It took more time this week to fly from my home in Philadelphia to Sioux Falls, South Dakota than it takes me to go from the East Coast to China, including some of the rudest and unhelpful airline personnel on American Airlines I’ve ever met.
As I arrived at the airport last Thursday, I got a text that my flight was canceled. Okay, that happens, but the odyssey that followed should not.
American Airlines had one option for me for the rest of the day: Standby! I tried to get on three flights to Chicago without success. At one point, I went to the customer service counter to see what, if any, options I had. The grizzled agent had no interest in finding an alternative route. His disinterest in helping was apparent, and he sniffed that I’d just have to wait it out.
I finally retired to a hotel near the Philadelphia airport without any compensation from the airlines because the agents claimed it was “due to weather” somewhere. Informatively,
America has had a huge increase in cancellations in Philadelphia because of union battles with mechanics and its dependence on the 737 Max, which is out of service because of two crashes.
The next day I was listed on the 5 a.m. flight on standby—nearly 20 hours after I started my jaunt. I finally got on the 6 a.m. flight to Chicago.
But it didn’t end there. I obviously missed my connection from Chicago to Sioux Falls from the previous afternoon and had to go standby again. I managed to grab a seat online that was confirmed, but the gate agent couldn’t cope with moving me from the standby list to the confirmed list. She had me listed as both standby and confirmed. I offered that I would like to cancel the standby listing—a suggestion that took about 10 minutes to rearrange. Finally, I could not get the seat I had confirmed earlier online.
Twenty-eight hours after I started I arrived at my final destination—a trip scheduled for seven hours door to door.
You might suggest that I try another carrier. The only option for the Philadelphia-Sioux Falls flight is Delta, another carrier I have found significantly lacking in the past. I swore off of Delta after a ticket agent threatened to have me arrested a few years ago when I raised my voice after minutes of frustration and asked for her name and identification number.
When I have flown on Chinese airlines to international and domestic locations, I get the treated like I used to on American carriers. The agents and flight personnel are usually courteous, helpful, and helpful. I actually feel like a customer who is paying a fair amount of money for a service.
I’m waiting to see if I actually get a response from the survey I filled out about this disaster. Whatever the case, American and other U.S. carriers could learn a lot from their Chinese counterparts!