American Airlines - American Airlines Customer Service Nightmere

Posted on Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010 at 6:53pm CDT by 8c80d8ec

Company: American Airlines

Location: US

Category: Airlines

To Whom It Hopefully Concerns:

I'm writing this letter, because unfortunately, my experience at O'Hare on June 23rd was the worst customer service experience I've ever had and as someone who has been a long time subscriber of Comcast, that's saying something.

The day got off to a rocky start at 10AM when we learned that our 11:55AM flight from O'Hare to LaGuardia was canceled. When the weather gets bad, flights get canceled. I can hardly fault you for that. I'd much rather be inconvenienced than die a horrible fiery death. Your customer service representative was quite helpful and found us a fight out at 11:35 leaving for JFK. While it took a little while to figure out our options with your terrific representative and we had less time to make it to the airport than I would've liked, I was glad just to be on a flight. At this point, I would've given American Airlines an A- for their customer service (You lost points because the waiting music on the phone is almost as painful to listen to as a vuvuzela).

However, your service after we arrived at O'Hare at 10:45AM was terrible, horrible, no good, and very bad. After getting our boarding passes, we were informed that one of our bags was too big to carry on. We went to one of those bag check kiosks and were informed by the computer that the bag could not be checked. We spoke to the woman working at the Kiosk site, and she informed us that since our departure time was in 45 minutes, we needed could not check our bags.

Thankfully, I'd looked at American Airlines.com and learned that our flight was delayed until noon. At the time, it was roughly 11:00. Noon minus 11:00 is greater than 45. The woman confirmed that the flight was at noon, said there was something wrong with her computer and got her supervisor.

The supervisor, whose name I wish I'd gotten, informed us that the since the flight time wasn't officially posted (whatever that meant), so we wouldn't be able to check our bag.

Believe it or not, my occupation is not snarky letters - I work as a computer programmer. One of the most important lessons I've picked up is that you want to hide the internal details from the users. It generally annoys users when you give them information about function names, subroutines, etc... etc... Thus, I could care less than whether or not our flight was posted on your computer system as those technical details are not helpful. What I knew was, I had an hour to make my flight and by the rules of airline travel, an hour was greater than forty-five minutes, so we ought to be able to check our bags.

When I tried to explain that this was a technicality and an issue on your side, the supervisor said there was nothing she could do. I asked if there was some kind of a waiver she could put on our bag so we'd be able to check it at the gate or if she could speak to the TSA agent who could make an exception for our bag, she told us there was nothing she could do and suggested we take stuff out of our bag and buy a duffel bag for $20.

I do not know airport protocol and if my suggestion for a waiver would've worked, but I was trying to make up for your supervisors refusal to even attempt to solve this problem. When she finally made her $20 duffel bag suggestion, I think I heard a pop in my brain. Where are these duffel bags? Why should I have to pay $20 because of a computer glitch? Also, the duffel bag would give me THREE carry on items. I may not be an expert in airport protocol, but I know that's a breach.

I continued to press this supervisor (very respectfully, I might add). She eventually sighed and told me that she couldn't do anything because we didn't arrive 90 minutes before our flight.

I can make up arbitrary numbers too: 103, 83, 24, 183. 45 minutes is the magic number, not 90. In so far as I can tell, she was making up stuff to get rid of us. Where did you find a supervisor with such strong interpersonal skills and problem solving abilities? Was she previously a safety inspector for a BP oil rig who spent years at a time on the ocean in solitude? Just asking...

When I asked her what to do, she said, "Get in line," and walked off. The customer service line wrapped around so far that it would be at least a half hour. What kind of "service" would I get in this magic line that she wouldn't have been able to provide for us other than a guarantee that we'd miss our flight? By walking off she succeeded in her goal of getting rid of us. Good for her! I only wish I had turned on the video camera to take video of her professional courtesy when in effect, she told us to go to hell.

That's when we tried to get to the terminal through a different line. The woman at that line did not bother to complain about our bag size and we were able to check in. TA DA!

The incompetence didn't end there. As soon as we got to the gate, we got in line. See, we didn't have seats on our flight yet. A line had formed for each ticketing agent, and we picked the rightmost one. After waiting in line for 15 minutes, someone put in a barrier in front of our line, because that agent was busy with something else.

I can understand why you cancel flights so as to avoid fiery deaths that look bad on TV. However, I do not understand why there'd be a need to ever cancel a line, where the people in front of us had invested at least 20 minutes. Wouldn't it have made more sense to merge the lines? Again, I'm not expert in these matters, but isn't that kind of mean to people during a stressful day of travel? Especially for those passengers who were trying to get on the standby list? Or is your double secret mission statement: Screw you, you bought a ticket!

P.S. We checked our bag at the gate.


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