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COMPLAINT: Trip from Hell

 
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Old Feb 24, 2016, 3:19 PM
Decay Decay is offline
 
Join Date: Feb 2016
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Sent via email on February 10, 2016 with no response. Follow-up email on February 19 garnered a response with 5,000 miles awarded.

Dear Mr. Bentel,


Now that we have had a few days to recover from our disastrous trip on American Airlines, I can calmly describe the issues we encountered and request a response regarding the many issues we dealt with on our trip from ORD to POS via MIA (Record Locator XXXXXX).
The four legs of this trip each had their own set of issues, including flight delays, equipment malfunctions, poor baggage service, poor in-flight options, and reassigned seats, but the primary problem with this trip involved our return flight on AA 2535 on February 7. Knowing that we had a somewhat tight connection in MIA and having had bad experiences with slow delivery of baggage there that had resulted in a missed connection on a previous international flight, we decided it would be in our best interest to carry on our bags to speed our way through the airport in Miami to catch our connecting flight to Chicago.
When check-in began at POS, we were among the first economy passengers to board, having priority access. My wife and I each had a backpack that easily fit under the seat in front of us and a roller bag that we have used as carry-on luggage on multiple flights. As the gate agent took our boarding passes, we were told our carry-on bags were too large and would need to be checked. I placed my bag in the bag sizer at the gate and it fit snugly. My wife placed her smaller bag in the sizer and it easily fit. Despite this, we were told in no uncertain terms that the bags were too large and had to be checked. We complied with this order after explaining to no avail our situation and stating that the bags were indeed capable of easily fitting in in the overhead bins.
Our flight arrived in MIA at 7:01 pm. We cleared passport control and immigration and made our way to the baggage claim area. When we arrived there were no bags from our flight. We waited for our luggage, watching the clock, knowing that making our connecting flight might be in jeopardy. Slowly, bags stated to appear on the carousel. So we waited. And waited. Finally, at 8:10 pm, 69 minutes after our flight arrived, the first of our two bags appeared. And then we waited some more. Finally, the carousel stopped - without the second checked bag.
Without our luggage, catching our connecting flight was clearly not going to happen. We went to the baggage service desk to explain and were told that the gate-checked bag was still at the Port of Spain airport. Despite being checked at the gate, it had not been put on our flight.
After completing the paperwork for a missing bag, we then headed to customer service to re-book our flight to Chicago. Thanks to a helpful airline representative, we were booked on the final flight of the day to Chicago, with the caveat that the flight was at a distant gate and the chances of us making it were slim. We hurriedly made our way to the gate where we were joined by three other passengers attempting to take the same flight, the aircraft door was opened and we boarded approximately 5 minutes prior to the scheduled departure. As the last passenger to board the flight, the carry-on bag that the Port of Spain gate agent said was too large, easily fit into the overhead bin. Shortly after we were seated, an announcement was made that the aircraft we had desperately rushed to catch was still awaiting the arrival of the pilot and copilot. They eventually arrived and the flight depart approximately 35 minutes after the scheduled departure time.
It was only by chance that we were able to convince a representative to pull us out of the lengthy line at customer service to re-book us, give us TSA Precheck boarding passes, and scamper like mad through the airport to get to our gate - and the fact that the flight was going to be delayed anyway - that we were able to get home. Had the gate agent at the Port of Spain airport allowed us to carry our bags on, none of this - a wait of over an hour and 15 minutes at the baggage carousel, a missing bag, a missed flight, a fortunate flight re-booking, and a frantic dash through the Miami airport - would have been necessary.
In addition to the near catastrophe of this return flight, the following describes some of the other unpleasant experiences we had on this trip:
AA 334, January 29, ORD to MIA:
  • Our Main Cabin Extra seats that had been reserved on November 30, were reassigned to other passengers, and we were given standard economy seats. When questioned, the gate agent at O'Hare told me this was due to a change in aircraft, which turned out not to be the case.
  • The flight departed 50 minutes late due to a business class seat needing repair.
  • Although this was a mid-day flight, by the time the cabin service reached us, there was no food for purchase other than snacks.
  • The flight arrived at 4:35 pm - over an hour late - and it was not until 5:00 pm that our luggage arrived.
AA 2535, January 30, MIA to POS:
  • As boarding the flight was nearing completion, a passenger departed the aircraft. Somehow, his boarding pass for a flight to Antigua had been accepted for the flight to Port of Spain.
  • Once again the food for purchase options were very limited. I requested a cheese and fruit plate, only to be told that on a fully loaded A321, only three of these items had been stocked.
AA 2535, February 7, POS to MIA - In addition to the issues described above (forced checking of bags, extremely slow delivery of luggage in Miami, and misplaced bag):
  • After being seated, we were approached by two other passengers who had been assigned the same seats. After verifying we were in the correct seats, two other passengers de-planed. Apparently, the gate agents had attempted to give our seats to the first two passengers and had given the seats of the passengers claiming our seats to two standby passengers, who then had to leave the fully booked flight.
  • The in-seat on-demand entertainment system for our row (Row 11) did not work for the entire flight. Flight attendants were informed of this and we were told this happens frequently. Attempted re-boots of the system failed.
AA 314, February 7:
  • Due to slow delivery of my bag and the failure of the airline to place my wife's bag on our flight, we were unable to catch this, our scheduled connecting flight.
AA 234, February 7, MIA to ORD:
  • As noted above, due to the lack of a flight crew, the departure of the flight was delayed by 35 minutes, arriving in Chicago about 20 minutes late.
We would most certainly appreciate American Airline's explanation of how so many problems could be encountered on a single trip and what the airline proposes to compensate us for the flight delays, equipment malfunctions, misplaced luggage, changed seat assignments and missed flight.
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