AirTran Airways Complaint - Air Tran or Air Trash?
I was booked on Dallas-Atlanta, Atlanta-Washington DC on Thursday Mar 11
Dallas-Atlanta Flt 100 @ 6.20am left on time but could not land in Atlanta on schedule due to weather. Even when we landed, it took Airtan about 20 minutes to provide us with a gate. Our connecting flight 186 to Washington DCA was to leave at 10am. We got to the gate at 9.58am and the flight had left! There was no staff at the gate.
We approached the Customer Center at Gate C16 and I tried to speak to them about my peculiar situation. I was going to take a Virgin Atlantic flight to London at Dulles airport for 6.55pm. That was why I chose this connection. The Atlanta-DC flight to Reagan DCA was to arrive at 11.54 am. and my flight to London was at Dulles for 6.55pm so I had enough turnaround time if they had kept their end of the bargain.
what I experienced yesterday was a failure of customer service period. The AirTran people just could not get themselves together due to the crisis caused by weather. The test of great customer service is in a crisis and AirTran failed woefully. Only one guy at gate C8 was composed enough to think (Bolton White is his name) He should get promoted to Manager because he recognised peculiar situations and tried to fix each on its merit.
If I had gotten him earlier, we would have avoided the situation. Everyone in customer care Thursday Mar 11 were unhelpful, robotised and sometimes downright rude! One caucasian buffoon shouted me down and insisted I joined a queue of about 50 people with less urgent issues than mine. They wouldn't even listen. After waiting for about an hour, I finally got to talk to another who was more preoccupied in blaming me for choosing to fly out of 2 airports!
The trouble started when the connecting flight from Atlanta-DC left earlier than scheduled. We could not land in Atlanta on time because it rained. by the time we got to the gate of our connecting flight to DC at 10am, there was no plane!
It was scheduled to leave at 10am but when over 40 of us got to the gate at 9.58am, the plane had left and there was no staff at the gate! AirTran could have held that flight when they knew the connecting flight was delayed. In fact, it took 20mins for AirTran to provide us with a parking gate! So the delay was all their fault. I guess they didn't want to incur late fees so they passed the inconvenience to their customers!
Every attempt I made to get them to think outside the box just didn't yield. They were like progamed morons! "you missed the flight, we put you on the next one period"! The next flight was at 1.45pm so I waited for 4hrs. About 1pm, AirTrash! announced that this flight was delayed from New Orleans due to mechanical fault and would now leave at 3pm! my flight to London was at Dulles for 6.55pm and I still needed to go through security. Not to mention DC rush hour traffic from Reagan Memorial to Dulles
About Security; my Nigerian passport earned me instant 'suspected terrorist' status because I was taken aside, frisked and every item in my possession was checked for radioactive radiation - from my makeup, purse, phone, ipod, pc, shoes, bags, EVERYTHING! even my hands! that takes about 25 minutes and a lot of embarrassment. No thanks to Mutallab for this humiliation but what can one do?
Anyway, back to AirTrash! Bolton White was the ONLY one who recognised my urgency and took it up with the manager before they got me a business class seat on the earlier Atlanta-Baltimore BWI for 1.45pm. We arrived at 4pm and luggage took 30mins Its 1hr no traffice from BWI to Dulles so I would have arrived at 5.30pm and Virgin gate closes at 6pm.
All the way from Atlanta, I had been on the phone with the Virgin Atlantic customer service and they were excellent. I called Virgin 4 times and each representative was empathetic, helped me through possible options, even put a note on my reservation to alert check in staff of my predicament. When it was obvious I could not make the flight, they called the airport to offload me because I already checked in online and advised me on the cheapest options I had.
Since I had no plans to stay in DC, I had no one to pick me. All my contacts in the area were not available. 1 was in BWI for 4 hrs before locating my dear cousin (thank God for family) A shuttle to her house, (saved hotel) back to Dulles to try for a seat today, etc
Planned my itinerary to get to Lagos Saturday morning to make my live show Bimbo-Sola Connect on Lagos Television and the burial of my aunty. AirTrash trashed all that. I can only hope for a connecting flight to Lagos in time to speak at World Consumer Rights Day Summit in Abuja on Monday. All because AirTran Customer Service Staff didn't get the memo on thinking outside the box in resolving customer issues!