AirTran Airways Complaint - The Airtran Experience
NEWARK, NEW JERSEY -- Below is a letter I wrote to the Airtran customer service department. As of yet I have not received any acknowledgment that I even exist, let alone an apology.
After reading this everything should be clear:
To: Aitran Airways
RE: Flight 579 on August 17th, 2007. Newark to Atlanta.
My experience with Airtran has been a nightmare and that's being generous. I don't think I have ever seen a company with such poor customer service with so many mean spirited people in their employ.
My ordeal started when my flight home to Atlanta (flight 579) was delayed several hours due to weather. Now I understand that certain factors such as weather are not in anyone's control. I'm not angry with anyone because it rained, although I am puzzled how a 20 minute rain storm can cancel several flights and cause an 8 hour backlog in air traffic. I am angry, however, on the way your staff handled themselves as a result. A complete and total lack of professionalism and a text book demonstration of poor company training.
RE: Ticket agent "Diane" at gate A-10 at Newark Airport. There was a situation with another passenger who was obviously irate from the long day, lack of information and professionalism of your staff. What started out as a customer complaint turned into a shouting match and almost a fist fight between the ticket agent and the customer.
By no means am I suggesting the behavior of this man was acceptable; there was no pleasing him and he needed to be removed by Port Authority Police, but it was Diane who made a bad situation worse. She lost her cool and could have at the very least contained the situation instead of causing it to escalate as far as it did.
*Warning: Profane language to follow*
I heard screaming and when I and the rest of the people from gate 10 and surrounding gates turned our heads Diane was shouting profanities and racial slurs to the customer; "....get your F***** black a** out of here....you God D**** A******...." were just a few of the things that came out of her trashy mouth. Of course this antagonized the man further and his cell phone was laying on the gate counter. Diane grabbed his cell phone and threw it at him. He managed to catch it, then she reached across the counter and she actually took a swing at him. He called her a few "choice" words and by that time Port Authority officers came and removed the man.
This entire episode went on in front of at least 100 people and about a dozen children. Nobody wanted to deal with Diane after that. She created an unsafe, unsettling and uneasy feeling with the rest of us as we all talked about the incident. I decided I was going to report this to customer service at the ticket counter at main check in and see if I could get another flight on a different airline.
When I explained what had happened to the two young people down there they simply laughed it off as something funny. "Oh, that's just Diane, she's pregnant you know. Those hormones must be making her crazy."
I was shocked. I told them I didn't want to fly with Airtran that night, that I felt uneasy about what had happened. After all, if the ticket agents are stressed out, what's the flight crew going to be like after arriving almost 8 hours late? I was told that there was nothing they could do except give me a refund. Also, they told me that when flying Airtran it's always best to fly before 2:00pm in case of cancellations because Airtran doesn't have any "agreements" with any other airlines so if one of the flight gets canceled, we are basically "SOL" and it could take up to 2 days to get back home.
I couldn't believe what I was hearing. I called customer service at your 800 number and I was placed on hold for so long that it ran my cell phone battery down. I decided that I was going to DRIVE to Atlanta and I took the airport train back to my rental car company only to find out that everyone else had the same idea I had and all the affordable cars were gone. It was then that I realized that I was being held hostage by Airtran and I had no choice and there was NOTHING in my control, "Corporate Terrorism" is the phrase I'm going to coin for this. Can you imagine how frustrating that can be to someone?
I decided to keep my mouth shut until I got home. I felt afraid that if I complained too much then I would be "singled out' and treated badly in retaliation.
This morning (Saturday, August 18th) I called the 800 number and spoke with a woman "Tracy or Stacy" to tell her about what had happened.
She was short and rude with me on the phone. When I told her I wanted to bring something to her attention about flight 579 out of Newark the previous night she all but refused to help me without my confirmation number. Then when I started to tell her about what happened she instantly took the side of the airline and defended it. "...What do you want me to do about it? I'm a reservation specialist, I wasn't there so I can't help you. If you have a complaint you'll have to visit our website..."
I am utterly disgusted with your airline. I honestly don't see how you can continue to operate by treating people like this. Is this the Airtran way of doing things? Is this the norm?
This was a business trip for me so all the travel arrangements were made by my company. I am sending a copy of this complaint to them and I am going to strongly suggest that we no longer do business with Airtran again. There is no excuse for what happened to us. My job depends on good customer service and if I behaved the way you did to one of my customers I would be terminated on the spot without any questions asked.
They say when a customer has a good experience with a business they might tell one, possibly two other people but when they are treated badly they will tell ten. I promise you I will tell my ten, maybe even 20.