Thursday, March 5, 2009

Customer Service Thoughts on American Airlines

I am sure AA earned it's reputation as an airline with poor customer service one person at a time, and they have certainly never missed an opportunity with me. Since I travel a lot (like 3-4 days a week, 4-6 flights a week), I have a lot of chances to experience how good or bad service could be. Granted, I am a business traveler, so I have different needs than when I travel with my family. But something has just been "stuck in my craw" so to speak about American Airlines ever since I started traveling about 2 years ago.
Take my travels to Mobile, AL for for example. I have been going there for the last 6 months about 1 time a month, and every time I fly they either cancel the last flight (which is at 4:30 pm anyway!) or they delay the midday flight. I have started avoiding the last flight like the plague because I don't want to get stuck in Mobile for another night (it's a nice place but when you are ready to leave, you are ready to leave). And it happened again today, 1 hr delay made me miss my connection at DFW so instead of getting home by 4 pm, I got home at 7 pm. IF this only happened occasionally, I would not have an issue. But, it doesn't seem to happen with Continental or Northwest or anyone else.
And to add insult to injury, a couple of weeks ago my husband was delayed out of Minneapolis on Northwest, and they sent him an apology letter and 1,000 bonus miles. Which is about an extra flight's worth of miles. Would American ever do that? Probably not. And, when I called to have them fix my connection, the person on the phone waited for me to ask them to change my flight instead of realizing what I called for - and she rebooked it and didn't ask me which seat or anything else, just is that all? Can I say - IS THAT ALL - is not a way to end a call - it is supposed to be "is there anything else I can do for you?" Which is a lot different.
Since I am ranting, I am going to mention another thing. They do not treat frequent flyers with any sort of respect either. I asked them if they would match my Platinum status with Continental when I realized I had to change, and they said - call our customer service line and we will work something out to make you happy... Innocent me called and was told that they charge for doing a "challenge" which is a way to get your status quicker based on doing so many flights in a certain time period - in the range of $300. They would not do anything else, and I am not going to pay for a challenge. So, why did the customer service folks say they would work it out? That was just rude. And I sent the email back to the person who responded to me with a note that I appreciated "not" them sending me on a wild goose chase. Have I heard back from them? NO, because they do not care.
So, you ask yourself, why do you fly with American? Because I have to. My company has special deals with them and I have to fly with one of about 4 airlines. My favorite airline is Continental, but that is a story for another day. Which is probably part of what makes it more irritating... They claim to be the airline for business, yet I would rarely be on time if I only flew with them. If I want to be on time, I fly Southwest.

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