Two years ago my brother and his wife lived on the beautiful island of Granada.  It looks like this…
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http://www.grenadaexplorer.com/Homepageeng.htm

My parents decided to let me go by myself, even though I never traveled internationally alone before.  We bought the ticket using our American Airlines points, picked my seats, and I was good to go.

I left for Granada out of New Orleans, with a planned layover in Atlanta  and New York’s JFK Airport.  I arrived at the New Orleans Airport three hours before my scheduled flight, check my 2 bags for $100, and prepared to get on the flights.

Once we were in Atlanta, I had about a 6 hour layover.  I walked around the airport and noticed a storm was coming.  About an hour before my flight, the American Airlines worker informed everyone that the flight was an hour delayed.  Twenty minutes later, they pushed the time back even further.  I went and spoke the the attendant saying that I would be very close to the take-off time in JFK, and I wanted to plan an alternate route.  She assured me that everything would work out, but everything did NOT work out.

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http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2011/11/29/american-airlines-parent-files-for-bankruptcy/

We eventually boarded the flight from Atlanta to JFK.  While on the flight, I spoke with a flight attendant about my situation.  I was concerned because American only had the flight to Grenada twice a week, so if I did not make this flight, it would take 3 days for me to get out.  He made sure that I would be first off the plane, since he could not call my connecting gate and ask them to wait.

Immediately when I got off the plane I bolted, running through the airport as fast as I could.  Luckily, it was 1:00 am and not very crowded. I wasn’t concerned about my luggage, only the flight.  I get to my assigned gate, and I see TOTAL CHAOS.  I hear people screaming, yelling, and crying at the attendant.  I hear them say that they overbooked the flight, and about 15-20 people were waiting at this gate.  I knew at that point I would not be getting to Grenada any time soon.

I began crying, exhausted from 15 hours of travel and frustration. On top of that, my phone was on its last bit of battery, and I knew I needed to speak with my parents.  I called them and told them the situation.  The attendants never addresses the group as a whole, but I heard them explaining that the flight had been full and overbooked, and they would work on getting everyone there.

By this time, there were 3 attendants behind the desk, working with each frustrated customer.  I had never heard humans speak to other humans in such a degrading way, but I understood their anger.  Because of the Grenadian Carnival week, people booked that flight a year in advance for thousands of dollars.  I booked my flight a month before using my points.

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http://www.aviationexplorer.com/alltitude_in_aviation.htm

My parents had tried calling the help line for American while I was waiting my turn, but that was unsuccessful.  I got up there, and the attendants looked as my as if I was crazy.  Just because I had not yelled at them did not mean that I didn’t want service.  I explained that I wanted to get to Grenada as soon as possible.  After going through my options for about 45 minutes and speaking with my parents, I told them they needed to book me a flight home.  They asked how I would be paying for it….HA.  I finally got stern and said, “You WILL reward all of my points back and you WILL book me a flight home.  For FREE.”  They got me a ticket and I headed out.

I had to go across town to LaGuardia, but before I did, I needed file a claim for my luggage.  I wasn’t allowed in the luggage room, but the security guard tried to get my phone number as I waited.  Disgusted, I walked away to try to get a hold of my parents.  I asked a nice man to use his phone since mine was dead and he was nice enough to do so.  After waiting an hour and a half, someone came to baggage claim and I took care of my business.  I immediately got in a car and headed as fast as possible across town to LaGuardia.

It turned out that the attendants at JFK didn’t print my ticket, so I waited in a line for 25 minutes, watching the clock because I knew I could miss this flight too.  At this point my goal was to make it home.  After security, I ran to my gate again, making the last call on the flight.

I got home about 24 hours after I originally left for the trip, and my luggage was delivered 2 days later.  After my father spoke with American Airlines many hours on the phone, he was able to get all my points back I originally paid for on the trip.

I feel like all of my issues were man-made mistakes.  So I looked up some statistics about employees at American Airlines.  Since it’s bankruptcy, American Airlines claims that it will cut about 14,000 union jobs. They will also cut pensions for about 13,000 workers.  In a satisfaction rating that recently came out, American Airlines was rated last for overall customer service and marked poorly for delays.

My thought is, if employment is so fragile at American Airlines, wouldn’t you work your hardest to treat the customers right?  Aren’t they the ones to keep the company in business?  I guess the people working the day of my travel did not have that mindset….

Cites used for information:
http://articles.businessinsider.com/2012-02-01/strategy/31011905_1_employee-unions-pension-benefit-guaranty-corporation-amr#ixzz1niW6CNBn 

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/02/29/us-column-americanair-pensions-idUSTRE81S1Z220120229

http://www.farecompare.com/news/report-american-airlines-ranks-last-in-airline-customer-service/

Posted by Elisabeth Whitehead

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