Friday, October 03, 2014

Last Friday the FAA complicated our trip but it was actually American Airlines that almost ruined our weekend.

That is one marked up ticket, huh?
This time last week I was stranded at O'Hare in a rage at the lousy customer service we were getting from American Airlines. Mich and I had been at the airport since 4:30 a.m., had been seated in first class seats (our first time in first class ever!) and had taxied to the runway to take off, only to be called back to the gate to sit for another 30 minutes until our flight was finally cancelled due to a fire at an FAA facility. By the time we deplaned the airport was in a frenzy as people scurried about to figure out what exactly was happening and try to rebook flights. Up until this point everything that happened was to of American Airlines' hands and we understood that.

Our sad plane that didn't go anywhere. :(
As the day progressed though more and more things went wrong, the biggest snafu being the uncoupling of Mich's and my reservations, causing us to be separated—often by 80 or so other passengers—on standby lists for every flight throughout the day.

Every phone call we made resulted in no help and no gate attendant could reconcile the obvious computer fuck up on American Airlines' end.* In the end, through some very persuasive talking on my part (which certainly teetered into begging) that resulted in one miracle worker at a gate getting us onto the only flight that offered even the slightest chance of making our connecting flight in Dallas instead of scuttling our whole weekend trip.**

Writing this out I'm realizing that the two things that infuriated me, that actually made me blind with rage, were digital aspects of the American Airlines' experience. The fact their computer system borked our whole trip (and this carried over to our return flight on Monday since they screwed up our reservations THAT badly, somehow) and couldn't be reconciled by a single human being is beyond forgiveness. But the true rage maker?

Their Twitter handle.

American Airlines needs to learn that customer service via Twitter isn't canned responses triggered by interns or freshman community managers. A constant stream of apologies with no action involved at all, not ever, does not make your company look like it cares, it makes your company look completely tone deaf. What a difference a year makes, huh?

 So to all the human beings we encountered through our ordeal, I'd like to say thanks. I was upset at the time but in retrospect you truly were doing your best to help out.

To American Airlines' computer system, I'd just like to say fuck you.

And to American Airlines' social media team? It's time to rethink how you do things. Either offer something of value to the customers you engage beyond empty apologies you'd do better to just stay quiet.

At least the day made national news.
Wonder if she and B-Dubs are pals.
One gate representative did actually book us on a flight on Saturday afternoon just to get us on the first actual flight with room leaving O'Hare as a back up and we appreciated the gesture even if it wasn't going to actually help us.

** Which said Dallas flight we did make by SPRINTING across that airport, literally from one end to the other, in under ten minutes. The most hilarious moment of that trip was mid-sprint when Mich just held her boarding pass at me (knowing I wasn't running at full speed in order to not lose her) and panted / yelled "Just go!" And I did. And ended up at the gate panting and checking us in. When the attendant asked me where she was I said, "She'll. Be. Here. In. A. Sec."*** 

*** Apparently, possibly as I was saying this, Mich actually ran past the gate. She was running so hard she totally missed the gate number. I wish I'd seen that.

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