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Old Jul 25, 2019, 6:39 PM
Jeconk Jeconk is offline
Join Date: Jul 2019
Posts: 1
Default Lack of Communication in order to pad flight time stats: Return Flights: 1550/3798 (original)/ 4256 (bumped to) on June 28, 2019

Outbound Flights: 4404/823 on June 21, 2019
Return Flights: 1550/3798 (original)/ 4256 (bumped to) on June 28, 2019

Our extended family of 8 traveled to St. Lucia from June 21 - 28. The flights down were wonderful and no problems developed. Our return on June 28 became a nightmare however. Part of this was no fault of American Airlines but the worst part of the day could have been avoided by your gate agents in Miami. We were to fly from UVF to MIA and then to CMH. We had over a two hour layover in Miami.

Our flight (1550) out of St. Lucia was fine until we were put into a holding pattern due to traffic in Miami. (Not AA’s fault). This caused us to land 30 minutes late into Miami. After disembarking, we made our way to passport control & customs. This is where the nightmare started. The lines for the passport control were extremely long and did not move very fast. (again, this is not AA’s fault.). We got in line a little before 6:00 p.m. and did not reach the passport kiosks until 6:17. (timestamp). It then took us until 7:00 p.m. to get through the customs part of the line and to baggage claim. (of course our flights baggage claim was all the way down from the exit to connecting flights).

At 7:00 p.m., we reached the American Airlines connecting flight luggage check in and turned our bags into the attendants. (who were not very helpful). Knowing that we had a 7:35 p.m. flight, we asked them to call the Gate and let them know we were on our way. (don’t know if they did or not). We then had to wait in another line to get through the TSA precheck that was moving slow (not AA’s fault). One of our bags got pulled for additional screening at the pre check and it took five minutes before they had a TSA agent check the bag. The first four of the 8 members of our party took off for the gate while the other 4 waited for the bag check.

It should be noted that we did not get out of the TSA precheck area until 7:20. The precheck area is near Gate 26 and we had to go to Gate 60. We had my 78 year old mother in law with us and I have a herniated disk in my back which makes walking fast impossible. (even using Skytrain). It didn’t really matter how fast we walked as the Gate 60 staff had already given our seats away.

Here is where this disappointed us with American Airlines service: The first four of our group made it to Gate 60 for Flight 3798 at 7:24 p.m. after getting through all the immigration, customs and TSA. They were informed that the flight was closed and they could not board. It was still outside the 10 minute window before the 7:35 scheduled flight. (in fact the flight officially has been listed as leaving at 7:34 p.m., which is earlier than the scheduled time…)

When they asked what could be done, the agent said that they could see about getting us on the next flight to Columbus which was leaving at 9:35 p.m. They check and, surprise, there were exactly 8 seats left on the later flight! Coincidence that 8 of us missed Flight 3798 and now there are 8 seats left on the next flight?? (don’t think so….they gave away our seats PRIOR to the 10 minute deadline.)

We were then placed on Flight 4256, the later flight. We did not get into Columbus until after midnight and had to arrange for a different ride home since our original 10:30 ride was not available. In addition, my mother in law’s carry on bag, which was gate checked for flight 4256, ended up being damaged beyond repair during the flight (lock and zipper completely ripped off.). Would that have happened if we had been on Flight 3798? (maybe, maybe not…)

Now let’s add more insult to the story…. We rechecked five pieces of luggage at 7:00 p.m. at the American Airlines connecting flight desk. FOUR of those five pieces of luggage made it on to Flight 3794!! (the fifth one ended up on our later flight). So our luggage made the flight, but the people did not!!

So now that the whole story has been told, let’s look at some questions:
1.) How can luggage make a flight that leaves in 30 minutes (and leaves earlier than scheduled) without the people associated with the luggage?
Isn’t it against TSA regulations for baggage to travel on a plane that the owners are not on?
2.) What would have happened if there had not been another flight that night? Our luggage would be in Columbus and we would have had to stay in Miami, without it.
(American almost had to pay for 8 people's lodging and food, all for saving five minutes of being late.)
3.) The holding pattern affected many flights and it made a lot of people late getting into Miami. Wouldn’t your gate agents know this and be checking to see if late comers might have been on one of those flights and know of the back-ups at Passport & TSA?
4.) Did the agents at Connecting bag check in contact the Gate as we asked to inform them of the issue and that we may be late? If they did, then the gate agents at Gate 60 messed up again.
5.) Why did the agents at Gate 60 give away our seats so quickly and so early knowing we were in the terminal and fighting to get through security?
6.) Coincidence that there were exactly 8 seats left on the later flight and we were bumped out of 8 seats on the earlier flight??
7.) Would my mother in law’s carry on bag have been damaged beyond repair had we been on Flight 3798? (no way of knowing...but doubtful)

Flight 3798 will go down on AA’s stat sheet has leaving early and will help pad your on time % at the expense of travelers delayed due to no fault of their own. That is not something to brag about….

The holding pattern for Flight 1550 as well as the long lines at passport control, customs and the TSA pre check ARE NOT the fault of American Airlines, BUT AA gate staff should know these things were happening and looked into latecomers itineraries.

As a result of this mess, my sister in law and her family have said that they will never fly American Airlines again if there is a choice. I had worked to get her to take American for this trip, but that appears wasted. (back to Southwest & United for her.) She also knows someone else who was on flight 3798 and she found out from them that the customers who came on board and took our seats (7A, 7B, 7C, 8A, 8B, 8C, 9B, 9C) came on at 7:10 p.m.

Please note, this has nothing to do with the crews on our flights. Each crew member on the planes were wonderful and positive.

The most important thing that American Airlines can do from this incident is to learn and improve. Better train your gate agents in Miami to look at the entire situation regarding late comers. Was their flight delayed, are there long lines in passport control, customs and TSA that is causing the lateness. If these conditions exist, then slightly delay flights so that people (who have already been through 2+ hours in lines), can make their flights.

I have filed a complaint with AA Customer Service, but we got what appeared to be form letters from AA since much of what was on my letter was exact wording on my sister's letter from AA. (In a follow up letter, they swear it was not form letters.)

AA response to my letter was basically an attempt to put the blame on everyone else....the Air Traffic controllers, Immigration and Customs Agents, TSA, the crowds and us.....but not accepting or acknowledging anything wrong on their end. I sent a response back after the first letter from AA stating that we did not blame the TSA or Immigration officials but there were things that American could have done differently instead of trying to improve their on time stats for a flight that has been late 65% of the time in the last two months. My response from AA to that letter was basically a reiteration of what they said before and basically saying our whole complaint is a "he said, she said" issue. It appeared to be very degrading toward me because I am not buying their excuses.

It's funny, at no time have I asked for compensation from them but they act as if I am....

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