Horrible Treatment by American Airlines

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Aug 9, 2018
Sent this to all the email address on the for at names and email addresses of most companies for American Airlines and they didn't even give me the courtesy of a response. Their service and treatment of passengers, especially my handicapped wife, was unacceptable.

RE: Record Locators XXXXXX & XXXXXX

My wife and I had a weekend trip single handedly ruined by American Airlines. We had problems on both the outbound, inbound flight and with customer service when our flight was canceled. The inbound flight was the worst ever and I’m considering filing an Air Carrier Access Act complaint due to American failing to help my wife who has both mental & physical disabilities due to a stroke.

Outbound Flight – Flt # 2406 – 7/26/2018
We checked in 1 ½ hours prior to the flight. We checked 2 bags. Only one got to MSP with us. The other bag never made the plane. I was notified they would put it on the next flight out which arrived around 9:15pm. The notification also said they would promptly deliver the bag to us upon arrival. I called to confirm that the bag would be brought to us and the gentleman I spoke to said we would definitely get it that evening. I called back around 10:30pm when I still hadn’t received the bag and spoke to a very rude woman who said American Airlines is not responsible for getting the bag to me. She said it’s the responsibility of the airport and they have a few days to get it to me. I kindly disagreed with her saying I checked the bag with American, they failed to get it on the plane, and it’s their responsibility to get it to me. She rudely said “it will get there when it gets there but it won’t be tonight.” The bag was left on my son’s porch where we were staying at 3:30am where anyone could have stolen it.

Customer Service – 7/30/2018

I woke up the day we were supposed to fly home to find out our return flight (# 2203) was canceled and we were booked on a 6:25pm flight in economy instead of first class like I paid for. My wife had a stroke in August 2018 and is disabled. She has Aphasia and cannot communicate well. She also has Apraxia so she has trouble understanding what she hears. She CANNOT travel by herself. I spend the extra money for first class on flights where I can get us on the first row so she can get to the aisle seat with her walker. We were booked on a 6:35pm flight which only had center seats available so we couldn’t even sit together.

I called customer service and was told there was over a 1 hour wait time to speak to a representative which in itself is pretty ridiculous. I chose the option to have them call me back. In the meantime, my ticket got changed to a different flight with a connection but my wife remained on the 6:35pm flight. This was done even though her reservation states she’s handicap.

About an hour later I finally get a call back and I explain to the lady my wife cannot fly alone, I paid for 1st class because we need first class, and she needs to find us first class on a flight the next day after 11am. She told me there was only 1 flight with a connection through Washington, DC. I asked her about flying out of Rochester, MINNESOTA (RST) since that’s where we were staying. She said she has one out of Rochester, MN that also goes through Washington, DC. I asked her to make sure it was Rochester, MN, airport code RST and not Rochester, NY. She said it as Rochester, MN. I said I’ll take that one which would save me the 1 ½ hour drive to MSP. She told me she made the change, repeated it was from Rochester, MN to DC to DFW.

A couple hours later I looked at the email confirmation and she booked us out of Rochester, NEW YORK! So I called again and waited and waited and waited for a representative. By now the MSP-DCA-DFW was sold out and we had no choice but to take the 6:47am flight out of MSP on 7/31.

By canceling the flight and having to spend the night cost me over $100 for a hotel.

Inbound Flight – Flt # 1395 – 7/31/2018

Believe it or not out experience with American got even worse. First we couldn’t get American to get someone to bring a wheelchair to take my wife to the gate so I got one myself and pushed her along with our carryon bag, her walker, and her cane. The lady handling first class check in at the counter acted as though she hated her job.
Now we get to the plane to board and an entirely useless attendant crew. I was flabbergasted. First they tell me my wife couldn’t bring her walker on the plane to get to her seat and to leave it outside the plane. I explained it’s the only way she can walk to her seat which is on the first row in first class. She grudgingly said “ok”. Now on every single flight we’ve taken a flight attendant would help me get my wife to her seat but not on this flight. I was told they aren’t allowed to help passengers. I said they have always helped before and she said the previous flight attendants broke the rules. I finally got her to her seat by myself while holding up the line of people trying to board.

I asked the flight attendant if they can stow the walker in the front closet like American has done plenty of times before and they told me no, that’s against the rules. I told her they did it on the flight to MSP and she told me that crew broke the rules. I said fine and tried to had the walker to her to put outside got the gate check and she told me they are not allowed to touch passenger’s items and made me walk against the boarding passengers to put it outside the plane then get in line to board again.

This experience has made me not ever to fly American again. I’m sorry I booked a flight in December on American and wish I could cancel it and fly someone else. I have never had a flying experience anywhere as horrible as this one. Your flight attendants on our return flight rude and clearly violated the Air Carrier Access Act. I would fire the lead attendant who was the one so rude to me and reprimand the others. They obviously need to be trained on the Americans with Disabilities Act. I’m seriously considering filing a complaint with the Justice Department. We should not have had to go through the crap we went through today.

Neil Maley

Staff Member
Dec 27, 2014
New York
Did you send it using our Company Contacts? We tell you not to send it to all of them at once. Start at Customer Service, give them a week to reply, then move to the first executive be if you get no help. Repeat that Weekly.

Second- your letter doesn’t state what you want from them. There is nothing for then to write back about. And you told the you will never fly American again- so why would they get back to you?

You did have a lot of bumbled assistance for sure. Whet you booked your tickets, did you have AA add that you needed wheelchair assistance on a the tickets? You need to do that to get a wheelchair.

Please re write you letter and take out the statements that you will never fly them again if you want them to do anything for you.

And state what it is you want from them. A complaint letter needs to have a solution to be effective.
Sep 19, 2015
Wow they certainly made a mess of the trip.

The late arrival of the baggage is a hassle. Once a bag arrives late it is logged in and goes to a delivery service. A bag arriving at 9:15 is not going to be immediately taken off the conveyer belt and put in a taxi — the delivery service takes a load of luggage all at once. It is sort of overly optimistic to call 75 minutes after a plane has landed and want to know where the luggage is, especially when you wrote you live 90 minutes away. It is a pain but it happens, and you received the bag less than 12 hours later.

I have to wonder about these call centers, mistaking the two Rochesters, that is just sloppy and should not happen.

Your original return flight was cancelled likely because of the early thunderstorms in Dallas. It looks the same plane is used to fly DFW to MSP and back to DFW. Air Traffic control made the airlines cancel flights and yours was one of the unlucky ones.

Were you and your wife booked on one reservation? You have two records so I think that means two reservations. The computer does not know you are together unless the reservations are linked. That may be why you were separated.

Do you think the person who changed the flights back to MSP departures forgot to ask for wheelchair assist?

Flight attendants are not required to physically assist in the moving of a disabled passenger — in fact it may be prohibited for liability reasons. Some elderly people can be very frail and is one does not know proper lifting or holding techniques the FA could seriously hurt someone and be liable. With heavy personal items it is the same, the FA is not required to help. The person that should be doing that is the wheelchair assist people, they allegedly have people properly trained and also help with the luggage. While one FA may assist, they are not required to and many do not want to risk a back injury.

I think the rules are unclear — a flight attendant can push a person in a wheelchair but not required to lift a passenger. If you are able to put the walker outside why hand it to the flight attendant? Are you also disabled? I do not know much the FA is required to assist the disabled’s companion if that person is not disabled.

I think that Neil’s advice is correct. Shorten the letter. Focus on the big issues. We have had massive cancellations from thunderstorms since late July and many cancellations which have overloaded the call centers. I am not surprised at the one hour wait. I have experienced the same.
But it is better to focus on the big issues such as the mistake over Rochester and what happened to the wheel chair assist if it was requeated.

Also give time for a response before going to the next person. If too many people are emailed at once they may think another is addressing the concerns.
Likes: Nancy
Aug 9, 2018
The reservations were linked. And I always have wheelchair assistance put on the reservations. They even confirmed it when I checked in at the counter but as usually they tell me they can't control the wheelchair assistance because that's run by the airport.

There was nothing to lift. She gets out of the wheelchair at the door of the plane and uses a walker to get to her seat on the 1st row. All they do on every flight but this one just hold hand and guide her to the seat while I walk behind her to make sure she doesn't fall. I see flight attendance help people put their bags in the overhead all the time so not being able to just put the walker outside the plane or grab it and hand it to me after we landed would be such an abuse of a rule. They flat out didn't want to help. Just to add, they had no real interested in serving the first class passengers. We got drinks and for breakfast "we only have yogurt, take it or leave it". Once that was passed out we never saw them again. You finish your drink and wanted a refill you were out of luck. But the service isn't my gripe. It's the not helping at all with my wife.

They even read the "Rochester" reservation to me twice saying "Rochester, Minnesota" so yes, very sloppy.

They shouldn't have told me "it's on the next flight and we will immediately have it brought to you upon arrival" if they wouldn't actually do it.
Sep 19, 2015
Well if you had them linked you should mention that in the letter because that is an important piece of information as it shows their failing of technology.

I have heard so many bad things about AA — have not flown them in a decade— I have to wonder what is happening to the company.

There should have been a wheelchair assistance.

Here is what MSP airport says which contradicts what you were told:

“Airport Wheelchair Pusher
Airlines provide wheelchairs for use throughout both terminals. Request a wheelchair when you make your flight reservation. Most airlines have information about wheelchair access and other services on their websites or through their reservations systems.”


“Or ask an airline representative for assistance when you arrive.”

Some flight attendants may help with lifting baggage but they are not supposed to for workplace safety and liability — and not required to.

The real failing was not providing a wheelchair at check in and I would emphasize that. That is pretty clear cut. The issue of helping an able bodied person who is assisting the disabled is a bit more foggy.

Many people are afraid of hurting a disabled person if they do not know how to catch or steady someone. Others have experience.

The wheelchair people are the ones to assist the disabled into the plane and they have the small chairs to go right to the seat. It is terrible that you did not get one.

And the Rochester stupidity — that person did not think and it must have taken some work to change the departure to a different state several hundred miles away.

I am sorry for you and your wife.

But do write to them again.
Mar 17, 2015
I think you need to let go of the bag issue. Promptly may mean something different to you than it does to the person stating it. You received the bag in what I would call a prompt manner, especially given your distance from the airport. Another reason to not mention it In Your letter is so the focus is on the bungled reservations and the lack of a wheelchair at check in. I am sorry you had a so many things happen on this trip.