Saturday, April 14, 2012

Response To The FlyerTalk Forum

I thought that no one in FlyerTalk was interested in doing anything except scolding me until I read the post written by MrAndy1369 who said exactly what I was trying to convey- that both I and AA were in the wrong. That having been said, I thought I would address some of the questions people had/ points people made, as maybe they were being sincere.

1. We could not fly Thursday night. It was not possible due to my husband's schedule. If we could have flown on Thursday, we would have and we would then have avoided the debacle of flying on Friday.

2. $324 for a round-trip ticket, while not necessarily expensive from the point of view of someone who is a businessman, is expensive on a teacher's salary.

3. We are aware (which is why we said so in the blogpost) that it is OUR FAULT that we were late to the airport. We take full responsibility for that. Regarding check-in of baggage, in other airports we've flown in (such as LGA and ORD), you can check baggage on the same floor as the security check-in and gatepoint is at. We weren't familiar with this airport and thus didn't know we would have to go to the third floor to check in baggage.

4. The section where I describe the situation that occurred regarding check-in, the patdown and so forth was not intended to blame AA. It was just intended to show that things kept going from bad to worse and that we were becoming more frustrated due to what was happening.

5. We had not known that airlines reserve the right to allow their planes to leave 15 minutes early. This is why we were surprised (and upset) to discover the plane left at 8:10am rather than 8:20am, when it was scheduled to leave.

6. We were not told the airport was doing us a special favor by putting us on standby. This was treated as being the routine procedure/ next step. This is why we did not know being put on standby was a privilege. It is also why we felt 'entitled' (to use your term) to fly.

7. We did try to pay more money to book tickets on a different AA flight rather than just staying on standby. No flights were available.

8. We did not, contrary to your impression, yell at people in the airport, swear at them or otherwise insult them. We just explained to them what had happened and what our needs were in order to be able to fly that day (leaving on the 3:40 pm flight at the latest). And then I got emotional (started crying) when I saw that there didn't seem a way for this to happen. That's it.

9. When it comes to the part most of you are vehemently upset about, namely that I would like AA to perhaps take into account the customer's religion- as I said, they don't have to do that. I'm aware of that. I just think it would have been nice as a gesture of goodwill to do that. I think it would have made a great story that I would have been happy to share about how kind, caring and accommodating and easy-to-work-with they were. I was also frustrated because with the exception of one woman, the people at the gates did not say, "I am sorry to hear your story although I cannot help you" but instead just said tersely "It's your fault you missed your flight." Just hearing that someone cared about our situation, even if they couldn't help us, would have made us a lot happier. It's about customer service and what could have been- but wasn't.

10. The rest of this has to do with mistakes AA made. The woman named Pamela said we could still fly the second round of our flight, we did not receive any email, call or text saying it was cancelled, did not know it was cancelled and indeed received an email saying our flight was available for check-in. All of this was extremely misleading. This is why AA sent us vouchers.

11. Finally, I am extremely appreciative to AA for the vouchers and would like to post the email they sent us to show an example of kind and respectful customer service. This is why I emailed them to thank them and ask whether it would be okay to post their email, since it says the information in it is confidential. I have not received a response from them yet.

The reason I didn't really respond to you before this was because so many of you were so busy attacking me and just making me out to be a 'kettle' and 'do you know who I am' foaming-at-the-mouth person (which I'm not) that it didn't seem to be worth it. But since MrAndy1369 was kind, I'm taking the time to respond.


Anonymous said...

1) I agree with your advice "Don't Fly AA" for reasons more substantive than yours.

2) Do you really care what the FT community thinks about you/your experience?

3) What is your preferred airline going forward?

Anonymous said...

Most people on FT probably took you to task for ending your blog post with "never fly American Airlines"

As you have admittedly stated the whole problem started because you were late to the airport. Few of the issues you encountered would have occurred it you had been on time. The rest of your post is irrelevant.

In fact it should read something like this: Recommendations for Infrequent Flyers. Last weekend we had the unfortunate experience of arriving at the airport late through no one's fault but our own. Let me tell you, it is not the thing to do. We missed our flight, due to a series of missteps, again all of our own making. To get to Chicago in time we had to buy two last minute one-way tickets on another airline which were very expensive. Then, due to some incorrect information provided by an American Airlines employee our return trip was cancelled. We were very upset! Ultimately we made the trip, but it cost us over $2,000 just because we tried to save a few bucks taking the bus...we'll never do that again. Moral of the story, get to the airport on time! I have to say even though American did provide some incorrect information they were gracious enough to provide us vouchers for our trouble. We really appreciate their goodwill.

While it is unfortunate that someone at AA provided incorrect information you would have never had the standby problem if you arrived on time. AA has gone above and beyond and given you consideration for your trouble.

Even in your response to the FT community you keep stating "we/I didn't know". You are an intelligent person with access to a computer and the skills to write a blog. You could also use those skills to a)determine what time you need to arrive at the airport b) familiarize yourself with the layout of the airport c) familiarize yourself with TSA screening procedures and d) 3-1-1 liquid carry-on regulations. I travel weekly, but still look up airport maps, check travel regulations, etc because things change.

At a minimum your recommendation to "never fly American Airlines" should be removed or corrected.

Anonymous said...

Hopefully the travel vouchers will be donated to charity if you really intend on never flying AA again.

D said...

One quick comment: At least people are paying attention to your blog now. Prior to this it was pretty anemic.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 9:26 said so clearly what I wanted to say.
My major objection is that your comments ended with disparaging American Airlines so profoundly.
My suggestions to you are similar to what you might tell your students if they have a conflict:
First - stop and calm down and don't react until you have thought through what happened.
Second - approach the other person calmly and listen to what they have to say.
Third - come up with a solution which is fair to all parties
I made comments initially about Lashon Hara (bad language is the direct translation) and I think that your post epitomized this if not in a "legal" perspective, at least in a perspective of Derech Eretz (translated generally as the "right way"). You sat as judge and jury and transmitted bad energy all over the place. If you had only waited to calm down, and not shared with the world via the Internet this episode of people judging you and "yelling" at you would not have happened.
Blogs are great - but can be harmful and hurtful.
You have seemed through your posts to be a caring person so this seemed so out of character.
Hopefully, there is some true soul searching that has occurred on your part.
Good Luck

Anonymous said...

This is MrAndy1369 from FlyerTalk! I'm glad I could be of any help... I know how violate FT can get, believe me - it happened to me before. Don't worry about them, you did the right thing standing up for yourself and your complaints about AA is valid. I'm sorry you were told it was your fault - that's definitely not customer friendly at all. And, $324 is definitely expensive to me as well! Especially for a short hop DCA-ORD.

If I were you, I would give AA one more chance. I know they fell through last time, but you may be surprised next time - AA can be an excellent airline. As a matter of fact, I was discriminated against by a gate agent at DCA AA myself (I'm Deaf). The gate agent refused to give me a pen and paper to communicate. I was in a similar situation as you - weather delays were impacting all flights, and I kept getting bounced from flight to flight. However, after explaining the situation to the manager, I was kindly put up in first class from Boston to San Francisco! (connecting from DCA)... that was an AMAZING experience, and goes to show that there are some incredibly kind staff at AA. That's why I recommend trying AA at least one more time - if next time still goes sourly, then you can write them off for good. :-)

Again, I'm glad I could have helped with my kind words. I definitely emphasize with what you went through. Don't let anyone pull you down or say you were wrong/dumb/whatnot. Keep rockin' on with your blog!

Take care,

William Johnson said...

[i]When it comes to the part most of you are vehemently upset about, namely that I would like AA to perhaps take into account the customer's religion- as I said, they don't have to do that. I'm aware of that. I just think it would have been nice as a gesture of goodwill to do that. I think it would have made a great story that I would have been happy to share about how kind, caring and accommodating and easy-to-work-with they were. [/I]

So you think it would be nice of AA "as a gesture of goodwill" to discriminate in your favor based on religion, according you a priority to which you are not otherwise entitled. Nice.

Do you not realize that discriminating in your favor on this basis means someone else gets discriminated against on that same basis?

If AA had told you "you can't board this flight because you're Jewish," they would be doing you a great wrong and I'd be one of many voices clamoring for justice.

What you're proposing is that two people be told "you can't board this flight because you're not Jewish," and that you get their seats because you are. Sorry, that's every bit as wrong. How do you not see that?

Anonymous said...

Excuse me, William Johnson, but NOWHERE at all did the OP of this blog say that Jewish people needed more of a priority and that if someone wasn't Jewish, too bad, don't board this flight. Don't you dare put words in the OP's mouth!

William Johnson said...

Excuse me, "Anonymous," but don't put words in MY mouth. I quoted the OP verbatim and then summed up the consequences to others if her wish had been granted.

If she wasn't getting on earlier flights, it's because those seats were going to people with higher (religion-neutral) priorities. Those standby seats weren't going empty. For her to win two standby seats on the basis of religion, someone else has to lose them on that basis. It's simple math, unless you thought they were going to bolt in two more passenger seats just for them.

Anonymous said...


s/b "empathize".

mikeef said...

Hi blogger,

Welcome to Flyertalk (vicariously)! Believe it or not, we're a pretty nice group. It's worth joining.

Thanks for the follow-up. I don't have too much to add except that the follow-up reads much more easily than the original.

Also, welcome to the world of "mistakes I'll never make again." We've all been there, and I guess the best I can say is that your next mistake will be entirely new and original! :)

I will say that your original post definitely plays the religion card. It would have been nice for you if they had bumped you ahead, due to your circumstance (which I understand, as a fellow Jew), but that would have meant that somebody else on the list got left behind, and I have no doubt that there would have been a different blog post entitled, "Agent bumps people ahead of me because they're Jewish!"

zaidee13 said...

I think your putting this issue out to the public was a chilul hashem. All of the airlines have the same rules. American did not treat you differently than any of the other airlines would have. Flying on Erev Yom Tov or Shabbas is always risky

Anonymous said...

I find it very interesting that you have not responded to any of the concerns that have been raised about your behaviour in posting this blog from a religious point of view. You seem to responding from a secular perspective as to why your behaviour was right or wrong, but your blog's raison d'etre, as a "curious jew" seems to be missing, except to comment aobut needing to get home for a Pesach Seder you havent responded as to whether you feel that "religiously" you represented yourself in your blog the way you are comfortable and proud of.

Anonymous said...

Said differenlty or in addition, does your Rav, famiiy, community etc. think it was appropriate for you to have Posted your initial comments?

Anonymous said...

I see no chillul hashem whatsoever. To my reading of the post,the AA representatives didn't have their act together, communicated conflicting and erroneous information to the blogger, and came across as shifty.