Stranded After AirTran Never Bothered To Announce The Flight

Reader Thomas was waiting for his delayed AirTran flight…. and waiting… and waiting. Turns out that AirTrain never made an annoucement that the delayed flight had arrived and it left without Thomas and a few other passengers.

The following is why my girlfriend and I will never fly AirTran again and why we are extremely disappointed in American Express for their lack of concern for a consumer getting the royal screwjob.

My girlfriend and I had planned a weekend (Feb 8th – Feb 10th) to visit her brother in Baltimore and booked a flight through AirTran because they were the most reasonable. We left Boston Logan and arrived at Baltimore/Washinton, MD (BWI) just fine. We also had a great weekend.

Then came time for our return flight. Being the tech savvy people that we are, we checked AirTran’s website to ensure that our flight was on time and it was not. Not a big deal, we were still going to arrive at the airport on-time (like AirTran recommends to do on their website) and I would have plenty of time to read more of my book or grab some food. Our flight was originally scheduled to leave at 8:30pm but was delayed almost 2 hours to 10:15pm. We arrive and check in around 7:20pm and got through security by 7:35pm. During that 15 minute span we checked the time of our flight twice, still delayed. We get to our gate, still delayed. We then decide to grab some wings at this bar that was right at the end of the hall. Right outside the bar were displays, flight was still delayed. So we go into the bar not thinking anything of it. While we were in the bar I was careful to listen to all announcements regarding flights from AirTran. I heard at least two last minute pages from AirTran gates for passengers to get to the gate but they was not for our flight (825) and were not going to Boston.

We were in the bar until about 8:25 and when we left I checked the displays again, “FLIGHT ON TIME” is what it read. I was shocked that they didn’t make an announcement. My girlfriend and I then ran to the end of the hall and went to the gate and I spoke to the representative and she said that flight was already in the air. At this very same time a women comes running up to the desk and asks if the flight had left, she was told the same thing. She said that the man at the check-in counter was supposed to radio them letting them know she was on her way — he obviously did not do this. Then about 5 or 6 more passengers show up and are all bewildered and the representative just says that we should have been waiting at the gate. I then ask her “Why didn’t you make an announcement for this flight? Others AirTran flights were called, why not this one?” and her response was just “You have to be sitting at the gate to hear the announcements.” I then asked her to put us on another flight, even from another airline if she has to, and she said that was not possible. The best she could do was a flight the next morning. We had to accept.

Now we had to get a hotel room and pay another day of parking at Logan — about $100. We asked the representative if we were able to get a hotel voucher, she said that that was not possible.

When we got home my girlfriend called Amex and the representative on the other side was very sympathetic and agreed with us that we should not have to pay for the hotel and parking because AirTran should have better customer service than that. He said that he would suspend $100 from the total bill (of $342) and put that into a dispute. Feeling confident that Amex would agree with us, we just sat back and waited for them to give us our money back.

Fast forward to today. We get a letter that says our dispute has been closed and we will not get our money back. Fuming, my girlfriend calls Amex and the rep she spoke to just said the ticket was closed and he could not open it. She explained the story again to him and he opened another ticket for us and assured us that he would put the entire story in the notes so that the ‘investigators’ would read it. He also suggested calling AirTran and seeing if we could resolve it with them. I knew this was a long shot but we called anyway. The woman on the other line could really care less about what happened. She also flat out lied to us. She said that AirTran only makes announcements in the gate area, not in the wing of the airport. At this point my girlfriend says “Well then why did we hear two announcements about AirTran flights while we were sitting in the bar, not in the gate area?” and the representative had no answer and just said that she could not do anything to help us. We asked to speak to a supervisor and she claimed that everyone working there was a supervisor, we asked to speak to her supervisor and she refused, saying that they would not be able to do anything.

While the loss of $100 (and both of us missing half a day of work) annoys the heck out of us, now it’s a matter of principle. I would never in a million years dream of treating a customer like it is their fault for my shortcomings as a provider of service. While I do not believe that all inconveniences deserve some sort of compensation, I do believe that people should admit when they are at fault and that a huge company that claims to have such great customer service should have responded better. Do you guys have any suggestions? I mean, other than never flying with AirTran again…

You’ve probably done all you can do in this situation aside from filing a complaint with the Department of Transportation and avoiding AirTran in the future. Do any experienced travelers want to weigh in on this one?