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!


Linda McDonald said...

Yikes! I'm happy we have opted for a road trip this year. Fill up the car with luggage and gas, and then we are headed out to visit some of the national parks. And I too, hope you get a new survey soon!!!

Sarita said...

Oh boy, you make me want to keep my feet firmly on the ground!

I hope the destination part of your trip was worth the effort. :)

Dru said...

I think the whole airline system needs a complete overhaul.

Kate Collins said...

Amen, Dru!

Aurian said...

O Kate, what a drama! Hope your next trip will be flawless!

signlady217 said...

Unless there's a family emergency, we won't have to fly anywhere for another year. All our trips between now and then are car trips. Yeah, the airlines have gone downhill, along with a lot of other service businesses. Aggravating, for sure.

Danielle said...

Its terrible that traveling has to be that stressful. Especially with the rates they charge. Its highway robbery.

Barbara said...

I HATE flying for all of the above reasons and because they crowd everyone in like sardines. We always travel by car. Sure, gas is too high right now, but you don't have to pay any fees for your luggage and you can be comfortable, and stop any time you like. Plus you actually get to see the country on your drive.

Leann Sweeney said...

The airlines made not millions but BILLIONS on those checked bag fees last year. They won't be giving it up. Continental is now charging 6 bucks for a box of those snacks like M&Ms and peanuts that they used to give away. I was happy to note that NOBODY bought the snack box on the last flight I took. Next, the sodas, coffee and water will be priced. I just signed up for that credit card from Chase that waives the checked bag fee if you've made any kind of purchase with the card in the last year. It already saved me $50. Since we pay off the credit card every month, no problem.

Kate Collins said...

Here's chapter two. AA did it AGAIN! They lost the luggage again in Miami, so the bag didn't make it back to O'Hare even with the four hours they had between flights. Even worse, nobody could tell me where it was. The bag was delivered to the home where I was staying with a friend on the following day. Two strikes, American! What a way to start and end my trip.

Michelle Fidler said...

I think it's terrible that you had to stuff your purse in your carry-on. What are they thinking? Mine wouldn't fit because I have an Eagle Creek travel bag/purse that looks like a small backpack. Guess I couldn't fly. Well, I'd have a large carry-on.

Today on the Weather Channel I just saw that an airline will be charging $5.00 when you print your boarding pass. If they could, they would charge $5.00 for each item in your carry-on bag and purse.

I have never flown, only taken Greyhound, which used to allow two carry-ons and two checked bags. Now they only allow one of each, unless you pay for an extra bag. When I travel and buy souvenirs I need lots of bags. Maybe they were taking a cue from the airlines.