Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Anti-American

I wrote the post below while in the middle of a rant a month ago. I decided not to post it and instead use my free ticket on American Airlines one last time before refusing to ever fly with them again.

Stupid girl.

Today's flight went so well, I almost forgot how much they suck. (Forgive the language but I actually sat here for ten minutes trying to come up with a more sophisticated word for it... and I just kept coming back to suck.) All went well on our five hour adventure, Lucy was a gem, the flight attendants were sweet and helpful. Then we landed.

Is it too much to ask that both pieces of luggage arrive with us on the same flight? I wait at baggage claim and watch everyone collect their suitcases, duffle bags and those mysterious boxes -- who flies with a box as luggage anyway? As you can probably assume by now, the bag with all of my and Lucy's clothes and toiletries never shows up.

I'm directed to the woman with the scowl standing behind the counter.

"Claim ticket," she so pleasantly requests.

That's all she says. Sheesh, I didn't lose her luggage. Why is she so pissy with me?

I lean down to go through the Bermuda Triangle that is my purse to search for the ticket that I never thought I would need again. When I popped back up with it in hand, she was gone. What the...?

Another woman with an equally beautiful scowl approaches the counter. I hand her the ticket and inquire about my lost luggage. She tap, tap, taps away at the keyboard and says "Oh yeah, that will be arriving at 11:30 tonight. We'll deliver it." She looks at me smugly like I now should have no grievance and need to be getting on with my day.

"11:30? Seriously? It's 3:30 now. I have nothing for my daughter."

I have to admit, that's not entirely true. Being a somewhat seasoned traveler, I did have a change of clothes, snacks, things to keep her busy and some diapers for when she's sleeping (Yes, she's decided she's totally potty trained and I think also sent in her college applications.I can't keep up.) But I certainly didn't pull aside enough to get her ready for bed and maybe a change of clothes for me.

I can feel myself starting to get frustrated and said, "well you'll at least give me my $15 that I paid to check baggage, right?"

Wrong.

The woman was so rude to me. And then her condescending pal from the back came out and started playing with Lucy -- like full on peekaboo! I whispered to Lucy not to give in to the enemy even if she was calling her smart and pretty and explained to her miserable co-worker that I was traveling with a child and don't understand how they can be so dismissive of the situation.

Nasty woman #2 ignores the words coming out of my mouth and starts asking questions.

When's the last time you saw your bag?
Uh, when I gave it to the guy at the airport along with a fat tip.
What does the bag look like?
It's wearing denim shorts and a red stripe shirt... seriously, it's a green suit case. It has my NAME on it.
What was in the bag?
You mean other than my rifle? CLOTHES... JEANS... BABY STUFF... HAIR DRYER... I can hear my voice escalating and at this point, I didn't even care.

I finally counted my losses and strapped Lucy's car seat on my back, a carryon bag and my purse -- which was starting to look like the pocket book version of a clown car it was so full -- on my shoulder. I put Lucy back in her stroller and I head for the rental car shuttle. The woman at Hertz was lovely and helpful and if I hadn't completely wiped out on the street while walking to the rental car and scraped up my hand while flipping my daughter upside down in her stroller (all true), I would've considered that portion of the program to be a success.

So here we are now at 11:35 pm east coast time and I'm in the clothes I put on this morning at 4am, my teeth feel like they have sweaters on them and my makeup is trying to escape my face through my pores. And guess what, I still hate American Airlines.

My unpublished post from 2/15/09: On occasion, I have used this blog to get on my soap box (remember this one? oh yeah, and this too?). This is one of those times. Consider yourselves warned.

When I was single, American Airlines was my absolute choice to fly. As often as I flew LA to Boston, I put in enough miles every year to get me some single-girl free trips. When Jeff and I got together, we flew AA even more -- from our wedding in Gloucester to our honeymoon in Maui.

Our love of all things American began to fade exactly two years ago. When I got a call my dad was in the hospital, I immediately got on a plane with a not-yet three-year-old Jacob, and a non-walking 17-month-old Brady. When it was time to board the plane, I asked where families with small children were to line up. I just assumed they did what every other airline did by boarding those who needed extra time first.

This is the response I got:

"Ma'am, look around you. Everyone has a family. If we let all of you with kids board first, there would be noone else."

Tears began to fill my eyes. Traveling with my two little ones under the circumstances was tough enough. But to have someone act so condescending during a difficult time was enough for me.

But that's not why I'm ticked off.

We did fly American after that -- as well as other airlines. And every time we found ourselves on American, there was something else. Charges for bags, rude service, no more meals (without warning) -- that was a fun one.

What's really getting to me is this. As you know, Lucy hasn't met my east coast family yet. Something that hurts my heart every single day. Now that Lucy's been home awhile, the holidays are over and we're trying to get things back in order, we're trying to make it happen. Jeff's working 7-days a week until March and I'm doing my best to contribute in order to get things moving east.

To help us make it happen, we thought we'd do one more try with American and use the miles remaining in our accounts. I have 25,000 (free ticket!), Jeff has 23k and Jacob has 17k. I wanted to combine Jeff and Jacob's miles to make another free ticket, only costing three tickets to fly all five of us. When I called American to ask if we can combine miles -- I was informed that would cost $250. And then I'm given the news that Jeff and Jacob's miles expired last month and are no longer available.

Isn't there anything we can do? We would like to fly in the next four weeks.

The lovely representative on the phone gave us the option of wait three months, during which we could participate in their AA "engagement challenge" through email or spend $250 per person to reinstate the miles. Oh or I could open a credit card and get them back -- POOF. Oh, that's all, open a credit card? And pay 29% interest and a huge yearly fee? Yeah, sign me up! (FYI, AA, that's the same card we canceled a few months ago due to your fabulous fees and customer service.)

Miss Representative was so sorry to inform me there was nothing else she could do. But why wouldn't I spend the $250 per person to reinstate?

Uh, maybe because that's what it would cost on Jet Blue for a round trip ticket. AND, I could fill my kids with that nasty, child-corrupting television for FREE. 

Thanks but no thanks, AA.

8 comments:

Monica said...

yay for going AA on Friday :-\

Expecting Good Things said...

Oh Jackie!! I'm sorry. :( I sat here for the last 10 minutes reading your post with my mouth open in disbelief! I hope your trip goes better. Did you ever get your bags??
Holli

The Family K. said...

Uh oh... you've got me scared. I just looked at my account the other day and it looked like only 20,000 of my 200,000+ AA miles I've accrued are usable. Please don't let this mean I've lost the other 180,000.

Your trip can only get better from here...

momwithfaithandhope said...

Oh Jackie. . .I'm so sorry to hear about the luggage, the fall, and the nasty service people! I was beginning to think in this recession, service overall, was improving significantly. Apparently AA is excluded. . .enjoy the rest of your trip!!

Jen and Jeff said...

Flying is so crazy these days. I find US Air to be equally over-priced (for luggage), rude, and annoying. South West seems to be the only one that still offers free beverages and snacks and has nice people working for them. Too bad they don't go everywhere!

Julie T said...

OMG you poor thing. I also flew American in November on a "free" ticket (didn't feel so free in the end) and will NEVER FLY THEM AGAIN. I was delayed 3 hours coming and going, had to pay $80 to check my luggage, and had an all-around miserable experience. Hope you have your bags now. Love ya.

Tami and Bobby Sisemore Family said...

oh my goodness! I am so sorry Jackie! You are makin me nervous. I was actually lookin at flight prices cuz I was told they have gone down and I was contemplating visiting an adoption friend soon. WOW! American is the only us airline I have flown, I had no idea there was different! I hated it at the time. humm

enjoy your time with your family sharing your sweetie :) and the FIRST of your GIRLS ROAD TRIPS! lol except its air trip!

hugs
Tami
Noah's mama
www.tillGodbringsthemhome.blogspot.com

Allyson said...

Let me just tell you Northwest is NOT doing much better with me right now. I feel your airline hating pain.