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Saturday, March 17, 2007

This week's proof of the need for a plan

Untold numbers of planes and passengers stuck on the tarmacs of airports in the U.S. Northeast overnight on Friday.

8 comments:

  1. Joanne V. LavenderMarch 18, 2007 at 9:31 PM

    My daughter was visitng her grandmother. She is 19. She was accompanied by her brother, who is in the US Navy. They were both scheduled to leave Friday morning, the 16 and traveled to the airport together. My son's flight to his new duty station left on time. Hers was a few hours later and was canceled. She still doesn't know why, as other flights were taking off and landing, including some of DELTA's flights.
    She went to the DELTA airlines counter to get her ticket changed and told the clerk that she was without extra funds and had no place to stay, nor any way back to her grandmother's (it will cost $150 EACH WAY to take a taxi back to her grandmother's). One of the Delta clerks cursed at her. She was about to ask for a supervisor when another clerk told the first to give her a room and meal voucher as a "distressed passenger". Her flight was then supposed to leave Saturday, the 17. That, too, was canceled as the storm had dropped about 12 inches of snow by then.
    DELTA then told her she was down on the list and could not get a confirmed flight until Monday. They gave her two meal vouchers and two night's lodging as she was now down even more on her already meagre remaining funds.
    She is hoping to get on a flight Monday morning. I have already contacted my congressman's office. It was decent weather today in PA, but it's supposed to be freezing rain on Monday. Will she be stranded yet another day? If so, what will happen to her then?
    My daughter is alone in a strange city with no relatives nearby, running out of money, and I am frantic for her safety. And my question is: why is this situation suddenly emerging? For years, the airlines took care of passengers who were stranded by either getting them bus/train tickets out or by putting them up for the night. Suddenly, the passengers--paying customers--are annoying the airlines with complaints about the way they are treated in emergencies. Well, airlines, listen up: if the American public stops flying, will you be able to stay in business?

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  2. This is exactly why we need the Bill of Rights.

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  3. Once again, American Airlines' failure at customer service caused me to miss a day of work! I was returning from Ireland on March 18. Flight 47 from London made it to Chicago at 5:10 p.m. and I had a connecting flight 2349 to Dallas at 6:15. I made it through U.S. Customs just fine and lo and behold, it takes almost an hour to get my luggage. Apparently, something broke on the baggage carousel and so I and about 93 other passengers missed connecting flights. What made it worse was the fact that American Airlines' staff in Chicago was rude and very unhelpful. They should be called "Amer-I-Can't" because that was the answer I got from all of their associates. Of course, it is no skin off their back if I miss my 6:15 flight because they'll just give my seat to someone else and they won't lose any money. I, on the otherhand, missed a day of work FOR THE SECOND TIME DUE TO FLYING AMERICAN AIRLINES!
    Their staff initially even refused to comp hotel stays for those passengers that missed their connections. Apparently, AA's staff doesn't know how to communicate with each other regarding problems within their own airport and with their own flights.
    What is it going to take for American Airlines to start offering customer service to people who spend thousands of dollars flying their airline? I missed a day of work and giving me bonus miles will not make up for the wages that I lost due to AA's lack of service. If there were no seats available on any other AA flights that night, AA should have put me on another flight. I paid my money so that I could get home on the day I needed to get home. Do they not comprehend that? Yes, things happen, but they should have a contingency plan in place for when those things do happen.
    Nothing less than compensating me for my lost wages due to AA's incompetence will suffice. I don't need bonus miles. I don't plan to fly Amer-I-Can't Airlines ever again.

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  4. I wish it were just one airline! If it were we could all just Boycott, but sometimes we must fly American!

    This woman's story is the tip of the iceberg.

    Kate

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  5. We got stuck in Mexico for 3 nights (3/17-20) had to change airlines (from Continental to Delta). We had three nights of lodging, additional parking and Continental says "not our fault".
    To add insult to injury they booked us for a return on the 4th day. We were getting kicked out of our hotel room and they refused to transfer us to another airline. We had to book a Delta flight home.

    We have been offered nothing when other passengers on the Delta flight were either transferred at not cost of minimal cost. We paid an addition $400 for the two tickets.

    I called 5 days after we returned and the service rep was downright surly. "Not our problem".

    I have a new slogan for them- "We'll get you there when we're damn good and ready."

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  6. Me and my husband were supposed to go on our first vacation after 20 years of marriage. We were going to celebrate our anniv., we never had a honeymoon; so this was going to be special. Another couple was going also, celebrating their 50th anniv.

    We watched the computer as our flight was delayed, canceled and then later delayed again. We called all night until 4 am trying to get a flight out to catch our ship. I finally slept 2 hours and started calling them again at 6 am.

    They kept saying they had nothing until mon. morning. We thought about paying 350.00 for a limo service to drive us 3 1/2 hours away to catch the connecting plane. This was US Air. And this was on 3/18/07. But they couldn't guarantee us that-that plane wouldn't be canceled. By 6 am; they had refunded our money and we didn't even have seats.

    We were on hold with US Air for 40 min and the phone nad would get disconnected; we did this all night long, many people were trying to get through to them-but you were on hold forever. One time mine was over an hour.

    So the first flight left late-which meant we would miss our connecting flight. And they had nothing available; we were told by someone from US Air to go on-line to cheap tickets, travelocity etc. and look for our own tickets.....And the connecting flight did cancel.........

    Needless to say we were devastated. And we are learning that we will only get 75% of our money; which is so wrong....

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  7. About 4 hours before flight time I received a message on my home phone stating a gate change for American Airlines flight 3847 to Harrisburg, PA to what sounded like Gate D25. When I drove to Remote South Parking lot I found the Flight Schedule Board was blank and not working. Unable to confirm the departure gate I boarded the bus located under the “D” Terminal sign at Remote South. Thirty minutes later the bus stopped at the Trinity River Express train station. I was told by the driver that I should have read the bus headliner to know he wasn’t going to the D Terminal. I then asked to be taken back to Remote South.
    During the return trip I received a call from my spouse about an alert message on my home phone stating another gate change for American Airlines Flight to what sounded like Gate B10A. We replayed it several times to get a clearer location. I decided to call my travel companion to see what gate number he had gotten. I was told his ticket read “B25” and he had no notice yet of a gate change. He endeavored to check.
    Once back at Remote South I boarded another bus, this time for Terminal “B”. Arriving at the Terminal about 15 minutes before flight departure I went to obtain an electronic boarding pass from the kiosks. In response the screen referred me to a travel agent in the terminal. I got in line, and then when I finally got to the counter, the Agent informed that the aircraft was buttoned up or almost buttoned up therefore, I had missed the flight. She told me the next flight to Harrisburg was not until 11:30 the next day. She also informed me that my ticket was non-refundable and I would have to buy another ticket or pay a change fee. I passed on both.
    As I was walking away I remember my travel companion and returned to the line and counter to see where else I could land that evening. The second Agent informed me that my ticket for flight 3847 was cancelled and she would try ticketing to an airport near Harrisburg like Philadelphia, Baltimore/Washington, Dulles International, or Washington National if I still wanted to go that day. I was able to get a ticket to what I thought was Dulles. I left feeling satisfied and with the intent of getting my brother to drive me to PA. The departing flight was thru gate C12 so I boarded the Airport Link to get there from terminal B.
    Getting thru security at Terminal C I received a call from my traveling companion inquiring where I was. Apparently, Flight 3847 boarded then de-boarded around 5:45 due to an air conditioning problem and would be delayed at the gate for several hours. I decided I would try to make that flight and wondered why the Agent didn’t know the flight was still at the gate. Unknown to me until later, my spouse received three more calls, on the hour, relaying the delay in flight 3847.
    As I was about to go back thru security, I was informed by a TSA agent that since my current flight and boarding gate was in the C Terminal, he doubted I would be allowed to enter the B Terminal gate to catch that flight. He had overheard my conversation while I was re-packing my carry-on and suggested going to the counter at C, changing the ticket, then going to B. I passed (“a bird in the hand ….” thing!) I called my traveling companion and told him I’d see him at the hotel.
    Aboard the plane I tried to reach family members in the area to secure a ride to Harrisburg. Having failed that, I was able to reach my daughter to ask her to go to the online website and make a car rental reservation for me at Dulles. After arriving in Washington at about 11:00 PM, I discovered that my ticket was issued for Washington National, not Dulles. I called my daughter to see what she had arranged. She informed me that she tried several rental agencies at Dulles and none had vehicles available for rent that evening. I didn’t figure it was a big deal since I was at Washington National and decided to take my chances as a walk-up renter..
    At the Rental Center I inquired down the line for available cars for rent to no avail – they were completely sold out. The young woman at the Avis counter suggested I could take a bus to Harrisburg and proceeded to give me direction to the Metro train, Union Station, and the Greyhound bus station. Perfect! I could still get there! I scooted over to the Metro station and arrived just in time to hear the man in the booth announce that the last train for the evening was leaving the station in five minutes. Unfortunately for me it was headed in the wrong direction from where I needed to go. The next set of trains was not until 6:00 AM the next morning and it was about 1:00 AM at that time. I passed on the train, the cab ($43.50 from the airport to Union Station!?!), and of course the limo!
    Frustrated, tired and hungry I decided to wait until morning to give the car rental places another try – surely someone with an early flight would turn in a car. Since it was late and I was stuck outside the security area, I was able to locate the one open newsstand and snack shop in the airport. I only mention this because I purchased a pack of cigarettes and returned a few minutes later to see if I could get matches. I was told that the airport allows them to sell cigarettes but not matches or lighters! This is OUTSIDE the security check! It’s been my experience that security confiscates all lighters going in, leaving smokers to scramble for lights outside. On a more serious note, I am currently in step one of a twelve step stop-smoking program so I just tossed the pack I purchased. I just think the cigarettes but no matches policy going out of the airport is ludicrous.
    Finding a seat near the American counter, I settled in ate, read and dozed until I heard the familiar bustle of travelers arriving for early flights – that was 6:00 AM. I headed down to the Rental Center to try my luck at getting a car. Three counters were manned, all agents reading newspapers. I approached one and inquired about returned vehicles and was told that cars returned usually are not ready for renting again for about three hours! Having had enough, I just wanted to go home.
    I went to the ticket counter to get on the next available flight headed to DFW. There I discovered that my return flight out of Harrisburg was already ticketed and I might have to pay for a change. I related my story of the last evening to the Agent and she exchanged my tickets with a remark “I think we’ve done enough to you…” I boarded the flight and slept the whole way.
    Twenty hours after it started, here I sit recording these misadventures half not believing it happened to me, dreading tomorrow’s meeting with my boss for not getting my job completed. Whenever I’ve read about the horror stories during travel I dismissed it as a 1 out of 10,000 occurrences for airline travel. Now I can honestly say it has gotten ridiculous and hurts when it happens to you, especially when it includes the airlines’ support structure away from the aircraft. When the Coalition for an Airline Passengers' Bill of Rights gets its day in Congress it should not forget to properly acknowledge the conduct of the support companies!
    Larry Priester
    Arlington Texas

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  8. Reading these testimonials only added fuel to my ragging temperment.

    I fly offten and frequently and most always am faced with delays or cancellations. I had begun to think, it was my luck.
    One of the scenarios:
    Last, November, I was catching a flight back home to Ca from Chicago, the day after thanksgiving. I approached the terminal to check in, and the attendant said I missed my flight. I replied "That's weird it's not supposed to take off for another hour." She said, "That's right but today is the day after Thanksgiving, which is also considered a holiday, therefore you have to arrive an hour early." Well, I looked at my time and it looked to me like I was on time, her response was, " Your a few seconds late". I missed it by a few SECONDS. Seconds??? Are you kidding me? I had first class tickets arrived 75min. early, but there wasn't anyone to help me at the First class terminal, so I stood in line with others at the economy line, which was moving at a snails pace...only to miss my flight by a mere second or two. (By the by, I had No luggage to check-in, just a carry-on).
    I was furious, I asked for the next flight out, First Class of course, that is what I had paid for. She said, once, I miss my flight I don't qualify for First Class tickets thereafter. I asked to speak to a superviser, she said she was the superviser. I asked for her name, she wouldn't give it to me. I asked the attentandt over for her name they wouldn't give it either. I was finally told if I did not leave I would be escorted out by security, TSA. My carrier... DELTA.

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