Monday, May 04, 2009

Dear American Airlines (#2)

To: American Airlines Customer Relations
P.O. Box 619612 MD 2400
DFW Airport, TX 75261-9612

To Whom It May Concern:

My husband and I have been flying with American Airlines (AA) for many years now. We have been quite loyal to AA and until recently we have enjoyed flying with your company. In April, I wrote a letter to AA about a flight we were on and the poor service we received. I have not yet received a reply or acknowledgment of this letter and already I am composing another letter to your company regarding a different flight; how disappointing.

A few weeks ago, husband and I took an American Airlines flight to Texas to attend the funeral of a family member. Upon our return we had one of the most unpleasant flying experiences on {a flight] between Austin, TX and Dallas, TX.. Due to bad storms in Dallas, our flight that was to depart at 4:25 pm did not leave Austin until about 11:00 pm. While waiting in the terminal for our flight to leave, it was obvious that American Airlines was unprepared and confused as to what to do.

Now, as a frequent traveler, I understand weather issues affecting airline travel. And, when traveling, safety is my main concern. However, I would have assumed that as weather varies daily, American Airlines would be better equipped to handle the congestion and confusion that comes along with weather cancellations. Even the flight attendants on board suggested to the passengers that they contact AA and as one put it, “they are not able to handle this type of situation.” Hearing that from one of your employees was not only surprising, but also sorely disappointing and frightening.

When we landed at DFW and I could use my cell phone I called AA’s 1-800 number and was on hold for 40 minutes. When we arrived at DFW, there was no gate agent waiting to help us nor were we automatically rebooked nor were we given a cot or some idea as to what we should do. We were simply abandoned in Dallas during a storm.

Meanwhile, I saw an AA agent and approached him about being rebooked, his curt reply was saying that I had to call the 800 number and he handed me a slip of paper with the number on it. I explained that I was on hold and he just shrugged and handed the paper to another passenger. Finally, while still on hold, I spotted an extremely long line of angry passengers slowly being helped by one employee—who even made an announcement on the public address system saying that he was alone and suggested people go find other lines. However, we couldn’t find other lines; it was 1:00 am and there were no AA employees in sight; so, I joined this line.

After about 40 minutes an agent answered the customer service number and we were able to be rebooked for the next day (on a flight that didn't leave until 3:00 pm). Despite the fact that people in this line were receiving hotel vouchers for the night, my husband and I were too exhausted and frustrated to continue waiting for AA’s poor customer service and lack of preparedness. Luckily, we were able to check in to the Hyatt hotel in the airport--though this was out of pocket since we did not wait with the other passengers to receive vouchers. I am also requesting to be reimbursed for this expense.

As I said in my previous letter to American Airlines, this type of service is completely unacceptable. It is hard to believe that an airline as large as yours would be so ill equipped to handle weather emergencies. The most frightening thing about it is that weather changes daily so you should be better prepared. What if the situation where something more unexpected, serious, or dangerous than just weather? I would truly fear for my safety as American Airlines appears to just abandon their customers.

Needless to say, I am still quite frustrated with your company. This situation should have been handled much more effectively. There should have been an agent waiting for displaced passengers, there should have been better plans. We should have automatically been rebooked and reimbursed rather than feeling completely neglected by AA. Once again, I am extremely upset with the apparent decline in American Airlines customer service.

As a frequent AA flier, I expect a much higher level of service from your company, and I am quite frustrated and disappointed. As we were traveling for a funeral, this situation created unnecessary stress and upset. Before we book another AA flight, I would like reassurance that you are addressing the service problems on your flights and would like to be sure that AA is prepared for many situations—including those related to weather.

I look forward to your response.