Mess up after mess up

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Aug 14, 2017
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#1
So I had a pretty sucky series of flights with AA this past weekend. I'm about to send an email, but would like to check for what would be reasonable beforehand.

This was an international trip for me, my husband and our 2 year old son.

Our flights were ORD-IAD, then IAD-MIA-BSB, then BSB-MIA-ORD. Three legs, all bought within the same PNR.

On our first leg, one of our suitcases arrived completely destroyed. We're talking clothes falling off destroyed. When I reached out to AA baggage service, they wanted me to bring the bag back to them and wait about a month for a resolution on either a new bag or they fix that one. The problem was: it was Friday night and I was traveling internationally on Sunday. Again, same PNR. It took at least an hour until I was able to get a supervisor called down to talk to me who could authorize me to purchase a new bag and have it reimbursed. I'm still waiting on the reimbursement (I got the new bag from ross, so it was not anything super expensive).

On our second leg, first flight (IAD-MIA) the flight got delayed 20 minutes at a time, for 2 and a half hours. That would mean we would lose our connection in MIA. The most aggressive, disrespectful agent ever did not want to allow me to change our flights to another one leaving from the same terminal, stating that "of course AA wouldn't let us miss our connection". Again, it took the presence of a supervisor for the change to be approved. Even though said aggressive agent confirmed they would transfer our luggage from flight 1 to flight 2, they didn't. They were also not able to retrieve our car seat and stroller that we had gate-checked.

Our 2nd flight (MIA-BSB) was delayed by 40 minutes, and that was actually good. It did allow us to make the connection. But one of our seats was broken. The flight attendants couldn't care less in trying to re-accommodate us. We had seats 1A, 1B and 1E. 1B was broken, and they changed it for 3A. Which means we were all seating separately. Have I mentioned we were traveling with a 2 year old? Yeah, not good. 1D didn't want to change seats for 1A, because he did not like flying on the left side of the plane. Eventually someone else changed seats so I could seat with toddler.

None of our luggage arrived with us. We're talking 4 bags (1 of which has not yet been reimbursed by AA yet), stroller or car seat. AA does not have car seats to lend in BSB, so I had to call friends and family at 7am on a Monday to try and get a loaner with someone. I eventually did. 3 hours later. We did have to go out and buy a couple of underwears and a pijama for each of us. We have not yet been reimbursed for that. Luggage arrived 36 hours later.

On our 3rd leg (BSB-MIA-ORD), our first flight actually left on time. But in MIA our luggage took well over an hour to show up at the carrossel (they had to send maintenance in) followed by the longest security line I have ever seen (I've been to ORD on thanksgiving week. Our line in MIA was longer!) and the WORST TSA agents I've ever encountered means we missed our connection by 3 minutes (flight closed 6:45. We got to gate 6:48. Flight left at 7:05). Now, I understand those are not AA's responsibilities, but I still think they could have handled re-booking better.

Which brings us to: last flight. We were put on standy-by for a flight 1:30 hour later, and didn't make the cut. Then, another one, 1:30 hour later. I called AA and the agent I spoke to said that the flight was completely booked and most people had checked-in already, so we would most likely also not make the cut. The only flight she could get us assigned seats at was a 7:30 pm flight. I took it, because I am not running from gate to gate the whole day with a tired toddler.

When I printed those tickets, I saw my boarding group was group 7. Since I paid for the trip with AA CC, I was supposed to be group 5. Tried to reach out to another AA agent, who simply said there was nothing she could do about it. Went to AA rebooking center at MIA, where I FINALLY met someone who actually tried to help me. She was able to book me on a MIA-CMH-ORD flight leaving 30 minutes from then. After running the terminal, we got to make it to the flight.

On that flight we took the car seat for my toddler to seat on, since by then we were out of our business class seats. When we get to CMH, the car seat would NOT leave the plane. They had to call maintenance in to cut the seatbelt and release the car seat.

So, if you have read through all of it, what do you think? I do understand that under the COC AA has done everything it should (considering I receive the reimbursements I've been promised). However, I do feel they should have done better on a whole. Should I write to costumer service and ask for a good will gesture?
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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#2
OH MY GRANDMOTHER !!!!

This is one of most awful travel stories I've ever heard. I literally was "with you" through the entire disaster - you write very well, Carol. To think that you can still walk and chew gum at the same time after an experience like this is a miracle. I suspect you're a hardy Midwest girl like me, able to deal with anything and still remain cool.

You are DEFINITELY due SOMETHING here! I'm going to take a few minutes to dissect your post and boil it way down so we can see what kind of compensation you should ask for.. Stand by!
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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#3
First thing I want to know ... are you sure you were not starring in some new reality show which measures passengers' stress levels and keeps piling on the problems until a meltdown is achieved? At the least, I hope you had a very good time when you finally got there. Here's my quick dissection of your adventure:

OUTBOUND FLIGHTS: ORD-IAD destroyed suitcase, fight for supervisor to authorize new bag and reimbursement. New bag from Ross

IAD-MIA 2.5hr delay, would miss Xtn. AA agent incompetent, call supervisor to rebook. Gate-checked car seat, stroller do not appear.

MIA-BSB 40min delay. Assigned seats 1A,B,E. B broken, replaced with 3A. 1D pass wouldn’t switch/didn’t want to sit on L side of plane(!), cabin crew finally got mom reseated with son. . Purchased minimal supplies: PJs, underwear. (Everything delivered 36 hours later.)

RETURN FLIGHTS: BSB-MIA mechanicals at MIA baggage, waited more than an hour. Enormous TSA line. Missed Xtn by 3mins, lost biz seats

MIA-ORD. Standby, next flights 90mins apart, all fully booked. Booked for 730pm flight. BP shows Group 7, s/b Group 5. No help from AA, went to CS ctr at MIA, booked on MIA-CMH-ORD leaving in half hour. Ran and boarded. Seats in coach, not biz. Car seat got stuck in coach seat, CMH maintenance called to cut seatbelt.

Is this about right? Please correct anything, then list what actions you have taken for each problem and how/if AA has responded. We will see what can be done so you are properly compensated for this nightmare.
 
Likes: CarolNLG
Aug 14, 2017
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#4
Thanks so much, Jsn! Yeah, the whole stress level is a nice way of putting it. Now imagine all of that with a 2.5 yo, who are notoriously known for being very much flexible and easy to reason with :p

So, a couple of comments
on my IAD-MIA flight, the agent who first saw me was not only incompetent. She was downright rude. She said there were no more seats on the flight I wanted, and I literally hear the agent next to me tell the other guy there were 5 more seats. She told me to "stop eavesdropping and pay attention to your line only" That's when I told her that I needed to speak to someone higher up in the chain, since she clearly had no capacity of want to help me.

I am not complaining of the delay on the MIA-BSB flight, since that`s the reason I actually made the connection. However, on the whole seat conundrum the FA were of absolutely no help and told us to try and solve the problem with fellow passengers. Now, I know everyone deserves to be treated fairly and respectfully, but that behavior is especially surprising in a business class cabin. The situation got sorted out when I told 1D that my 2yo liked watching Cars and here is his sippy cup. Then he decided to trade seats and go to 1A.

We didn't even get PJs and underwear for all of us. Since we had some things on our carry ons, we got underwears for myself and 2yo and PJs for myself and husband. I will admit that they were more expansive than I would probably spend (aka, not ross). But I was at a foreign country with no clean underpants. I just went to literally the first shop I found. We are still talking a 45 dollar bill for the 3 of us.

In regards to actions/reactions, there were not many, really. I did respectfully ask to speak to supervisors on two accounts (luggage and IAD-MIA rebooking). AA did keep me informed of my luggage for the 36 hours, and they did provide me with the reimbursement form for my expenses. I am waiting on that, but they did tell me it could take up to 30 days. I'm ok waiting for it.

I think the lack of a human understanding during MIA situation is the point where I had absolutely no feedback from AA. The first 3 people I spoke to (2 in boarding gates, 1 on the phone) did not try to work alternative routes to Chicago. I did let them know I would be ok with a connection, as long as I had an actual confirmed seat. Both people on boarding gates acted, in my opinion, maliciously by putting me in a stand by situation I had no chance of clearing.

The lady at CS ctr in MIA was fantastic. I really regret not having written down her name, since I would like to make a formal compliment on her behavior. She tried to find alternative routes, and even asked me, beforehand, if I was ok with smaller regional jets, since I had a little one who could be scared. That's how I got to get the MIA-CMH-ORD flight. I did get a group 8 boarding on MIA-CMH, which was not ideal, but, quite honestly, nothing in this whole situation was ideal.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
12,290
12,467
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New York
www.promalvacations.com
#5
Here are our company contacts st AA;

http://www.elliott.org/company-contacts/american-airlines/

You most likely won't get cash back, but you should definitely ask fir mileage as compensation for the multiple issues you endured. I normally don't advocate for this but you have had a doozy of a trip.

Determine how many air miles you would like to ask for as compensation and then ask for maybe 10,000 more. Then you can try to bargain down.

Start with Customer Service. Give them a week to reply. If they don't or their offer isn't enough, move up to the first executive. Give him a week and continue weekly until you get to the CEO.

Let us know how you make out.
 
Likes: jsn55

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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#6
It is a hard fact of life today that flying can be just plain awful. You literally wonder how those people keep their jobs with the rudeness, incompetence and sheer lack of caring about their customers. There's a reason for this ... when the bean counters took over airline management they started dictating memos to the employees, essentially telling them that they are required to follow published procedure no matter what has happened to a passenger. Management removed all the pride and incentive to do your best every day ... I can't blame the employees totally. Although many of them have managed to keep a good attitude and enjoy their jobs, others have just sunk into a tar pit.

And it's not just one airline .... they're all pretty awful when compared to flying 20 years ago. I see United making great strides to bring back a real airline where employees are empowered to take care of their passengers. They have a huge sand dune to climb over, but I believe they will. I had a great flight on Alaska today, from the charming child who checked me in to the delightful flight attendants who obviously enjoyed their work and taking care of their passengers. There's hope out there.

The trip you experienced was just plain over the top. Nobody should be able to rack up that many issues on one trip. I've experienced some real messes, including Air Canada both outbound spending the whole night at the Toronto Airport and return checking in 3 hours early to be told the flight was full and we could not board ... but your story absolutely takes the cake.

Please let us know what you decide to ask for and how the dialogue goes.
 
Last edited:
Aug 14, 2017
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#7
Thank you everyone.
I do understand I'm not getting money back, nor do I expect to (other than the reimbursements previously agreed upon, of course). However, I needed to make sure I'm not just "laundrylisting" if you may. I mean, I KNOW I had a bad experience, I do, but I just needed to "filter" it to make sure It's not crazier than expected.

I'll write a succint email and not make comments regarding the very rude agent who saw me in DC. I figure that's not really something quantifiable. Do you think that's reasonable?

I'll ask for about 30.000 miles each. I know it's crazy, but a 1 way domestic trip is about 25.000, so we're talking a 200-300 value in miles here? Is that too absurd? I don't want to have my messages disregarded from the get-go for asking way too much.
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
6,487
6,540
113
San Francisco
#9
I think you're doing it just right, Carol. Complaint letters regarding rude employees should be separate from your real complaint. Little doubt in my mind that airlines are cognizant of more than one complaint of rudeness and will counsel the employee or perhaps move them into a job without direct passenger contact. I agree with Neil, 30K miles is about right. As with hotels, you must ask the airline for what you think fair ... they seem incapable of making decent offers and sometimes just don't respond at all if you're not clear about what you are asking for.