Customer Service
COMPLAINT: Bumped from flight- terrible Customer service.

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Old Apr 5, 2010, 6:35 PM
twesty1 twesty1 is offline
Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 6

Here's a letter I sent to AA explaining things.

RE: AA31 overbooking on Dec 19 2009.

Dear Sir/Madam,
My wife and I used your airline for our recent trip to Kauai, HI with our 2 small children (aged 3 and 1 years). I purchased tickets for these flights in early September for the trip in december, and due to the inherent difficulties in traveling with young children of these ages, I was especially diligent when choosing departure times, seating, connection and layover times and indeed which airline I used, and in fact paid more to fly at times which best suited my son and daughters nap times and witching hours. Therefore, when I arrived at LAX at 6.30 am for an 8 am flight, I arrived confident in the knowledge that I had confirmed seats that I had purchased at considerable cost with an airline who would be sensitive to our needs. I was wrong. We were immediately directed to an automated check in machine, which after 15 minutes in line told me I had to check in with a human as we had a stroller (this fact was missed by the AA employee who directed us to use the machine in the first place, despite the fact that the stroller is bright orange with off-road wheels and a noisy passenger). We then took our place in-line at one of the few open human- staffed check-in desks, and after 20 minutes placed our documentation on the desk, the time now being 7.10 am, 50 minutes before departure. 6 minutes after this (at 7.16am), she asked for my credit card, said something along the lines of “Its locked me out- you cant get on this flight” and promptly disappeared. At this point I began to get concerned, and after about 7 minutes I asked the attendant at the neighboring desk where our agent had gone, with no results. She returned at around 7.24, and said (and I am paraphrasing) “Its locked me out, you cant get on this one, I’ll try and get you on the 10.30 but I doubt you’ll get on that one, this one is overbooked by 10 and that one is overbooked by 4 so its not looking good, but you were late”. I explained (as she of course knew) that we were not late, and asked her to get a supervisor, with whom she returned at around 7.28. This is when things got interesting. When I explained (calmly considering the circumstances) what had happened to this supervisor, she responded by telling me “don’t raise your voice to me, or I walk away”. When I calmly informed her that I wasn’t raising my voice, she again implied the contrary “stop shouting sir, don’t take that tone with me or this conversation is over”. I was not shouting. I wanted to shout, I am very capable when it comes to shouting, I know what shouting is, but I was not shouting, using expletives or any of the other reactions I am sure she is well used to given her job and American Airlines policy of overbooking flights. I could tell that this was a person completely incapable of rational discussion, and asked her, calmly, what she could do for us considering we had 2 small children and missing this flight would already cause considerable inconvenience and stress to us all. I also explained that we were not late for check-in, and the the check-in agent may have taken a little long to check us resulting in my credit card being swiped after the 7.15 cut- off time: at this point the check-in agent laughed at us. We were then put on standby for the 10.30 to Honalulu, for which we waited 2.5 hours in the departure lounge to find we did not make because it also was overbooked. I then went to the AA customer service office, which incidentally was filled with other complainants, and found our limited options, (and I do commend your customer service staff for their professionalism and courtesy in the face of much not un-justified hostility from other passengers) none of which looked hopeful. Our next possibility was a 5.30 pm direct flight to Lihue - despite the fact that our kids were showing signs of being difficult and we were ill-equipped for a 10 hour wait at the airport, we decided to wait, despite the fact that we were in no way assured a place on the flight. At this point we paid $100 to join your Admirals club to wait in a little more comfort- this was not offered to us, and when I asked, we were told that we had been late and that no compensation would be forthcoming. We were not late. We eventually got on the 5.30 flight to Lihui after a very difficult, uncertain 9 hour wait with 2 very unhappy kids, and after missing the best part of a day of our limited vacation.
Last September, I purchased a product from American Airlines for just over $3000. This product was a service, a service to convey myself and my family from Los Angeles to Lihui at 8am on Saturday December 19 2009. American Airlines failed to provide me with the service/ product I originally purchased, a failure which caused a good deal of distress and inconvenience, and I believe I am entitled to compensation. Furthermore, your airlines policy of openly overbooking scheduled flights is completely unacceptable. A passenger enters into a contract with you at the time of purchasing a ticket, and this policy routinely (and I say “routinely” because we met other passengers in similar situations on the day and have spoken to many since) causes these contracts to not be honored. And finally, your customer service failings were surprising to say the least. In this economic climate where potential customers think long and hard on where to assign their hard-earned dollars, the treatment we received from your check-in agent and supervisor beggared belief and was completely unacceptable. The supervisor was openly hostile (she wasn’t wearing a visible name tag, incidentally) from the moment she came over, and clearly was so safe in the knowledge that she could snap her fingers and have me dragged away if I argued with her that she chose the immediate tactic of antagonism. She is an absolute disgrace to AA, as she would be to any company in which she had to deal with customers, but is for me now the face of your company. I have no complaints about any other part of your customer service- service on board both flights was adequate, but this person is the reason I will not fly AA again without good reason. As long as you employ people like this in important front-line positions, something I have never encountered with any other airline, I cant see how AA can remain even remotely competitive as long as customer service has any importance.
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Old Apr 5, 2010, 8:31 PM
pattis pattis is offline
Airline Employee (NOT OFFICIAL REP)
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: U.S.
Posts: 147

Sorry to hear u had so much trouble. If in fact u did arive a 6:30 for a 8:00 flight that was certainly in plenty of time. One of my biggest beefs is those frikin kiosks. When I worked for NW (no longer there) we were told that people had to use them. We were actually monitored by management. If we were seen assisting passengers without them using kiosks we would get written up. (I imagine the percentage of kiosk use had something to do with managments' bonus) They do have some benefits, however for those that travel alot and want to get in and out in a hurry, no bags. But they should be an option not a requirement IMO. How many times someone was struggling with it, or any changes in the system would cause them to have to see an agent anyway. Whats wrong with human interaction??? Unless the rep is a rude jerk. There are plenty of them everwhere (not just airlines). Not sure what to advise u to do. It sounds as though you encountered a incompetent rep fro the moment u arrived. Sound by the description of the stroller it should have been clearly visible. The first rep just wasted time by sending you to kiosk. As far as overbooking, well, unlikely that will ever change. They cut back on flights and overbook more flights in hopes some will not show up. I would write a letter to AA to see if you can t least get something out of it. Hope next time around you have a better experience....Regards.

Last edited by pattis; Apr 5, 2010 at 8:36 PM.
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Old May 26, 2010, 5:31 PM
ngeiger ngeiger is offline
Join Date: May 2010
Posts: 3

Good luck getting anyone to even respond to your letter. AA has no customer service.
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