AirTran Airways Complaint - AirTran Is AirTrash - Denied Boarding - Horrendous
MAYVILLE, WISCONSIN -- AirTran is the worst flying experience I've ever had in my life. No business or company has ever treated me with more disrespect, rudeness, and bull crap than AirTran. If they were to go out of business and all of the people who worked for them, including the pilots (for supporting the airline), lost their jobs and ended up begging for food on the streets, I’d not be sad. I’d throw a party and invite all of my friends so that we could all rejoice in the suffering and downfall of AirTran, which is more deserving of the name AirTrash.
I got up at 3:30 a.m. so my friend could drive me from Naples to Tampa for my 8 a.m. flight. We arrived at the check-in terminal about 7:10, give or take. I would appear on the security tape.
I waited in line maybe five minutes until a little lady in a blue shirt with an Indian-sounding accent started yelling for people with an 8 a.m. flight to come up.
“Anyone who has an 8 a.m. flight?” she questioned. Hands went up all over the place. Some of us didn’t know what the heck was going on. We were all plenty early; what was up?
“Come up,” she said, “or you will miss your eight o’clock flight.” We went up, and five seconds later as we reached the check-in agent, we were told the flight was closed. I looked at my Palm Zire 31 time, and it was 7:23 a.m., 37 minutes before the plane was to take off.
Why were we called to come up if they knew we wouldn’t be let on the plane? I asked a customer service lady (who was in a red shirt) this question, and she didn’t know. I told her to ask the lady who was yelling to give me the reason I was denied boarding, and she gave me a lie: She wasn’t calling for people to check in, she said. She was calling for people to come up and see what could be done about them missing their flights, she said. Funny how that wasn’t actually what she said, but she certainly was able to make it up quickly to avoid getting in trouble.
I asked her to write down her answer so I would have a record of it, but she refused. Then I asked her what her name was.
“What do you need that for?” she asked and refused to give me her name.
People were turned away from their flights left and right, and as I went through the runaround with the customer service lady in the red shirt, the one in the blue shirt, who had called the people to the front of the line, was explaining why she made her stupid decision. I was the last person in line, she said. She had proof of it, she said. What proof, I didn’t know, but if she meant the security camera, then the airline would also have proof that I was in line prior to when the sign said I had to be.
And what her proof mattered anyhow, I didn’t know. What mattered was I paid $250 for a flight that I arrived plenty early for and was just denied boarding on. That’s what mattered, but this is a good opportunity to point out that nobody I talked to who worked for AirTran saw it that way. They saw it as the customer’s fault, and it was just too dang bad for the customer. Their customer service department didn’t provide me any customer service.
I was told I could check in for the 8:10 flight but they couldn’t check my bag. Then what was I supposed to do with it? Leave in an elevator? Throw my luggage in the garbage? Give my luggage to a stranger to keep? Have it shipped home? I really want AirTran’s answer to what someone is supposed to do with their luggage if they’re asked to take a flight but their luggage can’t be checked anywhere.
One of the customer “disservice” ladies called the supervisor, who came out of a closed door behind the check-in terminal. His name was Mark, but I couldn’t read the last name. My eyes were too big with anger and adrenaline was clouding my thought. I’d never been more furious with a company in my entire life.
Mark gave me AirTran’s version of great customer service by first telling me that there were no open flights until Tuesday. I had gotten up at 3 a.m. to catch an 8 a.m. flight, came face to face with a girl at the chec-in counter 37 minutes before departure, was denied boarding, and now AirTrash was telling me that I couldn’t leave Tampa until Tuesday, two days later. I don’t know for sure, but my guess is that right around the same time he was telling me this, the plane I was supposed to be on was probably sitting still.
Then Mark got a great idea. He punched a bunch of keys on his keyboard, and told me he’d be right back. He went in the door, stayed for a while then came out. There was a 3:42 p.m. flight out of Sarasota International that he could get me on.
“Can you make it down there?” he asked.
What the hell is someone supposed to say? What was I supposed to do, walk? Pay $200 for a cab? Hitch a ride? Sleep in the airport until Tuesday and see if maybe they could pull a flight out of their butts then? I said I could probably make it.
So he booked me for that flight and waived the fee. I was so fed up with him and everyone else at AirTran that I was ready to barf. I felt it churning in my stomach and I almost gagged.
I went to a pay phone and called my friend and told him the situation. He asked me twice if I was serious. I said twice that I was. I asked him to pick me up. He said he was already about an hour away, but he could do it.
So he came and we rode all the way to Sarasota, which in itself is just ridiculous to even think about. I mean I’d gotten up at 3:30 a.m. to catch this stupid 8 a.m. flight, arrived at the check-in 37 minutes early, and here I am in my friend’s car again traveling to Sarasota an hour away for a flight that would take off seven hours later. That’s a whole day wasted. Air Tran cared not. It was daily routine. They stranded me and left me without any help whatsoever. I was out of their face. That’s all they cared about.
When I got to Sarasota, I immediately went to the business class or customer service line, which was empty, and waited about five minutes before I finally talked to Dale Szczech. He had a bunch of complicated information on his badge, but his name tag said “Customer Service.” I told him briefly of my ordeal, and he didn’t care at all. “You missed your flight,” he said more than once. That was obvious.
I asked him some questions and his answer for all of them was something like this: “Every day is different in air travel.”
What the hell kind of excuse was that for anything? Even if anyone of the countless lies AirTran told me was true, what excuse was there to treat me like a piece of crap?
I asked Dale if I could at least get a discount, and he said he wasn’t authorized to do that, that nobody in the entire airport was authorized to do it. I told him I didn’t believe that. If the customer service department isn’t authorized to give customer service, who the hell is? Somebody on a phone in India? The president? The janitor? I told him to write down what he said about not being able to give me a discount and sign it. “I’m not signing anything. I’m not signing anything,” he said, throwing his hands up.
He said the best he could do was put me on standby for an earlier flight.
“I can put you on standby, but you won’t get on,” he said. What the hell choice did I have? He gave me my boarding pass and said I was confirmed for the late flight for sure.
Dale could only talk to me a couple of minutes before he pulled himself away and said he was done with me. He actually threw his hands up and said “I’m done with you, sir. There’s nothing I can do.”
What the hell right did he have to throw his hands up and say he was done with one of his paying customers? I wasn’t done. I still had a flight to catch in seven hours because AirTran denied me boarding on the first one even though I was 37 minutes early. I wasn’t done. But Dale was done. He threw up his hands and said the words.
I lingered at the desk. Twice he looked me and said he was done as he was rushing around and commanding customers about. When he finally came back, he said again he was done.
“Can I at least check my bag? Is that possible?” I asked.
If I hadn’t lingered there, he would have never once thought that he forgot to check my luggage for the flight he’d just booked me on. He never even asked if I had luggage. And even if he did, he forgot.
He also said he didn’t know “what happened in Tampa,” even after I explained it to him. He said I was lucky they were “gracious enough” to waive the transfer fee for my late flight. I guess I was. But unfortunately I wasn’t lucky enough to get on board the flight I’d originally paid for. It seems you need a lot of luck to travel with AirTran. Paying for your flight and arriving on time isn’t enough. You have to be “lucky.” Maybe, if you’re lucky, you’ll actually meet a real human being with a heart on AirTran’s staff.
It took me about 10 minutes to travel from that desk, through security, and to my gate. Maybe 15 minutes, but certainly not 37, which is the reason I was denied boarding on my first flight. I know that’s the reason because I asked one of the gate girls at Sarasota to look it up for me. Sure enough, Mark at Tampa had entered a reason for my transfer. The girl at the gate refused to print out the screen, of course, saying it wasn’t possible, but she did read what it said. It said something to the effect of I had check in online and I was stuck in a long line, and they didn’t think I’d make the flight, so the only way I could get to Chicago was to transfer to Sarasota, so they did the transfer and waived the fee.
They didn’t think I’d make the flight. Did they let me try?
I attempted to get on the 11:15 a.m. flight from Sarasota, which I was on standby for, but of course they were booked all the way to the moon, and the President of the United States couldn’t have booked his way on that one.
The next several hours were spent at a phone booth, where at least I could plug in my laptop. I didn’t spend any money at the airport, besides a long distance call. I was so fed up with flying, the airport itself and AirTran could eat me for all I cared.
I started typing what would become this letter, and I also wrote (with a pen I swiped from the AirTrash customer service desk) a sign on the back of a folder I used to keep my travel info. The sign said: “I’m sitting here because AirTran SUCKS!! They back stabbed me out of a flight I was on time and paid big money for.” You might be surprised how many people stopped to read it.
“Here I am with a sign and a run around built on the most massive foundation of B.S. I have ever experienced,” I typed.
“AirTran could have easily avoided having an angry customer with a sign warning people about their crappy ‘customer service’ if they only would have provided some customer service right away. If they would have simply offered a discount for my flight like I asked and more than deserved, I wouldn't have to sit outside their terminal with an ‘AirTran SUCKS’ sign. But they choose path of evil, taking every chance they could to deny me a simple discount. Air Tran's ‘free’ transfer was their version of the most graceful gesture in the universe. Of course, they didn't offer me any transportation to the other airport either. ‘Are you going to be able to get down there?’ they asked. Who would be able to get to Sarasota?
“Good thing I had a friend who could pick me up, otherwise AirTran would have left me stranded, and they wouldn't have cared one bit. AirTran did nothing for me, offered no help whatsoever,” I typed.
Can you imagine this? Have you ever been to a business where you weren't completely satisfied, and they did cartwheels in order to make you happy and regain your trust? You probably have, and those are the best businesses. They are honorable. If you go to Burger King and they screw up your order, don’t they fix it for free, maybe give you a replacement sandwich on the house? If a casino screws something up, don’t they comp you? Of course they do.
Not AirTran. There I was at the airport, so angry and so fed up with AirTran that I sat at the phone booth with an “AirTran SUCKS” sign.
Nobody from AirTran offered help. Every new person I talked to said things like “I'm sorry. There's nothing I can do. I tried everything. I'm not authorized. I don't know what happened. I'm done with you, sir. I'm done with this. I have to go help these other customers.”
The other customers didn't need any help! I needed a discount for being jerked around. I needed to get on an 8 a.m. flight that I was on time and paid big money for. Instead I was denied, denied my own flight.
Every negative review I’ve read about AirTran is 100 percent accurate, and I appreciate everyone who is courageous enough to step up and tell others how horrible AirTran is. If anybody, especially at AirTran, wants to prove me wrong, they can give me a cash refund for my flight.
I wasted seven hours of my life waiting for that late flight. I took another pair of complimentary ear buds, even though I already had one. I took my complimentary beverages, and I took the SkyMall magazine. But I didn’t take any satisfaction with my experience with AirTran. It was horrible.
I remember one of the AirTran staff members at the gate in Sarasota thought he was really great because he was the first one to come up with a cheer for the airline. I watched him do it twice (once on the early flight that there were no openings for), and at the end of each one he would say “My mother is proud of me.”
He went through the cheer for my flight.
“Give me an A,” he yelled, forming his arms into the A pattern, like in “YMCA.”
“Give me an ‘I’,” he yelled, the passengers yelling ‘I’ back, as I stared out the window, broken and in grief from AirTran’s hurtful treatment.
“Give me an R. Give me a T. Give me an R. Give me an A. Give me an N. What does that spell?”
--P.S. By the way, when I got to Midway Airport, I discovered that AirTrash wrecked the crap out of my luggage. I showed the guy the damaged tag and plastic parts, and no matter what I showed him, he said AirTran wouldn’t cover anything protruding from the bag. When I showed him the edge of the bag, which is the metal rim that holds the bag together and is part of the very bag itself, he hesitated a bit then said nothing that protruded from the bag is covered. No airline would cover it, he said.
Then I asked “What about this big rip?” showing him the bottom of the bag.
“Um, that I can get you a $50 travel voucher for,” he said, as if I’d ever fly with AirTran again.
The rip was from a previous trip, but it felt a little better just to rip AirTran back for the utter crap they put me through.
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