Opinion: We were held hostage by an airline for a day and a half

If you’ve ever been held hostage by an airline for a day and a half, I invite you to whine right along with me.

My wife and I recently celebrated our 10-year anniversary with a trip to Key West, Fla. The vacation itself was fabulous.

And then we spent an entire day and night (and half the next day) sitting in three different airports over a 29-hour span enduring one exasperating delay after another, a stretch interrupted only by lousy food, heartburn and, you guessed it, lost luggage.

We dropped off our rental car at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in plenty of time for our 2 p.m. flight home. With one connection, we were expecting to arrive in Sacramento just nine hours later and thus get home well before midnight local time.

Yeah, right.

First, our flight got pushed back to 2:15. Then it was delayed until around 3:30 and eventually until well after 5. There were a few thunderstorms in the area (common for this time of year), but the excuses we were getting from American Airlines ranged from “weather” to “unavailable flight crew” to “sorry, that pilot can’t work any more hours today” to finally — and I’m not kidding — “Our incoming flight had to land in Palm Beach because it was running out of fuel.”

After five delays, I went to the ticket counter and asked if there was a quicker way to Sacramento than the one we’d planned, which was a connecting flight in Charlotte. The guy behind the counter told me to go through Dallas, because “even if we have to bring in another plane, there will be a flight to Dallas tonight.”

Sounded good to me. We re-booked for Dallas, and our flight was set for 7:30 p.m. Before we even made it back to our seats in the terminal, it got delayed to 7:49. Minutes later it got pushed back to 8:09. That continued for hours: Every 45 minutes or so they’d announce another delay, eventually pushing our flight back to around midnight.

I went to plead my case to a different guy. He looked past me with an oddly vacant stare and said, “This is getting worse every day.” (Apparently, it had been a tough week for the ticketing crew at American Airlines.) He did tell me to check with American in Dallas, assuming we ever got there — “They’ll get you a hotel room for the night, and they won’t let me do it here because they’re afraid people who get the rooms won’t actually show up to use them.”

Ten hours after we were supposed to take off, we finally boarded a plane. We arrived in Dallas at 2 a.m. local time. I didn’t see anyone from American Airlines waiting around with a hotel voucher, so we decided to make a night of it right there in the airport.

As it turned out, our adventure was just beginning.

As the sun was coming up, I glanced at my American Airlines app and was only slightly surprised to discover that our luggage was still back in Florida. Not only that, they’d already given our four suitcases (and my guitar) a ride to North Carolina and back on the connecting flight we were originally going to take.

In other words, our luggage had already spent more time on an airplane than we had despite 18 consecutive hours of earnest attempts.

We finally arrived in Sacramento at noon local time, a full 27 hours after we first checked in at Fort Lauderdale. Our luggage — by now, no doubt, a member of the frequent flier club in its own right — arrived a mere two hours after us.

As soon as we got home, I took a shower, changed the clothes I’d been wearing for 37 hours and wrote what I thought was a very powerful letter to American requesting some reasonable compensation for the past couple of days. Seems fair, right?

Two days later, they emailed me an “apology” along with a credit for an upcoming flight worth (drumroll please) 25 bucks!

I could go on. But the rest of our vacation was so fantastic, it really was still worth all of that trouble at the end, which I’m sharing with you only in the interest of camaraderie — because lousy service from king-sized corporations just might be the last thing that still unites us as a country these days.

Mike Wolcott is the editor of the Chico Enterprise-Record. Reach him at mwolcott@chicoer.com.

Article source: https://airlines.einnews.com/article/642341193/QQjuCuLO7mzYoD5X?ref=rss&ecode=vaZAu9rk30b8KC5H

Leave a Reply