Don't Fly AirTran

Jan 1st, 2005, 09:04 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 1
Don't Fly AirTran

January 1, 2005

Dear Friends and Family,

Over the recent holidays my husband, Jim, and I visited my family in the Atlanta, GA area. When we returned home we were shocked to watch the news and learn that AirTran was boosting about how great they came through the holidays and how on target and together they had things while most every other airline floundered. Do not be fooled. AirTran most certainly did not have everything together. In fact, I'm confident the only reason they remained so "on schedule" was their massive overbooking of flights, causing hundreds of passengers to be stranded. We were two such passengers. Collateral Damage. Here's our story. The airline industry is in jeopardy because of incidents such as ours and, sadly, we are not alone. Please pass this along to anyone who flies. It will be a long time before either Jim or I fly again.

Our trip to visit with my family at Christmas started December 21, 2004; we flew AirTran Airways. We arrived at DFW Airport two hours before our flight. We got our bags checked and boarded fine; we even had time to stop for a bite to eat. The flight went well with no major problems. The return trip, however, was a much different experience. We were scheduled to fly out of ATL back to DFW on Tuesday, December 28, 2004 on flight 108 at 9:20am. We arrived two hours prior to our flight, just like before (this is thirty minutes longer than AirTran suggests on their website). The spectacle as we entered the terminal was just that. The line for AirTran check-in was, literally, wrapped completely around the North Terminal. In looking at the other air carriers only AirTran had such a line. All other carriers were flowing normally. There was no one there to instruct us as to what to do or where to go. The only person there to help was to tell us where the back of the line was. What they failed to tell us was that if your flight was scheduled to leave in the next two hours you needed to proceed directly to the gate. So we waited for over one hour in this line only to finally reach the counter and be told we cannot check-in here and that we must proceed to the gate. We were handed boarding passes, which gave us momentary comfort but, in reality, were phony. So on we go to get through security. Something else the good folks at the AirTran desk failed to tell us: You can't take more than two bags through security, but we were told to take all of our bags directly to the gate for check-in. I suppose I could get impregnated standing in line, have a baby to spawn a third person so I can get all my bags through security. To make a long story short, security was called and after a little hustle and bustle we got through, boarded the tram to our concourse and ran like hell. We arrived at precisely 9:20am, boarding passes in hand. We were shocked to learn the flight had closed ten minutes ago and our tickets given to someone else. But we just checked in, you knew we were here and on our way, how could... what... nothing but rude stares and "I'm sorry ma'am, there's nothing I can do." To make matters much worse there were two young girls also standing at the gate who were stand-bys on this flight. They were allowed to board while I am standing in the cold with my boarding passes in hand. There were two other gentlemen there, also with boarding passes and luggage on the airplane who could not board. I am rudely told that I must proceed to the Information Desk where I stand in line for another thirty minutes. When I got to the desk I had regained my composure and begged for two seats on the next flight to DFW. "I'm sorry ma'am, there's not much I can do." Typical. All flights to DFW have been over-booked; rephrase: ALL flights have been overbooked. I can go on stand-by for the next flight but don't hold my breath as the list is long and, like I mentioned, already oversold. We were confirmed for a flight the next day. We went on stand-by for the next flight. In fact, we went on stand-by four times. We trekked back and forth Concourse C all day long, lugging all the luggage we had from gate to gate in hopes of getting home. We met many fine folks doing exactly the same thing. Some of their stories were much worse than ours. We didn't meet anyone who arrived late at the airport by AirTran's standards. At 8:55pm we heard the sweetest music to our ears, our name. I honestly never heard the mispronunciation of my name sound so wonderful. After fifteen in the airport we were finally headed home. We arrived home, without further delay, exhausted and drained about 11pm that night, a mere twenty hours after our ordeal began. Here's the funny part. We only got on that last flight because another flight was late. What a brilliant scheme to stay on schedule and make everyone happy, except the poor connecting passengers who, no doubt, had to take my "bed" in the airport for the night.

I also want to note another scheme AirTran pulled at every gate we were at. Before boarding began someone would come over the loud speaker and proclaim that the flight was "potentially overbooked." They asked for volunteers to wait and take a later flight in exchange for meal vouchers and one round-trip ticket anywhere they flew. We even heard one flight giving away two round-trip tickets to fly later. We asked how come we could only be confirmed for the next morning when other passengers were told they could fly later that night. The only answer we got was "well those seats are only available to volunteers." In reality, those seats they were offering on later flights didn't exist. That flight was already oversold; they kicker is, the volunteer is already in the airport so they get on that later flight. Someone else, like us, who may arrive a few minutes late (because the line at the terminal is so enormously long) doesn't get to board and is stuck in the airport. It's pretty crafty but leaves hundreds to people stranded.

I typically fly a couple times a year and have never encountered such a poorly managed airline. It was evident from the beginning of our ordeal that the only thing AirTran cared about was having a full flight that left on time. I see why their flights are cheaper; when you overbook every flight by ten or more people it is easy to make a fast buck on poor unsuspecting travelers. What a sham. I will never fly AirSham again. I suggest you do the same and if you fly at all, arrive at the airport six hours before your flight because... you never know.

Please pass this along to anyone you know who has or will fly again. It may save them hours of drudgery and heartache. If you do, good luck will come to you.

Ariane Bradford
Arlington, TX
notoairtran is offline  
Jan 1st, 2005, 11:33 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 394
I fly weekly and this is a reality of travel. Airlines frequently overbook for reasons such as no shows - missed connections, etc. It's unfortunate this caused you undue stress, but this is the nature of flying and I've been in your situation or worse many times over at the hands of different airlines - yet I won't consider any other means of travel. Informing others not to fly AirTran or to arrive at the airport 6 hours early seems slightly extreme to me. Should you fly again, better luck next time.
mjz is offline  
Jan 1st, 2005, 03:19 PM
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 45,322
I haven't had a flight since 1998 that didn't have a problem of one kind or another. Weather problems of course not airlines fault.

Mechanical problems, well we sure want that fixed but why have all the passengers board the plane and than sit there for hours while they "find" the mechanic and fix the plan. We could have been at least sitting or walking around at the gate.

Cancelled flight because not enough passengers, so make them wait 5 hours to get on the next plane departing to their destination.

Oh, the airline that had us all at the gate ready to board when announcement was made we all had to schelp back to the first gate we passed after going through security. We all did so. No info on our flight. Finally, hours later we are told that are plane is being used to fly other passengers to LasVegas. Their plane had mechanical problems. The faulty plane would not be our plane. After of course, they "found" a mechanic, got the parts and repaired the plane.

More stories but cannot remember them at the moment.

This is the real world of flying today.

If I quit flying on every airline that has annoyed me I would soon run out of airlines to use.

And IMHO it will get worse not better.
LoveItaly is offline  
Jan 1st, 2005, 03:22 PM
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 45,322
Hit the post button to soon.

Sentence should read "faulty plane would NOW be our plane".

Guess just thinking about all the irriations and annoyances with flying lately got my hand jumpy
LoveItaly is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2005, 04:17 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 7,114
I agree that this is just part of air travel in this day and age, especially with the airlines suffering. I have had this sort of thing happen with various airlines, even before the airlines began having problems post 9/11, and on a regular travel day versus the hectic holiday travel season. It's not frequent, but it does happen, especially in light of the masses enduring holiday travel. I have seen some real horror stories on the news of late, some people literally waiting for days in airports due to airline problems.

I'm very sorry to hear about your experience notoairtran, and I understand your frustration as I have been there myself. Personally I have had wonderful experiences with AirTran, but I'm sure that they also have their fair share of organizational and overbooking problems just as any airline flying today does.

I also agree with LoveItaly that if I were to boycott every airline that I felt was disorganized or had slighted me at some point in time, I wouldn't have many choices left for flying.

Being that you only have to fly a couple of times per year, I hope that you don't have to deal with this sort of unpleasantness again. Thanks for sharing your experience and good luck in the future.
Statia is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2005, 10:42 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,107
I'm another who acknowledges that I'd run out of airlines if I boycotted each one that give me problems.

Whenever faced by a long line, I always tell the "traffic cop" my flight #, time and destination, as often you'll be given directions such as "go directly to gate" ... I guess this knowledge comes with experience, but unfortunately doesn't help you.

It seems that most of your problems were caused by the failure of that ONE employee to ascertain your flight number before directing you to the "end of the line". It's hard for me to fault an entire airline for one employee's action (which I don't think was entirely his/her fault); I've had employees under me, and people make mistakes.

As far as your assertion of rudeness of employees: well some of them probably were, but I know that when I'm angry or anxious it seems easier to find fault with "the target" of your problems. But that is the reality of flying these days, and the reason I often take the train, which has its own problems, but at least most passengers on trains are usually a bit more "mello" about their travel. I"ve had pleasent experience (so far) with AirTran, and will continue to use them when I must.

(ps- a line break every so often would make your post a bit easier to read)
rb_travelerxATyahoo is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2005, 08:01 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 189
I flew AirTran only once. It was an experience akin to traveling on a train packed with people, goats and chickens. I have never been on a plane where people were more wedged in. It was a hot day and it was pretty smelly as well. Yuck. I would rather pay a little more than suffer through an experience like that again,
Lynn_Gibson is offline  
Jan 4th, 2005, 06:14 AM
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 16,253
This has been my general experience on about 5 airlines in the last 3 years. It is not fun. One time we had to drive home over 1000 miles, as there were few alternatives for the next 2 days after our cancel.

Frankly, I'm surprised that more people haven't thrown in the towel on flying for short getaways, especially. I find that there are few, if any, airlines I could boycott at this point in time. Most are using same tactics to survive the economics.
JJ5 is offline  
Jan 4th, 2005, 08:10 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 2,110
Do they have curbside check-in? That would have avoided that first big mess.
cruisin_tigger is offline  
Jan 4th, 2005, 07:18 PM
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 11
Sorry to hear about your troubles.

But what do you expect when airline tickets cost less today than they do in 25 year ago?

steven03 is offline  
Jan 5th, 2005, 04:42 PM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 25
I'm quite surprised to hear this about AirTran. We flew on them for the first time this April. All employees were very nice and curteous. They are truly a no-frills airline, but they got the job done very promptly with nice people along the way. We even had a woman check us in and spend at least 5 minutes looking for better seats for us on our flight. We were seated in the very back row and she was able to find seats right in the middle of the plane for us. I know this doesn't seem like a huge favor, but most airlines wouldn't even check for better seats and would force you to stay in your horrible seats even if better ones were available.
mrg013 is offline  
Jan 10th, 2005, 04:32 AM
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 3,122
I like to fly AirTran because I can check in online, print my boarding pass, and then with my carry on proceed right to the gate when I get to the airport by passing the counter....I usually just go ATL-MCO or back, short well for me and the price is right.
Wednesday is offline  

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