American Airlines Complaint - Where to begin?
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS -- Last October (2005), I decided to spend some of my hard-earned Frequent Flyer miles with American to travel to Dublin, Ireland. I convinced a friend of mine to come with me, and he bought a full price ticket to Dublin. I've been an AAdvantage member since 2001 and my friend has Gold member status. Both of us used American frequently for business and personal trips and were pretty happy with their service (despite the occasional delay or cancellation).
Our journey to Dublin began last week, Sunday, May 1, 2006. We were booked on a flight from Saint Louis to Chicago O'Hare, flight 1677, and were then booked from Chicago O'Hare to Dublin on flight 92. We were scheduled to leave STL at 4:59 PM and arrive at O'Hare at 6:16 PM. Our flight to Dublin was scheduled to leave O'Hare at 7:25 PM.
Due to some weather problems in the area, our flight out of STL was delayed a full hour to leave at 6 pm, but the gate attendant reassured us that we would still be able to make the flight to Dublin leaving from O'Hare at 7:25. En route to Chicago, my friend talked to another passenger who was also heading for Dublin, but he had already been rebooked to go through London and then on to Dublin because another AA agent in STL told him he wouldn't be able to make the connection to Dublin from O'Hare that night!
That turned out to be the case with us, as well. We arrived at O'Hare and went directly to the Dublin flight's gate, but even though we stood there and looked at the plane for a full 15 minutes before it departed the gate, the AA agent would not let us on. We were sent to the "Rebooking Center," which is just a telephone bank, to try and find an alternate flight.
We managed to get ourselves onto a flight to London that would connect to an Aer Lingus flight from London to Dublin. We would get to Dublin six hours later than planned, but it was the best we could get without waiting a full day.
The AA gate agent who put us on the London flight was unresponsive to our questions about what would happen to our luggage, and sure enough, our luggage was not in Dublin when we arrived there the next afternoon. The people at Aer Lingus were extremely helpful; they found and delivered my friend's luggage the evening after we arrived and mine came the following evening.
A wonderful week in Ireland was followed by yet more American Airlines service flubs. We were scheduled on AA flight 93 out of Dublin on Monday, May 8th. My itinerary that came via email said that the flight was leaving from Dublin to go to O'Hare at 12:35 pm, so we arrived at the airport at 10 am. However, when we got to Dublin airport, we found that the time had been moved forward to 10:45 am and that the flight had been closed. After talking to a supervisor at some length about the situation, she escalated the problem to American's site manager at Dublin Airport, Sheila Murphy. Sheila informed us that AA had sent an email update on 3/10/06 regarding the schedule change. I looked through my email and found no such update. Being a computer geek, I explained to her that sometimes email doesn't arrive as intended, or that there may be a bug in their delivery system. She remained unmoved and dispassionately told us she would do nothing for us, that we would have to wait until the flight out the next day, that AA would not pay for our hotel that night, and that those are the risks of booking online. We gave her a resounding piece of our minds and explained that an email notification regarding a two hour move forward of an international flight was a very, VERY poor notion of customer service. Her answer was more or less, "Those are the breaks. Neither I nor American care."
Furious, we spent an extra night in Dublin and arrived early the next morning to catch the 10:45 am flight from Dublin to O'Hare (flight 93). Miss Murphy had printed out our tickets for us, but she put the wrong date (May 8 instead of May 9) on my friend's ticket, causing another minor delay. Otherwise flight 93 went pretty smoothly. We landed at the scheduled time (12:30 pm-ish) in Chicago.
Our flight to Saint Louis, flight 2067, wasn't scheduled to leave until 4 pm. Being well aware of the delays and cancellations that occur at O'Hare in the evenings, we asked an AA gate agent if it would be possible to get on standby for an earlier flight. She scornfully proclaimed that if we had already checked baggage for the later flight (which we had), the FAA would not allow them to put us on a different flight than our baggage. I suspected this was nonsense as I had gone standby on flights before, even when my baggage was checked for another flight, but I couldn't prove it to argue it, so I didn't.
Our 4 pm flight to STL was delayed, and we boarded around 4:30 pm. While boarding, people were told to not block the aisle so that people could get to their seats and the craft could leave on time. How a 4:00 scheduled departure leaving now at 4:52 could be considered "on time" was beyond me.
We then sat on the plane while a "mechanical issue" was dealt with. Considering the rather disturbing buzzing sound coming from one of the craft's wings during flight, I'm not really sure that the mechanical issue was actually resolved. We finally left the runway at O'Hare at 6 pm and landed in STL at 6:45.
After waiting a few minutes for our luggage in baggage claim, we found that it had already arrived on the flight before us, despite the gate agent's claim that the FAA mandates that our baggage travel on the same flight with us.
Needless to say, American Airlines will receive no more business from me, and I would advise other travelers to be wary in dealing with them. Despite their exorbitant ticket prices, they show no interest in serving their customers, and no matter how many times they screw up or waste your time, you will receive no compensation or, for that matter, compassion.
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