Flights Canceled / Delayed / Overbooked

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Canceled / Delayed / Overbooked
US Airways: The Screw

 
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Old Mar 25, 2008, 1:36 PM
BITTERhooks BITTERhooks is offline
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
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I'd like to take this opportunity to express my anger, frustration, and overall disappointment with my recent experience with US Airways. I would like to start by saying my departing flight left relatively on time and with no problems whatsoever. What follows will document my multiple attempts at a return flight home.

My original flight was scheduled to depart the Kansas City International (MCI) Airport at 4:00pm on Sunday, March 16th 2008. The night before, Saturday March 15th, at around 8:00pm, I logged onto the US Airways website and was able to check-in and print my boarding pass. As I was staying about 3 hours away from the airport, I left around 11:30am the morning of my flight. At approximately 1:47pm, I receive an automated phone call from Orbitz letting me know my flight had been canceled. This is less than 3 hours before the scheduled take off time and less than 2 hours before the standard boarding time. The reason given for the cancellation: maintenance. I don't understand how less than 3 hours before a flight a plane suddenly needs maintenance. That leads me to believe that 4 hours before the flight the plane was safe and ready to go but 3 hours before it then becomes suddenly dangerous to fly. That does not inspire in me much confidence in US Airways. I called US Airways and was able to secure a seat on a 6:20pm flight heading to Philadelphia. The only "problem" is that now, what used to be a direct flight has a layover in Charlotte, NC. Providing my plane leaves on time and there are no delays, I'll have about 45 minutes to catch my connecting flight. Since I arrived at the airport for a 4:00pm flight and now have a 6:20pm flight I have a lot of time to kill in the airport. This gives me the opportunity to call the person scheduled to pick me up and let them know I will not be arriving at 7:35pm as planned but will instead be arriving around 11:55pm. I do feel bad since the person has to be up early the next day for work but at this point it's out of my hands.

With my new pick up arrangements made, I have nothing to do but sit and wait approximately 3.5 hours until my new boarding time. My boarding time comes and goes and I'm still waiting in the terminal. It's not until almost the scheduled take off time that I am finally able to board my plane. The plane is just about to take off when the captain comes on the intercom and announces there's a problem with the fuel door sensor. According to him, the door may have become jarred loose taxiing down the runway and the plane "thinks" it's refueling. He informs us that we will need to pull out of the take off queue and have maintenance take a look. After about 10 or 15 minutes the captain informs us the problem is a little more serious and we've headed back to the gate. The captain comes back on the intercom and lets us know the problem is fixed and we'll be getting underway shortly. We take off around 7:00pm and are assured by the captain that the flight should only take an hour and thirty minutes and that no one is in danger of missing their connecting flight. The plane lands and as we're waiting to head up to the gate, I'm more than slightly concerned that I'm going to miss my connecting flight. I take the opportunity to ask the flight attendant if I can still make my flight and he assures me I still have 25 minutes and should have no problem. My connecting flight is scheduled to take off at 10:15pm and since it's 9:50pm and we still haven't pulled up to the gate, I don't believe him, but can do nothing but sit and wait. We're finally able to exit the plane but an announcement is made that anyone with connecting flights scheduled to take off at 10:15pm or earlier have new boarding passes waiting for them. I'm still under the impression that if I run I can make my flight until I'm handed my new boarding pass and I've been bumped to a flight early the next morning. I'm now stuck in Charlotte until 6:40am, Monday, March 18th. I don't understand why the connecting flights were not held for an extra 5 or 10 minutes since they were the last ones out of Charlotte. I also don't understand why I wasn't given an opportunity to try and catch my flight. Maybe it was late in boarding and taking off as my flight had been. Why was it OK for my 6:20pm flight to be late in taking off but the 10:15pm flight couldn't be? I don't understand how US Airways could, in good conscience, just hand out new boarding passes, send people on their way, and offer no explanation. When exactly did US Airways become aware of the fact that many people (at least 10 -15) would need new boarding passes? If our flight just landed, when did they have the time to print them out and why weren't the passengers informed as soon as possible? I don't appreciate a member of the US Airways staff assuring me I wouldn't miss my flight when it was obviously a lie. There's either a huge breakdown in communication between US Airways, its employees, and its customers or US Airways is in the practice of routinely deceiving its customers.

After the initial shock passed, I made my way to the guest services desk to find out what US Airways was doing about lodging for the evening. Since I wasn't the only one who had missed their flight, the line was long but I finally made it to the counter. I explained my entire situation to the woman behind the counter and she smiled as she informed me the problem was due to air traffic control (which is not what the Captain explained to us) and not US Airways and therefore they would not be putting us up in a hotel room. I was also informed that my initial flight cancellation should have been taken care of by the Kansas City International Airport. I asked her why it couldn't be taken care of now since it was US Airways fault and I'm standing at the US Airways guest services desk but she told me there was nothing she could do. She was, however, able to provide me with the number for a service that aids distressed passengers in finding local hotel rooms at discounted rates. Apparently this happens so often there is an official term. Even more apparent, I was now officially a distressed passenger. Now I'm not only stuck in Charlotte but I'm expected to pay for a hotel room out of my own pocket or sleep in the terminal of the Charlotte Douglas International Airport. I opted to stay in a hotel.

I'll admit I don't travel very often by plane so I'll say I'm ignorant and maybe this kind of situation happens often. I don't think it should but maybe it does. My major complaint through all of this is the complete lack of customer service US Airways displayed to its passengers. They obviously felt no obligation to honor their agreement to deliver their passengers to their destination. If they did they wouldn't have completely canceled a flight without any backup plan. Changing a flight's status to canceled on the departure board and leaving travelers to make their own arrangements does not in my mind constitute a backup plan. I also don't appreciate how I originally paid for a direct flight only to have it changed and to not be financially compensated. Again, I don't fly that often but I'm fairly certain direct flights cost more money. I don't appreciate having a US Airways employee tell me I'm going to make my flight when he and I both know the chances of that are slim to none. I don't appreciate being told I'm on my own for lodging when through no fault of my own I'm standing in the Charlotte airport terminal at a time when I should have already been home. With a lack of customer service such as this, it is no wonder the airlines are losing money. What I don't get is how in an industry based solely on customer satisfaction, US Airways could be so far off target. I am not naive enough to think much will come out of this but I will from now on go out of my way to not use US Airways for my future travel plans.
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Old Apr 7, 2008, 10:50 PM
pbarr pbarr is offline
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 2

I am an experienced business traveler. You should add Delta to your list because your ordeal has happened to me numerous times...usually when flying Delta...POOR CUSTOMER SERVICE!
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