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We know why you fly
"We really do know why you fly and we also know how to take advantage of that."
|Monday 11th September 2006|
|I am not the kind of guy that gets
upset when my plane is
delayed. I fly too much. If I let it get to me every
on the board I'd have had a heart attack long before now. This
week is going to be kind of crazy. I
have a flight out to the Long Angeles
area on September 11th, a fight back to Fort Worth on
12th, a flight out to San Jose on 13th and finally a flight
back to Fort Worth on the 14th. So 6,500 miles, Two round
trips to the coast, or 4 flights in 4 days not the most I
have flown but still a busy
American has a good Flight Status Notification
which I setup to send a text message to my cell phone.
I got one for this flight around 5:00 pm:
The message tells me that my 7:20 pm flight is now an 8:20 pm flight. I still get to the airport at 6:45 and I'm at my gate at around seven, just in case the flight information was wrong. It wasn't. The flight is listed on the board as:
Flight 1203 Orange County 7:20 PM Now 8:20 PM
Food for Purchase 3 hr 10 min
This does put a smile on my face because the Orange County airport has many names, it is also known as the John Wayne Airport or as the Santa Ana Airport and sometimes as the Santa Ana John Wayne International Airport . If you are running late and you want to check what gate you are flying out of you have to scan the whole board to see what they're going to call it today. The weather was pretty bad in the afternoon but it had cleared up. It looked fine until I was riding the Skylink from the parking lot to the terminal, a flight attendant pointed out a line of thunder storms coming in from the west. The photo above taken by Tom Fox ran the next day in the Dallas Morning News it shows that anyone flying out of Dallas / Fort Worth might want to understand that there could be a delay or two today.
I find a seat at the gate where I can keep an eye on the board and pull out my computer so I can catch up on email. It is getting close to our updated departure time when the storm breaks. I figure I will be getting a couple more messages before I fly out tonight. I was wrong I would get only one more message:
It says the my flight is CANCELLED and that I should call 800.433.7300 to change. I say, "Son of a Bachelor" or something like that and walk up to the counter.
The board changes immediately
Flight 1203 Orange County 7:20 PM Now 8:20 PM
Food for Purchase 3hr 10min
Flight 1891 Phoenix 6:25 PM Now 8:30 PM
Food for Purchase 2hr 30min
Three American employees are standing behind the counter looking at their computer screen saying, "Son of a Bachelor." They have not made an announcement yet and since I got special text message it is just me and two other people in line. They help the first guy who is asking about the flight to Phoenix . The second guy asked about the flight to Orange County and is told, "Sorry sir we are working the Phoenix flight now, you will have to wait until we are finished." I'm not mad, I'm not happy either but it is no use yelling at the people behind the counter. They can't do anything, except call security and have to taken away in handcuffs. I take a deep cleansing breath and walk away. I bring up the text message. I select the phone number in the message and press send.
You would think the number goes to a message like, "We are so sorry your flight was canceled let us take care of you." OK you wouldn't think that, but you would think the number would go to someone or some system that can help you book another flight. It doesn't. It's voice mail hell. It gives you four options none of them are, "If we just canceled your flight and you would like to know what the heck you are suppose to do now. Press 2."
I listen to all of the options and choose option two. It doesn't seem like the right one. I have little hope that: "For fares, schedules, changes to an existing reservation and general travel information press 2" is the right choice, but all of the other choices are much worst. I am, of course, wrong. I get trapped in voice mail madness with no way out. The system will not let me back up and when I hopelessly press "0" over and over it just keeps repeating the menu. If you want to simulate how I was feeling, jab a sharp stick in your eye and play the provided MP3 file in a loop over and over until you pass out.
I have booked all of my flights for the week together. DFW to SNA <> SNA to DFW <> DFW to SJC <> SJC to DFW. I did this to save time and because I am an idiot. I can't get to Orange County now the first part of this trip. The travel agents tells me not to worry, I'm all taken care of because American has "protected me" on a flight out tomorrow morning. This flight will get me in just in time to catch my flight back to DFW, but too late to make the event. I tell him, Thanks but that won't work. I ask him to cancel my hotel and to credit my account for the canceled flight.
This is the good part. He tells me, "Sir since you have not started your flight we can not credit your account." I respond feeling the a pain in my right eye from the stick I am shoving into it, "I'm not changing my flight. American has canceled my flight I'd be happy to fly tonight but they don't have a plane." He tells me, "I understands completely." but, of course doesn't understand or he doesn't care. We argue about it for 15 minutes and then he puts me on hold for another 10 minutes only to come back and tell me that, he is now on hold with American. Fifteen minutes later he comes back to me sounding really happy and tells me, "Mr. Hartman (It is always a bad sign when they call me Mr. Hartman) we have it all worked out. American will give you a full refund on your ticket." I thank him and I'm just about to hang up when he offhandedly says, "Mr. Hartman, all you need to do now is go on-line and book your flight to San Jose."
I tell him, "No don't cancel the San Jose flight." He tells me that he has to cancel everything but not to worry I will get a full refund. I ask him to look up how much a flight to San Jose will cost if I book it right now, two days before the trip. I already know the answer. It will cost a lot, but even I'm surprised when he comes back with sixteen hundred dollars. I black out for a second from the pain then tell him again, "Don't cancel the fight. I know you can't help me and it won't do either of us any good for me to continue to yell at you. Leave the flight as is, with me flying out tomorrow and I'll call and yell at American.
I call the American Airlines Platinum desk since I figure they will be happy to help me. They tell me the same thing. They have me on a flight out tomorrow that will get me into Orange County just in time to catch the flight back to DFW or they can give me a full refund of $731.16. I can then book a new flight to San Jose for $1,600 dollars. No matter how many times I explained that I am not trying to change my flights. I just don't want to lose the flight that I booked a month ago. She would listen politely and say, "Mr. Hartman, we can not let you use that ticket, that ticket was a 14 day advanced ticket and you are trying to change your flight now. I keep saying, "You canceled my flight." She would say, "Mr. Hartman that was weather related we can not be held responsible for cancellation due to weather. I respond, "I'm not holding you responsible I just want to keep my ticket and not be charged an extra thousand dollars because you canceled my flight." "Mr Hartman I explained that was weather related." It was like the Abott and Costello Baseball skit except not funny. "Who's on First?" "That's right Who's on First." "Who?" "Correct Who." I went on and on trying to get my meaningless point across and then she pulled the old trick of pausing. It was a painfully long pause one I am sure was meant for me to negotiate with myself and accept that I would have to pay them $1,600.00 I have been through too many sales trainings to fall for that one so we both endured 10 minutes of silence. I was getting pretty nervous because the other trick is hang up on the person and if by some miracle if they call back and get connected to the same operator, the person can always say, "I'm sorry I thought we were disconnected." She blinked first and said, "Let me talk to my supervisor." Five minutes pass then she comes back on and says, "We are going to make an exception and exchange you current ticket. So you now have a flight out of Orange County to Dallas/ Fort Worth, Dallas/Fort Worth to San Jose and San Jose back to Dallas / Fort Worth. I thank her and then I say, "Wait a minute is sounds like you have an extra leg in there." I am in Dallas I don't need a flight out of Orange County. She sighs in exasperation and says, "Let me talk to my supervisor." She comes back and angrily says, "Mr. Hartman, You have a flight out of Dallas to San Jose on the 13th of September with a return to Dallas on the 14th of September. Thank you for choosing American. Goodbye."
I'm not sure if I am more annoyed because they didn't want to refund me for the flight they canceled or that they wanted to make an additional thousand dollars off me because they canceled my flight. I did have the privilege of getting to drive to the airport spend six hours waiting for the flight that they canceled then got to spend at least an hour on the phone in voice mail hell, with my travel agent and with the American Airlines Platinum desk. I'm sure they felt that the entertainment value of that experience was worth at least $1000.
I have tried and tried to make this as funny as possible but I'm sure it isn't. I will still post it because it is the only way I know how to complain. I am also pleased that no matter how low on the list I am when people "Google" American Airlines and American We know why you fly this article will show up. I"m also pleased that you enjoyed this train wreck enough to read it this far.
American, We know why you fly.
Disclaimer: "American Airlines" and the slogan "We know why you fly." are trademarks of the AMR corporation and are used in this article as satire. The Author would be happy to remove them for $731.16 or if it must be removed in the next two days for sixteen hundred dollars.
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