Saturday, January 13, 2007

A REALLY Unhappy Camper

My saga with AMERICAN AIRLINES continues. In my last entry concerning this situation, I hesitated revealing the identity of this incompetent airline in order to give them one more opportunity to make things right. They failed miserably. Rather, they succeeded in pissing me off even more. Their response:

We received your most recent email, and I'm sorry you are upset with my response. The AAdvantage® miles were meant as a gesture of goodwill, and I regret we were unable to do more to prevent an uncomfortable flight. In the future, please know that you need to speak with one of our flight crew before travel begins, and give them a chance to correct the situation at that time.

Please allow me to take this additional opportunity to apologize, once again, for what happened. While we regret your continued dissatisfaction with our offer to make amends, we believe it is reasonable and appropriate. I'm not eager to disappoint you again but we don't agree that additional compensation is warranted.

You are a valued customer and we do appreciate your business. I hope you will try our service again soon.

Wow. They're all but guaranteeing that I NEVER try their service again. My rebuttal:

Allow me to make myself perfectly clear: I am not interested in your “gesture of goodwill”. I am interested in you rectifying a wrongful situation. You were NOT “unable…to prevent an uncomfortable flight”. You did NOTHING to prevent an uncomfortable flight. And to place the blame on me is incomprehensible. I could have spoken to the flight crew, but I CHOSE NOT TO INCONVENIENCE AN ENTIRE PLANELOAD OF PEOPLE. Your ticketing agent took exactly one (1) ticket from a man who was easily 400 lbs. It was blatantly obvious that there was no way he would be able to fit into a single seat AND SHE LET HIM ON AN ALREADY OVERBOOKED PLANE.

Surely your ticketing agents and flight crew are trained to identify situations that may slow the boarding process and to take action to help things move more smoothly. They provide elderly people with wheelchairs. They offer to check strollers for families with small children. Why then, is it not possible for your ticketing agent to take one look at a 400-pound man with a single ticket to think, “We may have a problem here”? Instead, you are telling me that because I didn’t complain about my situation, a situation that YOU should have dealt with before I even got on the plane, that you “can not” do anything to compensate me. That’s ridiculous.

I’m nearly done dealing with you…you’ve been less than helpful with your condescending and insulting responses that have not at all addressed the problem. Instead, you try to unilaterally pacify and dismiss me with your pathetic frequent flier miles. You will not dismiss me so easily. I want, IN WRITING, American Airlines’ policy on accommodating overweight passengers. I also want a name and e-mail address or phone number of one of your superiors. If you are unwilling to provide this information, I’m sure one of the news producers from [call letters of my television station], my employer, will be able to obtain it.

It really upsets me (an understatement) that they placed the blame on me for not raising a fuss on the plane. Believe me, I thought about it. But the plane was full and it was already late. I was seated in the back of the plane and I carried on my luggage. If I complained, the plane would have been delayed further while one of us got off the plane. I decided, as I stated earlier, not to inconvenience everyone on the plane, as well as not to further embarrass the large gentleman sitting next to me.

Thinking about this reminded me of an incident we witnessed the last time we flew on American back in October. The whole family was going to Disney World in Orlando, and I purchased our plane tickets and selected our seats online. We were in rows 14 and 15. When we went to travel, American changed the type of airplane, which disrupted several seating assignments. There was no row 7, and row 15, where Diane and Kyra ended up sitting, was the emergency exit row, which Kyra couldn't sit in.

The flight attendants' solution? Move the occupants of row 7 to row 15 and the occupants of row 15 to an empty row in the back of the plane. Diane was thrilled, as were the rest of the people of displaced row 15. One guy decided to voice his displeasure. "Why do we have to be the ones to move to the back of the plane? I booked my seats 6 months ago."

"Because this is the way we are doing it," the flight attendant quickly countered. "And if you continue to make a fuss about it, you will be escorted off the plane." The man and everyone around him were dumbfounded. Apparently the incompetance of American Airlines' customer service skills knows no bounds.

Now I can't say for sure, but I believe they would have treated any objection I may have raised about my seating arrangement in the same manner. They probably would have tossed me off the plane.

At this point I'm probably beating a dead horse and nothing I communicate to American Airlines will change their "squeaky wheel gets the grease" customer service policy. But if a squeaky wheel is what they want, a squeaky wheel is what they'll get.


The Beast Mom said...

I think airline customer service offices are all manned by people whose mothers never changed their poopy diapers. Therefore, they let everyone else in the world helplessly sit in crap too.

I have a big beef w/ United right now. I feel your pain.

Airlines are going down the tubes for a reason...and it has pretty much NOTHING to do w/ customers.

the battered ham said...

Thanks. I think you're has NOTHING to do with customers. I don't know whether it's poopy diaper syndrome or peed-Wheaties, but there's something definitely eating at their collective poop-shoot.

I am FINALLY getting somewhere with these people, though. But I'm not quite done yet. Details to follow. Too bad that I had to resort to being an a-hole jerk before they began taking me seriously. We'll see what happens. Again, stay tuned!