AirTran Airways Denied Boarding

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Involuntary Bumping vs. Involuntary Denied Boarding by AirTran
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Rating: 1/51

ATLANTA, GEORGIA -- I booked flights for myself and spouse on Oct 20, 2013 from BWI to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic - Airtran Flight 817; depart at 9:08 am on Sunday, Dec 22nd 2013; arrive Punta Cana at 1:52 pm, a four-hour flight, and returning on Dec 28th, 2013. I also purchased two advanced seating assignments for the round trip tickets. AirTran called on Oct 31st, asking if we were willing to take a later flight on Dec. 22nd from BWI to Punta Cana, DR because AirTran sold us an overbooked original scheduled flight.

They offered two flight options that were both incomparable and unacceptable because of the departure times, one leaving at 7:55 am from BWI connecting through Atlanta with a six hours layover, and arriving Punta Cana at 8:57 pm. I did not accept the offer to be put on any alternative incomparable flights. AirTran called again on Dec. 19th, informed me that my flights have now changed leaving on Dec. 22 from BWI at 7:55 am, arriving Atlanta.

When I stopped the caller (agent) and asked her why they are changing my flights, the agent's answer was that our original scheduled flight leaving BWI at 9:08 am is overbooked. I called AirTran and spoke a supervisor, ** (agent **), who offered a refund of two one-way tickets and fees for advanced seating assignments. Because we were not given any alternative comparable flight choice and our trip is scheduled in two days, Dec. 22nd, we were forced to take FLT 133 - departed BWI on Dec. 22nd at 7:55 am, arrived Atlanta at 9:55 am, over 7 hours layover in Atlanta, departed at 5:40 pm, arrived in PUJ 10 pm! All day of our first day family holiday vacation wasted!

** informed us that the Involuntary Denied Boarding (IDB) Rule does not apply because we were involuntary removed (bumped) from our original flight 2 days prior to Dec. 22; subsequently AirTran avoiding DOT rule for IDB, which is legal business practice by AirTran! Overbooking flights is also legal business practice!

** - DOT defines involuntary bumping. AirTran has the right to involuntary bumped lucky passengers from any of their flights any time, except that we were involuntary bumped on Dec. 19, so rule does not apply to us in terms of 400% compensation; our flight was on Dec 22! What are our rights as customers and as consumers?! DOT is reviewing my case!

     
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Outright Voucher Fraud
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I was on a flight from Boston to Atlanta. AirTran had overbooked the flight and announced that anyone who would volunteer to give their seat up would receive a free round trip from AirTran. Great for me; I had flexible plans. I gave up my seat, got a voucher sat around the airport for an extra 8 or so hours.

Fast forward 9 months. I'm trying to redeem the voucher for another Boston-Atlanta round trip (typically <$200 value). AirTran refuses to honor my voucher because they say "There's no record of you receiving a voucher." Their records show that I was booked for the earlier flight, got a boarding pass, surrendered the boarding pass, got a boarding pass for a later flight and took the later flight. But they simply will not accept that they gave me a voucher. After 2 hours on the phone with them, they finally offer to let me redeem my voucher for a free one-way trip.

This is just outright fraud, outright lying on the part of AirTran. And their phone agents want to yell at me when I tell them about it. If I ever fly AirTran again, and they try to offer vouchers for people to give up their seats, I will tell every living soul in my vicinity how AirTran issues these vouchers and then refuses, quite abruptly, to honor them.

And then, you have to wonder about AirTran's overall integrity. You trust airlines to do small things right, and big things right. Small things would be: give you good pretzels, be at least pleasant when they talk to you, not abuse your checked-in bags. Big things would be: keep the planes in good working order, not let terrorists on the plane, and ***HONOR THEIR WORD AND THE WRITTEN DOCUMENTS THEY ISSUE***.

In my opinion, once they've demonstrated that they are not able or willing to fulfill any of their major obligations, then it seems like you'd have to worry about how well they fulfill the rest. In other words, if AirTran is going to be this cavalier about reneging on bedrock issues of solvency, I absolutely cannot trust them to safely maintain a fleet of planes.

     
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Arbitrary Boarding Policy and Procedures
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ATLANTA, GEORGIA -- Our first AirTran flight took off 30 mins late from SAV, so I knew we would be pressed to make our connecting flight to LAX. I informed the gate agent in SAV of the tight connection and was assured we would arrive in Atlanta in time to connect with our LAX-bound flight. We landed and deplaned at Gate C2 and I walked over to Gate C1 and saw the plane sitting at the gate. I walked straight up to the gate agent, but when I tried to board I was told I was too late and that the flight was closed. I then watched the gate agents begin a process of calling people to the podium and boarding them for the LAX flight over the next 15 mins.

The explanation I was given for my denied boarding was that AirTran has a boarding policy that if you are not at the gate 10 mins. before departure the flight is closed and you are denied boarding on that basis. I was given a customer service package with a $7 food coupon and a $25 future flight purchase. Five and a half hours later we boarded our delayed flight which was scheduled to leave at 9:05 PM, then changed to 9:44 PM. We finally were seated and ready for take off at 10:30 PM. Then there was an additional one hour wait at the gate with no explanation.

Until, without any explanation again, five very hurried passengers were boarded, immediately seated and we then took off. This is outrageous! Hypocritical! Arbitrary and inconsistent boarding policy! How dare they do this to people? I am convinced that they overbooked my first LAX flight and gave away my seat to someone, and therefore I am owed compensation under the terms of the contract of carriage.

In the case of the 5 people we waited for in the plane, as this was the last flight to LAX for the night, it is obvious that they held the plane for them from a connecting flight so that AirTran would not have the expense of putting those people in a hotel until the next LAX flight in the morning. So instead, I had to pay for a hotel room in LA because by the time we arrived, it was 1AM and impossible for me to arrange ground transportation to my home over 1 1/2 hrs away in Orange County.

AirTran should be avoided at all costs, you will be at their mercy and have no recourse but to put up with how they "chose" to handle you. Stick with Delta, American, or Rent-a-Car, you'll get there quicker.

     
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Denied Boarding
By -

We did get on after all. It was a flight from Atlanta to Raleigh-Durham. But I'm convinced that things others are saying are true. The agent tried to deny us boarding even though we were at the gate 30 minutes before departure. Other customers were startled at the early boarding. The agent acquiesced and allowed us to board, but not until calling up some standby passengers and re-assigning seats.

I have rarely boarded a plane more than 20 minutes prior to departure. This agent was arguing that boarding was "closed" 30 minutes prior. I asked what time it closed, she said 9:25. The clock time was still 9:05. I am convinced that she was trying to give our seats to somebody else, and we thwarted her plan by showing up. This is unbelievable.

     
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Not able to board
By -

SFO, CALIFORNIA -- Needless to say - I'll never fly with them!!!! We were at the airport (SFO) over an hour prior to the flight departure time. Their initials are the same as ATA so we were directed to ATA. Then we were told to look for AirTran Airways at the international part of the airport, although we had a domestic flight. Finally we get to their kiosk with 40 min. left to departure and no one is there. We didn't even carry luggage to check in. Called Expedia and they contacted the company who said that they close the kiosks 45 min. prior to departure. There were more people like us unable to get to the plane. Everyone was extremely upset but we all had to go home.

They offered to put us on a next day flight in business class if we pay $400 per ticket more or on a 24 hrs. later flight and pay over $160 per ticket; or to give us credit (minus penalties) towards future flights with them. Who would ever want to fly with this awful company anyway?! P.S: I had missed a flight with "United"€ years ago and they simply put me on the next flight 40 min. later.

     
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