being late when AA was the one that delayed us. This time we go in through the gate as soon as possible and found out that we were supposed to get a stamp that nullified the privoius one. In essence we had been illegally in the country since the day before. After waiting outside the DAS office for over fourty-five minutes we finally got a stamp over the old one and got to continue through the rest of the DAS process. When were finally got to the gates we waited over there until the plane left, once again without us onboard. The same supervisor from the day before told us that there were four guarenteed tickets on Monday back to Miami. Thrilled with this news we walked back, this time accompanied by other people who had been left behind. This time we filled out some paperwork regarding how we left behind and got the stamp in the passport.
When we reached the ticket office we recieved some more unplesant news. The supposed tickets for Monday never existed. Instead there were only two First Class tickets availble for Tuesday. This meant that two people might be able to leave and the other two would be stuck in Colombia. After a lot of hassle and running, we managed to get four tickets to Miami with another airline for the next day in another city. We then asked the AA representaive if we could use the half of the tickets that would take us to Boston as we had already paid for them and the other airline was willing to go along with the arrangement. AA refused to permit this, ultimately forcing us to purchase the full tickets from the from the second airline, Avianca. Ironically, the second half of the tickets from Miami to Boston were with American Airlines since Avianca does not operate within the US. So in the end we paid double for tickets back to Boston!
Currently we are trying to get a refund for the tickets because of all the trouble we went through, but I was wondering if anyone had any ideas or tip on how far we can take this.

Rising Falcon
Jan 17, 2011, 6:13 PM
Sorry that there are so many posts. My computer was having some trouble and the post didn't show up.