I recently changed positions with my company that requires me to now travel across country instead of within the Western US. I have always been a loyal Southwest customer, however with my changing needs, decided to fly with American Airlines. I now know that was a mistake.
My trip began with American Airlines (AA) in Omaha, Nebraska, Tuesday December 8 headed to Chicago. This was an American Eagle flight. My travel partner and I changed our flight to an earlier flight due to the coming snow storm. After a relatively smooth boarding process in Omaha, we began to push back from the gate and stopped….we were told that because of we sat at the gate for so long, and because of some changes in contingency plans, we did not have enough fuel. We returned back to the gate and put additional fuel in the plane and then pushed back from the gate and to the de-icing staging area. A de-icing truck arrived, and promptly broke down while beginning the de-icing process. It took a mechanic over 2 hours to get the truck moving again (it appeared to be an issue with the brakes). Meanwhile, airplane after airplane was being de-iced and released for takeoff. Once the truck was repaired, we were de-iced and took off. These delays caused us to take sit on the aircraft for an additional 3 hours. Why was there not another de-icing truck sent to complete the job? Why wasn’t your de-icing equipment better maintained with the coming winter? Poor maintenance and poor contingency planning caused this flight to be significantly delayed, causing us to miss our connection in Chicago…which is another paragraph filled with issues.
Once arriving in Chicago, we were scheduled to leave Chicago headed to Rochester, Minnesota departing at 5:40 pm on another American Eagle flight (Flight 4049). We boarded the plane and sat at the gate. Again, the first de-icing plane that arrived broke down and was unable to de-ice the aircraft. We waited approximately 1 hour for a second de-icing truck to arrive. We were successfully de-iced and ready to depart; however, the AA gate attendant had not pulled the gate back far enough for our plane to successfully leave the gate. We waited for an additional hour, yes, an hour, whey someone was located to simply move the gate back about another 10 feet…..we then left the gate and headed toward the runway…when we arrived at the runway, our captain pulled over to the side, and came on the intercom after sitting there 15 minutes and announced that because of all of the delays (incompetence), we now did not have enough fuel to go to our destination. He told us we had to return to the gate to refuel, and de-ice again! We returned to the gate and refueled. The captain then told us we were still on to go to Rochester, but had to de-ice again first. The de-icing process was started and then stopped. The captain came on the intercom and announced the flight was cancelled. However, the issues and incompetence did not end there.
The flight attendant on the flight was extremely rude. He stomped around the aircraft, slamming doors and being very abrasive and belligerent to passengers. One passenger wanted to know if he could get off the plane when we came back to the gate to refuel and de-ice again to get something to eat. Instead of simply answering the man, he came on the intercom and told all of us, “If you get off this plane, you are not getting back on. I am not standing in your way, you do what you want” And that is a direct quote. He angered many of the passengers….Once the flight was cancelled, we were told that the agent at gate 19 would assist us in rebooking our flights, that we should make sure to stop at the gate for assistance. All of us left the aircraft and formed a line at gate 19, where a flight to Columbus OH was about to board. The gate agent was unreasonable, rude, and confrontational. She told us to “Get out of the way, I am not going to help you. I have another flight to board. You will have to go somewhere else” Passengers were confused and did not know what to do. Instead of politely giving instructions, she barked out that she wasn’t going to help us and to get out of the way. I asked for her name, and she told me “I’m not telling you my name, ask someone else” and then began talking loudly into the intercom at the gate so that I could no longer talk with her…..unacceptable, totally unacceptable behavior.
So, after sitting on a small commuter plane for almost 4 hours, watching one incompetent action after another, while enduring a rude, obnoxious flight attendant….we were again abused at the gate by an agent that was supposed to assist us.
I have been traveling for over 15 years and I have never seen such incompetence nor endured such rude, obnoxious, irresponsible customer service. I have been a happy Southwest customer for many years. American Airlines has certainly left its negative mark on not only me as a customer, but everyone on that flight. This was the worst customer service experience I have ever had. I understand bad weather, delays, even cancellations…but when you have a company whose total business model is based on good customer service, proper maintenance of its equipment, and providing a service….you better make great improvements to survive. American Airlines is not an airline that I nor my coworkers will fly again in the future.