AirTrans Airways / Unwarranted baggage fees
I'm not much of a complainer and don't have an issue paying overweight/oversize fees when they are warranted but my AirTran experience really bothered me. If there's a link to other AirTran baggage complaints I believe the agent I had in Ohio moved from Philadelphia and "helped" me as well.
I flew to Dayton from Baltimore on Dec. 30, 2008 with no issues. Flying home my suitcase suddenly became oversized. Typical Samsonite rolling suitcase. The limit is 61 inches and somehow the bag that has flown for the past 10 years with zero additional fees is oversized. She measured it at 62 inches and it was the fastest measuring I've ever witnessed. It wasn't stuffed to capacity and the opening flap is soft. I was packed for a five day trip and didn't buy stuff to drag home with me. I'm not one of the idiots who shows up with the biggest bags money can buy and proceed to argue. I'm a seasoned traveler and know how to pack well.
Of course no supervisor is readily available and the 45 minutes waiting to check my bag was getting me closer and closer to the time I need to be at the gate. It gets better because someone had an IDENTICAL bag on the conveyor at baggage claim in Baltimore and was on the same flight. When I asked if he paid an oversize fee he responded, "Why would I do that? This bag isn't oversized."
What was AirTrans' response to my call this morning? It had to be taken care of at the departing airport. There is no refund. Imagine the no-customer service rep repeating this over and over. The fee is no longer $29, it's $39. AirTrans just lost an entire extended family over one ticket agent being rude and taking her bad day out on the customers...the people who ultimately pay her. I hope that $39 was worth the thousands we spent on flights during 2008 alone. She showed me paying a little or a lot more on another airline is worth it to get great customer service and no additional fees when the whim strikes.
Hopefully they pool the money from their bogus bag fees to either pay better reps more or get the ones they have some type of training.
Here's a copy of the email I sent earlier:
I returned home on flight 459 from Dayton to Baltimore yesterday and I am not pleased with your airline. The delay of the flight didn't bother me at all. I understand that weather, mechanical issues or things of that nature can and will delay flights. My problem was my baggage.
Since I travel often I am aware of weight and size restrictions. I used the same suitcase to fly to Dayton as well as return but suddenly on the return flight the bag was too large and needed an additional 39.00 fee to be sent as oversized luggage. I didn't think the representative was speaking to me initially but with the person at the next scale. My suitcase is a standard Samsonite suitcase bought from a department store years ago and it weighed under the 50 lb. limit.
This suitcase has traveled around the world but my confusion set in because it did not exceed the weight limit, was not packed so it was bulky (it was a 5 day trip) and I had just flown on Airtran with the same bag a few days prior with no issue. Perhaps if it were a new suitcase that I had never used to fly but that isn't the case.
I asked that it be measured again and again as well as showing me what she was talking about. I told her I just flew to Dayton on Airtran with the same bag the previous Tuesday. The bag had gone on Delta, Southwest and even the commuter flights that are pretty small and had never been sacked with an additional $39 fee for it's size.
Since a supervisor wasn't immediately available and I was quickly eating into the hour I spend at the gate before a flight I had to let the bag go with it's newly accessed over-size label.
After calling your 800 number I learned my only other option was to wait in the ticketing line again, request a supervisor at the counter, have my bag removed from wherever it heads off to and let them remeasure. I may have failed to add that while this was going on the agent's fellow employees were trying to get her to either go on break or leave for the day by telling her they'd take over and she was supposed to have left 10 minutes ago, then 15 minutes ago, then 20 minutes ago. One even watched her measure and said it's fine but my agent felt otherwise. If I were a rude, loud, vulgar customer I'd accept that my mouth earned that $39 fee. I got ripped off. Your agent knew my option to miss my flight after waiting at least 45 minutes to check a bag even though I had my boarding pass and had paid the luggage fee online was not a chance people would take.
Since this issue couldn't be resolved at Dayton and the $39 fee I was slapped with by your agent who shouldn't have been working but seemed to have fun playing her game, here I am. I want my $39 returned. I don't fly with overweight bags, I don't have some type of special luggage that exceeds size limits, I don't arrive at the airport and blame the agent for the line, I don't get upset because a flight is delayed. Perhaps more supervisors are needed in Dayton or retraining/reassignment for the woman who "helped" me.
I was almost to the point of letting this go until my luggage came out at the baggage claim. Can you imagine what I thought when the bag next to mine on the conveyor was identical? The red scarf tied to mine and the baggage tag easily identified it. Of course I had to ask the gentleman who picked up the bag if he was charged an additional fee for the size of his bag. There was not an additional fee for him to fly from the same airport with the same bag. There also wasn't a fee for the hockey bag that was simply huge. I commented I was glad that wasn't mine because the bag was almost as big as me when I saw it at Dayton.
Maybe I look too nice. Maybe I should have become irate like the other passengers who had issues at the gate. Maybe I shouldn't have been the calm person when dealing with a rude, nasty ticket counter agent.
My extended family and I started using your airline because the flights were less expensive than the ones we usually take. My mother even has the same set of luggage that she received as a gift from me and used the large suitcase when she flew here the week before Thanksgiving as well and the day after Christmas. Her name is XXXXX XXXXX from Dayton to BWI if you need to look it up and she was not charged a fee either.
Legitimate fees don't bother me but a rude ticket counter agent with funny measuring skills bothers me. Her lame excuse that no other airline or Airtran agent did their job for the past 10 years I've flown with the suitcase is garbage. I work too hard to pay illegitimate fees. I fly too often with the same luggage to know when a fee is not accurate. I want my $39 returned to me. The fee was not warranted and your agent took advantage of the lines, lack of a supervisor, the predicament she placed me in and her position. I do not like to be nickel and dimed. I appreciate the quick attention your company is going to use to resolve this matter. The $39 fee can be credited to either credit card that was used or a paper check can be delivered to the address above.
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