AirTran Airways Complaint - Soured on AirTran - Baggage Check-in Problems
ORLANDO, FLORIDA -- I recently flew from Columbus to Orlando and back on AirTran. Overall, the flight was wonderful with minimal delays. We were greeted by very pleasant and accommodating AirTran employees at the Columbus airport. However, our return from Orlando was quite a different story. We were told that three out of four of our bags were oversized and/or overweight. We found this at first quite amusing since they were both expandable duffel bags that were not filled. However, when the measurements were taken the clerk expanded the duffels beyond their contents to take the measurements. The bags are supposed to be 60" bags and somehow, someway the clerk decided that the bags measured 61"-although the bags were barely two-thirds full!! These bags have traveled the world over without incident or claims of being oversized!!
I argued that I would not pay the $39.00 and the nasty clerk called over a polite manager who measured the bags as well. Of course no explanation was given as to why they take the expanded size of the bag with no consideration to the actual contents--they rang up the $39.00 charge (x2) and then told me I could not board my plane if I did not pay the fees. I then turned over each bag--one at a time and asked the clerk to take new measurements. She at first refused, but quickly stretched her tape across each bag and came up with a 60" measurement. She was quite annoyed, but reversed the charges.
There was a senior citizen couple right next to me getting the same treatment(by the same clerk)--but they reluctantly paid the fees. Also, on the other side was a business traveler who was getting the same oversized treatment. Somehow my nine year old sons bag weighted 51 pounds (this was discovered AFTER the fiasco with the first two bags!). We removed a schoolbook from the side pocket and we were fine. I personally witness no fewer than SIX angry AirTran customers that day--two I was able to speak to on the plane--and we all agreed that we are done with AirTran. It's ashame since the booking and flights were wonderful.
However, as a frequent flier I will not be flying AirTran in the future. I just don't need the extra hassle. Oh--I asked at the gate about their policy of stretching bags to their max size. The boarding clerks were very polite, but I was told that it is because people could stuff their bags with more contents between ticketing and the security drop-off. Now wouldn't inexpensive tie-wraps(placed by the ticketing clerk) on the checked bags be a simple, cost effective way to keep people from opening their checked bags?? (Of course the tie wraps could later be removed by security if required.) While I am sure the excess baggage fees are a financial bonanza for AirTran they do create a good deal of customer complaints, dissatisfaction and lost future business. Seems to me that an investment of a few pennies has probably lost AirTran thousands in revenue from at least six angry customers, including myself. AirTran fliers in Orlando beware!!!