Monday, July 11, 2016

American Airilnes Customer Service is the Worst

I was a recent customer of American Airlines and wanted to bring to your attention the unforgettable experience my husband, my 1 year old and I had with your airline.  My family and I were flying out to Phoenix, Arizona from Washington D.C. for my brother’s wedding.

What should have been a five (5) hour experience turned into a 24-hour nightmare causing us to miss not only the wedding, but the reception as well. Due to multiple mechanical failures with your planes, my family and I were finally able to travel to Arizona, but merely to sleep at the hotel and prepare for our return flight. What should have been a couple days of enjoying the wedding was instead a 16-hour (including overnight) stay in Phoenix.

Originally, we were scheduled to depart Friday, December 25 at 5:05 PM Baltimore, MD (American Airlines 449 Airbus A320). This flight, unfortunately, had a mechanical error that forced the plane to return to the gate before departing. Technicians were called; however, after remaining in the plane for two (2) hours outside of the gate, no technicians had arrived.

We were finally allowed to de-board the plane and along with other passengers awaited an update on the plane. After a while, we were finally told the plane will most likely not depart until 10 PM, or longer depending on the technician’s assessment and whether the mechanical failure could be resolved. As of midnight, the plane was still at the gate and had yet to depart.

My family and I were advised we should try and book another flight. Regrettably, the only other flight available was flight 2314 from Washington Reagan leaving Saturday, 26 December with a departure time of 8:20 am and arriving first at Dallas, TX and then Phoenix at 2:14 pm. This option forced us to miss the wedding entirely, yet we still hoped that we would make the reception given the arrival time early in the afternoon.

We were desperate and wanted to ensure we still made the festivities so we rebooked through Washington Reagan. While the flight from D.C had no issues, upon landing in Dallas and waiting for our next flight, we again experienced one of your planes suffering from mechanical issues.

What should have been a less than one hour layover turned into a five hour delay and involved replacing the plane with another one. This flight took off and arrived in Phoenix around 8 pm resulting in us trying to hurry to make that last portion of my brother’s reception and missing dinner and the toast completely.  At this point our weekend was completely ruined and we missed being a part of an important event for me, my brother, and our family.

To not have your one and only sister present at your wedding was heart wrenching to the entire family. And to insult to injury, in addition to above experience, we were treated with utter disrespect by two gate agents, who believed our carryon bag was too big, even though it fit perfectly in the measurement box.  

My family and I were definitely profiled (we are Indian) as other passengers with bigger bags were allowed to board without the agents telling them to ensure their bags fit in the measurement box. Without even responding at our constant requests for them to view our bag fitting in the measurement box, we were immediately told we needed to check our carry-on at the gate. However, we have flown multiple times with the same bag and ensured it followed the new airline guidelines and measurements for carryon bags.

The bag also was ensured by us to follow required measurement guidelines, because my 1 year old has asthma and we carry her nebulizer in the bag. To prevent our need to check in the bag with her nebulizer, we are ever cognizant of the need for the bag to meet carry on guidelines.

Without any sympathy or sensitivity toward my family, the gate agents then proceeded to tell us that our bag looked “a little squished” in the measurement box and it would not be allowed on the plane. After repeatedly trying to get their attention to show them the bag fits, we were berated in front of the entire line of passengers. At this point, we were so frustrated we asked the two ladies to at least walk over to us and look at our bag in the measurement stand.

Once again, I advised them, we have a nebulizer in the bag which we cannot part with to which one of the attendants quickly snapped at us and told us “then take out what you need!”.  Without so much as looking at us, we were told the bag was fine and we could board. Had these agents cared to spend 20 seconds attending to our needs, the whole experience would have been avoided without incident and embarrassment to us. 

In fact multiple other passengers on the plane were kind enough to tell us that the agents were outright disrespectful to us, as other passengers with bigger bags were never questioned. It saddens me to know these two attendants had no remorse or sympathy for my child and two parents, who were doing the best they could given the situation and idea of possibly not being able to carry on board our child’s nebulizer. 

A quick note concerning our delayed flight in Dallas, when we tried to board our connecting flight (5644), we were told by a gate attendant that our seats together would have to be separated because we had a lap child. We politely requested that we remain together and be moved to another part of the plane if there were any issues. However, we were told that other passengers could not be moved and that we would have to sit separately.

I still do not understand why we had to make the sacrifice of not sitting together, yet no other passengers could be moved. So not only was our entire experience with American Airlines a disappointment, but the staff was considerably rude and disrespectful.  As a paying customer one would expect some appreciation for doing business with this airline when there are multiple others we could have picked from.

There are a couple things wrong here: 1) Each of the flights we were to board were canceled or delayed due to mechanical issues which quite frankly leaves me with no confidence in American Airlines servicing of their aircraft.

Understanding that Christmas is a very stressful time for your staff, it does not negate the fact they should exercise professionalism with passengers. With the way things were being handled and the lack of adequate communication, it was quite evident your employees were inadequately staffed and overworked, which caused them to lash out at passengers.

Why would an airline assign seats together for a family with a lap child and then intentionally separate them during boarding?  I fully understand that mistakes happen and people are not themselves in high stress situations, but the lack of compassion, decency, and common sense expressed by your employees during our travel should not be tolerated.

While this experience has ruined American Airlines’ reputation with us and we will, from now on, look at other alternatives for our travel, we hope your passengers never have the above issues we were forced to face.