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Check-in / Boarding
COMPLAINT: Gate Agent Abuse & Slander

 
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  #1  
Old Nov 27, 2010, 10:16 PM
Chicago Traveler Chicago Traveler is offline
 
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My trip to spend Thanksgiving with family in Philadelphia started off with one of the worst if not the worst airline experiences in my life solely because of the abusive behavoir of one of your gate agents.

I was scheduled to travel on Weds evening November 24 from Chicago to Philly. I had made my reservation early enough to book exit row seats for myself and my family which I do whenever possible since I am 6'1" and have knees that get sore when cramped in the tighter spaces of regular coach. In fact when I had to make (expensive) changes to my trip I made sure that I kept the Emergency exit aisle for myself and my family.

Shortly before flight time I was paged to come to the ticket counter and then asked to give up my seats for some other passengers. I declined and cited that my knees get sore when cramped in the normal coach seat as part of the reason. The gate agent named Potts then slandered me, said I was incapable of operating the emergency exit and accused me of being so disabled that I shouldn't be seated in the emergency exit row simply because she wanted to deny me and my family our properly reserved seats and give them to someone of her choosing. She made it clear that she wanted to give my and my family's seat to someone else. This was highly provocative of her and I became indignant and agitated at such an arbitrary, capricious, unfair and unwarranted characterization. I told her that she was wrong and had no such right to call me disabled and walked away making it clear that I was in no way interested in changing my seats. I thought this was settled. After all I had properly made my reservations. And I am a perfectly fit middle aged man who shows no outward signs of being physically disabled in any way whatsoever. They asked me to change my sear and I said no. That should have been the end of it according to my understanding of the law and airline rules.

A few minutes later I was paged to the ticket counter a second time and told that my whole family was being reseated because they had determined that I was not fit to be seated in the exit row. This was an arbitrary, specious, capricious and bigoted decision that Potts made so she could play favorites with other passengers. She had absolutely no right to do that. I deeply resent her abuse of her position and the slander used to unfairly and unlawfully take from me something I had properly book and paid for.

When I demanded that they return the exit row seats to my other family members the gate agent started questioning me as to who was whom and I decided that enough was enough and fed up, grabbed the tickets she wanted me to take from her hand and went back to the seat where I had been waiting.

Then when I went up to board the plane I was denied boarding. The gate agent Potts then added insult to injury and again lied and falsely accused me of hitting the gate agent when grabbing the tickets from her, which I in no way did. If there is any film of this interaction it will show that. Potts then insisted that I apologize to the gate agent I had taken the tickets from or I would be turned over to the police! Obviously not wanting to miss the last flight to Philly that night on my way to celebrate Thanksgiving I acquiesced to this abusive and humiliating ordeal. The other agent then had the audacity to patronize me and condescendingly lecture me about giving up my seat as an act of kindness when I was being slandered and denied something that was rightfully mine so they could play favorites.

What they did was absolutely wrong. They unlawfully denied me of the passage I had rightfully booked, slandered me, falsely accused me of battery, threatened to call the police and falsely accuse me, and threatened to deny me boarding. In this day and age when travel is as difficult as it, they made things unnecessarily worse when they abused their position of trust. They deserve to have appropriately severe action taken. Particularly at a time when people are begging for jobs AA has the opportunity and obligation to all their stakeholders to make sure 100% of their staff is properly trained to treat their customers in a fair and appropriate manner and shun any sort of abuse such as was dealt to me and my family.

I have demanded that this Potts person be dealt with harshly. She is an overbearing, rude, bigoted, insolent and abusive sort who has no business being in a position where she's called on to be fair and impartial in dealing with people. She must reprimanded severely if not fired. I have insisted that I be copied on actions taken. At the very least she should be censured, fined subjected to appropriate retraining so that she understands that she may not abuse her position.
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  #2  
Old Nov 28, 2010, 5:02 PM
HoustonFlyer HoustonFlyer is offline
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You are not entitled as of right to any exit seat or any seat unless you paid extra for that seat. Who to put in the exit row is the agents' call. I don't think you'll get far in your call for action against the agent. I think you were quite wrong to grab anything out of any agent's hand.
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  #3  
Old Nov 28, 2010, 8:10 PM
Butch Cassidy Slept Here Butch Cassidy Slept Here is offline
 
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Is "HoustonFlyer" willing to deny that he is, really, the banned "PHXFlyer" posting under a new name? I suspect there are others who post on here who would like to know as well.
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  #4  
Old Nov 28, 2010, 11:34 PM
HoustonFlyer HoustonFlyer is offline
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Originally Posted by Butch Cassidy Slept Here View Post
Is "HoustonFlyer" willing to deny that he is, really, the banned "PHXFlyer" posting under a new name? I suspect there are others who post on here who would like to know as well.

Am I PhxFlyer? Now let's see. If you are owing him money and you are ready to pay up, then I'm him. Otherwise, I'm not.
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  #5  
Old Nov 29, 2010, 1:38 PM
stevicus stevicus is offline
 
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Originally Posted by HoustonFlyer View Post
You are not entitled as of right to any exit seat or any seat unless you paid extra for that seat. Who to put in the exit row is the agents' call. I don't think you'll get far in your call for action against the agent. I think you were quite wrong to grab anything out of any agent's hand.
If that's true, then why would the agent have to ASK him to give up his already assigned seats? If the airline made a promise to reserve an exit row seat for this person, then they're required to fulfill that promise. An individual airline employee deciding all on her own to break that promise for whimsical reasons is not defensible.

The only disagreement I have with the OP is that I would have let "Potts" call the police. I would have said to the gate agent: "Go ahead, call the police. Since I'm not guilty of any criminal acts, I have nothing to worry about, but you should be advised that filing a false police report IS a crime for which YOU can be held accountable."

As a taxpayer, it galls me that airline employees would even THINK of calling the police for such frivolous reasons. They're blatantly wasting limited police resources because of their own refusal to keep their own airline's promises. The police have far more serious crimes to deal with than the "crime" of a passenger arguing with an airline employee.

If they had called the police, then I would say that "Potts" should be dragged out of the airport in handcuffs and spend a few days in jail. Maybe a few lessons like that, and airline employees might think twice before calling the police unnecessarily.

I also find it interesting that airline employees would be so quick to call the police before speaking to anyone in their own chain of command. The highest ranking airline management-level employee at the airport should be called first and arrive on the scene to either override or endorse the gate agent's decision BEFORE any calls to the police are made.

That's what seems to be missing here. The airline should be required to utilize all of its own resources first, before calling in "outside help" to settle a dispute with a passenger. The highest-ranking airline manager should be there on the scene to handle things, since the police have far more important things to do than to do the job of an airline manager.
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Old Nov 29, 2010, 8:34 PM
mars6423 mars6423 is offline
 
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The only thing is, grabbing something out of someones hand can be seen as assault/battery since the person didn't give you consent or motion of consent (such as reaching hand out to transfer object) but in most cases this isn't a big deal

but onto this story......dont listen to houtsonflyer.....and stevicus it isn't a false report if you believe something happened and that it can be questioned and in this case grabbing pass out of employees hand can be a crime

but these employees are completely in the wrong, and were abusing any and all power they have just so that they feel important and in power. However due to privacy laws and company policies chances are you will not find out what happens with the employees

You said you traveled with your family in a exit row seat, many airlines require that an individual must be a certain age to sit their in case of emergencies, so maybe this was another reason, but the excuse they gave was poor at best, and you shouldn't be moved due to the reason provided

Send a letter to the DOT (there is a link in the quick links tab) and let them know about this, not sure if anything will happen but let them know about this
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  #7  
Old Nov 30, 2010, 3:32 AM
HoustonFlyer HoustonFlyer is offline
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Originally Posted by mars6423 View Post
..... dont listen to houtsonflyer.....
Can't you post your response without having to say who not to listen to?

You're contradicting yourself. Yes it's assault, no it's not, Grabbing from an employees hand can be a crime, No the employees are completely in the wrong.

Perhaps you should focus on learning a little punctuation. And OMG, really, who doesn't know how to spell "Houtson"?
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Old Nov 30, 2010, 4:52 AM
mars6423 mars6423 is offline
 
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Good job it's called a typo it happens

And how is that contradictory? Yes it can be considered a crime and yes the employees shouldn't have acted like that ....two separate things so not contradicting......and some judges may not hear a case or prosecutors or cops just won't do anything about it like a write up, they will just resolve the problem at the scene but technically it can be a crime that can be punished but in many cases wont

This isn't a report or a paper lol loosen up

They can listen to you all they want but it seems from whatyou have posted that the airlines and employees are never wrong
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Old Nov 30, 2010, 2:33 PM
stevicus stevicus is offline
 
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Originally Posted by mars6423 View Post
The only thing is, grabbing something out of someones hand can be seen as assault/battery since the person didn't give you consent or motion of consent (such as reaching hand out to transfer object) but in most cases this isn't a big deal

but onto this story......dont listen to houtsonflyer.....and stevicus it isn't a false report if you believe something happened and that it can be questioned and in this case grabbing pass out of employees hand can be a crime
You're right, but I would still call it frivolous in this case. This is not the kind of situation where the police should be called.

I used to manage group homes, and we'd get situations where a resident steals another resident's soda out of the fridge. Technically, yes, it's a violation of the law, but my experience is that when the police get called out on something like that, they're never too happy.
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Old Nov 30, 2010, 4:50 PM
HoustonFlyer HoustonFlyer is offline
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Stevicus, you need to remember that the agent did not actually call the police. It may well have been that someone realized that the situation was under control and there was no need to call in the police. At least give them credit for that and not go on and on about how wrong it is to have called the police. For a passenger to grab something out of an agent's hand is most inappropriate to say the least even if it is too trivial for the police to deal with.

The fact that the agent "asked" him to give up those seats does not mean that he is entitled as of right to exit row seats. In fact if when the flight attendant comes around and looks at who is in those seats, she can make a final decision that they can't be allowed to occupy it. If a person is unable to understand English, he can be asked to leave that seat. If he appears unable to open the door, he can be asked to leave. If he appears uncooperative, he can be asked to leave the seat.

Airline employees are trained to "ask" even if eventually they can pull rank and demand. If a passenger is in the wrong seat, the FA must "ask" him to give up the seat and show him to his correct assigned seat, and say "Thank you very much" when the passenger complies, even if the FA could have demanded it. So nothing turns on your point that the OP was asked to give up the seat.

Last edited by HoustonFlyer; Nov 30, 2010 at 4:54 PM.
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Old Dec 1, 2010, 1:19 PM
HoustonFlyer HoustonFlyer is offline
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Take a look at this which appears on the AA website


Check-In Requirements And Baggage Acceptance Cutoff Times
Customers must comply with minimum check-in requirements to retain their seats on the flight on which they are confirmed. Pre-reserved seats are subject to cancellation unless you have checked in (obtained a boarding pass) at least 30 minutes before scheduled departure. American does not guarantee to provide any particular seat on the aircraft.
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Old Dec 1, 2010, 11:31 PM
stevicus stevicus is offline
 
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Originally Posted by HoustonFlyer View Post
Stevicus, you need to remember that the agent did not actually call the police. It may well have been that someone realized that the situation was under control and there was no need to call in the police. At least give them credit for that and not go on and on about how wrong it is to have called the police. For a passenger to grab something out of an agent's hand is most inappropriate to say the least even if it is too trivial for the police to deal with.
Sure, I'm glad that they didn't call the police, but the fact that they brought it up and threatened somebody with it is just so wrong on multiple levels.

As a business, the airlines are saying, in effect, "We cause problems that we can't handle ourselves, so the only thing we can do is call the police."

And that's where most of these problems seem to stem from. Passengers get conflicting information from airline employees, and so they balk about it. Instead of getting someone in upper management involved to deal with the problem, all they can think to do is call the police. That's because no one within the airline seems to know what's going on.

Quote:

The fact that the agent "asked" him to give up those seats does not mean that he is entitled as of right to exit row seats. In fact if when the flight attendant comes around and looks at who is in those seats, she can make a final decision that they can't be allowed to occupy it. If a person is unable to understand English, he can be asked to leave that seat. If he appears unable to open the door, he can be asked to leave. If he appears uncooperative, he can be asked to leave the seat.


Yeah, I know the drill. I've sat in exit row seats before, but in this case, it was the gate attendant making the call without any justification. From the way it looks, "Potts" may have had some personal reason for doing it, which is probably why she didn't contact her own management and instead threatened the passenger with calling the police. She was probably doing something against company policy and knew it. (That's usually the case whenever someone refuses to call their manager and/or refuses to give their full name or ID # to a complaining customer.)

As the OP said, "Potts" declared him to be "disabled," but he insists that he wasn't disabled. The OP's writing reveals that he speaks English well enough, so there doesn't appear to be any valid reason for the gate attendant to override the normal channels which assured the OP that he had exit row seats in the first place.

If they're going to do something like this, then why bother having assigned seating at all?

Quote:

Airline employees are trained to "ask" even if eventually they can pull rank and demand. If a passenger is in the wrong seat, the FA must "ask" him to give up the seat and show him to his correct assigned seat, and say "Thank you very much" when the passenger complies, even if the FA could have demanded it. So nothing turns on your point that the OP was asked to give up the seat.


Yes, I would agree with this in a technical sense. Whenever you're on someone else's property, the owner or their duly-appointed representative(s) can make you sit wherever they tell you to sit (or tell you to leave the property, if necessary). But it would seem to me that if I have a document from the owner that says that I'm entitled to a seat on that airline (and they already have MY MONEY IN THEIR POCKET), then the lower-level employees shouldn't have the right to override what is already on paper. If I have a piece of paper that says I have this particular seat, then that should carry more weight than whatever these entry-level flunkies have to say.

Last edited by stevicus; Dec 1, 2010 at 11:34 PM.
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