I had an uneventful flight to San Juan, and actually was impressed by
the professionalism of the staff in first class. I had an excellent time in San Juan, and came to the airport on January 2 expecting an uneventful flight to Buffalo; skies were good, no major storms, and we were all pleasantly relaxed and happy from our wonderful vacation. I arrived at the airport at 3:30 for my 5:30 pm flight home. Loading was timely, the plane was pushed back, and the pilot informed us there was a problem with the starter. One hour later we were told we were getting off the plane, were to collect our luggage, and return to the ticket counter for rebooking. At 6:43pm I contacted our AAA sponsored tour (Fun jet Vacations: their motto: Do Something You’ll Never Forget) 24 Traveler Assistance Center, and was told there was nothing they could do, that the tickets were in the hands of US Airways, and they would take good care of us. The luggage did not arrive for 45 minutes and no one was there to show us the way back to the check in counter; several doors were locked, and having never been in this airport we felt like mice in a maze. On arrival to the second floor a very long line greeted us, with only 2 and sometimes 3 agents, to REBOOK a 767 with OVER 200 PASSENGERS. Two hours later we reached the ticket agent. She informed us that we were being rebooked for a US Airways flight leaving at 6 a.m. January 3. We were instructed to be in the check-in area at 4 a.m. to check our luggage. We were given waivers for the attached hotel. By midnight we were in bed and arose at 3:30 a.m. I was in line by 4:30 a.m. with my wife and children. Again a very long line greeted us. NO AGENTS were present until after 5:00 am, nor was security open until after 5:30 AM. At 5:30am 2 agents were working, by 6:00 am 3 agents; one announced that a crewmember was sick and we would not depart until 10:00 am. WE WERE NOT CHECKED IN UNTIL 8:00 am.
We loaded on time after the pilot arrived around 9:30 or so; at 10:15 the pilot announced that there was paper work to be completed, and that it should have been started earlier, and that he did not know why it had not been started earlier, and then 10:30 he announced that he was not sure the work was adequate, and that the problem required further investigation. At 11:00 am he announced that the work was inadequate, not to his liking and WE WOULD HAVE TO DEPLANE AGAIN, AND THAT SALTY LANGUAGE, SWEARING, ARGUING, FIGHTING WAS NOT ALLOWED, and that the plane would not leave until 5:00 pm at the earliest ARMED SECURITY GUARDS WERE AT THE EXIT AND RAMP WHEN WE DEPLANED. Treated like criminals, we deplaned, were instructed to stand in another line, where ONE AGENT WAS HANDING OUT VOUCHERS, AND ONE AGENT WAS REBOOKING PASSENGERS. Another line, more back pain, more aggravation, more questions than answers; no one could tell us anything. At 11:17am I started calling US airways to try and get information, and international switched me to domestic, and back and forth TWICE before my wife took over and demanded a supervisor. Between 11:17am and 10:30 pm I would spend 1hour, 20 minutes on my cell phone with US Airways.
After 2 hours in line, the booking agent told us to go to the main ticket counter, where GUESS WHAT? Only one agent and sometimes (every 15 minutes) another agent showed up for 5 minutes to help. Many of us, concerned that the flight might leave early without us, especially some of us who had left our families in the gate area came back through security having only our boarding passes and returned to the gate agent, and stood in line again. A total of 4 hours standing in line before I finally spoke to an agent. By this time my wife had been able to book connections in Charlotte leaving 10:00 PM assuming we might get to Charlotte in time. I obtained boarding passes for that flight (10:06 pm, Charlotte to Buffalo), and the agent also told me that if we missed that flight we were also confirmed for the 9:25 am flight the following morning Charlotte to Buffalo, but that he “could not print boarding passes for both flights”.
Meanwhile, about 3:00pm the plane was backed up away from the gate; no one knew why, no one could tell us why, no one cared that we wanted to know why. At this time we are told by the domestic or international (I do not remember who finally took responsibility that time for San Juan flights) US Airways agent over the phone that they had no information about our flight and if the flight did not take off, they would be able to book us on a flight to Charlotte on MONDAY. Well, as I had 4 patients scheduled for surgery, and they had booked with me months in advance, and some of them had donated blood for their surgery which would expire in a few days, and since we had planned on leaving Friday to avoid any delay of any kind with my OR schedule or my wife’s office schedule, we said that choice was not acceptable. Your agent agreed that we should go ahead and book with another airline if we could and that US Airways would reimburse us. We called Jet Blue and obtained seats for 4 of us leaving that night (hopefully) at around 10pmAST via Boston to arrive in Buffalo Sunday morning but costing us over $700 each seat (total $3, 066.80); since we were desperate we accepted the cost and booked the flights. About 5 pm a passenger swears he saw the flight take off!!! Around 5:30 pm rumor is (no agents ever announced anything, all information was obtained by passengers talking to people walking in and out of doors coming and going outside around the plane and gate) that the flight will leave as soon as a gate is available. We still have no definite information by which we can make an informed decision regarding cancellation of the Jet Blue flights or not. Other flights leave and gates are open by 6:00 pm; NO PLANE UNTIL 7:30 pm, and we have stood and watched at least 2 other flights leave for Charlotte, while my children ask why it is fair that we sit for 24 hours in the airport and others get to leave before us, such as the 5:30 pm flight to Charlotte…. We are told by the gate agent that our connection in Charlotte is delayed at least 45 minutes, and that we should make it since we will leave San Juan around 8pm Atlantic time, and all should be well
We board around 7:30 pm, and call to cancel our Jet Blue flight but as we are outside the 1 hour cancellation time we are stuck with over $2000 worth of Jet Blue tickets for which I have no use this year. Yet we feel safe since the gate agents assured us that we should easily make our connection Saturday night, and worse scenario have a flight out in the AM to Buffalo. We board, take off and sigh relief, winging our way happily to Charlotte. We are tired (exhausted physically and mentally), filthy (still wearing the same clothes we wore to the airport Friday, since this was the end of our vacation and had only enough clean/semi clean clothes to wear on our flight home), and ready to run to our connection gate. The stewardesses announce before landing that an agent with information will greet the flight at the gate, and will guide everyone to their connection. Hallelujah, we are almost back in the USA where all will be good.
We get off the flight (we had been seated in the 4th row, and were therefore some of the first off), AND THERE IS THE AGENT BEHIND THE DESK WITH HER MONITOR TURNED OFF, NO INFORMATION, AND HAVING NO IDEA WHAT ANY OF US ARE TALKING ABOUT WHEN WE ASK FOR CONNECTION INFORMATION. Screwed again by more lies, we foolishly ask her to check the flight while my son (runs a 5:10 mile) takes off sprinting to the gate listed on the large monitors. The agent at the arriving flight gate now has the monitor on, tells us that the Buffalo flight “ is still loading”, and all will be fine, and said there was no need to call the gate. I take off at a run (I can only make a 6:00 mile these days with a 25 pound back pack)) as does my daughter (a 6:20 mile), and as we show up at the gate MY SON TELLS ME THE FLIGHT HAS LEFT. OH SHI….
Now the real FUN begins, when the agents at the gate tell me the flight left 10 minutes ago. Needless to say, I am not happy. There are two agents, and they now inform us that the 9:25 am flight to Buffalo is booked, and that the San Juan agent booked us on that flight, FOR MONDAY. God, can this possibly get anyyyyyyy worse?????I am a surgeon, and had a full day of cases booked for Monday, and my wife had office hours booked for Monday, and my children had school on Monday, and I could DRIVE to Buffalo before that. So they tried to book us flights to elsewhere. NEITHER one of them had ANY idea what other airports were anywhere NEAR Buffalo, nor had any idea how to route us there through another city. MY WIFE gets on the phone to your domestic booking office (this time they did not try to switch us to international since they agreed that Charlotte was part of the US domestic territory), and she insists on speaking to a supervisor again, who suggested routing us through Philadelphia, and was able to secure seats for the next morning. Now the wonderful gate agents had split up the names and could not figure out how to get the boarding passes printed (my wife has a different last name). Now I have had enough, and all but call one of the agents incompetent, and he tosses my old 10 pm boarding passes back at me and tells me he is going to call security. HE SCREWS UP and I get threatened. I tell my son to get my camera and take photos for the paper, and the agent calls his manager instead. Jerry (Gerry?) the night manager shows up, AND HE KNOWS NOTHING ABOUT THE FLIGHT FROM HELL OR THE PEOPLE TRYING TO MAKE CONNECTIONS. Why was there no communication from San Juan to the manager of the Charlotte section, to assist in booking, holding flights (oh yes, not the company policy, those passengers were clean, we were filthy and stinky and there were over 200 of us from a 767 delayed for more that 24 hours out of San Juan)? He is no help, does nothing and leaves after telling the agent to process our hotel waivers and give us the boarding passes.
So we leave, go to pick up our luggage…..AND SURPRISE, IT IS NO WHERE TO BE FOUND…. ANOTHER NIGHT AND DAY TOMORROW IN THE SAME CLOTHES I HAVE WORN SINCE CHANGING INTO THEM FRIDAY AFTERNOON FOR MY FLIGHT HOME. We have no deodorant, no tooth brush, no contact solution or cases for the three of us who wear contacts. We arrive at the Quality inn for the night, have waivers for two rooms (non smoking), obtain brushes and deodorant from the kind desk clerk, and go to sleep again after midnight; the bed in the room for myself and my son has been slept in, there is a ¾ eaten Domino’s pizza on the table (dried up), and cigarette smell in the room, but I couldn’t care less and crawl into bed to sleep, too tired and aggravated and disillusioned to care one bit.
Next morning we are at the airport by 5:45 am, after 4 hours of sleep, and wing our way home. The luggage shows up, and I roll in the door of my house at 3:00 pm, 48 hours after starting my trip at the San Juan Airport.
US Airways does not know the meaning of customer service; practices incompetent management, with lies and deceit rather than service. DO NOT FLY THIS AIRLINE AT ANY PRICE.