Tag Archive for 'American Airlines'

My Day With The Wrong Brothers


(Post-brisket, pre-murder, Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.)

Call it an episode of “fool me twice travel syndrome” but I’m kicking myself again for flying the world’s largest airline. “Something special is in the air” say their advertisements, and yes, something quite “special” is in the air indeed, if by “special” you mean “developmentally challenged.”

In short, here’s what a 14 hour chunk of yesterday looked like for me. After sleeping a couple of hours, I opened my eyes at 4 a.m., and for some reason decided to, rather than put my contact lenses in and use them to see things, open the case in the sink and wash them down the drain. So I rocked my smart guy glasses and after being dropped off at LAX by my angry Russian Super Shuttle driver, headed to the self check-in kiosk and punched away at the desensitized touch screen only to find that my ticket to Chicago did not exist. I then proceeded to the reservations counter where the robotic airline rep on the other side confirmed the nonexistence of my being on said flight.

After spelling my name another 300 times (“Z as in zzzzzebra”) the rep tapped the name I’d been spelling all long into the computer and somehow magically discovered a record of my purchase which had been scrambled in the airline database. After complimenting herself on her gift for alternative spelling, she proceeded to blame me for making the reservation incorrectly when I actually auto-filled the same account information I’ve been using for a decade into the order form and have a printout to prove this true.

After dropping another $40 to check my luggage, I got on a plane followed by a 400 lb. man who, while preparing to take his seat, elbowed me in the head twice and then got stuck bending over in the aisle to stow his carry-on beneath the seat, nearly suffocating me with his gigantic ass. (Not kidding. When the guy next to me witnessed it, he actually quipped “look out, if that guy falls on you, it’s over.”)

So the plane was scheduled to leave at 8:05 a.m., but it did not leave at 8:05 a.m. nor did it leave at 8:15 or 8:30 a.m. Eventually the pilot got on the mic and told us that we would have a minor delay due to a minor maintenance issue. 20 minutes later the pilot got back on the mic and then explained that the investigation the minor maintenance issue actually ended up uncovering another major maintenance issue, one that could not be resolved in time for our scheduled departure. FLIGHT CANCELLED.

The pilot could not give any information as to when travel to Chicago would be made possible nor did he know whether it would be made possible at all. He told us to wait out by the gate for further instruction.

15 minutes after arriving at the gate for further instruction, we were greeted by a stewardess who let us know that she had no further information for one-time Chicago-bound passengers regarding a flight to our destination, but that if we wanted to, we were welcome to stick around or head to the customer service desk to drill them with questions they could not answer.

I opted for the customer service desk and found it unmanned, a line 40 people deep extending from it. After 15 minutes or so, a single rep appeared to begin re-booking those in line. After waiting a good 10 minutes for the first person to get re-booked, and realizing that it would be approximately another 6 ½ hours before I reached the desk to rebook what would by then be a nonexistent flight, I decided to call the airline and found out that they’d already re-booked me on a flight through Dallas that was leaving in a ½ and hour. (Thanks for the heads up.)

Of course that plane left on time because who wants to be late for their layover in Texas. So I spent the afternoon in Dallas rather than Chicago, had the absolute worst BBQ brisket in the history of brisket (the likes of which I have not seen or tasted since my days in line at the O’Neill Jr. High cafeteria) and arrived at my destination 14 hours after tossing my contacts down the sink only to sit prisoner on the tarmac at O’Hare for another 40 minutes with the plane’s internal air circulation system powered down dripping sweat and on the verge of homicide because the crew couldn’t get the door of the plane open and didn’t think to inform us of the fact or turn on the fucking air so we could breath. Huh?

Whatever, the shit didn’t take a dive and I’m here. And taking a few minutes to feast on that shit brisket in hell, Texas actually gave me a moment come up a few suggestions I have for airlines worldwide, the kind that might make travel more comfortable for the people they repeatedly screw.
Dear airlines please be advised that the first suggestion is free, but every additional tip thereafter will cost you $20.

1. If a flight is cancelled, passengers from the cancelled flight should be automatically entered in raffle to receive any available 1st class seats on the replacement flight to their original final destination.

2. Offer massage in glass room adjacent to glass-walled customer service area (i.e., LAX) so disgruntled passengers can actually watch the stress leave the face of the recipient of the complimentary massage while they wait on line as knowing relief is at hand can be nearly as powerful as a full release.

3. Measure passenger’s before they board like luggage. Have a mock demo flight chair placed out at the check-in counter and if they don’t fit, They don’t fly. Or maybe charter exclusive “Fat Flights?” This may also be a good time to start “Fart Flights,” “Snore Flights,” “Screaming Children Flights” and “Foot Flights” where pigs who love to rock sockless can do so in like company.

4. — RANDOM, but I think cutting some footage of that crazy Hudson River water landing into the pre-flight safety instruction video may aid in grabbing the attention of spacey travelers and inspire borrowed confidence in your flight crew. Disgruntled passenger’s may hold off on staging a mutiny if they respect your skills as an airman.

5. Finishing school for all airline and airport personnel.

6. Free Internet in the airport! And not the CAT-5 shit you offer at Dallas/Ft. Worth. I’m talking about the crazy futuristic shit you can log into from the bar at TGI Fridays. You should have it on the plane to but whatever… baby steps.

7. WII in the Admiral’s Club.

8. Pillows and blankets. Crazy I know, but is a pillow too much to ask for after traveling 37 hours in order to arrive at a destination that should’ve taken 4 ½ hours to arrive at in the first place? Apparently it is as neither of my flights had a single pillow on them and the few blankets that were available smelled like gym socks.

9. Customer service video testimonials booths and free domestic flights for those with the most harrowing or humorous stories. Turning misery into entertainment is an industry in itself. Simply do your best to distract people from the truth, or use some reverse psychology to con people into thinking their misery is not misery at all, but a way to get their fleeting 30 seconds of fame while engaging in some super therapeutic fun travel time.

10. Make it “sexy.” I know… I’m reaching… it’s vague… NEEEEEEEDDDDD SLEEEEEPPP.. get off my back, but unless you’re into Acrotomophilia, I’m sure whatever you come up with couldn’t be less sexy than air travel is now.

11. And finally, and most importantly, I’m thinking maybe you could always just have another plane handy? Again. I apologize for just how insane this may sound, and I know it’s asking a lot, but one that flies would be nice… with doors that work and toilets that flush and seats that recline and a pilot who’s not drunk and on crack and a crew that tells you stuff when it’s happening and seats that are big enough to hold passengers that paid to sit in them.

Okay… Done for now. Have to get back to the airport now. Want to make sure I’m home by sometime next week.

Dear Fellow Consumers: I AM AN IDIOT.

So, memory short, I stupidly booked a flight on American Airlines to Chicago this morning, completely forgetting about the two days of international travel hell I spent flying them back in December ’07.

Once reminded of the series of inexcusable incidents that left me cussing at the walls of my musty room at the Chicago West Hotel, I searched for the crazy three page letter I sent customer service at the airline explaining to the *unprofessionals why they owed me.

At the time, I thought it was an effective letter, but the shitbags only ended up reimbursing me a whopping $25 for my trouble. So read on to see an example of how being polite will get you next to nothing and to sample a smattering of jacked moments from the journey that I failed to include in the letter, but should have.

* Just made this word up because it’s the only one that can describe the nature of American Airlines service and staff.

December 14, 2007

Via Fax (817) 967-4162
American Airlines Customer Relations
P.O. Box 619612 MD 2400
DFW Airport, TX 75261-9612

RE: American Airlines PNR: LUYXYV
Ticket Number: 0017152263340
Flight 693 - December 11, 2007
Chicago to Los Angeles

Dear Madam or Sir:

I’m writing to complain about the customer service I received on Tuesday, December 11, 2007 at the O’Hare American Airlines Arrivals desk outside of customs. It was in total the worst consumer experience in my memory.

When I arrived at the desk to recheck my luggage for my connecting flight to LAX (American Airlines – Flight 693) at approximately 9:00 p.m., December 11, I was greeted by Jaime, a bald headed thirtysomething gentleman who seemed pleasant at first.

Jaime started to check me in and then explained that my connecting flight to LAX had been cancelled due to mechanical issues with the plane. I asked when the next flight was and he told me that my flight was the last one of the night. Jaime then told me he’d double check with another carrier. I thanked him. He ran around the corner, and when he came back, confirmed there were no more outgoing flights for the rest of the night.

Jaime then checked the computer and told me the first available flight from O’Hare to LAX was at 6:50 a.m. the following morning. I explained that I knew he specifically wasn’t responsible for the cancellation of my flight, but that the time he told me was unacceptable. I explained that I had a meeting in the morning and I had to be in LA sooner than that. My employment depended on it.

Jaime then rudely shot back that if my meeting was so important I shouldn’t schedule it so close to my travel time. I was stunned. I asked him if he was kidding and sarcastically apologized for having a job that depended on airlines such as his to get me where I needed to go to do business.

American Airlines
December 14, 2007
Page Two

I asked if there was anything else he could do. He in turn asked me what I wanted him to do for me. I expressed my assumption that situations like mine must happen all the time. I have no flight to get on, no place to stay, etc. I asked him if I could get a refund for the flight. He didn’t answer. Where do I sleep? He said he could give me a hotel voucher.

I asked if I could speak to a supervisor and that’s when Vanessa, the night supervisor stepped over. Vanessa told me that it wasn’t American Airlines’ fault as the cancellation was due to the weather. I explained to Vanessa that Jaime told me the flight cancellation was not due to the weather, but due to the plane’s mechanical failure. Vanessa looked to Jaime. Jaime confirmed it. She then again told me it wasn’t their fault.

I told Vanessa the wheels don’t oil themselves. I explained that when my equipment fails, I don’t blame the clients for its failure. I take responsibility and do whatever it takes to remedy the situation.

Jaime then handed me a ticket for a 9:50 a.m. flight and sarcastically told me to ‘have a good night in Chicago, buddy.’ When I asked him about the new departure time, 3 hours later than we’d previously discussed. He told me I’d taken too long debating my situation and the 6:50 a.m. had filled up. I told him not to ‘spit in my cheeseburger. We’re not teenagers.’

He glared at me to make his dissatisfaction clear, tapped away at his keyboard and magically handed me a ticket departing at 6:00 a.m. (A flight that, according to Jamie ten minutes before, did not exist.)

Amazing.

I was given a voucher to the Chicago West Hotel, a dinner meal voucher for $10 and a breakfast meal voucher for $5.

I asked Jaime and Vanessa where the customer service desk was. They told me there wasn’t one. I asked what the telephone number was. They told me to email the American Airlines website.

When I arrived at the hotel I was told by the desk clerk I would be unable to use my meal vouchers as their restaurant was closed for renovations. I asked if I could use them at any of the surrounding restaurants and he explained that none of the surrounding restaurants would take them because American Airlines never pays the vouchers back.

American Airlines
December 14, 2007
Page Three

I asked for the shuttle to pick me up at 4:00 a.m. to take me to the airport and he told me the shuttle didn’t start until 6:00 a.m. The Chicago West desk clerk then
apologized profusely for American Airlines’ lack of professionalism and handed me a $5.00 off coupon for the taxi I would have to pay for myself in the morning to get back to O’Hare.

I ended spending approximately $80 on top of the $756.05 dollars I paid for my roundtrip flight from LAX to Heathrow for dinner, breakfast and a taxi back to the airport.

Your employees Vanessa and Jaime made American Airlines look terrible and more unfortunately made the City of Chicago look like the most unwelcoming city in the country. Luckily I know better.

I want my $756.05 back.

You can contact me at (323) 356-#### or ######@hotmail.com. Your prompt response is expected.

So very sincerely,
Christopher Kostrzak

“Your prompt response is expected?”

What kind of pansy am I?

Soft.

Much too soft.

How could they feel my pain when I didn’t invite them by my quill to feel it?

What I failed to mention. What I should have mentioned to American that might have scored me 10 or 15 more weak American dollars was that half the roof in the wing of the Chicago West Hotel I was forced to stay in was collapsed and leaking and that my room had no heat. That, it being too late to catch a cab from the suburbs into the city to see friends or family for a quick holiday visit (the only one I would get), or to grab a decent bite to eat, I ended up having to cross 200 yards of ice-covered strip mall parking lots on foot in sub-freezing weather to a Spaghetti fucking Factory because nothing else was open.

“Spaghetti Factory!” In Chicago! I’m lucky I didn’t get fitted by my Italian homies for a pair of cement shoes.

Didn’t think customer service would care to hear about the dirty details, but looking back now I’m thinking I might as well have told them about how, post-UK tour, detoxing like a Steven Adler on an episode of Sober House, I was sent to a big lonely booth in the two-seats-from-empty Spaghetti Factory where I was forced to listen to “Oh Come All Ye’ Faithful,” which was just one attack in the veritable sonic assault of Christmas Carols that were being piped at deafening decibels directly onto my Chef Boyardee Bolognese by the giant blown speaker above my booth and how the majority of my dining experience at Spaghetti Factory was spent, not eating, but fending off the advances of a fiftysomething bus boy whom spent his entire shift harassing me about going to a local strip club with him when he got off work.

“It’s like 5 minutes away. I’ve got a car and the girls are hot! Trust me.” Gross.

I hate you American Airlines.

See you on March 9th.

k.