American Airlines Complaint - We arrived to check in 45 mins. before departure; they said we missed our flight
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA -- My child had an unaccompanied minor flight scheduled for Saturday, December 15, 2007, flight 258 to JFK Airport in New York, leaving from home, Las Vegas, Nevada. This was to be the second year she was flying unaccompanied to visit her elderly grandmother, aunt and cousins. A special trip to New York City’s Radio City show had been planned for Sunday, the 16th, with tickets that had already been purchased.
What happened at the airport by insensitive and uncaring employees of American Airlines was inexcusable. We live in Las Vegas and have been there many times since our family lives on the east coast and travel often, although this was the first time we have ever had anything like this happen to us.
We arrived at the airport at approximately 6:30 a.m., but there was quite a wait in line at the check-in counter, with only two employees handling the line. By the time we got up to the desk it was 6:50 a.m. Her flight was scheduled for 7:35 a.m. As we approached the desk the woman just asked, “What time does your flight depart?” We replied 7:35. She said, “You missed your flight. You need to check in two hours prior.” My daughter had NO BAGGAGE to check, nor was she flying international. It was just a flight to New York, and your website “recommends” arrival at the airport “60 minutes prior if baggage is going to be checked.” It does not state that you “must arrive 60 minutes prior,” and we know there was plenty of time to get to her gate and on board that plane prior to takeoff as we have traveled often from McCarran.
A conversation then took place about putting my daughter on the next flight for the day, but she replied there were no other seats for Saturday. She then suggested Sunday, but there would be a stop over in Chicago, then another suggestion for Dallas. At that point she left us (she did not even ask us yet for Sarah’s last name, or ticket reservation number, or flight itinerary). She said she was going to speak to her supervisor. When she came back to the counter she then spoke to us some more telling us her supervisor did not recommend the Dallas stop-over flight on Sunday because bad weather was expected. She then suggested flight 258 for Monday morning – the same flight as Saturday, same time. At that point she got on her computer terminal and started to ask for our information, which was approximately 15 minutes after we had stepped up to the check-in counter.
I have explained the course of time to you because when I arrived home, I immediately called American Airlines and asked for a supervisor. I told him what had happened and he too was so indifferent that all he could keep repeating was that it indicated on the computer that we “checked in at 7:04 a.m." I tried to explain that that time was incorrect because we had been there about 15 or 20 minutes prior to that time having conversation with the employee at the desk and she with her supervisor before she actually went on the computer to reschedule my daughter’s flight.
I find your employees’ manner of dealing with the public offensive and unprofessional. My husband and I both feel my daughter was bumped off that flight because AA probably overbooked it originally and gave my daughter’s seat away even though we were there well within the time constraints of getting on that plane on time. If your phone conversations are recorded, as it advises when someone calls AA, you can listen to my conversation with your employee who I was told was a “supervisor.” It should be embarrasssing to a company to have employees who practice this kind of deceit upon its customers. I purchased this ticket months ago, and my 10-year-old daughter was crying she was so upset that she could not get to New York to visit with her grandmother and missed the show with her cousins, and she lost two days of her vacation time. I feel this should not happen to paying customers. You should also change your website to be more user friendly. The verbiage it currently indicates is not accurate because it uses terms such as “recommend” instead of notifying customers they need to arrive before a certain time or they will not be allowed to go to the departure gate before their flight departs because employees make up new rules when customers arrive to check in without taking into consideration the time someone has spent in a line because of lack of employees handling customers at the check-in desk. The practice of overbooking, which is what I believe happened to my daughter’s seat, is bad practice and gives an airline a bad reputation.
Also, the Monday that my daughter finally departed, she was given two boarding passes, one from Saturday’s employee and one from Monday’s employee, both bearing different seat assignment numbers, and when we went through security, the security agent was all confused and questioned me why there were two boarding passes for my child. I told him that’s what I was given, and he said he had never come across that before – which indicates more evidence of disorganized/unprofessional employees on your staff.
I would also like to advise you of the problems encountered in New York’s Kennedy Airport when my daughter finally arrived there. The person picking her up was at the airport over one hour before her plane was due to arrive. The ticket agent would not issue him an escort pass to get through security to be able to pick up my daughter at the arrival gate (as was done last year when she flew by herself). The agent told him to go to security and they would page him. On the other end, my daughter was being held after the plane had disembarked and the stewardess told my daughter that her “uncle was late.” In fact, her uncle was not late, but was being told to wait in a place that obviously the stewardess had not been informed of.
When they finally paged him, they told him that he was waiting in the wrong place (which was where the ticket agent told him to go), and the stewardess told him to go to another area, where he waited another 20 minutes in front of one of the shops in the concourse. My daughter’s plane arrived at the gate at approximately 3:10 p.m., but he did not retrieve her until 4:00 p.m. Obviously, your employees are not organized and should be retrained so as not to cause such chaos, such as designating ONE AREA as the pick up for minor children flying alone. I was very worried that something was wrong when I was told Sarah’s uncle did not have Sarah yet by 3:45. I have also been told by other friends and family that have traveled AA in the past that your company is very disorganized and caused problems.
If you want to please your customers, which should be a primary goal, you have to earn it, and certainly not by these practices.