Jul 29, 2009

American Airlines - this is customer service ?

American Airlines Customer Service: Are you stupid, or just disinterested ?
One would think that the combination of high fuel prices, a soft economy, and lots of competition would make American Airlines interested in keeping their customers happy. Nope; not these folks. Let me entertain you with the saga of my son’s attempts to fly Philadelphia-Dallas-Palm Springs in order to return to 29 Palms, USMC, as American Airlines lied, dissembled, and treated him with the rudeness and disdain one associates with a 3rd-World airline:

Monday noon: I log-on to the AA website; it shows that his 2:55 flight is leaving-on time so we leave for the airport accordingly.

1:30 PM : Checking in, learn the flight is delayed 2 hours. Phil will miss his Dallas connection to Palm Springs. Asking the gate agent to look for other flights, we’re told by their Mr. M_____ “there aren’t any. What exactly do you want me to do?” We want you to get him to Palm Springs, as per the ticket you sold him, but that seems to be beyond you.

Phil checks in, and after having his Dallas –Palm Springs section re-booked for the next day, M____laughs at our request for a hotel room, and says that the delay isn’t American’s fault, and therefore AA won’t pay. What’s the reason for the delay? He claims he doesn’t know, but it’s not AA’s fault regardless. He suggests Phil fly to Las Vegas, a 3-hr drive from 29 Palms, and take a cab to his base. So American Airlines considers flying you 90% of the way to be a successful flight? Very sad.

3:00: I call AA Customer Service (800-433-7300. A difficult # to find, as it’s been removed from their website). Explaining the situation to Ms. B____, she immediately offers either a hotel room or to rebook him on another airline. Contrary to Mr. M____’s shoddy efforts, both US Air and United have flights out of Philly that will get Phil to Palm Springs that evening; she books him on a United flight, and tells me to have him get his bags back, and check in w/United. Awesome – thank you!!

3:15-5:30: American refuses to give him back his bags. Excuses range from we’ve already loaded the plane (a lie, it hasn’t arrived yet, to ‘don’t worry, we’ve re-booked your bags direct to Palm Springs’). Also, they don’t give him his endorsed ticket (“you don’t need it, your seat is ‘protected’”), so when he returns to United, they refuse to check him in since American still holds his ticket.

As he calls me from the airport, I call AA Customer Service. A disaster: I’m transferred to baggage claim, hung-up on, and then told “oh, we cancelled his United booking, his flight’s now leaving at 6:30”. Really? And if I wasn’t calling, how would he know?

6:30: Phil boards his 2:55 flight which eventually leaves approx 8 p.m.

7:30. I call AA Customer Service to get the hotel room promised earlier. Talk to yet one more uncooperative agent (“we don’t give out hotel rooms”), so I get a supervisor, Mr. G____. He’s equally disinterested, but tells me Phil can ask AA when he arrives Dallas, and perhaps negotiate for a room. I ask for his supervisor, am told someone will call me back when they’re not busy.

8:30. Ms. B____ calls back to tell me that it’s not AA’s fault, they most certainly do not give out hotel rooms, and “really, what do you expect?” Ms B____, since you tell me you’re management, here’s what I expect:

1 – I expect your website to be accurate. Your originating flight hadn’t even left Dallas when I logged-on, yet you were still showing an on-time departure from Philly. You find this to be acceptable level of accuracy?

2 – Are all your gate agents as inept as M_____ ? Or is it corporate practice for him to lie when he said there were no other flights available, so to keep Phil on American? And suggesting Phil fly to Las Vegas and take a 3-hour cab ride…how sad to discover that American fired all its competent gate agents.

3 – In short, Ms. B____, I expect your people to do their jobs. I expect you to take responsibility for your flights, to get your customers to their destinations, and to tell the truth. If you have a weather delay, I expect to be informed. If your flight strands customers in an airport overnight, I expect you to assist; at the very least you can offer meal vouchers. In short, I expect you to act in a professional manner.

But I realize that this won’t happen: since I’m dealing with American Airlines, I’m stuck dealing with incompetents like M____ and G____, and whiners like you.

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