What you’re about to read is a re-drafted letter that I wrote to American Airlines, explaining to them why I will never choose them as my air carrier again. I’m posting it here because it’s also the first in a series of articles that I’m writing about my health and fitness journey when I come back home to Virginia, where the culture surrounding these things is…well…a bit different. But first, enjoy my rant. And don’t fly American.
First, let me acknowledge my own culpability by saying that I was late. I set my alarm improperly and arrived at the terminal with around 35 minutes until my flight departed. No luggage to check. Doable, yes? I thought so. But then again, I didn’t know what I was up against.
The day prior to my flight, I checked in via the American Airlines mobile app and opened my boarding pass using the link that was emailed to me. I wanted to ensure that everything worked properly so I wouldn’t have any issues at the airport. The morning of the flight, I arrive and use the exact same link to retrieve my mobile boarding pass when, lo and behold, it is nowhere to be found. Literally nowhere!
The only accessible boarding pass was for my connecting flight. I even stood there with the TSA agent, repeating every step from the previous day, getting a new email link and still no boarding pass. You can imagine my horror and frustration. I had checked yesterday and it worked fine, after all. But when it really mattered, NOTHING.
So I run downstairs to a kiosk to quickly print a boarding pass. After going through that process, I get a message saying, “We cannot fulfill your request.” Of course not. I’m in Hell’s terminal. So I frantically run to a woman wearing the American Airlines burgundy jacket–a woman who was not otherwise engaged mind you–to ask for help. Apparently I interrupted her aimless wandering and this bothered her. I explained the situation as quickly as I could. Her response. “You need to talk to the guy over there,” pointing…I’m not sure where. I turn to look in the general direction of her finger and see about 58 people. “I’m sorry who? Which guy?” I asked. “The one all the way down there at the desk,” she replied, not even bothering to point this time and then turning her back to me. Wow! That’s how you feel?! Ok.
Now maybe it’s me, but I wonder how much effort it would’ve taken her to walk me over, to show a modicum of concern, or to even look me in the eye. I’m guessing, not much effort at all. But I carry on, not having the time to acknowledge her rudeness. I run to “the end” where I assumed the last guy in the navy jacket was who I needed. There was, of course, a line. I tried to explain to him that I had less than 30 minutes until my flight departed, apologizing profusely. Nada. Another young lady approached in a burgundy jacket, asking if she could help. (Thank God for her. Her name is Brittany. After this whole ordeal, I shook her hand and thanked her for being the most helpful individual I encountered all morning. Please give her a bonus. No seriously, she deserves it. Young, African-American female, glasses, braces–kind and helpful. She was working at approx. 6:40am on Tuesday, May 27th. Find her and reward her. She’s all you got, American Airlines.) She tried to reason with the guy behind the desk. His response, “it’s impossible. She won’t make it.”
Actually, sir, it would have been highly possible. To print my boarding pass would have taken less than two minutes, I bet. Leaving me at least 15 minutes to get to my gate, and I ASSURE ANYONE WHO DOUBTS IT, I would have made it. But the fact is, there was almost zero effort on the part of the American Airlines staff to help me get there. And I am aware that these kinds of things happened often and perhaps people are tired or annoyed or fed up with their jobs. Fine. But in a time when customer service is all but dead, it would have been such a pleasure to see a company rise to the occasion and actually be of service to their customer. In the end, I missed my flight and had to wait 3 hours for the next one and another 3 hours in my connecting city. Lovely.
I fly often, very often–for work and for pleasure. I have flown with every major airline. This will go down as my worst experience to date–from the unreliable app to the lack of customer service. These things leave lasting impressions, and unfortunately, this one will be profoundly negative.
UPDATE: After my hostile tweet, I got a tweet back from American Airlines. “We don’t like to hear this,” it read. “Please follow and DM details so that we can forward them to our App team.” For the record, my initial tweet read: “Dear @AmericanAir: thanks for having the most ineffectual, unreliable mobile app in the history of apps. Never again!”
So I did as they asked, even got an e-mail from the App team. I will cut to the chase by saying that my expectations were not high. But I thought that maybe, just MAYBE I would at least get a mea culpa, an apology, a voucher for a snack pack on my next flight for goodness sake. Nope. You know what I got? This:
“Thank you for sharing your experience with us. In the future we hope to change that email so results like you experienced won’t happen. …On a trip where all cities are mobile, you should be able to login on the app, checkin and render your mobile boarding passes and save them to passbook so you wold not have to rely on an email link that DOES NOT ALWAYS WORK.”
Umm, I know what the hell I SHOULD be able to do, but that’s not what I WAS able to do. And even after admitting that the email link is unreliable, still nothing in the way of an apology, reparation, etc. Gee, thanks, American Airlines. Thanks for letting me know what should have happened. Super helpful.