American Airlines Complaint - Avoid flights with connections to other airlines
Do not buy flights where you must connect between different airlines during your journey. Beware that code-sharing arrangements and alliances are becoming more common, and they mean trouble for customers.
Three of us flew to Europe (Stockholm) in June 2007, then while there took a separate flight from Stockholm to St. Petersburg. The flights seemed to be good deals, but the hidden cost was in the connections. We flew American Airlines to London-Heathrow, connecting to a British Airways flight to Stockholm. The BA flight had an AA number, which made it look like AA flights all the way.
But the transfer at London-Heathrow was a disaster:
- A bag lost at Heathrow. Despite having a copy of our itinerary inside the bag, it took five days to get our bag to us. American made no effort to look up our flight information and forward the bag. They e-mailed me instead--does anyone expect to get such e-mails while traveling? The British Airways baggage agent at Stockholm was worse. They got the bag several days later but made no effort to send it to our hotel (we were in Norway by then).
- Confusion finding our connecting flight. American made no effort to tell us how to find our BA flight. If you've been to Heathrow you know it's a disaster of an airport--no displays of flights, just generic signs with terminal numbers. It was mostly by chance that we found our next flight.
- Huge lines backing up the connections. It took literally two full hours to get to the connecting gate. Enormous lines at the arriving terminal, then onto the shuttle bus, wait on that for half an hour, then more huge lines at the other end. Then security screening (why do they need to repeat this for connections?) was incredibly slow. Never connect through Heathrow without at least two hours between flights!
- Hostile airport staff enforcing one-carry-on policy. You can't even carry a small purse besides your one carry on. We ended up throwing away several items we used for traveling to get our bags down to one per person.
The flight between Stockholm and St Petersburg also required switching airlines, this time on the return. The return was through Moscow. At Moscow we had to reclaim our luggage (they wouldn't check it through), then get from the domestic terminal to the international terminal. That may sound easy, but the terminals are miles apart. The only "shuttle" is a city bus, which has a barrier that you have to lift your luggage over--and it stops many times between the terminals. A taxi would definitely have been a better idea, had we known.
Bottom line: watch out when you're shopping for airline tickets that you don't have a transfer between airlines during a journey. For online shopping you usually spot that if you're careful. If enough people refuse these arrangements, the airlines might get a clue. The airlines are reaping benefits from their code-sharing agreements, and consumers are paying the price.