AA elderly parents

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Nov 14, 2017
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#1
Hello:

Any guidance would be greatly appreciated!


So I sent the following email to AA regarding the treatment of my elderly parents. They offered both my mum and dad a $100 voucher as an apology. About a year ago I was given a $200 voucher for going through something similar on AA when it took me almost 72 hours to get to my final destination because of weather issues. Of course, the difference being that I am in good health and not elderly/disabled in need of accommodation. In essence, AA has offered to split a $200 voucher between both my parents. This is not only unacceptable, but it is downright insulting. I have asked to speak with their legal department and to have the matter escalated, but now I am not being ignored by a rep called Stewart Waters. Later, after I sent my initial email, I also learned from my parents that AA had tried to charge them $75 to switch to a more convenient flight. Do I have any additional recourse?

Thanks so much!



"I am writing this correspondence out of grave concerned for how you treat your elderly and disabled passengers. My elderly parents’ flight was canceled yesterday because of bad weather. I do not take issue with a flight being canceled because of inclement weather, but I am horrified at your mishandling of the situation. Immediately, upon noticing that their flight had been canceled, I contacted customer service to confirm that they had been rescheduled for another flight. I was told that they had been reassigned to fly from Charlotte to Washington D.C. and then to Providence. Initially, they were supposed to fly directly from Charlotte to Providence. I expressed concern that they needed to be rescheduled to a more direct route because my veteran father has a traumatic brain injury, fractured spine and all of the ligaments in his knees are torn. His injuries and disabilities cause him to have significant strength and stability issues, thus, travel for him extremely challenging both physically and emotionally. The representative informed me that there was a direct flight that would get into Providence at the same time as the flight from Washington, but went on to claim that the current plan had been discussed and agreed to at the airport (I assumed with my mother). I contacted my mother to inquire as to why she had chosen to be reassigned to flights that would be more physically and mentally stressful to both herself and my father. She informed me that she was never given a choice or told about the direct flight, which was at this point now full. My mother also told me that she begged multiple American Airlines staff members to help her find a wheelchair for my father, who was now in a lot of pain and physically exhausted, but that no one would offer any assistance. It is extremely disturbing to me that American Airlines does not even try to protect the physical safety of its elderly, disabled and more vulnerable customers. My poor parents have now had to endure sleeping overnight in an airport as my father was too physically exhausted to get to a hotel after not having a wheelchair). Furthermore, they were forced to unnecessarily take additional flights leading to increased physical pain and stress. It is far too late for any apologies; however, I expect that this matter to be thoroughly investigated and demand a full explanation concerning American Airlines’ negligent treatment of my elderly parents, especially my disabled father! Your response will determine the next steps to be taken regarding this very serious matter."
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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#2
Aurora, I certainly understand your anger with your parents' routing after the cancellation. Passengers as severely disabled as your father should not be travelling without someone to assist them in case of an issue. The airline will not, and can't be, expected to "take care of them". It's a really awful situation.

What are you seeking as compensation? Your letter seems a bit threatening and may be ignored. Usually any mention of legal action will shut down communication completely.

We find that a polite, concise email is more likely to generate some interest and perhaps some compensation. To whom did you address your letter?
 
Nov 14, 2017
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#3
Hi,

I outlined the facts about what happened and the offered $100 voucher which I think it a bit pathetic. Not sure how else to word it. I believe my parents each deserve a $200 voucher. My mum was traveling with him and once they were stranded he needed a wheelchair which took hours to get. Also, he could have been put on a more direct flight the next day. Obviously, if this is not resolved I want to consider all of the options.

Thanks
 
Feb 9, 2016
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#4
yeabut

1) did you ask specifically for exactly what you wanted? if you didn't then they lowballed you.
2) when you threaten legal action people seem to clam up for fear of saying something that can be used against them in a court of law. not to mention TONS of consumers threaten to sue them every day and it RARELY ever happens. it's an empty threat in their minds.

your letter is too dramatic IMO and lacks paragraphs, and isn't concise enough
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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#5
yeabut

1) did you ask specifically for exactly what you wanted? if you didn't then they lowballed you.
2) when you threaten legal action people seem to clam up for fear of saying something that can be used against them in a court of law. not to mention TONS of consumers threaten to sue them every day and it RARELY ever happens. it's an empty threat in their minds.

your letter is too dramatic IMO and lacks paragraphs, and isn't concise enough
EXACTLY! You absolutely need to tell the hotel or airline what you want, very clearly. Customer Service deals with hundreds, if not thousands, of complaints every day. They throw out 'some compensation' and see what the reaction is. Polite, persistent and patient are the way to obtain some satisfaction after an awful trip like your parents experienced.
 
Feb 9, 2016
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#6
I am writing this correspondence out of concerned for the manner in which my parents, elderly folk, were handled.

My parents, Joe X and Jane Y, had reservations on your flight number <flight number> from <start airport> to <finish airport> on mm/dd/yyyy. Their PNR is XXYYWW.

The flight was cancelled because of bad weather. As they are elderly, I was tracking their travel. Immediately, upon noticing that their flight had been canceled, I contacted customer service to confirm that they had been rescheduled for another flight. I was told that they had been reassigned to fly from Charlotte to Washington D.C. and then on to Providence.

Initially, they were supposed to fly directly from Charlotte to Providence. Because of their age and health issues, and because they initially purchased non stop tickets, I expressed concern that they needed to be rescheduled to a more direct route.

The representative informed me that there was a direct flight that would get into Providence at the same time as the flight from Washington. the representative also informed me that new flight plan assigned had been discussed with my parents and all parties agreed. I thanked the rep and hung up.

I contacted my mother to inquire as to why she had chosen to be reassigned to these flights, instead of the more direct route, and she informed me that she was never given a choice or told about the direct flight, which was at this point now full.

My mother explained that she was a bit distressed because she had requested American Airlines staff members to help her find a wheelchair for my father, but that no one would offer any assistance. I am surprised that none of your staff members could make a quick call to get a wheel chair delivered. As a result of the situation, my parents felt they were too exhausted to attempt to leave to get a hotel, and then return in the morning, for the overnight wait, so they elected to sleep in the airport.

I am surprised that this was their experience while travelling on American airlines. I have frequented American for many years, as have my parents and friends, and I have never heard of anything less than stellar customer service. Considering the situation, I am writing to you asking for a travel voucher in the amount of $500 for each of my parents such that I may help them arrange a get away where they can have a better experience. I hope you will consider my request.

Thank you
Sarah
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#7
Does your father travel with a wheelchair? Was this something that was checked in and could not be accessed? Or was it the airport supplied wheelchair that was needed?

It can be difficult with a flight cancellation to quickly get a wheelchair as they are booked up in advance.

This is a difficult situation because if there was more than one flight canceled there may have been an unexpected demand for wheelchairs.

I am sorry for what your parents went through but the letter is a bit too threatening.
 
Nov 14, 2017
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#8
I did say to them that I thought the $100 was outrageous and that they had basically split a $200 voucher between my parents (which they denied). My mum described the AA staff as very rude, disrespectful and dismissive. Also, I was not happy to hear that they tried to charge them money to get on a more direct flight considering they were in a desperate and vulnerable situation. Even if my letter was "threatening" it certainly wasn't inappropriate or vulgar, especially taking into account that they treated my parents in that way. My dad is in rough shape so describing what they went through did not feel dramatic to me. If my mum had told me that the staff was polite and tried their best to help then I would not have been upset. As to paragraphs I could not use them because I had to submit through an online generated form.

Thank you for the feedback. Any suggestions for what to do at this point?
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
12,290
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www.promalvacations.com
#9
When someone needs a wheelchair at the airport, that needs to be added as information on your reservation and also reserved in advance. They don't simply have wheelchairs and attendants sitting around.

Was this noted on their original reservation?

I think you should write back and nicely say "I don't feel this is adequate compensation. They would be satisfied with $200 pp. Can you offer them that?"

Don't demand or you are outraged- that is a turn off and will make them dig in their heels more.

Their responsibility is to get them from point a to point b, even if it's not pretty. They did that. You need to make sure that you order Spercial Services when you book them.
 
Likes: joycexyz

Patina

Verified Member
Dec 22, 2015
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#11
@Aurora Our suggestion is to start writing the execs of AA. Write to them one at a time waiting at least a week for a reply. You can find their email addresses in the link at the top of the forum titled Company Contacts.

You have come here for our expertise in dealing with consumer-related issues. The suggestions made by @jsn55 and @sas80 are valuable based on our past experiences with the airlines. You are correct, your parents were not treated as well as you would have hoped. You are free to express your anger and frustration to AA but, in our opinion and past successes, we suggest that you keep the tone of your letter upbeat rather than aggressive in order to receive the compensation you are requesting. If you do not expect any compensation then, by all means, have at it and let AA know exactly how you feel! Sometimes venting is all that you need to achieve closure.
 
Nov 14, 2017
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#12
I didn't order him a wheelchair because he did not need one until they got stranded and had to do so much more walking after the flights were canceled/changed etc...my mum told me that it took hours to get him a wheelchair which does not seem right to me and the worst part was how she described being treated by the AA staff. I would think there is a contingency plan for when bad weather hits and elderly/disabled get stranded? Obviously, it is frustrating and stressful for anyone to get stranded, but it is a whole different situation for elderly/disable. I just there there has to be some humanity in how people are treated by these airlines, but that is my opinion? As to my mum, she isn't disabled, but she is elderly and to try to charge her and my dad $75 each to get on a different direct flight is concerning to me. I wasn't told about this other direct flight when I called in and spoke with a rep.

I'll try again, thanks
 
Nov 14, 2017
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#13
Thanks, it was the next morning and I was still very unhappy about it. I can get protective. My dad was hit by a car (as a pedestrian) and suffered significant injuries, so my mum was helping me move him up east. He's been through a lot of physical and emotional pain and I felt they were both pushed around a bit by AA.

Your suggestions make sense and in the future I will use your approach. Hopefully, I can still get them more than a $100 voucher.
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#14
Aurora I am sympathetic. But one has to acknowledge that wheelchairs at the airport are a finite resource and when there is a cancellation of a flight it is a mess.

And unfortunately during a cancellation the airport workers just try to get people booked and out -- and sometimes the computer automatically does it and the traveler gets a dreadful reroute.

Someone who had not reserved a wheelchair poached the reserved wheelchair of a friend -- and it took a while to get another because all of the others were reserved.

Be polite and I would cut down parts of it. I started to wonder why your father and mother were traveling alone as their health and abilities sounded so dire.
 

Patina

Verified Member
Dec 22, 2015
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#15
A couple of things to keep in mind: the airport manages all aspects of wheelchairs, not the airlines. Also, since the cancellation was due to weather, was there more than one flight that was cancelled which would lead to a higher than normal demand for wheelchairs?

We definitely understand your concern and frustration, you sound like a wonderful daughter who cares deeply for her parents! What we want to help you achieve is just compensation and you have come to the right place for that help! We have tons of successful stories from poorly-treated consumers who have followed our advice. Just be patient with the process and you should prevail.
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#16
I didn't order him a wheelchair because he did not need one until they got stranded and had to do so much more walking after the flights were canceled/changed etc...my mum told me that it took hours to get him a wheelchair which does not seem right to me and the worst part was how she described being treated by the AA staff. I would think there is a contingency plan for when bad weather hits and elderly/disabled get stranded? Obviously, it is frustrating and stressful for anyone to get stranded, but it is a whole different situation for elderly/disable. I just there there has to be some humanity in how people are treated by these airlines, but that is my opinion? As to my mum, she isn't disabled, but she is elderly and to try to charge her and my dad $75 each to get on a different direct flight is concerning to me. I wasn't told about this other direct flight when I called in and spoke with a rep.

I'll try again, thanks
Aurora you did not order a wheelchair. I am sorry but that should have been done as a back up. If the airline did not know that your father was disabled how could they have a contingency plan? Why did your parents not have a contingency plan?

Is it fair to take the wheelchair away from someone that reserved and is equally needy?

I have had to arrange travel for ill seniors in my family. And also a younger member that had incurable cancer in her 40s -- and she was so unusual that she went to many different research hospitals in the US. And we made sure there was a back up plan for her transport.
 
Nov 14, 2017
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#17
I didn't say that I wanted to take a wheelchair away from anyone? I think the airlines should have a contingency plan for increased demands when flights are canceled etc...they are the ones who are in the business of flying people (not just young and healthy people) and would know better than anyone some of the issues that come up when people get stranded. As I said, I didn't ask for a wheelchair because he didn't need one initially so I wouldn't want to unnecessarily use resources for the disabled. As to the airport managing the wheelchairs, that seems logical, but the AA staff did not help guide my mum at all, they were very unhelpful and that is what is most upsetting. Again, it took hours to get a wheelchair.

I never described my mother as dire, I explained that she is elderly and rerouted in a way that was much more difficult and physically stressful than it needed to be. Traveling is physically arduous for all of us, especially the elderly, but they too need to fly sometimes. They also tried to charge both her and my dad $75 to get on a more direct flight (which is what they were scheduled for in the first place). Another point that was frustrating is when my mum checked the weather she called and asked if they should come to the airport because she did not want issues with her connecting flight and AA told her to still come. I'm not sure how much more proactive she could have been to avoid getting stranded because it wasn't until she was in the air that the flight was canceled.

The airlines and airports have to understand that elderly and disabled people will fly and they have different needs/concerns than younger/healthier customers. At least, that is how I see it.
 
Last edited:
Sep 19, 2015
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#18
Aurora if there was no demand from your parents for a wheelchair prior to the cancellation how can the airline know that one is needed when there is a cancellation. No one is a mind reader.

No one can make a contingency plan without information. I have a friend with bad osteoarthritis who has needed a wheelchair in her late 50s; the terminal cancer relative who died in her late 40s and relatives in their 70s that do not want or need a wheelchair and that can beat me in tennis.

There is no way to know what is needed without information.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
12,290
12,467
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#20
I didn't say that I wanted to take a wheelchair away from anyone? I think the airlines should have a contingency plan for increased demands when flights are canceled etc...they are the ones who are in the business of flying people (not just young and healthy people) and would know better than anyone some of the issues that come up when people get stranded. As I said, I didn't ask for a wheelchair because he didn't need one initially so I wouldn't want to unnecessarily use resources for the disabled. As to the airport managing the wheelchairs, that seems logical, but the AA staff did not help guide my mum at all, they were very unhelpful and that is what is most upsetting. Again, it took hours to get a wheelchair.

I never described my mother as dire, I explained that she is elderly and rerouted in a way that was much more difficult and physically stressful than it needed to be. Traveling is physically arduous for all of us, especially the elderly, but they too need to fly sometimes. They also tried to charge both her and my dad $75 to get on a more direct flight (which is what they were scheduled for in the first place). Another point that was frustrating is when my mum checked the weather she called and asked if they should come to the airport because she did not want issues with her connecting flight and AA told her to still come. I'm not sure how much more proactive she could have been to avoid getting stranded because it wasn't until she was in the air that the flight was canceled.

The airlines and airports have to understand that elderly and disabled people will fly and they have different needs/concerns than younger/healthier customers. At least, that is how I see it.
They are but they don't have thousands of wheelchairs and attendants if you don't notify them in advance. It's a special service and should have been ordered anyway. Your description of your Dads physical issues, this should be done all the time if he is flying.

If your Dad had flown into terminal 4 at JFK the walk from the gate to Customs can be a mile. Would he be able to do that?

Please write back to them and ask for more.
But in the future take this as a learning experience- no airport has unlimited resources for wheelchairs or attendants. Their first responsibility is to the passengers that ordered them