14 May 2007

Airport Rudeness and Fatigue

Rude people and fatigue do not go well together.

I had to make an emergency flight to Atlanta this past week for a family funeral. Because I live in Western Kentucky, I flew out of St. Louis, which is 150 miles from my home. On the return trip yesterday, I arrived in Atlanta's airport 2 ½ hours before my flight time, 8:30 p.m. I checked in, checked two bags (one for me and one for my mom), watched as they disappeared along the conveyor belt that takes luggage to that secret place beyond the wall, and moved through the security line. I was at the gate approximately 90 minutes before departure. The plane left on time, never changed gates, or had any otherwise obvious problems. When we landed in St. Louis, right on time, one bag appeared and the other did not. I checked with the man at the carousel and he said he had no record of my suitcase, that I should visit the baggage claim office. When I arrived in said office, I quickly learned that at least 7 passengers, if not more, on my flight were missing their luggage as well. After 60 minutes of searching, the agent told me my luggage was still in Atlanta, along with all of the other passengers’ bags. She tells me I will get my suitcase tomorrow (Monday 14 May 2007), to which I kindly alert her of the distance to my house. She says they will either courier it to me, get it on a flight into Paducah, or – as a last resort – FedEx it to my house, but assures me that I will have it on Monday.

Monday morning, I get a call from the American Airlines people in St. Louis who tell me the “only option” is to FedEx my bag this afternoon and I “should” get it sometime Tuesday afternoon. I tell the woman this is not an acceptable answer because in my bag are necessary medications, cables, cosmetics, toiletries, and work-related materials. I tell her I must have the bag today. She tells me this is not possible and that I can call customer service if I would like to file a complaint. I thank her and dial the 800 number. I spoke to two different people at the call center before they finally transferred me to the St. Louis airport for further clarification. This is where I began to have a problem.

The transfer sent me directly back to where I had just been: 314-429-9410. A woman answers the phone. I begin my conversation by telling her I recognize that this is not her fault, but that I need to solve a luggage problem. I go on to explain to her that getting my luggage late Tuesday is just not possible; I must have the bag today and this is in no way my problem. I have very critical medications and work-related projects in that bag. The onus is on American for solving this problem, not me. I offer her three possible solutions: have someone bring it to me, get a cab to bring it to me, or put it on a Northwest Airlines flight into Paducah and I will pick it up there. She puts me on hold. When she returns, she tells me that her supervisor says none of those options are possible. I politely said, “Ma’am, I understand that there is nothing you specifically can do, but I would like to speak to your supervisor to get a better grasp on the situation.” She responded, “FedEx will be here soon; we’ll send the bag to you and there is nothing else we can do. You can go to Walgreens and get some cosmetics and new medications.”

And then she hung up on me!

I find this not only horribly unprofessional but absolutely rude. To think that an organization such as American Airlines, with worldwide service, would allow someone such as this to respond to customer service issues is appalling! I called the 800 number back and asked how to get in touch with her supervisor, and I was told there is no possible way to do that. I was told the only way to lodge a complaint was to e-mail it through the website. However, when I went to the website, the page would only allow me 1500 characters, which is clearly not enough.


1 comment:

Ferris Family said...

When you emailed me about this, I shared my opinon on this airline... I stand by that opinion. I hope you get your things soon!