American Airlines Staff Refuses to Help the Customer

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Mar 30, 2019
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#1
I fly regularly for advocacy work and occasional vacations. I am disgusted with how the airlines treat passengers. I have experienced poor customer service in the past and more recent with my last two flights - American this past week and United in Dec. I'm looking for guidance for navigating the system and receiving fair remuneration because flight vouchers appear to be the standard and that's not acceptable. Here's my recent experience from a flight with my family in March.

My family of five flew with American to return home from vacation. After landing at DFW airport, our arrival gate was blocked by another plane with mechanical issues for approximately 45 minutes so we sat on the tarmac during that time. Once we deboarded, we ran to the gate for our connection flight (passengers were told that all connecting flights were notified of our late arrival). We arrived at the connection gate at 8:15 p.m. and departure time was 8:20 p.m. The gate was closed. We were told by passengers waiting for another flight in the area that a couple of passengers who arrived before us, told the gate crew that there were more passengers on their way.

After our flight departed, airline staff eventually showed up to re book us. They told us there were no other flights going to our destination that evening so we would have to wait until the next day. We asked about accommodations for the night due to the mechanical issues. We were told that it was due to weather. We explained that wasn't correct. Then, we were told that it was coded as weather in the system [and nothing could be done about it]. We ended up speaking to three different staff members @ higher levels of authority, including a "lead" named Arely Gonzales, and a manager on duty, who claimed to be the last higher up available that night, named Kenneth Wallace, and they all insisted that was how it was coded in the system so that is how it would be.

In addition to the overnight accommodations concern, we were told by the first staff member that we would be able to take a 10:30 a.m. flight the next morning. However, that staff member abruptly took off before handing us our boarding passes. I followed her and the second staff member, Arely, around the corner and asked them for help two or three times. They kept going and went through the door for employees. Then, the door was closed in my face while I stood there asking for help.

Later, the last/third staff member, Kenneth Wallace, showed up. I told him about my negative experience with the staff members before him and he said "I didn't see it" so I said "I have it recorded. Let me show you." and he said "No."

Kenneth told us there weren't seats for five on the 10:30 flight so we would have to go as "stand by." I asked him how many seats were left. He said two. I asked him to book those for us and he refused.

My family of five showed up at the airport for the 10:30 a.m. flight the next morning and did not get on that flight. No surprise, right!?! We then had to wait until the 2:30 pm flight that afternoon which meant that I missed work and a 3:00 business meeting that day.
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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#3
What an unpleasant experience. Are you aware of the worldwide issues with the Boeing MAX? I know that many airlines are scrambling with scheduling, and the awful weather in many areas has not helped. AA is not responsible for the other plane blocking your gate; that's an airport issue. Nobody knows why airlines close flights when they know connecting passengers are on their way. In the good ol' days, a flight always waited for you if you had status with the airline. You missed your connection, a very big disappointment, but they flew you home the next day. Nobody should be travelling without the resources to book a hotel for the night. This missed-connection scenario happens over and over every day with many airlines and in many airports. If the delay was weather-related there's little that can be done. AA might compensate you with some vouchers or miles, but a cash refund is not in the cards. Their agreement with you is to transport you from Point A to Point B ... which they did. Once you were informed of the situation's solution, it definitely does not help to follow agents on their way to the break room. These agents have hundreds of unhappy passengers to deal with. Experiences like yours are "business as usual" for an airline. I advise a concise, appreciative and polite email to Customer Service, using our guidelines for pleading your case. If you insist on telling them that vouchers are unacceptable, I doubt if there will be any resolution at all. Please let us know what transpires.
 
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Sep 19, 2015
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#4
Would you post the flight numbers and date? How long was the connection in DFW? Was the flight into DFW delayed, or was there just a delay getting to the gate? I am a little confused at to what happened except that there was a 45 minuted delay on arrival tarmac and the connection was missed.

The airline may notify about the delayed passengers but the plane may not wait -- there can be practical concerns -- if the plane waits, it may lose its take off slot, and then has to go to the end of the line. If the line is long the flight crew may time out, or there could be an airport curfew.

As for the 1030 flight the next day -- you wrote that you are a family of 5 -- were you all on one itinerary? Maybe the airline did not want to split a family up.
 
Likes: ADM and VoR61
Sep 19, 2015
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#7
Was this the AA 1385 from Cabo San Lucas to DFW? Isn't this an international flight? Did you have to clear immigration and customs in the US and then change terminals? Or was there pre-clearance in SJD?

If this was 1385 SJD to DFW I see that the flight landed early -- and was supposed to be at the gate at 6:57 pm. The actual gate arrival was 7:13 pm, 16 minutes late. The plane actually landed on the tarmac at 6:24 pm.

So yes there was a wait on tarmac, but I am only seeing the gate arrival as being 16 minutes late. Or course these stats may not be accurate.

If you arrived at connection gate at 8:15 for a flight at 8:20 it was too late. It does not matter that someone told them there were more passengers, there could be practical reasons not to wait -- such as further delaying the flight after losing take off slot, crew timing out over delay, etc

What was the actual itinerary and what was the connection time.
 
Feb 28, 2018
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#8
My American Airlines experience is identical to Eleanor's. American routinely miscodes the flight delay reason from mechanical to weather to avoid paying hotel and meal expenses for inconvenienced travellers. I was informed by one of the gate workers on our last problem that American supervisors have instructed the other workers not to offer any assistance when passengers arrive late due to late connecting flight arrival, whatever the cause. We avoid American Airlines flights that have any connections due to their policy and treatment of passengers if problems arise.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
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www.promalvacations.com
#12
Yes. However, the TSA person told us that we have time and that we would make our connection flight.
TSA really have no idea how long it takes. You should always have a minimum of 2-3 hours between flights when you have a connection that you have to go through Customs and Immigration especially if you don’t have Global Entry. Use this as a learning experience- 3 hours in between and you might have made it.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
17,562
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www.promalvacations.com
#14
Shouldn't the airlines communicate that to passengers?
When you book your own travel, you need to know as much as a travel agent about Visa, passport and entry requirements and connecting times. You are acting as your own travel agent. These are things agents have to learn and study to ensure they correctly advise clients.

Booking your own travel and acting as your own travel agent- you don’t know what you don’t know until something like this happens. This is while travel agents are still in business and thriving. Booking your own travel isn’t as easy as it seems.
 
Likes: Christina H
Sep 19, 2015
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#15
1.5 hours is really a tight connection with customs and immigration even if one has no luggage and global entry.

The flight was 16 minutes late to the gate — there was more time on the tarmac because the flight landed on the runway early.

So in reality the connection ended up being 74 minutes — but as flights close 10 min before departure that gave 1 hour.

Airlines have minimum connection time which is often highly optimistic— a sensible connection time to do entry formalities is at least 2.5 hours.
 
Likes: Neil Maley
Sep 19, 2015
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#16
Having a tight connection with the last flight of the day is also risky.

Later flights may not be held as the crew may run out of work hours or there may be a curfew into the airport.
 
Likes: Neil Maley