The flight reservations for this trip were made for a family vacation to St. Croix. My original flight brought my wife and I from San Francisco to Miami and then on to St. Croix. Upon arrival in St. Croix, we learned that one of our bags had not arrived. I was not overly concerned about this issue and would not mention it except that the baggage person in St. Croix was rude and flippant. Once I had learned our bag had not arrived I approached the only person in the baggage terminal who appeared to work for American Airlines (later confirmed). I asked her who I should see about lost baggage. She did not look at me and pointed in a corner of the baggage area and said, over there. I looked in that direction and saw an exit point and several other closed doors with no signs. I asked her if she could be more specific and she again pointed in the same general direction without looking at me. On the third attempt, she finally told me to wait over by a set of doors and she would be over shortly. A short time later, she opened the office area and I met with her to discuss my baggage issue. At one point, after I had become agitated, I remember actually saying to her that I did not work for the airport and wished she would be a little more informative as I did not understand what she was telling me. I was ultimately provided information that my baggage would arrive the next day and she also provided me with a telephone number to call for further information. This first incident would not ever cause me to write a letter such as this. I only include it as it set the tone for my other dealings with American Airlines and also shows a trend with your employees.
The next day, my wife and I had no toiletry items and had to go shopping. We spent about one hundred dollars on items we needed and returned to the hotel and spent the day enjoying the sun, hoping our bags would be in our room by the afternoon. Ultimately, when this did not happen, I contacted the number provided to me. I found out that my bag had not left San Francisco and I should not expect them in until the following day. I asked the customer service representative if American Airlines provided any assistance in these matters. She informed me that I could collect my receipts for items I had purchased and request a reimbursement. This was great information to have before I threw away the receipts for the items we had purchased as I had no idea they would be useful. This problem, in my mind, tracks back to the original American Airlines employee at St. Croix. Had she cared even slightly, I think she might have provided us with this information. Our bags did arrive the following day.
While enjoying our vacation, we determined we would return home one day earlier than scheduled. I made a reservation change on the AA.com website where I paid $258.00 to change my flight. Once confirmed, I tried to make seat selections only to find that no two seats were together. I found it disconcerting that the website would allow me to change seats that had been booked together and move them apart. I then called AA reservations to remedy the situation. I spoke with a representative on the phone and explained what had happened. She told me not to worry and further described how many rows of seats were still open on the airplane. I asked her if so many rows were available; why could I not have a seat next to my wife as originally scheduled. The AA representative told me, The airport had blocked out the rows of seats, and there was nothing she could do. I found this frustrating and lacking in customer service since I had originally been seated with my wife and had now paid more money for the same flight, just a day earlier. I did not pursue the matter further at the time.
I spoke with a friend of mine who had retired from American Airlines and they told me that I should call customer service to try to get seated with my wife. They also agreed that the seating situation and blocking of rows of seats didnt sound right. I called customer service and received the worst treatment I have ever had from someone in that field. While explaining my situation, I asked why the AA.com website would not at least provide a warning that I might not be able to fly seated with my wife as previously planned. I asked this while including the fact that I couldnt find this information out until after providing my credit card. The AA representative responded to my question of, how does this happen with a condescending, you did provide a credit card. Although I was frustrated, I had spoken with the AA representative in a calm manner, yet this reply had me seeing red. I did yell at her and I did ask her if she was actually treating me in a condescending manner. I then asked for a supervisor. I spoke to a supervisor who was friendly and explained the situation to me in a kind manner. We had an agreeable conversation, but I also told her of my experience with her subordinate. The supervisor provided me with no apology or further remarks about the behavior and the telephone call was ended. I hope this call was recorded and that you have the opportunity to review it. The manner in which the AA representative spoke with me was beyond unprofessional and certainly provided a negative picture of American Airlines.
Upon arrival at St. Croix airport on the day of my departure, I met with the AA check in agent. First off, let me say that she was the bright spot on this entire experience with American Airlines. She had a good attitude, was friendly, and had exceptional customer service skills; All this while working under the heat and humidity of the Caribbean sun. I wish I had her name to properly acknowledge her, but Im sure it can be discovered. Regardless, here again is where another issue occurred that caused substantial problems later in our journey. Apparently, it is commonplace for travelers to visit the Cruzan Rum distillery in St. Croix and purchase bottles of rum for transport (as I did). The Cruzan Rum employees made it very clear that they package the rum for travel and it is widely accepted by the airlines. This was also confirmed by the check in agent. We provided two Cruzan rum transport boxes containing nine bottles of rum for transport. The agent said the items were free to transport and as I looked around and saw several others doing the same thing, I clearly believed this is a common practice. The AA check in agent did tell us that our flight was delayed and we would not make the connecting flight in Miami. She told us we would have to retrieve our bags in Miami and re-check in for a flight the next day. For this reason she charged us $50.00 for two bags so that we would have no problems in Miami (as she foresaw them).
I arrived in Miami and listened intently to the instructions about connecting flights hoping there would be information for the few of us on board who had missed our connector to San Francisco. Neither my wife, nor I heard any instructions and exited the plan hoping someone would be there to meet us. Again, no one was there or directed us. Ultimately, we asked and were directed to rebooking which doesnt quite have a tone or understanding of customer service or AA information. Regardless, my wife and I went to this area and met with another rude and incompetent AA representative. The female with whom we worked with would barely look at us and just went through the numbers of providing us vouchers. She did not explain (other than hotel) where they could be used (especially at the late hour). Once my wife and I walked almost all the way to baggage, we realized one of the vouchers for dinner had only been issued for one person.
My wife returned to the AA representative and I went to recover our bags. When I met my wife again, she advised me that the same female representative had been rude to her and actually put her hand up in a disregarding manner when asked a question. I can tell you that I am glad I was not present for this. I had no further tolerance for the despicable way I had been treated by several of AA employees.
Upon check in the next day, we were met with another frustrating obstacle, the Miami check in. We went to get into line only to be told we had to go to self service check in. I told the AA representative there that we might need to speak with an agent, but she just directed us to self service check in. We went to self service and were provided to baggage tickets which the AA representative there attached to our two rum boxes. This is an interesting point as you will see later. The rum boxes were sitting on a cart along with two very large pieces of luggage; obviously all under my care. The AA representative who attached the baggage tickets to the rum boxes made no mention of the other luggage items and told us to get in line, which we did. This is where I began getting frustrated again with the treatment by AA employees. The original AA representative who told us to go to self service check in began to vehemently question me about my luggage. I told her briefly of our situation and further told her that I thought it would be best to work in our with the agent. She became argumentative and rude, ultimately dismissing my wife and I with a wave of her hand and looking away. As I walked by I could hear her loudly state, I dont know why everybodys in such a bad mood this morning. If she did think I was, and even if I was, I think announcing it to everyone at check in was unprofessional and painted American Airlines in a very poor light.
Once we finally arrived at check in we were told that our two Cruzan rum boxes needed to be placed in our luggage. I explained that there was no way either box would fit into our stuffed luggage and I further explained everything we had been told by the AA agent in St. Croix. I further told her that the agent in St. Croix told me that notes were placed into the computer system that would explain everything. The Miami agent continued to state that we could not transport our rum boxes to San Francisco. I asked her a hypothetical question: If the boxes were approved by an AA agent in St. Croix, loaded on to an American Airlines flight in St. Croix by AA ground crew, and the flight had been on schedule, wouldnt our rum boxes arrived in San Francisco as planned, and if so, why is it different now? The Miami agent completely disregarded my question. I asked her if she would call American Airlines in St. Croix and see if she received a different answer than the information we had been given. She also refused to do that. Ultimately, and to my great relief, a supervisor was requested who after listening to the agent for about 1 minute told her just to send us on. The question is, why did I have to go through all this, especially considering all that had happened already
Finally, we arrived at our home destination to find that one of the rum boxes had not arrived. One of the bottles had been broken during transport and we ultimately received the rest of the bottles the next day.
As you can see, this is not an isolated incident with one employee, nor does it appear that clear policies and procedures are present to avoid confusion. Also, it appears to me that most employees lack the ability to do anything other than act as robots when dealing with customer issues. My wife and I believe this experience ruined our vacation and certainly we both agree that we will not fly American Airlines again until we know these issues are fixed.
Based on my personal assessment, at the very least I believe American Airlines owes me a refund for the $258.00 spent on changing my flight. I provided payment in full for a transaction that would allow me to be in San Francisco on 11/6/2011. You accepted said payment, but did not provide the service requested. As for the monies spent for incidentals in St. Croix, I have no receipts but I expect you can reimburse me for the $100.00.
I can only hope that the internal record of our travel still exists and that you can place yourself in our shoes. Please feel free to contact me in reference to our experiences during these incidents.