Monday, 29 December 2014

Avoid American Airlines

Let’s meet American Airlines. AmerAi will lose your bags, but more to the point, will not communicate well with you about the problem. For me, this problem included being on a cruise ship near the equator with little more than the clothes I was wearing from the north. For you, it could spoil your vacation. I recommend you avoid American Airlines.

This may be information you already know, but I’m not a frequent flyer.

Granted, part of the larger issue is corporations. While individual employees may be nice, they are trapped within a corporate model which does not care, and has no incentive to provide any information that might result in them losing money. Plus, the more hoops you have to jump through, the more likely it becomes that you will give up - and they win. Why some consider corporations “people” is a mystery to me. Consider how corporations used to have mascots, but now they’re going more impersonal, almost to emphasize this “shut up with your problems” philosophy.

With airlines in particular, we’re seeing a minimalist take on logos... I think in part because those things are expensive to draw. (See this article about Porter Airlines going the other way.) Regardless, getting upset at individual employees is no use, they’re doing what they can from behind a desk. I want someone larger, someone I can talk to right now about what happened - even if it's a personified logo, which amounts to talking with myself. Feel free to listen in.


So, as I said at the start, let’s meet Amerai. And discuss what you can expect if you fly with him... that is, American Airlines.

Amerai: We know why you fly! The new American is arriving!

Right. First of all, I’m not American, I’m Canadian. More to the point, what’s the deal with losing the luggage of me and my family? We had to board a cruise ship with no shorts, no swimsuits, no suntan lotion, no-

Amerai: You must have had a stopover en route. We need, I dunno, say, 3 hours to transfer bags between flights. Everyone knows that, so it’s your fault.

One of our nine bags made it. Implying the others could have.

Amerai: Seriously? Huh. Yeah, well, it’s not like we know which bags are grouped together.

All nine bags had bright “Priority” tags, for flying first class. And by the way, you had to ask some of us to take a downgrade, since the airplane you provided didn’t have enough first class seats.

Amerai: You rich people! Just get your business people to contact mine.

I’m not rich, I’m a math teacher. We took the upgrade because this was a Christmas vacation, and it also seemed to me like this would prevent the lost baggage problem.

Amerai: You’re a bit of an idiot then, aren’t you.

Optimist, maybe, but this is why I fear for other people taking American Airlines. But let’s move on. It took 48 HOURS for the bags to reach their intended destination. By this point, of course, our cruise ship had changed ports twice, but why such a delay?

Amerai: What delay? That’s normal. Didn’t we provide you with a little ’Spa in the Sky’ kit to tide you over?

The kit had no clothing in it, a third of the stuff was for shaving which isn’t useful given my beard, and the carbon copy note implying you cared felt a bit offensive.

Amerai: How about a clothing allowance, sometimes we do that.

We WERE left a message saying we had $200 per person, but we later discovered this had not been flagged on our account. Also, we’re on a ship. There isn’t a typical pharmacy around for MILES. On top of THAT, we’re travelling to ports which are using the euro and peso, not the dollar, necessitating conversions.

Amerai: I can’t see how any of that is our problem.

Seriously?! You put us in that situation! Actually, I feel bad for women in this case - there was almost NOTHING for them in stores on board the ship. Except purses and jewellery. And even in a major department store in port, we couldn’t find decent shorts - the only pairs they had cut off above the thigh. Seriously! And the skirts were all above the knee! Sexism seems to be alive and well.

Amerai: I KNOW that’s not our problem. Are we done yet?

How about the fact that I’m on vacation, and you’re forcing me to track receipts??

Amerai: You’re such a complainer. No one’s forcing you to do anything, I’m fine with not giving you any money. So unless you have an actual concern to address, I’m leaving.


Communication. That was my actual concern. We filed the paperwork at the airport before heading for our ship, and were left a phone number, but it didn’t seem to be much use. You also didn’t email. In fact if it weren’t for the cruise line coordinating things, probably nothing would have happened. They were ten times better to us than you were, American Airlines!

Amerai: Well, cruise lines, it’s their job.

It’s NOT your job to track lost luggage? To advise travellers? To try to get them the bags YOU LOST?!

Amerai: Nope. I mean, maybe I’ve got some peons - er, employees - who do that sort of thing. Probably. I’ll look into that for you, all right?

Sigh. Let’s ignore for the moment the fact that if the bags had arrived within 24 hours, there’s every chance they could have been forwarded on to a major port, and we could have had them in less than three days. As they didn’t, we were advised that the alternative would be forwarding them onwards on Dec 23rd, to the port where we’d be landing on the 25th. Christmas. Five days into our trip.

Amerai: So we give you your bags on Christmas. Aren’t we nice?

We were told on the 23rd that the bags - the Priority First Class bags - were still in our original port. That they MIGHT still be sent onwards on the 24th IF there was room in a plane.

Amerai: So we told you that much.

We found this out through our cruise line. You know, if there is a problem, you could at least be courteous and tell us what the problem is!

Amerai: The problem is that we’re having to pay extra here to send the bags on another airline. It’s inconvenient. How rude that you’re not seeing our side.

Uh huh. We even started to think you wouldn’t “find space” until the 26th, and that you would send them on then, after we’d left port. Such that we’d have to make new phone calls on Christmas Day telling you not to do something so stupid.

Amerai: Pfft, like you’d get through on Christmas. So did we send them on too late then?

You not knowing implies this is the sort of thing you’re likely to do.

Amerai: Maybe. I’m infallible, of course, being a corporation, but it’s my employees who can be idiots. So, did we send your bags on too late?

You didn’t. We did get our bags on the 25th, which is the only reason this post isn’t titled “American Airlines Attack On Christmas”. Seeing as our presents were in our luggage.

Amerai: There you go then.

But since we didn’t know where our luggage was most of the time, we were still having to buy supplies we already had on Dec 24th. Swimsuits. A pair of black shoes. All of this adding to the total and costing YOU money.

Amerai: It only costs us money if you try to claim it.

Right, that’s the other “pass the buck” thing here. We were told back in port that we had to make the claim at the end of our trip, in Canada. We were told THERE that they used to be able to do this sort of thing, but cannot any more. We have to submit everything centrally, through the mail. In both cases, the actual people took pity on us but said there was nothing they could do, these were the policies.

Amerai: Just wait until you send everything in. We’ll likely claim we didn’t get it, blame the fact that you’re Canadian sending things across the border, and then say that the 30 day window has expired. Hah!

You also charged us luggage fees, on an INTERNATIONAL flight, for bags we barely had. Saying that this would also have to be reimbursed later. Maybe. I hate you.

Amerai: I know. But at least there’s others who love us.

I can only hope they won’t after reading this.

Amerai: Haha! It’s funny because you think people read your blog.

Airca: Bet you wish you’d flown with us now, huh?

Air Canada, your only flight down to our destination went once per week. Coordinating that wasn’t feasible. And your track record is a bit spotty too. Though - and I can’t believe I’m saying this - you are better by comparison. Even Air Europa, which once literally closed an embarkation door in my face, saying we couldn’t board because our luggage hadn’t made the transfer, was nicer by comparison. Because Air France, their parent company, got us to our destination that day, and our bags reached us 24 hours later.

Amerai: I will point out that if WE’D refused you boarding here, you would have missed your cruise entirely. So points to us for that.

Seriously? You want points? Because you didn’t merely let one family member travel, and hold back the rest of us?? Rather than find the other 8 bags with the big PRIORITY stickers on them?!?

Amerai: Don’t be silly. We wouldn’t have loaded his bag at all, and would have claimed not to know what you meant.

Airca: Hey, I think I got a compliment in there! Yay!

Amerai: Look, “customer”, you’re blowing things out of proportion. We airlines, we’re all the same. We lose bags. It’s what we DO. Wise up.

I know. We've said I can be an optimist. We've also said I’m not on you about the loss, it’s HOW YOU DEAL with people who face that which is important. So important. Especially for a vacation. And you botched it. Big time.

Amerai: I don’t think so. You got your bags. This is a difference of opinion. And since I’m obviously not going to change your mind, that’s it, we are DONE here.

Oh, we are. We are done with American Airlines. Forever and ever, I hope. At least, once I’ve submitted all these receipts. >.<

On the bright side, I was with family, and we made the most of a taxing situation. Also, the islands were amazing. This just wasn’t what I expected for my first full vacation away from work in, not joking, sixteen months.

It happened to me. It could happen to you. Avoid American Airlines.

1 comment:

  1. Follow-up: We did finally get a cheque for less than the total amount of receipts. Meanwhile, a friend flying overseas for a funeral had her bags go missing - until after the funeral. The airline? US Airways, owned by the American Airlines group. I wonder what would happen if they took their cash payouts and invested the money into keeping better track of this stuff. >.<