Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Real Story Behind American Airlines

Many of you heard from me on Twitter and Facebook regarding my "awful" flight on American from Miami to Los Angeles. Well here is the story and I am taking to the top with American - I am sick of just complaining and then getting 5,000 miles added to my account. Who needs 5,000 miles when you have flown over 180,000 miles year to date?

The story starts on a very organized day - I got to the airport at 2:00pm for a 3:50pm flight - plenty of time, organized and happy. Got my ticket (was upgraded) - surprised and delighted and not expecting it. My gate was E9 and I took my time getting a coffee, buying some magazines, calling the office and just wandering around the E Terminal while I waited to board my flight at 3:20pm. At 3:00pm I checked the monitors and the gate showed on time and still at E9. At 3:00pm I walked over to the gate and noticed there were no people milling around to board the flight. I asked the gate agent what was going on with the LA flight and she said, "oh, we changed gates to D23." Now if you know this airport at all you know that the distance between these gates is far. Trains, walkways and a lot of hustling to get there. I asked her why the monitor still said E9 and she said very matter of fact - "we didn't have time to change it." Oh - ok, I will run my tail to the next gate.

I get to D23 and it is utter chaos. The gate agents (who by the way were the meanest women on this planet) were screaming at people to turn in their boarding cards because the airplane was "down graded" and we had to get new seats. Now when I say screaming I mean it. An elderly couple who had first class seats as well were told they were not going to be getting seats in first class. Their daughter had used her miles 6 months ago to get their tickets and now because it was a smaller first class they were being bumped to coach. Well that is when I lost it. Yes, I had already lost my seat in first class but I didn't care - it was this wonderful couple with canes that sent me over the edge.

The business traveler today has a heart - we get it. In fact two business men gave up their seats for this couple. American Airlines and their rude gate agents could have cared less. I was the last person given a ticket and therefore had a middle seat with no room for my luggage - again I lost it. I finally managed to get my computer bag in the overhead and a seat on the aisle opened up and I grabbed it. What happened next sent me not only over the edge but into a total fit. I had a connection in LA to Monterey and had one hour to make the connection. We were already late and the pilot came on and said how sorry he was for the inconvenience but the plane had come in from St. Thomas and they didn't unload their luggage and all of our luggage was on the tarmac - are you kidding? Now he said it would be another 45 minutes - we would miss our connections and "oh sorry there was nothing they could do about it."

We finally took off and I bought my dinner - sandwich, drink and chips - bought a pillow and blanket and watched as the flight attendants tried to make it a nice flight for us. It was a miserable flight and yes, I missed my connection as did everyone else. They didn't do anything for us - I booked myself on Alaska and finally made it to San Jose by midnight.

Moral of this story - we have no choices in air travel today - they don't care about us, they don't value all of our miles and with out a doubt if I could figure out a way to do it better I would be in the aviation business now. I will continue to complain and I will not stop until finally they get it. The times will change, and there will be choices again. When there is choices I will fly with the company that finally says thank you.