AJ writes in to let us know that he too was lied to by American Airlines. They canceled his flight(s) from Pittsburgh to Austin (by way of Dallas). He called the 1-800 number but was met with a CSR who used “bad weather in Dallas” as an excuse, and told him there was no way to get him to Austin on time.
Unfortunately, AJ knows how to use the internet and was able to determine that there was no such “bad weather” in Dallas. In fact, after having no success with the 1-800 number CSR, AJ was able to find a nice ticket agent at the Pittsburgh airport that had no problem flying him to Austin through Chicago. He asked us to share his letter with our readers “to let readers know that when American Airlines blames the weather in Dallas, they are more than likely full of BS.”
AJ writes to AA:
To: American Airlines Customer Relations
P.O. Box 619612 MD 2400
DFW Airport, TX 75261-9612
Dear American Airlines,
I recently flew your airline on a business trip to Austin, Texas. I work in the music industry as a broadcaster and attended a conference from March 14th through the 18th.
Normally I use a different airline when I travel, but thought I would fly American Airlines on this trip due to the convenience of your available fights better fitting my trip itinerary. So, I chose to sacrifice the opportunity to acquire additional miles with my normal airline, enrolled in the AAdvantage program, booked my flight weeks in advance, and set forth to encounter the American Airlines experience. I would venture to guess that the term “tragic” might be a little harsh to describe my ordeal with your company; however calling it “awful” is probably being too nice.
My day began on March 14th with a phone call from my office colleague with whom I would be traveling. I was half way to the airport to make my scheduled 7:55am flight from Pittsburgh to Dallas, when my coworker informed me that our flight had been canceled and he was still trying to work out the details with the AA customer service department. Apparently he received a phone call from AA around 3AM informing him that our flight was canceled, however I received no such courtesy.
I turned around and instead of continuing my trip to the airport, reported to the office to meet with him so we could attempt to make alternate travel plans. According to the AA customer service representative that he spoke to on the phone, AA would be unable to get us on another flight for several days as they had no open seats on any flights into Austin until Friday March 16th. When we asked to be scheduled on another airline, she said she could not do that due to the flight cancellation being an “act of God”. When asked what that meant, she said our flight from Pittsburgh into Dallas had been cancelled because of bad weather in Dallas. A quick trip to weather.com informed me that the forecast for the morning of March 14th in Dallas, TX was partly cloudy with a temperature of 79*. I would suggest that if fabricating weather forecasts is standard procedure for AA, then perhaps you should consider training your customer service department to only lie to customers who don’t purchase their tickets using the Internet. Perhaps people who still read the Farmer’s Almanac will fall for your ruse, but the rest of us easily recognize your deception and feel insulted. I realize that there were legitimate weather related cancellations in the north east last week, but our trip preceded the inclement weather that caused those issues by several days. Thus, our trip should have been unaffected by any severe weather.
So, after failing to properly predict the Texas weather or successfully discouraging us from missing the first 3 days of our conference, (and only after a heated conversation with my coworker) the AA representative gave us the following options if we wanted to arrive in Austin on Wednesday: A) She could get us on a flight to Waco, Texas. Sure, it wasn’t Austin… but it was in the same state. She recommended renting a car and then driving from Waco to Austin, but could not tell us how many miles the drive was or how long it would take. Furthermore, she did not offer to reimburse us for the cost of the car or even offer us a discounted rate on the rental. Hell, she didn’t even offer to arrange for the rental car for us, we had to call the rental places ourselves and hope they had something available. B) She suggested that we leave Pittsburgh and drive to another city and attempt to get a flight from there. Again, she could not tell us which city to drive to or how long it would take to get a flight. May I suggest that AA furnish your customer service people with road atlases? At least that way they can check the map and realize how utterly stupid they sound when they make such suggestions.
Since we had a non-refundable registration fee pre-paid at the conference and were in danger of losing our hotel room if we didn’t arrive as scheduled on Wednesday (not to mention missing multiple meetings scheduled during the week), we decided to take option “A” and plan a good old-fashioned road trip from Waco to Austin. (Nothing like rolling through Texas in a rented Kia!) Again, at no time did American Airlines offer any type of compensation for this extreme inconvenience. As a matter of fact, your company’s representative (who claimed to be the shift supervisor) didn’t even seem the least bit sympathetic to our plight. We felt like we were bothering her by trying to actually get to our destination.
We arrived at the Pittsburgh airport several hours early in hopes of somehow getting on a flight into Austin. Fortunately, the wonderful woman working at the ticket counter in Pittsburgh must actually enjoy her job… or maybe she was just human… either way, with a few key strokes she was able to get us on a flight into Austin via Chicago. Why the idiot on your 800 number couldn’t accomplish this is beyond me. Needless to say, we eventually arrived in Austin only several hours later than we had planned. Had we not shown up at the airport earlier than suggested by your customer service rep, we never would have made this flight.
You might think that this is the end of my story, but almost unbelievably it is not. Upon flying back to Pittsburgh via Dallas on March 18th, our flight was delayed. We sat on the plane in Dallas for over an hour WHILE WE WAITED FOR THE PILOT. Now, I’ve been on plenty of delayed flights before. Usually for reasons like the flight having been overbooked and passengers being shuffled on and off the plane, the occasional mechanical problem, or even de-icing (oddly enough, never in Dallas despite the alleged bad weather). However, this is the first time that I’ve ever shown up on an airplane before the dude who was supposed to be flying it. Again, we waited seated in the plane, on the runway, for an hour and twenty minutes. Once again (as seems to be standard protocol with AA) we were not offered so much as a beverage by the flight staff to ease the discomfort and inconvenience of the situation. Even some complimentary peanuts once the flight was finally airborne may have been a nice gesture to make up for the general ineptitude that permeates the American Airlines standard of mediocrity, but we didn’t get those either.
I believe this will be my last experience flying with American Airlines. I suppose if I were ever stranded in a Dallas blizzard and my only way home was on an American Airlines jet, I would take it. But to think that I would ever voluntarily put myself through this again is silly. I doubt that anyone is even reading this letter at this point, but if you are I feel bad for you. You work for a horrible, heartless, savage corporation that is a model of inefficiency. I hope that one day you find a good paying job with an employer that cares about you. This is my way of being sympathetic to your plight. (Sympathy… American Airlines should try that sometime) If you are no longer reading this (which I somehow feel to be the case) I can assure you that these words are not falling of deaf ears as I am certain that the majority of the listeners to my radio show will be quite interested as this letter is recited in full detail during a future broadcast.
(Photo: So Cal Metro )