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My Experience Flying with American Airlines… A letter.

Dear Sir or Madame at American Airlines,

 

I am a San Diegan… and as a San Diegan I tend to be a very calm and chill kind of person; I swim at the beach and I live in a place with pretty much perfect weather, I don’t have much to complain about so I don’t. I don’t return food prepared incorrectly, I tip big even when the service isn’t great, I rarely write even a mediocre Yelp! review. I believe that people are all just that, people… and as people we are all equally prone to making mistakes or having a bad day, so generally I brush it off and move forward.

 

On Sunday, June 8th, I was scheduled to board flight #1005 through your airline. We were due to leave out of the Dallas/Fort Worth airport at 10:30pm and that we would arrive in San Diego at 11:30pm, my brother and I were coming from our connecting flight and arrived an hour before take off seeing that our flight was delayed by 15 mins or so. We were kind of relieved because that meant we could at least grab a cup of coffee to wake us up a little as we were exhausted from working all weekend in Indiana.

 

We grabbed our java and returned to the terminal to see that our flight was again delayed an hour due “plane maintenance issues.”  The counter person came over the intercom and began to explain to us that our plane was experiencing technical difficulties and we were waiting for the appropriate authorities to sign off on its ability to take us safely to San Diego. I was anxious to get home to my young daughter who has just had cleft lip and palate surgery and my poor husband who had to take care of her all by himself over the weekend, but I was also enjoying my coffee and cool with taking the necessary steps needed to keep the plane in the air.

 

We sipped our coffee and made fun of how people shuffle to the boarding line slowly when they begin calling group numbers, we batted away soccer balls being kicked back and forth between a few of the 30 or so children under 12 on our flight and took cell phone photos of the plane wing to post to Facebook with the caption “on our way home!” Then we looked up and saw the flight was again being delayed… this was promptly accompanied by another message over the P.A.

 

The counter person explained that the plane was indeed not functional enough to make it safely back to San Diego and that they were going to switch us over to another plane that was parked in terminal A11. So we wrestled up our things and followed the slowly moving group of passengers over to terminal A11…

 

The terminal was being worked on and therefore did not have any sort of circulated air running through it, and after adding about 100 bodies to the small space it began to take on a similar climate to the humidly hot one outside. Right away people began to remove sweaters and wipe their brows as we all crowded into the tiny terminal with only half as many seats as there were passengers…. but we all noticed a plane parked in the terminal and so we calmly sat and waited.

 

After we had been waiting for about a half hour, and the departure screen said we were suppose to be boarding the counter person came back on the P.A. and apologetically told us that they had a working plane but the captain that was suppose to be flying it was over his hours and would not legally be allowed to fly the plane, so we needed to begin waiting for a new pilot. The time on the clock then shifted back one hour… and the heat began to rise.

 

The 30 or so young boys traveling with their parents back home after their soccer tournament began to shift and ask when we were going to go home, they were tired… their parents getting nervous about what time they would get home because they had school in the morning. My brother looking at his phone with dread because he also had work in the morning and because he is a private contractor, wouldn’t have the option of canceling without the possibility of loosing the job. All of us getting tired, restless and overheated…

 

When the counter person came on the P.A. to tell us they would begin boarding we cheered with joy! After an hour of crowding in that overwhelmingly hot terminal we were ready to get moving… we hustled onto the plane and began the pre-flight procedures when the passenger sitting next to my brother and I stated, “I think they are taking our luggage off.” My brother quickly leapt to the window and confirmed that the baggage handlers were indeed taking our luggage off the plane… and then the flight attendant came over the P.A. and explained that our new captain had arrived but he was also not allowed to fly due to legal issues and we would be exiting the plane, our flight was cancelled.

 

As though it were timed in a movie, the engines were cut and the plane was turned off as soon as she said, “cancelled.” We were told to wait and then we would exit the plane where we would be met with vouchers for hotel rooms and breakfast and then there was silence. The kids began asking their parents what was happening and other passengers were yelling, some of us just kept repeating “this has to be a joke?!” but we all sat there as the plane grew hotter and we began to sweat and get mad.

 

We started to jump on social media and tweet about our horrible experience with American Airlines and suddenly, there you were with a “how can we help you?” and the panic eased a little, maybe someone would do something to right this wrong… but all we got was something about weather being the culprit. We all began to look at each other in disgust and confusion, “weather?! But they already told us it was maintenance and overworked pilots?!!!” And it became immediately apparent that American Airlines was trying to give a response that was a somewhat valid excuse and had nothing to do with them… but it was too late, we already knew what was going on and we began to writhe with frustration and anger.

 

When we finally exited the plane back into the hot terminal, we were met with an airport ghost town… what was once bustling with passengers and workers was now nothing but  3 counter people trying desperately to calm everyone and hand out these vouchers.The line was horrendous and it was already 1 am. We hadn’t eaten in a long long time so I sent my brother to see if anything was open and I stood in line for our hotel voucher…. we were told that our flight would be rescheduled for 8am and that meant we would have to be back at the airport by 6am in order to do yet another round in the TSA line. So hopefully we could get into that hotel room before 2 am and get at least a few hours sleep before the flight.

 

So we stood there, and we waited… and we waited…… and we waited. And by the time we got into our hotel room, it was almost 3 am. I was sticky and stinky from sitting in the hot terminal and plane for so long I debated taking a shower but I just couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer and I passed out. As I fell into a deep sleep I nervously thought about getting home in time for my husband to go to work and for me to take care of the baby on 3 hours sleep in the past 30 hours.

 

We woke up on time and made our way back to the terminal which was repaired and cooled this time. The flight time on the terminal screen still said 8am and that was great because it meant I could be home before my husband had to go to work and could maybe get a nap in. We got breakfast with our vouchers and tucked in for the few minutes we had to wait before boarding. 8am came and 8 am went…. at a little after 8am the counter person came onto the P.A. to explain to us that American Airlines had failed to call a new crew for our flight, and that we were now waiting for a pilot to arrive from some place about an hour down the road. And like magic the departure time changed to 9am.

 

We eventually got onto the plane at around 9:15am and arrived in San Diego sometime around 10:30 am, a mere 12 hours after we were suppose to. And now here’s my rant because even though I am normally a chill and calm person, this experience was more than inconvenience it was total injustice and disgusting.

 

How dare a company that calls itself “American” treat its customers in such a manner! Especially children! And once we all began to tell you of your negligence your corporation came back with unsympathetic and automatic responses that took the stance that “it’s not our problem.” But it IS your problem, and you need to take responsibility for it. Your treatment of the 100 or so passengers on flight #1005 was absolutely revolting! And your responses to our frustration and anger were equally vile. You run and maintain one of the country’s most successful airline companies and you treated us as though you’re better off without our business anyway… or better yet, like we didn’t have any other option so deal with it.

 

I am personally exhausted by the way your airline treats its customers… time after time, again and again I hear how awful American Airlines is to their customers and their crew, if fact as I was waiting in that hot terminal for my eventual flight home one of your very own flight attendants told me that you are also pretty terrible to your employees as well.

 

At what point do we revolt? And at what point do you begin to care? How much money is enough to get your company to listen to it’s customers. My plane ticket cost $400, why does that buy me nothing but a seat that’s way too small, heat exhaustion, a rude crew, overworked pilots and broken planes? A reward I get after being violated by the T.S.A. When do we say it’s enough?! I’ll tell you when, when you jerk me around for 12 hours like you did on Sunday and Monday and expect me to mail you a letter about it.

So here I am, mailing you your letter…. a letter I will also be mailing a lot of places and posting a lot of places for a very long time until a receive some sort of compensation for your gross negligence. I spent 7 hours in a terminal hotter then Phoenix in July, an hour in your hot plane with 30 boys under 12 and their exhausted parents, an hour in line at a hotel, 4 hours in a reasonably comfortable room you probably didn’t have to pay for, 4 more hours at the terminal and 3 more hours in a hot plane with 30 exhausted boys under 12 and their comatose parents. I’m more then a mad customer, I am a deeply frustrated citizen of America and any company bearing the name “American Airlines” can’t be as awful and disgusting as this one has become.

 

A part of me hopes that I will send this to you, you will read it and agree that my frustration is justified and you will do the right thing by refunding my money… but I know that I will receive some form letter containing an insincere apology and another excuse about the weather, maybe a reminder that at least I got a hotel room (even though I know American Airlines and Marriott are partners). The best way to do business is to listen to your customers and right what has been done wrong. Your assumed power has corrupted you and has caused me to suffer for the last time. I’m finished being bullied by the airlines… most especially American Airlines.

 

A customer of Virgin America,

 

Kelley Hudson

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