Dennis Carr (dennisthetiger) wrote in bad_service,
Dennis Carr

Fly the friendly skies?!

As obscure as it was, bad_jew's experience on Lane Bryant's website (the 1000 character limit) reminded me of a little something I had to deal with on American Airlines.

Let's set the wayback machine to November of 2000. I bought a plane ticket for the woman who is now my wife to fly from BDL to SNA, with a plane change at ORD, to fly out New Year's weekend. I went through my employer's travel agent, and used the credit card of a friend to do this. This strikes me as very important.

I get the call the day she's to fly - the flight was cancelled due to weather. OK, no problem, it happens. I interrupt my work day (desk job) to deal with locating other flights, and we finally get a flight for her: BDL-JFK-LAX. OK, no big deal. I can't stand LAX, but we'll live.

Get a friend to retrieve me, we go meet my mother at the airport, wife-to-be-het-has-not-been-proposed-to shows up with a plastic pouch, in tow of a flight attendant. I'm given charge of her.

...erm, what? This is not normal.

Found out, it's not - seems that her family members put the UNMR bit on the ticket - which is funny, since she was 35 years old at the time. She wasn't at all happy about it, and was rather insulted - but that's with her parents.

(UNMR, for those not so indoctrinated, is Unaccompanied Minor. For the duration of the trip, somebody accompanies you.)

She then tells me that her accompaniment at JFK had put her at the wrong gate, queuing her up for a return trip to BDL. Not something we wanted - and despite her protests, they didn't realize this until they got to the ticket checker at the gate at JFK.

While out here, the trip goes well. Did some not-so-touristy things.

Then we go and fly back. Travel agent notes the return flight is cancelled due to a lack of pilots - OK, no biggie, we find a new flight: SNA-DFW-BDL.

We get to John Wayne (SNA). Ticket agent notes the UNMR flag, we request it's taken off. Apparently, it's not - but hang on, I'll get there.

We get her into the terminal, I see her off - or rather, I see her onto the plane. The plane is an hour late departing, because a passenger had slipped and fell in the terminal, injuring herself. Flight would wind up being uncomfortable in her condition, but she finds this out after boarding - so the captain orders all luggage removed to remove this one passenger's luggage, then they reload all the luggage. (Argh! WHY couldn't they return it on a return flight from DFW and drive it in?!)

The plane change at DFW was interesting, from what the wife described. It helps to know that Dallas-Fort Worth Airport is big. I mean REALLY big. It's Bigger Than Texas big.

As soon as she got off the plane, she was ushered to a passenger shuttle that raced from one gate to the next - these were in two different terminals. She got to the gate, and then the staff briefed each other - she does not board without accompaniment.

Meanwhile, I had contacted AA to find out what the status fo the flights were, and to find out if she was successful in the transfer - it turns out she was, but I had first gotten two explanations from the phone agent: the first was that she had not made the transfer and would be staying overnight in Dallas, the second was that her father had purchased the ticket.

Um, no, he didn't. I watched as a friend of mine submitted his credit card to my travel agent to purchase the ticket under my own specifications.

After all had settled down, I wrote and explained as much to American Airlines inthe form of a handwritten letter. I got a response back from a CS super named Charlotte, I believe, which pretty much had declared them as standing by their story: her father purchased the ticket, ergo I had no authority.

I suppose that, in retrospect, I should have gotten my travel agent involved. But for those in the travel industry in here, how could this have even happened? I will point out that it was probably my own failing, too, that I gave out the PNR number - but that anybody but myself or my travel agent could alter the ticket speaks of a security failure.

I don't even know if they've changed the system since 9/11 - I just know that I won't be flying American unless I don't have another choice.

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