Traveling with toddler, forced to board last, forced to check only carry-on when there was an empty overhead bin.

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Apr 11, 2018
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#21
I was under the impression you tried to Pre-board and they wouldnt allow you to-

“At the gate, the gate agent refused to allow me and my toddler to board when it was my turn (even though their website states families with young children can pre-board). I stood in line and was told to step aside and wait to be the last to board allowing everyone else to take up available bin space, so they can then determine IF there is space for my luggage. “

If that wasn’t the case- you should remove that from the note I suggested.
Yup, i removed it.

I was boarding with the group on my pass. I mentioned their pre-boarding policy only because it further illustrates how baffling it is a parent could be treated this way by an airline that seemingly acknowledge there may be a need to pre-board.

I mean.. you would think that the gate agent is aware of the policy. Even though I didnt ask to pre-board, to go above and beyond would have been for her to ask if i'd like to board early. To do the bare minimum would have been for her to check immediately exactly how full the bins were, and allow me to board as usual, with my luggage. To not totally piss me off, after making me stand and wait, she or the FA at the door could have said something to the FAs in the back and found the space I found.

I dont know.. do none of them have kids? Do they hate anyone who shows up with a kid? Is SFO-PHL the saddest route they got assigned to and they are just in no mood for common courtesy? I've read about people with screaming kids on flights... if this is what 1/5 of them were dealt with then no wonder! When the airline staff remove all tools from a passenger's possession that could be used to entertain or distract very young children on a cross country flight..! Ok now im just ranting....
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#22
christina

I have no clue how they managed to beat up my luggage and content so badly.

After reading your reply, I checked AA's facebook page too, and I saw one lady say she was forced to check and charged fifty bucks and told to learn to read. Rudeness aside I think she was being told she had a basic economy ticket, which is not my case. Another lady said she was forced to check on an international flight, luckily her fiance had a bigger backpack than she did and she as able to put her laptop in his backpack. I saw no mention of anyone traveling with a kid on regular fares being forced to check their only carry on that had everything in it.

I filed a claim with american and it was denied completely, they wouldnt even accept responsibility for the luggage case. The heirloom will not be repaired. It cannot be repaired. I am not gonna have it essentially super glued or botoxed back together. Repair or not, its monetary value has already been drastically reduced, not that im about to sell it so the monetary value of it is less important than the sentimental value. But if we were to talk about how much monetary damage, being an item passed down from my grandfather's father who lived in the Qing Dynasty era, AA's maximum liability probably wouldn't cover it.
Sadly there is a woman who uses a wheelchair who was forced to gate check her bag and it was damaged — and no one would help her —and a woman who was forced to check her carry on with a breast pump and that suitcase was lost—- and a man forced to gate check — and others —
My point is that it is likely not discrimination just bad management and unhappy employees.

What I have noticed is that after a merger an airline has integration problems which results in angry employees (I think Phil was a US air hub and there may be resentment) and the employees take their anger out on passengers. No science to back this up and it does not help you. Just a caution.

I would still suggest eventually getting a restorer to look at the jade. Qing jades can vary in price from hundred of dollars to millions— but your heirloom is beyond value. A good restorer does not superglue — it may make you feel better if it looks as it did before leaving.

It looks like you submitted a normal customer service complaint— have you written a letter to the first contact listed on this site?

I am a bit of a pessimist on the state of air travel — the race to the bottom— but I do think you should try (if you have time). I am not trying to discourage you.

Why did AA deny the claim? Is it that they think so called cosmetic damage (dents and scratches) do not count or that valuables should be taken out of the bag?

I am not happy with the direction of air travel and I think your complaint is valid. Too many people reporting the same issue and with photos so not just a one time problem.
 
Jul 27, 2016
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#23
I was boarding with the group on my pass. I mentioned their pre-boarding policy only because it further illustrates how baffling it is a parent could be treated this way by an airline that seemingly acknowledge there may be a need to pre-board.

I mean.. you would think that the gate agent is aware of the policy. Even though I didnt ask to pre-board, to go above and beyond would have been for her to ask if i'd like to board early. To do the bare minimum would have been for her to check immediately exactly how full the bins were, and allow me to board as usual, with my luggage. To not totally piss me off, after making me stand and wait, she or the FA at the door could have said something to the FAs in the back and found the space I found.
Alright, now I'm confused again. Can you clarify what happened on boarding? Exactly why did they have you stand aside? Did passengers behind you in line take their rollaboards onto the plane, or were they gate-checking all luggage that didn't fit in the overhead by the time you got to the gate agent to have your boarding pass scanned?

Again, I'd like to ask, what do you actually _want_ from AA? Do you have a specific request?
 

jsn55

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#24
It pains me a great deal, but I seriously think the gate agent took a dislike to you for some reason. Many FAs are good at ignoring passengers who obviously need assistance; they've been taken advantage of a thousand times. I think there's only a miniscule probability that it was because you are Asian. All frequent travellers have experienced an agent or crew member that treats them badly for an unknown reason. FlyerTalk has sad/hilarious stories ... I posted a week or so ago about a Northwest FA stepping on my foot 3 times as I occupied an aisle seat in first class. After I threatened to create a fuss, she just glared at me and flounced off to the back of the plane. I hope you are successful obtaining some compensation from AA, no passenger should ever be treated like you were.
 

Neil Maley

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#25
Did they announced pre boarding for families with small children? Had you done that, this wouldn’t have happened.

When they asked you to go to the side - had you asked them to see if there was room for your carry on? If so- the only way they could do that was to have you wait until everyone else boarded.
But they apparently didn’t truly check to see if there was room. The picture looks like this might have been a regional plane with smaller overheads.
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#26
Did they announced pre boarding for families with small children? Had you done that, this wouldn’t have happened.

When they asked you to go to the side - had you asked them to see if there was room for your carry on? If so- the only way they could do that was to have you wait until everyone else boarded.
But they apparently didn’t truly check to see if there was room. The picture looks like this might have been a regional plane with smaller overheads.
Neil I do not think AA does automatic early boarding for families with children. One has to ask the gate agent in advance and it is up to gate agents discretion. And sometimes preboarding is only for those with children under 2.

I think the plane is an airbus 320.

I wonder if the agent looked at it and misjudged the size —- and thought it would not fit at all as it is a hard suitcase.
 

Neil Maley

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#27
Neil I do not think AA does automatic early boarding for families with children. One has to ask the gate agent in advance and it is up to gate agents discretion. And sometimes preboarding is only for those with children under 2.

I think the plane is an airbus 320.

I wonder if the agent looked at it and misjudged the size —- and thought it would not fit at all as it is a hard suitcase.
I think you are correct because their web page does say that about traveling with small children.

As you can see, I rarely fly AA or our customers on them
 
Feb 3, 2017
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#29
Even though I only ever take a soft cover carry on, I know that I could for various reasons be directed to check it - so, I always take photos of the bag (time stamped) just in case it does get lost or is damaged. I take it with the boarding pass in the photo at the airport so there is no (or minimal) doubt about what state it is in if something were to occur and I needed to file a claim - and, I always have travel insurance in any case.

Given how diverse the traveling public is, it is difficult to imagine discrimination being at the root of what happened but, who knows. Something clearly went off the rails here.

You mention getting "pissed off" - was that your initial reaction when first asked to step aside? If so, that might have exacerbated the bad service.

Hopefully, you will get a positive response from your letter efforts.
 
Sep 6, 2015
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#31
One suggestion I have for future travels is to pack a smaller bag filled with your valuables that can easily be pulled out if need me. I’ve used plastic grocery bags, reusable totes, etc. unfortunately none of us have guaranteed bin space anymore in economy class.
I've learned to travel with a few nylon shopping bags that stuff into very small pouches, just a few inches long 9you can buy them in many places for $3-5). I've used them to pack mucky shoes in my suitcase, traveling in other countries where you pay for grocery bags and even to place a sweater that got bombed by a bird outside the Vatican until I could wash it properly. It's a great idea. An adult daughter of a good friend had a meltdown at O'Hare when they said her suitcase with a built in USB charger battery unless she removed the battery, and didn't offer her any help. Rude treatment should not be tolerated by anyone, whether you are traveling with a child, or not.
 
Feb 11, 2018
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#32
I was under the impression you tried to Pre-board and they wouldnt allow you to-

“At the gate, the gate agent refused to allow me and my toddler to board when it was my turn (even though their website states families with young children can pre-board). I stood in line and was told to step aside and wait to be the last to board allowing everyone else to take up available bin space, so they can then determine IF there is space for my luggage. “

If that wasn’t the case- you should remove that from the note I suggested.
I also got the impression that she was not allowed to pre-board. Now it sounds as if she had the opportunity, but chose to wait for her group and then board ahead of the others. Not quite the same. I think she's more angry about the gate-checked carry-on.
 

Neil Maley

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#33
I agree. Those of us that are frequent flyers know all about this so we usually come prepared with that extra bag inside to pull out the important stuff and bring it on with us. Or are prepared with bags that fit under the seat so we can always bring a carry on.
 
Sep 3, 2017
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#34
I am perplexed at the lack of understanding of what occurred to AANeveragain on her flight. She has been clear, but people responding keep asking the same questions and stating false assumptions again and again. As a 72-year-old, white grandmother who travels regularly, albeit not frequently, AANeverAgain's description of what occurred to her was clear, and unacceptable. She wrote:
- she was traveling with her toddler child on tickets for both her AND her child
- the carry-on luggage for her AND her child was ONE suitcase which conformed to AA size requirements
- she was entitled to have two carry-on bags as the tickets were regular economy tickets, not "basic" economy tickets
- because her ticket class was regular economy ticket, she was allowed to make seat choices at the time of ticket purchase and did so (so, NO QUESTION of her ticket type and entitlement to one carry-on bag for each ticket, totaling two carry-on bags)
- she checked in personally at the airport ahead of time and was at the gate at the time of boarding
- when her boarding group was called, the American gate agent required her to step aside and denied her permission to board WITH her boarding group
- she and her toddler child were boarded dead LAST onto the plane
- no explanation was provided why this mother and toddler were forced to be the very last passengers boarded
- mother and toddler could have been pre-boarded had they so requested per AA's website (and a thoughtful gate agent could have asked if they would like pre-boarding when mother spoke with the gate agent prior to boarding started)
- the flight was not full (mother and child had an entire row of 3 seats despite having 2 paid tickets, a seat in the next row up was also empty, and another row nearby was not fully) and gate agents and flight attendants should have known of this
- AANeverAgain was told to give up her conforming carry-on bag at the plane door
- she asked the flight attendant to see if there were room for her bag citing 1) supplies for toddler in the bag AND 2) valuable heirlooms in the bag. No flight attendant did so. Instead, she was forced to give up her bag.
- the 1st class flight attendant LIED to her telling her that the flight was full in response to AANeverAgain stating her need for her carry-on bag being with her on the flight
- the was space in an overhead compartment near the two paid seats she and her toddler were in
- she asked the flight attendant to seek return of her one carry-on bag
- the flight attendant did NOT check to see if the bag had been sent down from the plane door or do anything to see if the bag could be provided to AANeverAgain

AANeveragain at the outset said that she felt they were discriminating against me because she is Asian AND/OR the only one traveling with a toddler on this flight. So, she was raising the possibility of discrimination as a possible explanation of American Airline's peculiar treatment of her, not asserting that this was the case for sure.

For folks like me who have never experienced this kind of treatment, it is all too often hard to imagine that disrespectful, lying treatment by airline personnel could be racially motivated, when we are, as am I, white. Despite folks writing on this thread seeking again and again some kind of explanation that doesn't exist (re ticket class, not accepting that AANeveragain was not allowed to board WITH her boarding group, etc) Christina and jsn55 seem so convinced that there is some rational explanation for AA's treatment of this mother and toddler that they failed to accept her clear statement at the outset that she was NOT allowed to board WITH her group, and that she and her toddler were the very last people to be allowed to board the plane. From what she wrote, AANeveragain was also surprised at her treatment on her SFO to PHL flight as her trip with her toddler out to SFO on AA was lovely. Thus, it's pretty apparent that AANeveragain was expecting only similar friendly, welcoming conduct from AA staff on her return flight. Not a gate agent insisting that she step aside rather than allowing her to board without even looking at her ticket as AANeverAgain also described.

For some reason, Neil misread AANeveragain's clear statement "Here you go" in response to a request for further information as "Here you go again." and then proceeded to suggest a written statement for AANeveragain to send to American Airlines that was not consistent with what AANeveragain had described as her circumstances (she had not complained of being denied pre-boarding, she was not told to gate check her bag when boarding with her group (but required to wait to be the last passengers to board)).

As we, very sadly, see increasing evidence that racism is not dead in this country and that folks who don't have pink skin like mine are treated differently than folks who do have pink skin like mine, may I suggest that we be alert to the possibility that bizarre treatment of a passenger of color, be they black, Asian, Hispanic, Middle-Eastern, may well be because of that, as troubling as that may be. I traveled recently with a family including 20-year-old who had a panic attack in the plane during boarding when she realized that her seat assignment put her in between two people in a three-seat row. Neither she nor any member of our party was treated rudely and the flight attendants were fine with me switching my seat (near her family members) for her seat rows away. We are all white. No one suggested that she would have to get off the plane if she didn't calm down or treated her in any manner other than respectfully and happy to accommodate despite her saying in a raised voice that she couldn't sit in her seat.

There is no chorus of writers here expressing that it is unacceptable for a flight attendant (Flight Attendant Tim in 1st class) to lie and tell AANeveragain that the flight is full when it was not, and unacceptable for a mother and toddler to be forced to step aside from the rest of the passengers in their assigned boarding group and not allowed to board with their boarding group, and unacceptable for a mother and toddler to be forced to be the absolute last to board the plane.
 
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Sep 19, 2015
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#35
Vermont traveller, if you look at AA's facebook page as I mentioned it is clear that AA regularly makes people in later boarding groups gate check their bags. And it happens to males and females of different ages and ethnicities. I have said that I believe this is the way the staff deal with the overhead baggage issue. And I have seen it on other flights.
and other airlines.

As this happens to so many people, including myself, I fail to see how it can be blamed on racism. And racism is a serious accusation one that is likely to move to the legal channels once made, and without proof it is not going to help the OP.

I once got stopped about carry on baggage and the gate agent threatened to cancel my reservation about it -- was that racism? And despite my name I am not "pink skinned", because other half of my genetic make up and family is from one the areas under the travel ban -- and that is how I look.

What many of us have pointed out that this is a management issue in enforcement of carry ons -- there is not enough carry on space for everyone, and there has been a default practice to force gate checking at a certain point in the boarding process. None of us think this is great, which is why there are suggestions to carry a small bag to put valuables into. I have been stopped more when I carry hard sided (Pelican for cameras, still the correct size) or unusually shaped carry ons; I bought a smaller lightweight roller bag and have less problems even as restrictions have gotten worse.
 
Mar 14, 2018
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#36
Another possible explanation is the the poster's bag is slightly thicker than AA allows for carry-ons. Her damage claim says her bag is 240mm (9.45") thick, while the max on American is 9". Since it was hard-sided, it may not have fit in the sizer.

FlyerTalk has another report of someone with a thinner bag being forced to check on AA: https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/ame...t-mine-exactly-9-couldn-t-fit-into-sizer.html
 
Likes: Just A Guy

Dwayne Coward

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#37
The OP has been provided with the company contacts to use. As the discussion is not assisting any further, I am closing this thread for now. if @AAneveragain would like to update us later, please let me know and I will be happy to reopen the thread.
 
Likes: Neil Maley
Apr 11, 2018
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#38
So... more letters to AA, more responses from AA that really don't help anything. Thank you everyone for your replies. To respond to a couple of questions:

- my luggage was not an issue on all prior flights incuding the outbound PHL-SFO flight that was just lovely (the first class flight attendant on that flight even asked my toddler upon boarding if she wanted to see the cockpit, and we did.).

- i wasnt happy but i was not "pissed" at the gate or at the plane door. They wanted me to wait so they can check to see if there is space left, and so i did. But they evidently did NOT check. I became "pissed" when i found space to the contrary of what all of the employees told me and couldnt get my bag back.

I'm extremely "low maintenance" in every aspect of life. I don't ask for any kind of special treatment, including anything any business normally tries to extend to certain groups of customers. All I ask is to not be totally screwed over. As I travel extremely light, I've never had any luggage problems with any airline including AA. Nobody should have to give up a single piece of luggage flying across the country with a toddler. Any reasonable person, whether they are parents themselves or not, would have made an actual effort that day. They didn't, and there is just no way to explain their inaction. I guess somehow I'm not worthy. I absolutely feel discriminated against. Was it in fact discrimination? Who knows. They certainly would never admit it even if it was.

I'm awaiting further response from AA to maybe resolve this damaged luggage case n content issue. At the moment, it looks like if i want "justice" I'm going to have to file a full blown lawsuit or try small claims court, and it looks like I may be able to do so in Philadelphia. AA's headquarters is in Texas, but since they have a major hub in Philadelphia, they clearly do business in Philadelphia, the court should have jurisdiction? Any input from this forum would be greatly appreciated. Who exactly would I be looking to serve?
 
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Apr 11, 2018
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#39
Jennifer,
Thank you for your response. However, "regrettable" and "disappointed" don't help anything. I have already contacted Central Baggage twice and truly, I do not appreciate being kicked back to them again. Your response does not address what American Airlines will do about my damaged luggage case and content.

If I hadn't reported the damage until days or weeks later I completely understand your denial to compensate. But being 3 hours outside of your frankly unreasonable 24 hour requirement, and given it was your employee's actions, or rather, inactions that led to my luggage and content being damaged, I think American Airlines has the responsibility to make a better effort to rectify the situation than continuing to hide behind your "contract of carriage". Especially if you still expect someone to give you business in the future after such horrid experience.

Flight 855 was an evening arrival. My husband was having a busy week as a military officer. I was on my own with a jet lagged toddler. I did not have an opportunity to deal with my luggage the night of arrival or the following day during the day, and only got to it after putting our daughter down for the night.

My records indicate I contacted American Airlines by email at 10:24pm Eastern on March 1st 2018, which is approximately 27 hours after arrival. I immediately reported it as soon as I discovered the damage. I familiarized myself with damaged luggage reporting process and requested a reference number from central baggage as apparently it is required to file the property questionnaire.

So again my question is, what will American Airlines do for this customer who evidently, none of your employees cared to make have a pleasant experience.

Your employees don't remember the incident, but I do. The passengers who saw us stand at the gate, the passengers who saw me ask for my luggage back, the passengers who commented about how well behaved my toddler was given the circumstances remember.

On May 15, 2018, at 2:39 PM, <AACustomerRelations@aa.com> <AACustomerRelations@aa.com> wrote:
<xdoimgKkL4Uv8cM46326428271528288255.jpg>

May 15, 2018

Dear Mrs. ***:
The Department of Transportation Aviation Consumer Protection Division has forwarded your recent correspondence regarding your travel experience on Flight 855 from San Francisco to Philadelphia on February 28, 2018. I apologize I was not able to reach you via telephone during my recent attempts, yet, I appreciate this opportunity to respond to your concerns.

On behalf of American Airlines, I am sorry you were displeased when you were not given the opportunity to pre-board when you traveled with us. Customers traveling with small children and needing extra time to board are always welcome to approach our agents before boarding and ask for pre-boarding. These requests will be honored whenever operationally possible. Based on your concerns, we thoroughly investigated the issues you brought to our attention and appreciate the opportunity to share with you the results of our investigation.

I understand you were traveling with your toddler and requested to pre-board and you indicated that you were asked to step aside during the boarding process. Both gate agents assisting with Flight 855 state they did not remember the event but under any circumstances, they would not have taken any discriminatory action based on a passenger's race or because they were traveling with a child. Despite what you described occurred, please know that American Airlines provides sensitivity training to all personnel. Moreover, we also have a zero-tolerance policy for any type of discriminatory actions, and we do not allow or condone the disparate treatment of our customers and/or employees due to race, religion, ethnicity or any other discriminatory factors.

It is regrettable that as a result of you not being allowed to pre-board, you were also forced to gate check your bag after being informed there was no longer overhead bin space available. As I am sure you can imagine, with limited space available on our aircraft, we are not able to accommodate all passengers' bags in the cabin. As a result, sometimes we have to check passengers' bags at the gate. The gate agents have an automated system that generates a warning, based on historical data, to begin checking bags. I realize that once you boarded the aircraft, you found available overhead bin space; however, your request to retrieve your gate checked luggage was denied. Although the automated system we have in place is not foolproof, it is the best tool available to avoid passengers boarding an aircraft without space to store their carry-on bags.
Additionally, I truly regret hearing that your baggage was damaged along with very important family heirlooms. Our records show our Central Baggage Resolution Office has responded to your most recent correspondence regarding your baggage concerns on April 10, 2018. It appears a response was sent advising that because the damages were not reported within 24 hours of your flight's arrival, your claim, unfortunately, was denied. I sincerely apologize for any disappointment this may have caused. For any additional questions or concerns relating to your checked baggage, please contact our Central Baggage Resolution Office directly at central.baggage@aa.com.

Please know that we are also disappointed that things did not go as smoothly as we both would have preferred. At the same time, we are so very grateful that you took the time to let us know what happened during your travel with us. It gives us an opportunity to improve our service. We do thank you for the feedback you have provided to us and have made a note of the details you have expressed which have been shared with the appropriate management teams.

At American Airlines we are genuinely dedicated to making sure that our customers have a pleasant experience when flying with us. Mrs. ***, your constructive criticism will help us meet that objective. The next time you travel with us, I am confident things will go much more smoothly.
Sincerely,

Jennifer Alva
Customer Relations
American Airlines
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#40
Thank you for the update. So it appears that they are holding hard and fast to the 24 hour rule for reporting. That is something for me to think about, as sometimes when I am returning home I do not open the suitcase in 24 hours --- as I go back to work. So I do understand not opening the bag immediately.

What is also interesting is that there is a computer program that determines when to stop letting passengers enter with baggage for the overhead. That is what I am understanding from the automated system -- unless automated system means we automatically stop carry ons at Boarding Group X.

This response from Customer Relations is in response to a DOT complaint, correct? Did you ever try the customer contacts? I am not sure if they will respond now that it has been through the DOT, maybe some of the more knowledgeable advocates can weigh in.

As for legal issues on jurisdiction, I would advise you to contact a lawyer. It is not that we do not want to help, it is just that these are highly technical questions that require specialized knowledge. Improper service can easily get a lawsuit dismissed. Even if you go the small claims route and do not need a lawyer you do need to properly serve the complaint, and it may be worth it to pay for 15 minutes of professional advice, if you cannot find a legal clinic to help. Some areas do have legal clinics and perhaps there is one near you,