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Old Jun 8, 2011, 9:12 PM
nycjimmy nycjimmy is offline
Join Date: May 2011
Posts: 2
Default Cancelled flight (0255) - lost trip - 05/25/11

My wife and I bought round-trip tickets from NYC to Rio de Janeiro for Wednesday, May 25th 2011, with the return date being Monday, May 30th 2011.
We wanted to take advantage of the Memorial Day holiday, so both of us asked for 2 extra days off at work, so we could visit my family in Rio, Brazil.
Our flight (0255) was scheduled to depart at 9:30pm. Approximately 30 minutes before boarding time, I noticed the panel said "flight cancelled" and the flight got rescheduled for the next morning at 10am. No announcement was made.

(It's important to say how carefully we planned all the trip, since it would be a short 5 day visit for an important family gathering. Because of this first delay we were already losing one day in Brazil (Thursday). We chose AA because the flight would leave on Wednesday at 9:30pm, which allowed us to go to work on that day and, flying at night, we would be landing in Rio really early in the morning on Thursday and could take advantage of that extra full day. Same thing for the return flight; we'd leave Rio at 8:40pm on Monday, which would allow us to enjoy the last day in Brazil and go straight to work from the airport on Tuesday morning.)

We were sent to a line at the ticket counter, where we spent 2 hours waiting with no food or water provided, to be given taxi vouchers from and to the airport next morning. We get on the taxi and go back home, and are asked to give the car company a call to book the taxi for the next morning, which we did right away. At 7:15am next day, the same company calls us saying that they wouldn't be able to pick us up because the car was broken (at the airport we found out they gave the same excuse to several people), and that we should call another car service and that AA would for sure refund us for that ride. When we tried to get a refund for the taxi ride at the AA ticket counter, the woman tells us they only give vouchers and there are absolutely no way to refund us for that. Another $45 lost, on top of the $50 dinner at the airport the night before while waiting for a flight that didn't take off. At this point, we were already losing one day in Brazil and $100.

We board the plane around 9:30am, and at 10am - the time we were supposed to take off - another delay is announced: we should take off at 11am, because luggage from passengers who decided to take different routes the night before had to be taken out of the airplane. Well, I don't understand why they didn't do that in the 12.5 hour gap they had between the 2 flights! Wait for 200+ people to board the plane and then do that?! Didn't they have the whole night and morning to do this? Anyway, we didn't take off until 11:30am, so there was another hour and a half extra delay (14 hours total).
About one hour into the flight, a man gets seriously ill and the pilot decides to go back to the JFK airport in NYC. We understood that was an emergency and someone could die at any moment so, even though that added to our frustration, there was really nothing else we could do.
We land back in NYC, and are told by a flight attendant (by the way, the rudest one I've ever seen in any airline. Unbelievably rude) that they were just going to refuel the plane and we'd take off again immediately. However, after a few minutes, the pilot announces that upon landing all tires blew up and the plane didn't pass inspection to fly again. They tell us we will have to switch planes.
Again, we are sent to another huge line that barely moved, where we waited about 3 hours this time around. We overheard that they were trying to re-book passengers for the next day, but most likely 2 days later - which wouldn't make any sense to us anymore, since we were already losing one day of a 5 day trip - so we decide we were gonna cancel the entire trip. I get out of the line and go to the counter to politely ask if we still had to wait in line if we don't want to fly anymore and just need to cancel our tickets. The seemingly annoyed woman just looks at me and nods, even after I asked a second time just to make sure. She didn't say a word; just nodded both times. It turned out that no, we didn't have to stay in that line for 3 hours!! We could do the cancellation at any time over the phone, from home etc.

While we understand that delays and unexpected emergencies can happen, we fail to understand how AA handled this whole ordeal. For a plane to blow up all tires upon touch-down, it has to be heavier than it should, which means the pilots miscalculated the amount of fuel that had to be dumped (I have an uncle and 2 friends who are pilots, so I'm not too ignorant in the field).
To try to put passengers on another flight 2 days later (especially after all that had already happened) is not only disrespectful, but in our case it was just useless.

We lost 2 days of work, money, time, nights of sleep and, most importantly, didn't go to my family gathering at all.
By the way, this was going to be a especial family event, with some relatives who hadn't seen me for about 10 years, and also my younger brother's Birthday and the very first time my whole family would meet my wife in person.
On top of all that, my middle brother, who lives in the south of Brazil with his wife and 2 kids, had bought 4 non-refundable flight tickets for them just to go meet me in Rio. That was another huge loss.

And now, 2 weeks later, I am struggling to get a refund from AA.
I went to the Travel Center in Manhattan on Friday, May 27th, and a refund was apparently issued with no questions asked. The lady told me I should see the money back in my account within 48 hours. Until now, I got nothing.
It takes me roughly an hour an a half of a working day for me to go this Travel Center, which I have done twice already. For a trip that never happened.
Even though I paid with a debit card, the lady insists I didn't get the money yet because of my card's billing cycle. Billing cycle for a debit card/bank account?! And she wants to argue with me when I keep telling her that was not a credit card, but a debit one.
So I go to my bank, which happen to be just across the street, and talk to the manager. Yes, there is no such thing as a billing cycle for a debit card and/or bank account. He says I didn't get the refund simply because AA hasn't processed it yet.

What's so wrong with this airline?? Why would they keep treating customers like that?

I've already sent a detailed letter to them, and also emailed them today about my unsuccessful attempts to get a refund.
They would have to give me more than just a refund not to lose a customer(s). The losses are big on many levels.
Old Jun 11, 2011, 8:01 AM
jimworcs jimworcs is offline
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Shropshire, England
Posts: 3,197

For a plane to blow up all tires upon touch-down, it has to be heavier than it should, which means the pilots miscalculated the amount of fuel that had to be dumped (I have an uncle and 2 friends who are pilots, so I'm not too ignorant in the field).
I agree that AA handled this badly and you were the victim of very unfortunate circumstances. However, I don't agree that you can conclude the pilots miscalculated the fuel. Almost all long haul flights take off at weights that are above the weight at which they can land, due to the weight of the fuel itself. The unexpected need to return to JFK for an emergency would have presented the pilots with a dilemma. Depending on the aircraft, they may have had to burn off fuel circling, which takes time whilst a passengers life s potentially in jeopardy or dumping fuel, which not all aircraft can do. At at some point they would then have to make a decision to land, perhaps "heavy".

It is tempting when something goes wrong to throw the kitchen sink at the airline...and include everything. I think it s a mistake... The pilots may well have been trying to save someones life, and you accuse them of miscalculating the fuel is misguided and unfair.
Old Jun 13, 2011, 2:48 PM
nycjimmy nycjimmy is offline
Join Date: May 2011
Posts: 2

I sincerely apologize if I made any wrong assumptions and/or accusations.
I must say, though, that I wrote that after talking to a good friend of mine who is a professional pilot, and I gave him information about the time we had flew and the distance we were from the airport, and also about the kind of aircraft we were in.
Again, I apologize if I'm wrong in any way.
Also, in my report I was clear that I was aware someone could die and there was nothing we could do but to respect the pilot's decision. For that, I respect and admire his decision. That was not the issue.
However, nothing else justifies the way AA handled and has been handling this case, let alone the beyond unacceptable behavior of some of its employees.
Old Jun 14, 2011, 6:11 AM
jimworcs jimworcs is offline
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Shropshire, England
Posts: 3,197

I agree, AA handled this very badly and you were very poorly treated.
Old Jun 16, 2011, 5:01 AM
EdwinGv EdwinGv is offline
Join Date: Jun 2011
Posts: 1

I think we should all have travel insurance policy like trip cancellation to help us in times like this.

Get travel insurance Australia to have peace of mind during trip!
Old Jul 1, 2013, 11:23 AM
allwrappedup allwrappedup is offline
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 3
Default Travel insurance

Travel insurance does not cover alot of airline cancellations and its really hard to it get an honest/acceptable reason why the flight is cancelled so that the travel insurance will cover the problems...but insurance problems are posted on another site!!!

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