One week ago, on Tuesday April 16th, American Airlines' reservations system failed to connect. Unfortunately, that was the same day I was due to return to New York after a few days off visiting family in the Florida Keys. Miami is a major hub for American Airlines and therefore has its own terminal, which turned into a hub of chaos beginning that morning.
Â· Original flight was Miami to JFK 4 PM Tuesday April 16th.
Â· When checking my luggage, attendant used hand-written bag tag due to computer failures.
Â· Flight was cancelled at 4:15 PM.
Â· Waited 45 minutes to reschedule; finally rescheduled to a 9 PM flight to Newark.
Â· 9 PM flight to Newark was cancelled at 8:15 PM.
Â· Next available flight to New York area is Wednesday afternoon. Was able to get a 7:20 AM flight to Boston.
Â· Needed to stay overnight in Miami at the Days Inn. Had to pay my own way as each line to receive vouchers was about 1,000 people long.
Â· Baggage Services only returned international flight luggage; told me all domestic luggage would be forwarded on the new flights.
Wednesday April 17th:
Â· Boarded flight to Boston on Wednesday at 6:45 AM. Pilot informed passengers that due to computer issues, we are delayed. Flight eventually left gate 90 minutes after scheduled departure time.
Â· I arrived in Boston, but my luggage did not. Baggage Services filed a claim and told me I would be contacted when it was located.
Â· No contact made so I contacted American that evening. Finally spoke with a rep at 10 PM who informed me American would be going through lots of missing luggage at JFK that evening and would be forwarding everything on first thing the next morning. Again told I would be contacted as soon as there were any developments.
Â· Checked American online baggage locater system, which told me my luggage was forwarded to Boston, but no details on time. Called American but didn't get through until 12:30 PM. Rep called Logan and confirmed my luggage had arrived in Boston at 9:30 AM but had not been sent out for delivery even though they had my local address.
Â· Luggage was sent out for delivery at 1 PM.
Â· Still no word re: luggage so I contacted American at 4 PM. Rep informed me that American outsources luggage delivery to a company with no contact phone numbers and delivery can take up to 6 hours. This was the first I had heard of this possible amount of time.
Â· Finally received a call from delivery company at 6:30 PM saying they were on the way. My luggage was delivered at 7:30 PM, outside the 6 hour window.
Â· Upon fully unpacking my bag, discovered that my office's credit card machine was missing, valued at about $350. Because of all the confusion re: the timing of delivering my bag, I missed the 24 hour window of reporting a missing item and am now unlikely to receive reimbursement.
While my experience might have been magnified with personal emotion and stress due to the horrific bombings in my home city and a loss in my family, this was truly an awful one. We, of course, cannot expect airlines to run 100% smoothly 100% of the time. We must always make room for human and technical error. On the other hand, American seemed completely unprepared for this situation. Having employees on completely different wavelengths in regards to rebooking, vouchers, flight cancellations and delays, luggage, etc. is unacceptable.
I do have to give American props for their customer service representatives in the call center. Everyone I spoke to over the phone was incredibly helpful and nice. Additionally, @AmericanAir was tweeting up a storm with pseudo-updates and responses to concerned passengers. Over the week, I tweeted @AmericanAir 20 times and received responses 16 times. While this customer service technique is laudable, there were technically no improvements made. As I tweeted,
It's safe to say that I will not be willingly flying American Airlines any time in the near future. Maybe executives at American will truly analyze this experience and better prepare for next time. And hopefully give their customers more than a measly 1,500 Frequent Flier Miles as an apology. On a positive note, I was “Tweet Quoted" in the same NBC Travel article as Terrell Owens! Read the article here.
As a bonus, I'm providing you with a video I took at the American Airlines Logan Airport baggage claim. Be sure to turn down your speaker volume firstâ¦