Customer Service Refusal Leads to Missed Connection

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Aug 18, 2018
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#1
My husband and I were returning home from a trip to Montego Bay, Jamaica in July 2018. This was a 1-stop flight, with a connection in Philadelphia, PA. Our first flight from Montego Bay, Jamaica was delayed an hour (we still don't know the actual reason for the delay). This caused some alarm in my husband and I because it cut our layover time in half (from 2 hours to 1 hour). Being concerned we asked 3 separate agents if 1 hour between landing and taking off would be enough time to make it through Customs and onto our next flight. We were assured by each agent it would be, and were informed that the gate agents for our connecting flight would see our Montego Bay flight information and track/make accommodations accordingly.

We were some of the first people off the plane and through customs (no line waiting), get to the baggage claim area to pick up our bags that were already checked in, and we wait. And wait. It took more than 30 minutes for us to collect our bags from baggage claim and drop them off less than 1,000 feet away at the American Airlines baggage check. While we were waiting for our bags, I checked with 3 different representatives again to get assistance in contacting the gate agents for our next flight to make them away of the situation and to let them know we were coming. We were refused assistance each time "No, we can't do that."

My husband and I sprint across the airport (we landed in Terminal A, our next flight was in Terminal F), asking several American Airlines agents along the way for assistance in contacting the gate and letting them know we are coming (literally running across the airport), each time to be refused assistance. Needless to say we missed our flight by mere minutes (we watched them close the door to the plane).

We are directed to an agent within the airport that assists us in rebooking our flight into New York. Unfortunately nothing is available for our destination city (Stewart Airport in Newburgh, NY) so we have to fly into LaGuardia airport. The agent isn't able to book a room for us for an overnight stay, so we do it ourselves being told that the airline would reimburse for the hotel if we stayed at one of their partner locations or at the contracted rate if it wasn't a partner. There were no rooms available at their partners, so we were forced to make accommodations elsewhere.

The following day we arrange for transportation back to Philadelphia airport, take our flight back to NY and arrange for transportation from Queens up to Newburgh, NY (approx. 1.5 hours).

I have contacted American Airlines 3 times through their online submission form for Customer Service. My husband and I were offered the contracted rate for the hotel ($120) and 2 eVouchers for $100 each in the hopes that we would travel with American Airlines again and to help "offset our out-of-pocket expenses." I asked for the eVouchers to be converted to check format and explained the check would actually help with the out-of-pocket expenses, and based on our current experiences with American Airlines and their Customer Service (or lack thereof) it is highly unlikely we would choose to fly with their company again. We have been outright refused compensation for our out-of-pocket expenses totaling $367 for our hotel and transportation. I have explained to 3 separate Customer Service "corporate representatives" my husband and I would not be in this situation had the airline agents been more informed and actually assisted us rather than outright refusing, however all I'm getting is "we're sorry you're disappointed but that's all we're offering." I have asked several times to speak to a manager/supervisor and was told "calls are not escalated here" and that management is "too busy to speak with customers."

I am of the firm belief that had the American Airlines agents been more informed and either rescheduled everything while we were in Jamaica and/or actually assisted us in the airport rather than refusing to provide assistance, we would have made our flight and wouldn't be here now.

Any advice anyone can give as to how to get the rest of my refund or just converting the eVouchers would be greatly appreciated. Thanks online advocates!!
 
Jun 30, 2017
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Maui Hawaii
#2
It is not clear what your expectations were of AA customer service. They were not going to hold up a scheduled departure for you. Leaving only 2 hrs to go through customs, collect baggage, recheck baggage, and get from the international arrivals area to your next flight is too short a time, especially if your arriving flight is delayed. Even with Global Entry, you are still at the mercy of baggage delivery, cutting your time between flight too close.
 
Aug 18, 2018
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#3
My expectations in the airport or after we got back home? In the airport my expectation was to be assisted at a time when I obviously needed it rather than being outright denied any assistance. Our destination airport (though an International airport) is small (we're talking 6 gates) and this was one of the last flights into the airport that day. Some consideration may have been given, had the proper individuals been informed of the situation. If the hour wasn't enough time, shouldn't the agents from our first flight have known that and offered to assist us at that time? This is the lack of customer service I'm referring to - waiting for the proverbial shoe to drop so it's on the customer to figure it out and then refusing to help along the way.
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#4
I wish airlines would not sell these types of connections. There can be massive delays at immigration and waiting for baggage, let alone normal flight delays especially in the North East.

The truth is that airlines rarely hold flights for a few late passengers -- they have to close out the flight and boarding usually ends 10 minutes prior to scheduled departure time.
It can cost the airline too much money to delay, the gate may be needed, the flight crew may time out -- all sorts of issues. And with these regional carriers it sounds like this was the last flight of the night and the crew may have gotten close to timing out.

And the truth is calling would have done nothing. The gate agent already had the information on the arrival and a decision had been made not to wait. Would you have felt better if they had called? I hate to say it that the end result would have been the same. Customer service not calling was not the reason that the flight took off without you. I know none of this was your fault, which is why I wrote that the airlines should not sell these sorts of connections. And it is even harder when one is flying the regional airlines, smaller planes into smaller airports.

Not knowing the cause of the delay it is hard to pinpoint blame. Was it one of the days with thunderstorms, when air traffic control may have limited the arrivals? Or was it maintenance. What day did this happen?

I am not blaming the OP at all for this problem, as this is the routing that AA sells.

Once one has said that they will never fly X again there is little incentive for the airline to do more. And airlines hate to part with cash.

Perhaps writing a nice letter to the executives -- but take out the complaints about customer service not calling, as it does not help and it would not have changed the outcome.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
13,450
13,077
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#5
My husband and I were returning home from a trip to Montego Bay, Jamaica in July 2018. This was a 1-stop flight, with a connection in Philadelphia, PA. Our first flight from Montego Bay, Jamaica was delayed an hour (we still don't know the actual reason for the delay). This caused some alarm in my husband and I because it cut our layover time in half (from 2 hours to 1 hour). Being concerned we asked 3 separate agents if 1 hour between landing and taking off would be enough time to make it through Customs and onto our next flight. We were assured by each agent it would be, and were informed that the gate agents for our connecting flight would see our Montego Bay flight information and track/make accommodations accordingly.

We were some of the first people off the plane and through customs (no line waiting), get to the baggage claim area to pick up our bags that were already checked in, and we wait. And wait. It took more than 30 minutes for us to collect our bags from baggage claim and drop them off less than 1,000 feet away at the American Airlines baggage check. While we were waiting for our bags, I checked with 3 different representatives again to get assistance in contacting the gate agents for our next flight to make them away of the situation and to let them know we were coming. We were refused assistance each time "No, we can't do that."

My husband and I sprint across the airport (we landed in Terminal A, our next flight was in Terminal F), asking several American Airlines agents along the way for assistance in contacting the gate and letting them know we are coming (literally running across the airport), each time to be refused assistance. Needless to say we missed our flight by mere minutes (we watched them close the door to the plane).

We are directed to an agent within the airport that assists us in rebooking our flight into New York. Unfortunately nothing is available for our destination city (Stewart Airport in Newburgh, NY) so we have to fly into LaGuardia airport. The agent isn't able to book a room for us for an overnight stay, so we do it ourselves being told that the airline would reimburse for the hotel if we stayed at one of their partner locations or at the contracted rate if it wasn't a partner. There were no rooms available at their partners, so we were forced to make accommodations elsewhere.

The following day we arrange for transportation back to Philadelphia airport, take our flight back to NY and arrange for transportation from Queens up to Newburgh, NY (approx. 1.5 hours).

I have contacted American Airlines 3 times through their online submission form for Customer Service. My husband and I were offered the contracted rate for the hotel ($120) and 2 eVouchers for $100 each in the hopes that we would travel with American Airlines again and to help "offset our out-of-pocket expenses." I asked for the eVouchers to be converted to check format and explained the check would actually help with the out-of-pocket expenses, and based on our current experiences with American Airlines and their Customer Service (or lack thereof) it is highly unlikely we would choose to fly with their company again. We have been outright refused compensation for our out-of-pocket expenses totaling $367 for our hotel and transportation. I have explained to 3 separate Customer Service "corporate representatives" my husband and I would not be in this situation had the airline agents been more informed and actually assisted us rather than outright refusing, however all I'm getting is "we're sorry you're disappointed but that's all we're offering." I have asked several times to speak to a manager/supervisor and was told "calls are not escalated here" and that management is "too busy to speak with customers."

I am of the firm belief that had the American Airlines agents been more informed and either rescheduled everything while we were in Jamaica and/or actually assisted us in the airport rather than refusing to provide assistance, we would have made our flight and wouldn't be here now.

Any advice anyone can give as to how to get the rest of my refund or just converting the eVouchers would be greatly appreciated. Thanks online advocates!!
You should
My husband and I were returning home from a trip to Montego Bay, Jamaica in July 2018. This was a 1-stop flight, with a connection in Philadelphia, PA. Our first flight from Montego Bay, Jamaica was delayed an hour (we still don't know the actual reason for the delay). This caused some alarm in my husband and I because it cut our layover time in half (from 2 hours to 1 hour). Being concerned we asked 3 separate agents if 1 hour between landing and taking off would be enough time to make it through Customs and onto our next flight. We were assured by each agent it would be, and were informed that the gate agents for our connecting flight would see our Montego Bay flight information and track/make accommodations accordingly.

We were some of the first people off the plane and through customs (no line waiting), get to the baggage claim area to pick up our bags that were already checked in, and we wait. And wait. It took more than 30 minutes for us to collect our bags from baggage claim and drop them off less than 1,000 feet away at the American Airlines baggage check. While we were waiting for our bags, I checked with 3 different representatives again to get assistance in contacting the gate agents for our next flight to make them away of the situation and to let them know we were coming. We were refused assistance each time "No, we can't do that."

My husband and I sprint across the airport (we landed in Terminal A, our next flight was in Terminal F), asking several American Airlines agents along the way for assistance in contacting the gate and letting them know we are coming (literally running across the airport), each time to be refused assistance. Needless to say we missed our flight by mere minutes (we watched them close the door to the plane).

We are directed to an agent within the airport that assists us in rebooking our flight into New York. Unfortunately nothing is available for our destination city (Stewart Airport in Newburgh, NY) so we have to fly into LaGuardia airport. The agent isn't able to book a room for us for an overnight stay, so we do it ourselves being told that the airline would reimburse for the hotel if we stayed at one of their partner locations or at the contracted rate if it wasn't a partner. There were no rooms available at their partners, so we were forced to make accommodations elsewhere.

The following day we arrange for transportation back to Philadelphia airport, take our flight back to NY and arrange for transportation from Queens up to Newburgh, NY (approx. 1.5 hours).

I have contacted American Airlines 3 times through their online submission form for Customer Service. My husband and I were offered the contracted rate for the hotel ($120) and 2 eVouchers for $100 each in the hopes that we would travel with American Airlines again and to help "offset our out-of-pocket expenses." I asked for the eVouchers to be converted to check format and explained the check would actually help with the out-of-pocket expenses, and based on our current experiences with American Airlines and their Customer Service (or lack thereof) it is highly unlikely we would choose to fly with their company again. We have been outright refused compensation for our out-of-pocket expenses totaling $367 for our hotel and transportation. I have explained to 3 separate Customer Service "corporate representatives" my husband and I would not be in this situation had the airline agents been more informed and actually assisted us rather than outright refusing, however all I'm getting is "we're sorry you're disappointed but that's all we're offering." I have asked several times to speak to a manager/supervisor and was told "calls are not escalated here" and that management is "too busy to speak with customers."

I am of the firm belief that had the American Airlines agents been more informed and either rescheduled everything while we were in Jamaica and/or actually assisted us in the airport rather than refusing to provide assistance, we would have made our flight and wouldn't be here now.

Any advice anyone can give as to how to get the rest of my refund or just converting the eVouchers would be greatly appreciated. Thanks online advocates!!
When coming home and needing to go through Customs before getting in a connecting flight we never book a connection with less than 3 hours in between flights. This is the reason why.

While you were waiting for your bags, even if the agents had called the gate- they wouldn’t hold the doors for two people. If you weren’t at the gate by the time printed on your boarding pass- your seats are given away to people on the standby list.

And yet again we see Agents promise you anything to her you out of their hair. Once you accepted the flights to LGA despite what the agent says- AA’s obligation is done. They refuse to reimburse you for your other expenses because you asked to be routed to a different airport - they didn’t offer that. Your issue here is the agent lying that you would be reimbursed.

Did you have Travel insurance? Most insurance would reimburse you for the extra expenses. That’s why they sell it and often why an airline doesn’t feel the need to reimburse people.

They won’t give you a refund because they did what they are contracted to do- got you from point a to point b.

We have company contacts on top of our pages. Read the info on the bottom of the page in HOW to write and re-write your letter.

Take out the “I won’t fly you again” because that’s a good way for them to offer you nothing. Why should they do anything if you aren’t coming back? You want to give them the opportunity to show you they want you back.

Also take out the many points about the employees not helping- they wouldn’t hold the plane up for 2 people anyway.

Nicely ask them for more of a credit for a future flight based in the agent assuring you that you would be reimbursed. If the agent hadn’t told you that you would be reimbursed- would you have changed to the other airport?
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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San Francisco
#6
My colleagues are right, I'm afraid. Flying today is a completely different game than even ten years ago. Travellers learn these lessons the hard way because there is no other way to learn them. A good travel agent will protect clients from this kind of mess; they know the "rules" of flying today and can really be beneficial. Unless you have status with an airline and are flying up front, the airlines really don't care much if you miss a connection. I avoid small airports and airplanes at all costs because this is exactly what happens when problems arise. Finding a place to sleep and something to eat is the passengrs' responsibility. Not what anyone wants to hear, but it's reality. I'm sorry for your predicament. Any possibility of travel insurance built into the credit card you used to book the trip?
 
Jun 30, 2017
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Maui Hawaii
#7
My expectations in the airport or after we got back home? In the airport, my expectation was to be assisted at a time when I obviously needed it rather than being outright denied any assistance. Our destination airport (though an International airport) is small (we're talking 6 gates) and this was one of the last flights into the airport that day. Some consideration may have been given, had the proper individuals been informed of the situation. If the hour wasn't enough time, shouldn't the agents from our first flight have known that and offered to assist us at that time? This is the lack of customer service I'm referring to - waiting for the proverbial shoe to drop so it's on the customer to figure it out and then refusing to help along the way.
They had no ability to put you on an earlier flight from Montego Bay or a later flight to your destination. You could possibly have spent another night in Jamaica, but AA would not have paid for this. Once your plane was delayed in Montego Bay you were not likely to make your next flight, and there was no assistance at either airport (Montego Bay or PHL) that would have changed that fact. They should have told you this, but otherwise could not alter the facts of time and distance. You were looking for assistance that could not alter the events that were happening. Holding your next flight is highly unlikely to happen, no matter which "proper individuals been informed of the situation".
 
Likes: krisseye
Sep 19, 2015
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#8
My expectations in the airport or after we got back home? In the airport my expectation was to be assisted at a time when I obviously needed it rather than being outright denied any assistance. Our destination airport (though an International airport) is small (we're talking 6 gates) and this was one of the last flights into the airport that day. Some consideration may have been given, had the proper individuals been informed of the situation. If the hour wasn't enough time, shouldn't the agents from our first flight have known that and offered to assist us at that time? This is the lack of customer service I'm referring to - waiting for the proverbial shoe to drop so it's on the customer to figure it out and then refusing to help along the way.
The gate agent knew of the situation, they knew that you were on a late connecting flight (vs a no show) and the decision was made not to hold the flight. The staff not calling made no difference, and there may be policy not to do it because the right person, the gate agent, is aware of the connecting passengers. I have had that happen and I was not happy either, and had a big delay in getting to the destination, with an extra connection. And like you it was a delay on take off.

If you were on the later flight out of Montego Bay, that meant either stranding you in Jamaica or stranding you in PHL. The Montego Bay flights may have been booked solid the next day, I do not know.

It would be nice if there was someone to explain the problem -- but honestly I do not think that there may have been anything that could have been done. And yes, people will tell you happy things -- sure you can make it ..... not wanting to be the bearer of bad news.

Flights are very full this time of year and that does not help, which is why I think nothing was done.

I am not excusing AA, as I said they give these optimistic connection times, and that really annoys me. I just have so little faith in what the airline industry has become. And sometimes when coming back from an international trip and clearing customs in NY I am grateful that I do not have a connection because of how long it takes me to get the bags and all. I can never estimate how long it is going to take and this is my home airport.

I would suspect that an earlier attempt to rebook you would have ended up the same -- overnight in PHL and flying into a different airport. PHL to SWF is a small aircraft, maybe 65 people, and it is likely a feeder flight for many more international and domestic flights. In fact I am looking at the availability for PHL to Stewart for tomorrow and one flight, the evening one is already sold out (AA 4967).
 
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Mar 17, 2015
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#9
I do not know that the gate agents know more than flight arrival. We had a flight, with an original layover of 2.5 hrs at DFW, but our incoming flight was delayed. We had 25 minutes to get from arrival gate to departure gate, flying first class. We had been made to gate check our carry on (I will stand firm next time, as in first and plenty of overhead bin space, even on the small planes), so we had to wait for that, which took 10 minutes. We speak with the gate agent at arrival gate, ask her to call connecting flight, she tells us she did. We run to connecting gate, get there 8 minutes before departure just as they were closing doors. That gate agent said they never received a call, or may have held flight, there were 10 of us, not all connected, that missed that flight and had to be rebooked. The connecting gate agent was rather miffed as it would have been better to hold the connecting flight for a few minutes had she known what the hold up was. Of course, I have no idea which gate agent lied, was placating us, etc. We had also been told by agent a at originating airport we would be fine. Next time Inrun into this situation, I am calling/tweeting instead of relying on gate agents.
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#10
Going to clarify something —Gate Agents do not decide to hold a plane for connecting passengers; neither do pilots. The decision is made at operations level — possibly consulting with pilot—
But this is what is considered — will the crew time out? If the plane is held 15 minutes how long is the take off time delayed? If a Plane is held for 15 minutes for passengers — well they lost their take off slot, no holding places in line for takeoff, back to the end of the line, so waiting 15 minutes for passengers may turn into an hour and 15 minutes — and then back to crew hours — is the gate needed? For later evenings flights are there noise restrictions at the arriving airport?

So thinking that a call to the gate agent means that the flight will be held? No. Neither will a tweet, a fb message — if operations department says do not wait, flight takes off..

More likely a plane will be held for a large number of connecting passengers vs. one or two —but number of connecting passengers is only part of the decision. Gate agents and pilots do not make the call, operations does.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
13,450
13,077
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#11
Christina is correct. A gate agent has no power to hold a flight back. And the know exactly which passengers on a connecting flight are missing.

https://www.airfarewatchdog.com/blog/9455288/everything-you-wanted-to-ask-an-airline-gate-agent/

And by arriving 8 minutes before the flights FB was to leave, your seats have already been given up to passengers on stand by. If you aren’t at the gate by the time printed on your boarding pass they will call for you to come to the podium. When they don’t, your seats are given away.
 
Likes: Marieta
Mar 17, 2015
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#12
I was not going to tweet about holding the plane, rather about getting out on later flight, local gate agents said it was taken care of, it was not.
 
Jun 27, 2017
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#13
Christina is correct. A gate agent has no power to hold a flight back. And the know exactly which passengers on a connecting flight are missing.

https://www.airfarewatchdog.com/blog/9455288/everything-you-wanted-to-ask-an-airline-gate-agent/

And by arriving 8 minutes before the flights FB was to leave, your seats have already been given up to passengers on stand by. If you aren’t at the gate by the time printed on your boarding pass they will call for you to come to the podium. When they don’t, your seats are given away.
Neil ... thank you for posting this link. This is a great article and a real eye-opener about gate agents and the work they do day-in and day-out.
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
6,867
6,784
113
San Francisco
#14
As much as I hate to admit it (even to myself), airline agents will tell you anything to get you to go away. Lots of reasons for this, none of which mean that gate agents are low-life beings. The airlines have put so much emphasis on saving money, as well as generating it, relying so much on computers ... agents are often forced into in a position of confronting angry customers. In many cases, as outlined above, the agents are powerless to help. I think it's human nature to avoid unpleasantness as often as possible. The tix agent lets something slide so the gate agent will handle it. The gate agent lets it slide so the flight attendants will handle it. The buck stops with the flight attendants, and they have to share space with passengers for the duration of the flight. Not a formula for good customer service.

As a gate agent told me once when I asked why he didn't do anything about the size of the carry-on bags lining up for a flight, " I don't get paid enough to argue with passengers". Food for thought.
 
Jan 30, 2018
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#15
This might be off the point a bit, but why did you "arrange transportation to Philadelphia" and then fly to Stewart? Why did you not travel directly to Stewart from LGA? Would have been a lot quicker.
 
Aug 18, 2018
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#16
Because Stewart Airport is part of the Port Authority of NY, flights from LGA to Stewart don't exist (and neither does a shuttle between the 2). Our transportation in Philadelphia was to get back to the airport for our flight into LGA. The hotel shuttle started at 4am and our flight was at 5:20am, not wanting to miss yet another flight we had to use Uber to get back to PHL.
 
Aug 18, 2018
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#17
"Did you have Travel insurance? Most insurance would reimburse you for the extra expenses. That’s why they sell it and often why an airline doesn’t feel the need to reimburse people."

I believe we purchased travel insurance when we booked our vacation. I'll try contacting them and my credit card company (Bank of America is basically like dealing with AA smh). This was our first international flight, we have only flown domestically in the past. Consider this a VERY eye opening experience.
 
Aug 18, 2018
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#18
We did have travel insurance for the trip, they are asking for verification of the delay for the airline. Does anyone know how I may be able to get that info?