SAN JOSE COSTA RICA -- US Airways February 21, 2009
4000 E. Sky Harbor Blvd.
Phoenix, AZ 85034
RE: Flight #358 SJO-PHX
Dear US Airways Customer Service Agent,
I am writing this letter in reference to a very serious situation that I recently experienced while traveling on your airlines. During this experience I and my family were made to endure great physical and mental abuse because of the actions of the Captain â [snip]
I will attempt to summarize the events as concisely as possible with this letter. I would be able to expand on the events if you need any additional information please contact me. I also encourage you to please seek testimony from other passengers on this flight. I also would request that the flight recordings of the Captains announcements be retained for reference.
The check-in and boarding of the flight proceeded professionally and proficiently as has other flights I have experienced with your company. Upon closing of the doors and preparations for push-off from the gate the pilot informed the passengers that we would be able to fly non-stop from San Jose to Phoenix only if we could take off from runway 07 because the plane was overweight. If we had to take off on runway 25 we would be required to stop in Mexico to refuel. Unfortunately this was a downwind takeoff and against the flow of traffic so it would be a slight delay to wait for the break in traffic. Most likely no- longer than 20 minutes. I thought this was curious because the flight was not full and the recent change from two 70lb bags to one 50lb bag per passenger should save some 11,000lbs of weight. This and the fact that the tickets did not include a stop in Mexico. I believed that the pilot was obviously trying to save fuel / money by avoiding a stop. I could understand that attempt, as I realize an air stop for fuel can be very costly. I reassured my wife and children that we had a lengthy layover in Phoenix before our next flight so it wouldnât affect our travel.
After some time, I would guess about 45 minutes, the pilot informed passengers that we missed our break in the traffic because we were unable to warm up the engines in time. About 45 minutes later the pilot informed passengers that the winds were now too strong for a downwind takeoff and that we would have to have both a break in traffic and lower winds to safely take off.
Sometime later the pilot informed the passengers that we had missed another break in traffic because some passengers werenât trying hard enough to will the wind speed down to a safe level.
The pilot informed the passengers that we were still on standby. During all this time the Flight Attendants were trying to appease the passengers but repeatedly asked if people could conserve water as they would surely run out. I was immediately alarmed at this prospect because due to a medical condition it causes me extreme discomfort to become dehydrated.
At this time, some 2 Â½ to three hours into our delay, I began to question the ability of the pilot to make the decision to take off on the other runway and get underway. Passengers were becoming very uncomfortable and children were crying. The pilot proceeded to make several announcements that contradicted previous announcements, and he started blaming the runway, ground crew and overall backwardness of the facilities for the predicament. The pilot announced that a decision was made to take off on the other runway but we were too heavy for that runway also, and we had to burn off fuel. This decision didnât make any sense but at this point everyone was so relieved that we were doing something passengers felt somewhat appeased. After being moved to a location we could burn fuel it became apparent that we were out of drinking water. Many passengers began to protest and the captain came on and announced that we would return to the gate and get water and food. He was very rude and again blamed the passengers and the Costa Rican facilities for the problems. When we returned to a position near the gate the passengers were informed that we could takeoff from runway 25 without burning any more fuel as soon as we got water and food. I and many passengers, including my wife were confused and really worried about the events. I heard over and over from other passengers âsomething just doesnât seem right with this.â
The passengers were getting increasingly upset and someone must have asked if they could get off the flight because the captain informed the passengers that they had no reason to be upset and that no one should be asking about passenger rights and it would only cause further delays. At this point (some 5hrs delay) my wife and I became worried about the decisions being made by the pilot. The inconsistency in direction and the increased tension of the situation seemed to clearly limit his ability to properly consider the health and safety of the passengers.
I donât claim to know all the circumstances of this situation, but I do have a limited knowledge of flight procedures. I have a pilotâs license, my father got his pilotâs license when he was minimum age, he became an aircraft mechanic and flight instructor and was an airtraffic controller for his career. We owned several aircraft as I grew up. My wife has pursued her pilotâs license, and she was an aircraft dispatcher for many years. We both travel yearly for vacations and business.
I have spent many hundreds of hours seated next to commercial pilots for my work and I consider them to be very professional and based with integrity. I began to really get an uneasy feeling about Captain [snip] and requested his full name and pilots license number. Up to that point he had referred to himself as Captain Archie. I had to repeatedly ask for this information and was finally refused anything except his name.
Captain [snip] then announced that anyone wanting to leave the aircraft would cause a minimum takeoff delay of another 2 hours for the rest of the passengers. My wife and I were concerned about our safety and well being and so we inquired about leaving the airplane. I was told that if I wanted to leave the aircraft that it would be an hour to wait for a bus to come out to the ramp and pick us up, an hour to get our bags off the aircraft, and that no flights out of San Jose were available for 3 days. We were told that no reimbursements for hotel, food, etc. would be paid for during this time.
We were told that we must immediately make this decision. This was a clear cut case of bullying and manipulation by your airline. We had to weigh the potential loss of thousands of dollars and an extended amount of time dealing with customer relations with putting ourselves and children in potential harm. We were assured that we would be taking off within the next 15 minutes and that complimentary food would be provided for the flight.
The fact that we were in a foreign country where we did not speak the language, staying would cost a minimum of $2000 to us, and we were reassured that all missed flights were being taken care of by a special part of the company while we were in route. We unfortunately elected to remain onboard the aircraft.
We burned off more fuel and departed 1 hour later.
We were again told to use water sparingly and were given no food. We landed in Mazatlan Mexico for fuel and were told we could not leave the aircraft. We left Mazatlan and upon reaching altitude we were each given the smallest low quality sandwich I have ever eaten. My little girl was unable to eat the food because its taste caused a gagging reaction. No other food was offered.
I was told that if I wanted water it would be from the tap because of the scarcity of bottled water.
Upon landing the Captain again blamed just about everything he could on the delay but at no time said he was sorry. His parting comment was: âEverybody needs to get their feet wet sometime; I thought I did as good as Sully!â
I was amazed that someone in such an important position as himself with the well being of so many people in his care would be so lacking in consideration and professionalism.
We were told that everyone had been rebooked and to proceed to the desk outside of immigration to get information.
I would like to take the time to say Thank You to Flight Attendant â forgive me for not being sure of his name if it is incorrect. Jeff spent the entire 12 hours of our time on the aircraft trying to help passengers. I believe he was as honest and upfront as he could be and genuinely was concerned about the decisions of the Captain.
Upon arriving at the US Airways it became apparent from the upset passengers in front of us that anyone having to stay overnight was not being reimbursed for any expenses. When I reached the counter we had not been given enough food and water to maintain healthy blood sugar. My daughter was shaking and my son, wife and I were extremely hungry and thirsty. We had been on your aircraft for 12 hrs.
We were told that our continuing flight was the next day at 7pm. I said no problem but I would need food reimbursed and a hotel paid for. I was told very rudely by your manager that it was a weather delay and that no expenses would be paid for by the company. The weather delay is a ridiculous false statement. The weather was clear, 73Â° and 14 knots wind. We saw many aircraft taxiing by our aircraft and taking off.
The delay was clearly pilot error.
I politely told your manager (Lisa # 247799) that I would require some food for my family or I would not leave the counter. She again very rudely said to write customer service with complaints. I became upset and told her I wasnât leaving without food money or by security. She immediately called security and refused any further conversation with me. A gentleman behind us tried to record some of our interactions and was instructed to turn off his recording device as it was a security violation. While we waited for security, I talked with another employee behind the counter. She obviously realized your airline was making a big mistake and provided us with some food vouchers for some airport food. She also got us an earlier departure for the next morning. Your manager (Lisa # 247799) continued to be very rude to myself, family and other people.
When security arrived to escort myself, my wife, our 11year old son, and our 8 year old daughter out of the area another passenger had to be escorted away from my family by the officers because of his protests about the way we were being treated. I donât know this gentleman, but he told us he was an attorney and that he was going to press charges against US Airways. We were escorted by two officers a very long distance from the counter to another floor of the airport. During this time my children were very upset and unsure about the whole situation. I talked with one of the officers escorting us and he apologized for what he was doing and said he had to because of the way things were set up at the airport. He conveyed to us that he was on our side of the issue and again apologized.
I believe that the whole situation was handled very poorly and that US Airways should take a serious look at the competency level of the Captain on this flight.
I am sure that if anyone of power in your company experienced this flight that Captain [snip] would not be employed by US Airways at this time. I also believe that you owe me, family and many other passengers an apology on behalf of your employeeâs actions. The whole incident was a terrible way to end an experience of a lifetime. We saved for years to take our children to Costa Rica and now one of our overpowering feelings is the memory of this flight and of shame by being semi arrested by police at the airport. I cannot convey the desire that I have that your company please follows up on this complaint and do a thorough job researching the events. I would hate to think that someone would be hurt because of the future actions of your company.
If you have any questions, please contact me. Thank you.
Jim Purdy PLS
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Terrible Service From US Air
Posted by Dan on 2008-08-15
PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA -- Original return trip from St. Maartin on 7/26/08 to DFW through Philadelphia. Departing at 2:50 PM arriving at DFW at 11:46 pm.
US Air flight # 1036, T.O. Saint Maartin 2:50 pm, arrive Philadelphia 7:19 pm
We arrive at Airport at 12:00 pm as instructed by US Air for International flight.
At approximately 1:50- 2:00 pm started boarding flight- about 30 min early?
At about 2:15 & everyone was boarded we were told that we were waiting on a few passengers who had left the gate area probably because boarding time was 2:20.
2:45 still waiting on these missing passengers?
3:00 still waiting, captain over loud speaker explained that they must have gone online & US Air showed our flight as 2 hours late because original incoming aircraft from Philadelphia had mech. problems, returned to gate and was switched out. He said there was a Charlotte fight departing about 2:45 and those people were bumped & we were given their plane.??? The other plane would not be arriving until approximately 5:00 pm. Problem now is the missing passengers have already checked in and have luggage on board and being an International flight we canât leave without them unless we remove their luggage. As far as I know no luggage was ever removed and no one else boarded the plane.
Approximately 3:45 we took off. Captain then explained that we were going to Philadelphia after a stop over in Charlotte to change crews and refuel. What the heck is going on!!!
This is a 3 Â½ to 4 hour flight and we were told that on returning flights there are no snack boxes, sandwiches etc. They did have 3-5 boxes left over from arriving flight which were given to first class passengers. We would not be allowed off the plane in Charlotte because we needed to clear customs.
You would think competent people might arrange to have the pantry restocked while they are refueling and changing crews. Flight crew updated connecting flights and for the most part assured us we would all be on our way home maybe on a different flight that evening. Other than that the crew seemed most interested in selling your duty free stuff which were well stocked even on returning flights and getting people to sign up for US Air Credit cards. We were not able to enjoy the movie â21â due to repeated interruptions by the male flight attendant hawking these items over the P.A.
About 7:15 landed in Charlotte and sat on the ground about 1 hour, took off for Philadelphia about 8:15 pm. The new crew was very short with passengers and just over all not friendly or helpful.
They explained since plane had not been restocked they would not be running the beverage cart, but, and I quote â If anyone absolutely has to have something to drink press your call light and we will see what we can doâ The flight attendant nearest us sat in his jump seat most of the flight. Near the end of this flight after no information or updates on connecting flights had been given we asked and were told first by the flight attendant and then by the captain that we would have to find out at the gate after clearing customs.
Landed little after 9:00 pm, picked up our luggage and discovered one of our large suitcases had been ruined. it appeared to have been crushed ruining the frame and now the wheels point different directions and the built in metal support across the back is hanging off. It now has to be carried as it no longer will roll, Thank God for the 50 lb. rule.
After clearing customs we were met at the ticket area by US Air reps who were very nice and gave us our new boarding passes for a 7:30 flight the next morning. It is now around 9:45 PM. she handed me several slips stapled together and thumbed through them confirming there were 4 boarding passes, food vouchers and hotel voucher. We were then instructed to meet the Sheraton shuttle and to hurry as their restaurant would close by 10:00. We rushed quite aways (dragging the broken suitcase) ground transportation and just missed the shuttle. We had already been told it would come back every 20 minutes or so.
While we waited I looked through the vouchers and discovered there were only 3 instead of 4. I rushed all the way back, had to go through long explanation with a security agent & his supervisor to regain access to the international area. I was told by the US Air rep I would have to get my boarding pass at the gate the next morning. I requested they look through there stack one more time and sure enough there was the missing boarding pass and vouchers. I rushed all the way back to ground transportation and we had missed the next couple shuttles but the driver assured my wife he would return for us which he did & all seemed to be looking up. It is now about 10:30 but the hotel is only a few minutes away.
We arrived in the hotel lobby at about 10:40 pm with our luggage in tow (no bellhops to assist) and were told restaurant closed at 11:00. My wife hurried off with our 4 vouchers to order us a sandwich while I got in line at check in desk. When I finally got to the clerk I was told the driver had dropped us at the wrong Sheraton. I was told we would have to take all of our luggage and walk across a parking lot to another Sheraton. The shuttle driver walked in about now and I told him he had taken us to the wrong hotel, he debated with the clerk back and forth blaming each other and he left. (he was off duty now). The clerk explained to me there was nothing she could do as they had no rooms and as far as getting the luggage to the other hotel she didnât know what to tell me. I pulled the luggage cart into the restaurant and parked it next to our table. Even though the restaurant is now closed we have ordered and our sandwiches were being prepared.
Because of the constant mistakes of the day my wife decided to walk to the other Sheraton and at least get us checked in while we waited on our food. About the time our food arrived she returned and informed me that they originally said they also had no rooms either and only after arguing with them were they able to come up with 1 room with 2 double beds. We were traveling with our 2 nearly grown sons (19 & 15) and had two room vouchers. Both boys and myself are over 6 foot and over 225 lbs. One of hotel vouchers was not honored.We finished eating about 11:30 and the bill for 4 sandwiches, chips and soft drinks (no alcohol) was 77.04 and with 20% tip came to 93.04. Our 4 meal vouchers from US Air = 40.00.
We now left and walked across the parking lot in a strange town at almost midnight carrying and dragging suitcases etc. from a weeklong trip for four adults and went to bed. One son had to sleep on the floor.
We were in bed by 12:30 am exhausted and we had to be up at 4:30 am to catch the 5:40 am shuttle to catch the 7:30 am flight.
At the airport and checked in by 6:30 am all looking good. Spent another 40-50 on breakfast at the airport. No vouchers.
At 7:05 boarding time gate agent explained we would board in just a moment that they were missing one flight attendant. This message was repeated a few times over next 30 minutes. At 7:35 departure time agent said attendant was checked in at the airport and on her way to the gate. This was repeated a couple more times for next 20-30 minutes. At around 8 said they had located attendant and she was
not at the airport but about 45 minutes away???? We were finally boarded by attendants not assigned to our flight waiting on this one to arrive around 9:00. When the attendant did arrive she said it was her day off and US Air had asked her to come in for this awol attendant. We finally took off I believe around 9:30. Also during the entire trip we had to keep rearranging our scheduled transportation back home.
We finally arrived at DFW right at 24 hours after we arrived at the airport for 2 flights with a combined flight time of about 6-7 hours.
Tuesday morning 7-29 at 11:15 I called the customer service # (1-800-428-4322) listed on our confirmation. I first spoke to Sandy who said the only way to file a complaint is to go online to your website. I asked what would I do if I did not have access to the internet? Sandy repeated the previous statement. Until now I have kept my temper and have been polite to every person I have dealt with but I am now out of patience with US Air. I then explained to her that I did not wish to go online that I called the # US Air provided me for customer service and now that they were on the line I wished to speak with a human. I asked that she transfer me to a supervisor rather than arguing with her. Before she could transfer me she needed our confirmation info which she confirmed a few times and then asked the nature of my complaint. Finally she transferred me to Supervisor Jay.
I started explaining why I was unhappy and Jay stopped me about half way through and said he couldnât help me and again said I had to go online to file a complaint. I told him I did not wish to go on line and what would I do if internet service was not available? He then offered me a phone # to another US Air customer service. 866-523-5333. I now asked him why it took 20 minutes for anyone to offer that #. Sandy should have done that in the first minute of the call when she was telling me my only option was to go online.
I called this # and it went to an automated message saying âdue to high call volume US Air will not be able to take my call and please visit our website and fill out a form. Now I know why they didnât give me the #, because no one answers it.
So here I am online where I did not wish to be and I am completely put out with US Air and itâs policies. Your company is no where near as good as it used to be. And I still would like to talk to a human.
This was submitted and confirmed electronically 7/29/08
8/15/08 11:00 am resubmitted
Have never heard from US Air. Tried calling again and was told the only people I can talk to at US Air are the reservation clerks and the lost baggage people. Neither of these could help me.
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Police Force To Stop Legitimate Complaint
Posted by Pkramme3@aol.com on 2008-08-11
TUCSON, ARIZONA -- The following is a letter I wrote to the CEO of the Tucson airport after a US Airways supervisor falsely and cynically accused me of threatening her.
Ms. Bonnie Allin
Tucson Airport Authority
7005 S. Plumer
Tucson, AZ 85756
Dear Ms. Allin:
This is a long letter, but before dismissing it you may want to go to your computer, go to this link (http://edition.cnn.com/2007/US/10/04/airport.death/), and watch Carol Anne Gotbaum, a lone woman, being tackled by several policemen at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport on September 28, 2007. This woman died while in police custody at Sky Harbor Airport. This is the image and story that my friends, from San Francisco to New York, have of Phoenix Sky Harbor. Then, take the time to read my somewhat lengthy narrative about my experience at Tucson International Airport (TIA).
Yesterday, Saturday, August 9, 2008, a US Air employee, Wendy, tried to use the TAA police force to punish me for expressing a legitimate grievance. My domestic partner, Timothy Taylor, was flying back to Wichita, KS, to visit his brother who is terminally ill with a malignant brain tumor. Like most working people, Tim had only a few days to see his brother and this time was valuable. Unlike most people, Tim has severe, adult-acquired hearing loss which is partially alleviated by a cochlear implant. However, his hearing is not good enough to negotiate difficult situations or to hear announcements made over loudspeakers in areas of high ambient noise like airport terminals.
Tim had a seating assignment from Tucson to Phoenix on US Airways, but could not get a seating assignment online from Phoenix to Wichita the evening before his flight. We suspected the flight was oversold. We drove to the airport early to obtain a seating assignment and I spoke with the US Airways staff as Tim has a communication disability. He frequently misapprehends what has been said to him, especially if the context is unusual or uncommon.
At the US Airways ticket counter, Jessica informed us that Tim could not get a seating assignment in Tucson; rather he would have to fly to Phoenix to get his seating assignment. I asked why this was so, and Jessica replied that the flight might be oversold. There was no offer to reschedule the flight from Tucson, and the implication was he had to fly to Phoenix and take his chances or lose his ticket. This was accompanied by a disparaging remark about the ticket being purchased through Priceline.com.
I told Jessica that Tim would not be able to hear announcements regarding flight status and possible standby arrangements. Still, Jessica did not have the authority to obtain Tim a seating assignment, so I asked to speak with her supervisor, Wendy, who supposedly had the authority to assign Tim a seat. Jessica made the first call to Wendy a 3:10 PM. After a second call and waiting 20 minutes I told Tim to catch his flight and text message me if things went wrong. Only then did Jessica think to write up a notice of disability to alert Phoenix US Airways staff of Tim’s communication difficulties.
Since I had already waited twenty minutes I asked Jessica to place a third call to Wendy, and Wendy arrived a 3:35 PM spoiling for a fight. Without giving a blow by blow description, our interaction resulted in my fleeing the airport with Wendy chasing me down. The TAA police officers who determined that I had done nothing wrong, Officers Losada and Summer, sent me on my way shaken and disillusioned.
Late yesterday afternoon, when safely in my own home out of TAA police jurisdiction, I called the TAA police at 5:40 PM to inquire whether Wendy had committed assault. I was told an officer would call me back. At 6:24 PM, I called back and was put through to Corporal Neil Brown. We discussed whether Wendy’s actions had risen to the level of assault, and he took down my statement and assigned a case number A08080110.
I called the airport police again on Sunday morning, August 10, 2008. I talked with Sergeant Furgeson (sp?) Sgt. Furgeson explained that airline and rental companies involving the TAA police force in disputes was common at TIA, and it was often unwarranted. Further some airline employees were frequent callers for police assistance in situations that do not warrant police involvement. (The TAA police were, on the whole, balanced and professional. They were surprisingly forthcoming, but I know how to chat people up.)
Sgt. Furgeson characterized the incident involving Wendy from US Airways and me as a misunderstanding, perhaps a situation that got out of control. I think she believes that to be true. However, that is not my analysis or my perception.
My perception is that Wendy, the US Airway supervisor, was angry that I had the audacity to ask to see her. That I had the temerity to have her subordinates call her three times. She was fuming because I had the endurance to wait twenty-five minutes and not walk away angry and impatient. She was furious and determined to act punitively, even if that action required deception and false accusation. Why do I come to this conclusion? There are several reasons.
She did not go to the staff side of the counter; rather she walked up to me on the passenger side of the counter and stood uncomfortably close to me. Could she address my problem without the use of a computer terminal? Her demeanor was hostile and aggressive. Wendy’s statement that “she didn’t like my attitude” was both condescending and irrelevant. This statement was meant to provoke. When I told her that if my partner were to be stranded in Phoenix I would write letters of complaint with her as the primary focus, she cynically chose to characterize this as a threat.
When she asked me, “are you threatening me,” I knew this was a thinly veiled attempt to construe this as a threatening situation: it was a set-up.
When I replied, “I am not threatening you physically, I am threatening to write letters,” I was purposefully dispelling the notion of physical threat. Perhaps if I had been more quick witted I would have said that I was informing her of the consequences of her poor customer relations. In any case, it was clear that there was no physical threat.
However, Wendy, unable to accept that I would not fall into her trap, decided to act as if I had: she screamed for the police, and because she was so threatened (I am being facetious) she followed me without police escort outside the building and several hundred yards down the sidewalk toward the street while I repeatedly told her that I was walking away and I wanted her to leave me alone. In between screaming for help she spokes less audible remarks of “getting me.” Her actions were deliberate, cynical, and calculating.
When threatened, I and most people try to distance themselves from the person who is threatening. Wendy’s choice to follow me, hounding me down the sidewalk towards traffic, was not the choice of a threatened person. It was the choice of a disgruntled, angry person who wanted to cause me harm. My question is why did she feel the airport police (or security) would back her up?
What is the institutional culture of the TIA and how did this contribute to her libelous accusations? Again, Sgt. Furgeson told me that this type of incident, airline and rental car company employees calling the police to resolve customer conflict is common and that seldom does the dispute rise to the level of criminal threat. Further, Sgt. Furgeson told me that some employees routinely call security to resolve what should be resolved with good customer relations.
If this is routine, apparently there is no repercussions for those employed at the airport that make hyperbolic accusation and use airport police as de facto goons. Has airport security replaced the railroad goons of the 19th and 20th centuries? Are airports, including the usually friendly Tucson airport, virtual police states where legal and legitimate disputes are resolved with the threat of police force? This kind of behavior would not shock me in Newark, but it shocks me in Tucson.
After speaking with Corporal Brown and Sergeant I now know that the TAA police force are not goons, but how would I know that while being pursued by a harpy like Wendy who was screaming for them to do what? arrest me for threatening to write letters of complaint. How was I to know that I would not be shackled to a bench like Carol Anne Gotbaum who died in the custody police at Phoenix Sky Harbor in September on September 28, 2007.
When faced with apparent misuse of authority and poor institutional culture, I often find it useful to follow the revenue stream. Your website contains the following statement:
TAA does not receive any local tax dollars. Operations are funded through revenues from parking, space rentals, land leases, fuel sales, airline landing fees, and concessions. Capital improvements such as runway and terminal construction are funded through state and federal grants.
If airline landing fees and concessions such as car rentals are major sources of revenue, do these financial interest either directly or indirectly affect the use of TAA’s police or security forces? Is it in TAA’s financial interest not to upset their sources of revenue by instating repercussions for companies whose employees use TAA police to intimidate passengers and customers? Is this why company employees feel free to use TAA’s police to resolve disputes that should be resolved by good customer relations? How well does this serve the economic interest of greater Tucson?
I realize the TAA police do not feel that they are threatening, but when TIA patrons are faced with police with badges, weapons, and handcuffs, most are intimated and, to some degree, threatened.
The current issue of The Economist features articles about Alexander Solzhenitsyn and the headline is: Speaking the truth to power. If you are the power at TAA, I must speak the truth to you. Using police force to intimidate TIA’s customers is wrong. Unless there are repercussions for airline and rental car company employees who de facto use the TAA police as a force of intimidation to quiet customers who are voicing grievances, the TAA is tacitly condoning this behavior. This is the United States of America, and we have the right to state our grievances. In a perfect world these grievances would be reasonable and legitimate, but that is not a requirement. Acting within the law is a requirement.
Unfortunately, my experience at TIA is probably indicative of more widespread deterioration of service in the airline industry. I travel relatively often and I usually fly coach: I see how employees treat the least of travelers. I have seen hints of disgruntled airline employees using the threats of police intervention to quell the dissatisfied of those suffering through delayed, overbooked, and cancelled flights. I’ve had a TSA security agent bark at me like a drill sergeant during a random search at Logan International Airport while I was being a model of cooperation. This bad behavior, or power run amuck, is done in the name of security. How does this make us more secure? I like Tucson. I think of it as a special place to live, but after this experience I feel I might as well be living in any major city in the USA.
The events of September 11, 2001 are a great tragedy. The cynical use of the threat of terrorism to instill compliance and fear in the traveling public cheapens the lives lost and the bravery of those who responded. It is shameful. If TAA is passively complicit in promoting this, TAA is responsible. TAA is as responsible as Wendy who cynically made false accusations and as responsible as US Air who promoted an irrational and vengeful employee like Wendy to a position of authority.
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$1405 lost and 2 days wasted because of this airline
Posted by Miriam on 2008-08-08
Dear US Airways,
I am writing to share my horrific experience flying with your airline this past weekend.
My purchased, confirmed itinerary was as follows:
Aug 1, 2008
flight 3676 8.55pm BWI - 9.35pm PHL
flight 3350 10.55pm PHL - 12.12am BUF
I arrived at the gate at the BWI terminal at 8.45pm. The gate agent told me I was late and I had to wait until after the standby passengers were processed. Let me stress here that they had NOT started processing any stand-by passengers which meant my seat had NOT been assigned to anyone else. I know this because there were NO agents at the counter - only the agent at the gate who told me I could not board despite the fact that I had a purchased confirmed seat and nobody was processing any standby passengers.
After about 5 minutes of us both just standing there at the gate, the agent went behind the counter and started processing standby passengers. She made me wait while she allowed 3 standby passengers to board and then told me I could board.
The agent tore my boarding pass, let me through the gate onto the tarmac. At the base of the airplane stairs, a baggage handler took my carry-on bag to stow it. I started up the stairs to the plane.
The US Airways gate agent came out of the terminal and told me that I cannot board the plane. I came off the stairs and started walking toward her. She signalled for my bag to be retrieved from the cargo area and the baggage agent brought my bag. At that point, the gate agent signaled for another standby passenger who had been waiting in the terminal to board the plane.
The gate agent rushed back into the terminal without giving me a chance to ask what had just happened and I had to rush to follow her back inside.
Inside, the gate agent said another gate agent will take care of me. After about 15 minutes, the other agent told me the next flight is at 7.30am on Aug 2, through PHL arriving at BUF at 11am.
I asked if there was anything earlier, or if he could check a different carrier. He said no. I asked if I would be refunded should I choose to not take the 7.30am flight. The agent said he did not know and had no way to find out. I asked if he could book me on a flight later the next day. He said no - that he could do absolutely NOTHING except put me on the 7.30 flight.
Now the whole reason for trying to get there on Friday night is this:
I was going to Canada for Caribana. My uncle was supposed to pick me up at BUF airport and we would drive into Canada. My uncle had to work until 7pm on Saturday which meant that if I arrived at BUF at 11am on Saturday, he could not pick me up at the airport.
I called the US Airways number from my cell phone to find out if they could tell me whether I could be refunded for the ticket if I didn't take the 7.30 flight. The agent who spoke to me said that I would not be refunded, and that if I wanted to take a different flight, I could, but I would be charged a $150 change fee, plus the difference in fare.
I spent about 20 minutes on the phone trying to figure out what I should do. At about 9.30, I asked the counter agent to check again to see if a different carrier had any flights leaving earlier. The agent says: well Southwest has a flight that's leaving in 10 minutes, but there's no way you'd make that.
Had he given me this information at 8.10 when I first asked him, I would've been able to make that flight, but he had instead told me that he couldn't check other carriers.
At this point I realized that these agents had had ZERO intention of doing anything to assist me from the time the gate agent held me back from boarding so she could let standbys board.
I left the airport and paid $40 to get back home.
At home I searched for a car rental that I could pick up in BUF at 11am. Everything was sold out as it was Caribana weekend. I looked at the bus schedules and found 3 buses going from BUF to Toronto. - at 3pm, 4pm and 9pm. The next day I paid $40 to get back to the airport and boarded the 7.30am flight. That flight was delayed due to "weather" and I arrived in PHL at 9.10 missing my 9.20 connection to BUF.
The gate agent in BUF told me the next available flight out was at 2.45pm. I went to a different US Airways ticketing counter and the lady there put me on standby for an 11.45am flight. There were 2 other standby passengers on that flight and the gate agent told us to have a seat and he'd take care of us. The confirmed passengers boarded and then the agent went onto the plane and asked if anybody would be willing to give up their seats for a free ticket. Two people volunteered and came off the plane. After about 20 minutes of waiting while the gate agent did whatever behind the counter, one of the other standby passengers went up to him and asked if we were getting on the flight. The gate agent says something to the effect of "Oh that flight's long gone!"
US Airways agents are clearly not very courteous since he couldn't event bother to TELL us that we weren't getting on the flight, despite the fact that 2 ppl volunteered their seats.
So I got on the 2.45 flight and arrived in BUF at 3.45pm. By the time I got to arrivals, it clearly made no sense trying to find the bus station and trying to catch the 4pm bus.
My uncle wouldn't be able to pick me until 8pm, and the next bus left BUF at 9pm. So I was resigned to wait for 4 hours in the airport. I decided to check the car rental agencies to see if there were any cars at all. Alamo told me they had an SUV, but it would cost me $99 per day. After consulting with my aunt, she said I should rent the SUV and drive to Canada instead of wasting 4 MORE hours in the airport.
So I did. I arrived at my Canada destination at 6pm.
Needles to say, I (and my aunt and cousin who had to wait for my arrival) missed all of Caribana.
Now I had rented the SUV for a day, since I can't afford more than 1 day at $99! So on Sunday, which we had planned to spend sightseeing in Canada, we had to spend in 4 hours of traffic trying to get back to BUF airport to return the car.
Despite the fact that we left 2 hours earlier than necessary, we arrived at the car rental place 2 hours late, and I was charged late fees for the car.
So thus far, I've wasted all day Saturday, all day Sunday, missed Caribana which was the whole point of the trip, and I've spent an additional $125 for a car I shouldn't have had to rent, not to mention made my relatives miss Caribana and waste all of Sunday too! All because a gate agent refused to let me board the plane - first by purposely holding me back before she even started processing standbys, and then by pulling me off the plane after she let me board it!
I enjoyed my Monday and Tuesday morning and then returned to the BUF airport for my return itinerary:
Aug 5, 2008
flight 3663 4.14pm BUF - 5.31pm LGA
flight 3759 6.35pm LGA - 7.54pm BWI
The initial announcement was that the 4.14 flight was delayed to 4.51.
At around 4.45 they announced that the plane has technical problems and flight is cancelled.
They rerouted me through PHL and put me on an 8.45pm flight out of PHL arriving BWI very late.
Got home at midnight, which would have been fine except that because I was not at home when I initially planned to be, one of my clients gave my $1200 design contract to a competitor.
So here's the tally:
$80 - from having to drive to and from the airport 2 extra times
$125 from the car that I wasn't supposed to have to rent
$1200 lost contract because US Airways couldn't honor their flight schedule
and 2 WASTED DAYS for me and my relatives in Canada.
It is only fair that I get a full refund of my money, plus compensation, since US Airways was not able to provide any of the services I paid for, and the result is that I ended paying out $205 extra, plus losing a $1200 contract.
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Unbelievably Horrible Customer Service Experience
Posted by Steve on 2009-02-05
PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA -- This is the first time I have ever posted my opinion about anything on the internet - I am normally very hard to offend, but the experience I just had with US Air has left me so amazed at their terrible, insulting customer service that I am going remove US Air as a choice for my employees to use, and write this post to hopefully keep others from flying US Air and potentially experiencing anything close to what just happened to me.
I fly about once ever 3 to 4 months, so not often but not a total rookie either. I flew for the first time to Philly, and for the first time chose US Air due to their partnership with United, on which I have Premier status (barely). My flight out of Philly to Atlanta was scheduled for 4:30pm Wed. and about 2:15pm I received a cell phone message saying the plane was delayed about 70 minutes. I had just arrived at the airport, so went to a restaurant where I located an outlet for my laptop close to the airline info screens, and started working while I waited. The flight screen continued to update with increasing delays - now up to 2 hours, so I ordered a margarita and continued to work, resigned to a long stay in this airport before my business trip leg continued to Atlanta. 30 min later the flight updated on the board to cancelled. I was not near the actual gate yet, so I called US Air from my cell while I continued to work, and was told we have been moved to a 9:00pm flight. Sigh.
I decided to head over to Delta and check out their 5:55pm departing flight to Atlanta - figured if it was under $250 I would just pay and go. Got to the gate and found out that most of the passengers from the 4:30pm US Air flight had been moved onto this Delta flight - cool! However, because I had not gone and sat at the gate, I was not tagged to move to this flight. The nice Delta representative told me to head over to the US Air service desk & have them put me on the 7:20pm flight heading to Atlanta. Cool.
Off I head again (and anyone who knows this airport knows I was doing a lot of walking with luggage by this point). Get to the US Air service desk and wait in a substantial line, watching in increasing concern as the service representative and her manager systematically belittle, deny and in one case seem almost gleeful in their refusal to help various folks in front of me...I assumed I was not hearing both sides of the conversations taking place ahead in line & actually smiled at the seeming straightforward nature of my request. Ha! My turn came, and I walked up, then told the story and asked cheerfully if I could be moved to the 7:20pm Delta flight with over a dozen open seats. The US Air representative told me no luck, I would have to take the 9:00pm flight. I asked why everyone else had been nicely moved to a Delta flight while I - with the same dilema & transferring United status, had to sit and wait. She told me I had not "followed proper procedure" and that "she did not have to put me on any flight since she smelled alcohol on my breath.
She then called over her manager while I noted with increasing dismay that I had never had a flight cancelled underneath me & did not realize there was a procedure, nor did the US Air representative on the phone mention anything. The most amazing thing was how MEAN this lady was - and I realized a moment later I was going to become their next victim. The manager came over and proceeded to verbally assault me in a manner that in my 38 years of life I had never experienced in a customer facing experience - she made the first representative seem like the good cop! I still can hardly believe what happened. I never got in a word, just listened as she threatened to keep me in the Philly airport overnight due to my "not being at the gate, choice to have a drink (which I would not have done had their flight not been delayed 2 hours at one point), etc. She was beyond anything negative I had ever experienced. I walked away speechless.
2 minutes later I decided to fight back, and walked across the terminal again to the far US Air service desk on the other end. Upon finally arriving the lone service representative there nicely listened to my brief repeat story / transfer request, then immediately and successfully transferred me to the 7:20pm Delta flight (I made no mention of my experience at the first US Air service desk). She was excellent, and seemed much less interested in tearing passengers apart and more interested in really listening and helping.
I am a Director for multiple global software support teams, and have to say that I would not blame anyone for having a bad day, but what Veena did transcended anything resembling a bad day, and ensured that I will never fly US Air again nor allow any employee in my company or business units to have a trip approved on this airline for fear of them experiencing anything remotely as negative as what I experienced.
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Do Not Fly US Airways!
Posted by Anne on 2013-09-22
DO NOT FLY WITH US AIRWAYS!
US Airways Flight 4427
Philadelphia to Baltimore
August 8th, 2013
I was not late to my flight, I did not miss the date, I did everything correct. It was -your- airline that created the entire problem by overbooking all flights that came after our cancelled flight that day. The only resolution offered to us that would fly us directly to Baltimore would have been to take a flight leaving -11 HOURS- (9pm) after our originally scheduled flight (11am). That is not acceptable.
This was the answer I received from US Airways customer service employee Edie Curt:
“When a customer accepts accommodations to an alternate airport, the customer assumes responsibility for the additional expenses.”
To note here, we did not “assume” the extra expenses. We were given no other choice if we wanted to reach Baltimore in time. We accepted a flight to DC because it was our only alternative that would get us close enough to take public transportation to Baltimore, and to meet our deadline.
I did ask if we could be provided a rental car so we could drive ourselves from Philadelphia, and that request was immediately denied. As it was, we had to spend our own money for all public transportation from DC to Baltimore so we could meet our group waiting for us in time. This is also not acceptable. It took us FOUR trains to get from DC to Baltimore in unfamiliar territory. Why should this cost be on us?
This was a second answer I received from US Airways customer service employee Edie [snip]:
“There are no federal aviation regulations concerning what an airline must do to compensate passengers when the carrier delays or cancels a flight. This is true regardless of the reason for the delay/cancellation (e.g., weather, mechanical, crew availability, etc.).”
So basically because it is not ILLEGAL, they are not required to help their customers in any way. Beware if you are flying US Airways in the future, I would consider otherwise. I have flown on other airlines and I have always either been provided a hotel, food, direct compensation for a future flight or alternate transportation to my exact destination at no cost to myself.
Keeping the money we paid for services you did not deliver upon is considered theft. Your airline is a poor excuse for a business, and we will never fly with you again.
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How is the He** Do They Stay in Business with Such Horrendous Customer Service
Posted by Carolyn on 2013-06-26
HEADQTRS, PHOENIX AZ, ARIZONA -- First of all, after flying and being a Gold Preferred Member with this airlines for the past 20 years, I never thought I would be in such an insulting situation as I now am after almost a week of negotiations over a 12 hour grace period on a set of $2200.00 tickets reissuing process. Beware everyone, if you cancel a flight, you not only have to reissue your tickets within a year, you must complete all travel within that year as well. Which, I never had to worry about until this week. Had to cancel a trip for my daughter and me from PHL to SFO because our kids and grandkids got sick, tickets were first class and bought outright with no miles upgrades - paid entire fare.
When I went to reissue this week for us I was told that my travel had to be issued and completed within the week. You could have knocked me over with a feather. Now, only possibility was the wedding we are attending in Providence RI this weekend, June 29th 2013. So, wedding is at 5:00 pm and they are telling me that we can fly out on June 28th but have to be back on a flight to Philadelphia by midnight on June 29th. I asked for a 12 hour grace period to get on noon flight on June 30th. NO WAY they said. Can't do it - breaking the rules. Now I ask you all, what kind of reward is this for all these years of flying business and pleasure with US Airways? By the way, you can only communicate via email and FAX. Customer Relations speaks to no one.
Are they just busting my chops or what? What is the big deal about 12 hours. We have a company outside of Phildelphia PA with 100 employees. They fly US Airways, and of course, we pay for our employees. We spent 100K, let me repeat, $100,000 with these clowns last year. What absolute idiots. Needless to say, they are not getting any more of our business. If my husband and I operated our business the way these numbskulls have operated in the past week, we would be out of business. Isn't amazing how comfortable they are with stealing our money?
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US Airways Negligence
Posted by Susan on 2012-03-29
COLUMBUS, OHIO -- Emailed to company, CEO of US Airways, and the U.S. Department of Transportation, Aviation Consumer Protection & Enforcement.
We arrived in Charlotte, NC (3-24-2012) and found our flight delayed due to weather. The signage over the boarding area changed twice reflecting the delays with the last departure showing 8:17 pm to Columbus, OH. We waited at a nearby restaurant (only a few yards away) and periodically checked the signage board to see if there were any changes. When we arrived to board at 7:40 pm an employee stated “didn't you know the flight was cancelled?” My husband said we checked the sign and another employee stated “never trust the signs.” I received 2 voice mails reflecting the 2 delays but no voicemail stating the cancellation.
I immediately went to the service counter where I waited in line for an hour for a customer representative. One representative tried to get us on a connecting flight and we almost had a connection but due to our delay because of the failure of the signage not reflecting the actual flight status (cancelled) we missed that flight. We then were sent to the manager for “better arrangements”. The manager (after I again waited behind another couple for at least 20 minutes) then supposedly put us on a standby list for two (2) different flights and booked a flight for the following day.
We raced to the first airline where we were supposedly placed on standby to find we were not on the standby list and had to stand again at another service counter to again get on our original standby list.
Time delays caused by the improper signage and the failure of the service personnel to put us in the computer for standby gave us no chance to obtain a flight until the next day.
US AIRWAYS refused to pay for overnight accommodations. We were told there is no reimbursement for weather related delays or cancellations however the weather in this instance was only one factor compounded by US AIRWAYS employee’s negligence.
Received email from US Airways stating that we were not eligible for reimbursement because of the weather. Our position was the signage was incorrect and their customer service was substandard.
Never fly their airlines again.
P.S. Another flight with US Airways during spring break also resulted in a negative experience. They overbooked to "insure their seats were at capacity" and I was bumped from a returning flight. Two strikes and you're out in my book.
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Customer Service Lacking!
Posted by Karen on 2012-02-22
BALTIMORE, MARYLAND -- Last evening I had the most horrible experience I can remember in recent times with any customer service department. I called about changing one leg of my upcoming round trip from the east coast to the west coast and back. Simply I asked that my return flight be changed from leaving from Ontario to leaving from Sacramento and changing to one day later. Still arriving back in Baltimore. This was apparently more than the customer service representative could do herself, so I asked for a supervisor.
The supervisor really was no better. In the end the supervisor said that my change was made and I hung up the phone (this took more than 1 hour on the phone). When I got the confirmation I saw the changed flight, but there was now no mention of my outbound flight from Baltimore to Ontario. When I called back the Customer service person that answered told me that I did not have an outbound flight. I move to a Supervisor and she told me that on the previous call they canceled my WHOLE Reservation and moved it to a ONE WAY! This was NEVER supposed to be done.
When I asked her to reinstate my outbound her attitude changed and she was very unpleasant. I immediately asked for her supervisor. When speaking to third person (Alita) I explained the situation and my complete displeasure with the now 2 + hours I have spent working on making a small change. She told me that my displeasure needed to be expressed on the website (usair.com in the contact us section) which I found absolutely upsetting. Customer Service People are in sales, they are to sell the company and the company's product / services. I do not feel that the 5 people I spoke to did ether. By the end of the call I was told I would need to pay an additional $183 if I wanted to get my Outbound, which should never have been canceled in the first place, back.
The bottom line is that I spent well over 2 hours working on something that should have been 15 min. I spent 2 hours dealing with people that did not seem caring or interested in helping me with my issues even though I am the one spending my money to use their service. I have been a loyal customer of US AIRWAYS for years and I have walked away last night feeling that my loyalty is not desired, respected, or deserved.
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Denied us flight to final destination
Posted by H. on 2011-04-02
DENIED us access to our final destination!!!! The WORST airline ever!!!!! Flew from New orleans to charlotte and was then supposed to continue to cancun. Upon checking into our international flight they were asking for volunteers to give up their seats because they OVER BOOKED the flight. Us having the worst timing ever walked up so they could check our passports at which point US airways employee Debie, told us that one of our passports was in unacceptable condition for travel (bent in the bottom left hand corner, not torn, faded, or suspicious looking) and it was her call whether or not to allow us to board the flight and she "would say no". We've been traveling internationally frequently for the last four years, our last trip was in April 2010, and had never previously had ANY problems. She scanned the passport (which was perfectly legible) and said that because one number was coming up as a "z" instead of a 2, she could not allow us to board our flight.
We were told that we would have to be re routed back to New Orleans and would be issued a full refund (not that our hotel would give us one since we were cancelling with less than 24 notice) and told we would be put on standby. we waited 3 hours for the first flight to n. o. and approached the desk to be told we weren't put on standby... waited another 2 hours for the next flight to find out they split up our names and only one of us could board that flight... waited another 3 hours to finally board. Tim, the international supervisor at charlotte wrote up an absolutely USELESS report for us to give the hotel saying that the passport was in "unacceptable travel condition and would not scan.... WHICH IT WOULD.
The report suggested that the passport was in horrible condition and that we shouldve known better. There is NO ONE to speak with about getting a refund... you have to submit an e-mail and wait for the airway to get back to you at their leisure. They must be the only company in the world that doesn't have a PERSON TO TALK TO in customer relations which might explain why it's such a horrible airline. They didn't offer us any resoultion, not a voucher, not airline miles, couldn't even put us on standby! Spending the day at the airport I heard complaint after complaint to the special services desk where sat a man who could only offer unhappy travelers shoulder shrugs and unsimpathetic apologies.
Over the course of they day I heard four other travelers being denied the flight they purchased tickets for, for one reason or another. I will NEVER fly US airways again and I strongly advise others to avoid their airline at ALL costs.