I fly a lot and I understand that planes get delayed, gates get changed and things happen.
But this was ridiculous.
We were booked for a May 27th flight to Calgary from Ft. Lauderdale with a layover in Dallas. The first leg was canceled on May 26th and the wonderful travel agent (Marlin) in Alberta re-booked us through Chicago O’Hare with a three hour and forty minute layover. Quite a feat on a long weekend.
The flight to O’Hare was fine, except an older man collapsed and we were afraid he was going to die. When we got to O’Hare, our flight wasn’t on the Departures Board. We somehow found out that it was an American Eagle plane (small, too small for a 3+ hour flight) and they sent us to a basement gate where we waited for an hour or so before the first of two gate changes with all the relevant gates far apart.
The scene at the last gate, G11, reminded me of the evacuation of Baku in the original Lost Horizons movie, the one with Ronald Coleman. For starters, we shared our waiting area with a lot of nice people trying to get to Atlanta (and they never made it, not that night,anyway.) There were lots of couples with small children, other couples from Europe hoping for a vacation, a woman in a wheelchair … and no word from Johnny M at the desk After we’d waited two hours, a pilot named Tom Hildebrandt showed up. He told me we were taking off, but were waiting for a flight attendant to show up.
We waited until after 11PM, and then they cancelled the flight. Johnny M gave us all vouchers for hotel rooms and food. Our vouchers for a nearby La Quinta were useless because the hotel was already full. Good ol’ Johnny told us to wait for our luggage at Carousel 9, and, like good little sheep, we did, until 12:30 AM when it finally dawned on us that our luggage wasn’t going to show up.
The food vouchers weren’t much use either. All the restaurants were closed. We walked to the airport Hilton and got a room for $230. My companion went back to the airport to see about the lost luggage.
We booked a flight back to Ft. Lauderdale because Johnny M said the next flight to Calgary wasn’t until 7 PM the following day. He seemed annoyed at having to give us information. He rolled his eyes up in his head. Customers seemed to be such a bother. The pilot just left.
The entire time, I was tweeting to my followers (15,000) and getting similar stories back, but no response from @AmericanAir. Our luggage wasn’t with us when we returned to Ft. Lauderdale (not having seen our relatives on the weekend or attended our client meeting on Monday).
Lost Luggage Maria said it would be on the next flight and we’d have to come back to the airport. We did, and it was.
Meanwhile, I kept tweeting, and no word from @American Air, until they asked for my phone number. I direct messaged them the number and they said I’d hear from Customer Service. I haven’t. I have, however, heard from dozens of people on Twitter and Facebook about the awful customer service at American.
Just read about Erik Schonfelfeld, who has 31,000 followers on Twitter and 2 million readers on Techcrunch.com: “I’ve lost count of how many errors American Airlines has now made in this comedy that is my travels. Oh, and @AmericanAir also managed to prove that it is an utterly toothless marketing arm of American which fails when it comes to providing actual customer service.”
How can American Airlines not have people on Social Media? How can they alienate us all and survive? I doubt they will if this keeps up.