#1  
Old Apr 10, 2008, 4:14 PM
MissyB MissyB is offline
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
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Thumbs down American Airlines, a gross INCONVENIENCE

On Friday, April 4th my husband and I were looking forward to our weekend travel plans. Joined by my brother-in-law, the three of us set out early that morning to catch our 9am flight from Dulles (IAD) to Dallas Fort Worth (DFW). As members of a wedding party, we were all expected to be present for a rehearsal later that evening. Although our plane was the first flirhgt of the day, it became apparent that a major repair had been overlooked. Intermittent updates throughout the morning gave us hope that our flight would be ready to depart: we will be ready to board after our engineers analyze the cockpit door repairs, we are contacting area airports to find the part to fix the cockpit door, the part has been located and will be delivered on a plane arriving at 1pm , ladies and gentlemen we are unable to locate the part needed to repair the cockpit door, etc.

Finally, our flight had been officially cancelled at 10:30am. With panic and frustration setting in, would-be passengers crowded ticket counters eager to book seats on any available flights. It was soon revealed that the next available flights would be departing from Reagan National Airport. Aware that we would now be late for the wedding rehearsal, we scrambled to reserve three seats on the next flight, obtain a taxi voucher and retrieve our checked luggage, we hastily made our way to DCA for a 3:30pm AA flight.

Unsure of our reservation status, we approached the counter at DCA's gate 28 to inquire about our seats. Once the AA reps realized our flight wasn't currently boarding, we were rudely dismissed and asked to come back later. After hearing that our original flight would be delayed for repairs, after having our original flight canceled, after traveling all the way from IAD to DCA, and after waiting in countless lines all morning, we patiently agreed to wait once again.

At last, we had a chance to speak with AA representative Yvette Harrington at gate 28. After verifying that we three indeed had seats for the 3:30pm flight, my husband respectfully inquired about receiving compensation for a cancelled flight. Ms. Harrington explained that a broken cockpit door was considered a safety issue and was therefore not considered an "inconvenience" worthy of compensatory damages. Without any acknowledgement that a damaged plane and cancelled flight were indeed major inconveniences, we were shocked by Ms. Harrington's inappropriately hurtful response when she said, "No, that's not an inconvenience sir, an inconvenience would be falling out of the sky."

Needless to say, we were so disgusted by Ms. Harrington's callous insensitivity towards our welfare that we will never fly with American Airlines again. Despite recent national safety inspections of AA commercial aircraft, as a consumer I would expect to receive more timely and accurate information regarding my travel plans. I urge you to consider these comments carefully before flying with American Airlines in the future.
  #2  
Old Apr 10, 2008, 5:27 PM
ChrisH ChrisH is offline
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It is unfortunate what happened to you, but understand that this was a maintenance inspections, and the flight was cancelled, in fact, for the well being of yourself, your family, and the other passengers scheduled to be on that flight. When there is a delay, due to maintenance, the airline will always supply vouchers, etc. HOWEVER, keep in mind that the agents at the gates, and ticket counters, are usually not authorized to give refunds, etc. You need to call the customer care line for that, or speak to a manager. - ALSO, depending on what type of ticket you purchases, some tickets, regardless of the inconvenience, are not refundable, but you can be given a credit, toward the purchase of another ticket.

Many people do not understand, but as gate agents, and ticket counter agents, our jobs are simply to handle deboarding, and boarding flights, and checking people in for their flights. We are not authorized to give refunds, and deal with passenger complaints, which is why most agents do not take too well to complaints. Although a "customer service agent", all agents are not trained, and authorized as "complaint resolutionist", as my airline calls them. Gate agents are hired to board passengers at the gate, period. The customer care line, are the people specifically hired to do that kind of stuff, which is why the vast majority of the time, you are referred to that number, or in some cases, the agent just tells you, as in your case, that she/he cannot do it. It isn't that agents fault, or my fault, that I am authorized, or not authorized to do certain things. We just work for the airline, and do what we are told.

If you haven't done so, you should call the 1-800 number, and seek a refund, or voucher for the issues you experienced.
  #3  
Old Apr 10, 2008, 5:58 PM
MissyB MissyB is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisH View Post
Many people do not understand, but as gate agents, and ticket counter agents, our jobs are simply to handle deboarding, and boarding flights, and checking people in for their flights. We are not authorized to give refunds, and deal with passenger complaints, which is why most agents do not take too well to complaints.
It isn't that agents fault, or my fault, that I am authorized, or not authorized to do certain things. We just work for the airline, and do what we are told.
You clearly misunderstood my entire point. My complaint is with the (lack of) customer service experienced with American Airlines, not with the regulations outlining compensatory rewards. However, it was noble of you to stand by your fellow man and try to defend Ms. Harrington's deplorable behavior.

I wonder then, was it the airline that told the gate agent to suggest an inconvenience would involve "falling out of the sky"? As a mere gate/ticket counter agent I can see why you wouldn't want to go beyond the call of duty and spare compassion for those you serve. After all, you're not in the business of helping people, but instead you're there to board passengers PERIOD, right? Imagine the public outcry if a teacher or firefighter made similar callous remarks: an inconvenience would be having a stupid kid fail out of school, or an inconvenience would be having your house and worldly possessions lost in a burning inferno. There must obviously be differing definitions of customer service in the airline industry.
  #4  
Old Apr 11, 2008, 4:23 AM
Butch Cassidy Slept Here Butch Cassidy Slept Here is offline
 
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Melissa,

Sounds like you, finally, got on a flight to Dallas—after an entire day of “touring” northern Virginia!

Perhaps you were traveling on some kind of discounted coach fare, or maybe even an “award” ticket. Even if you paid only with “miles” for your ticket—was all the s**t you went through really worth it?? Maybe, someday, domestic air travel will be totally, or partially, re-regulated, and sanity will return to the terminal. Until then, travel from Washington to Dallas, or any other domestic destination, on a plane, and within a reasonably predictable time frame, will be no more reliable than a toss of the dice. You “won” on this toss, but barely. On this trip it was a broken cockpit door. Next trip it could be weather or air traffic control. Or a flight attendant or gate agent, on a power trip, who has you thrown-off the plane.

Amtrak is slow, expensive, and always 30 minutes to 3 hours late on long-distance runs. But, it keeps moving, and the attitude is a lot better. There is a bed and a toilet. If you’re standing on the tracks, and not moving, you can eat, sleep in your bed, or use the rest room. And, you’re not threatened with arrest for doing any of these things.

Unlike deaths in a family, which force people to be victimized by airlines, weddings are usually announced well in advance. Depending on the distance of your final destination from an Amtrak station, the higher fare will allow you to arrive in substantially better physical shape, and in better spirits.

Washington to Dallas, on Amtrak, for 2 adults, is $1,143.00—with two beds and a private bath. The travel time is 2 days with a 5-hour lay-over in Chicago.

In my profile / blog, I suggest some airlines that might offer a hassle-free experience in cases where Amtrak travel is not an option.

See:

http://groups.google.com/groups/prof...o7PylW0wCVGllQ

  #5  
Old Apr 15, 2008, 5:54 PM
ChrisH ChrisH is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MissyB View Post
You clearly misunderstood my entire point. My complaint is with the (lack of) customer service experienced with American Airlines, not with the regulations outlining compensatory rewards. However, it was noble of you to stand by your fellow man and try to defend Ms. Harrington's deplorable behavior.

I wonder then, was it the airline that told the gate agent to suggest an inconvenience would involve "falling out of the sky"? As a mere gate/ticket counter agent I can see why you wouldn't want to go beyond the call of duty and spare compassion for those you serve. After all, you're not in the business of helping people, but instead you're there to board passengers PERIOD, right? Imagine the public outcry if a teacher or firefighter made similar callous remarks: an inconvenience would be having a stupid kid fail out of school, or an inconvenience would be having your house and worldly possessions lost in a burning inferno. There must obviously be differing definitions of customer service in the airline industry.
The agent should have had compassion, and not made that remark. As far as going beyond her duties; I've seen several fellow agents fired, for going above their duties, including one, who was offering upgrades to inconvenienced customers. Someone from Human Resources, and Corporate Security came in, a few days later, told her she had cost the airline thousands by doing this, not being authorized, and she was fired. As an agent, anytime I rebook you, on a flight other than the one you were origninally booked on, or any time I give out a voucher, if given permission to do so by the manager, I have to give documentation on why I did it. We all, as agents, have a sign in to the computer system, and it logs EVERYTHING we do. Whether you agree with this, or not, that is the way it is, and again, as agents, we just work there, and do what we are told. Nobody is hiding behind policies, etc., we have to follow them. I don't agree with all of the policies, but when I was hired, I agreed to obide by them, or else I will get written up, or terminated. Like any business.

I did say in my first post, that it was unfortunate what happened to you, and I agree that the agent shouldn't make comments regarding the airplane falling out of the sky.

Customer service, is customer service, but certain agents are hired and trained to deal with specific issues. Gate agents are hired to board, and deboard passengers, ticket agents are hired to check passengers in, and "ticket" passengers. Baggage service agents deal with the baggage. There are other agents trained to deal with complaints, and authorized to deal with those complaints. If one is not, they should get one who is, or the supervisor, or manager to come handle the situation.

I understand you are frustrated, but in your response, it sounded like you are trying to blame me, and other agents for how the airlines operate. I just work there, I don't make policies, or outline what employees duties are. I don't understand why passengers make it a point to try to tell agents about how things shouldn't be like this, or that, and what if a policeman or fireman said that, etc. What if they did? I don't have control over that, and I don't have control over what management tells me I am, and am not authorized to do.

You need to bring this complaint, and the issues you raised, to the airline executives, not an agent, like myself. I am at the bottom of the totum pole, and at the mercy of these greedy executives, just like you. My last day as an airline agent, is May 31, and I cannot wait.
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