Monday, June 20, 2011

Hello, American Airlines? It's Me Again!



by Kate Collins
I’m not a happy flier.
See, I’ve used your airline to fly from Chicago to Miami, and your American Eagle for the leg to Key West, for fourteen years now. And for the last four, you’ve sent me surveys to rate my experiences. Have you noticed that the ratings I’ve sent back have gotten progressively worse?
Okay, obviously not, because your service hasn’t improved. It has deteriorated, in fact – most noticeably on the Eagle. This last trip was one of the worst. With Miami at 100 degrees, we sat inside that tiny barrel you call a plane with our knees against our chests, and only hot air to breathe, for over twenty minutes because of a delay caused by ten extra pounds. We wondered whose bag – or small child – would be left behind. Turns out they merely shifted a bag from one side of the hold to the other. And that took twenty minutes. Bet I could have done it in five.
Then there was the carry-on bag issue. After fourteen years, suddenly, I was not allowed to take on my small carry-on PLUS my purse – a slender one, by the way. I would have to cram my purse inside my bag. In disbelief, I kept my purse on my shoulder only to be stopped at the top of the stairs and not let on the plane until I complied. “Sorry. The FAA is watching,” the flight attendant told me. I glanced around but didn’t see any spies in FAA flak vests hiding behind the baggage cart, so I wasn’t sure what she was talking about.
And,last, my one piece of checked luggage didn’t make it from Miami to Key West. Fortunately, because I had regained my Gold status -- after a lot of weeping and tearing out of hair and emails from Facebook friends who graciously came to my aid – I hadn’t had to pay the $25 handling fee, or then I REALLY would have been ticked.
My bag was finally delivered to me after 10:30 p.m. that evening – six hours later. Good thing there weren’t critical medicines inside, I mentioned to the woman at the baggage claim counter. She replied that I should always keep meds in a carry-on. But where would there be room? I asked. My little carry-on would be stuffed full with my purse.
So, AA, what do you use all those $25 baggage fees for? To pay the service who has to deliver all those missing bags? That’s my bet. So here’s a possible solution. Dock the baggage handlers who screw up. Make them pay for missing and damaged luggage. (Oh, yeah, I forgot to mention that the bag had been damaged from a previous flight, when it sat on the tarmac in the rain, then was dragged across the pavement). Maybe that would make the handlers a little more careful. And even better, your customers wouldn’t have to pay for bags that don’t show up.
Have a nice day and thanks for listening. Hope I get a new survey soon!
Kate