American Airlines, Antigua, May 24

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Jun 23rd, 2006, 09:14 AM
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Join Date: Apr 2003
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American Airlines, Antigua, May 24

I want to share these facts with fellow travelers and let you draw your own conclusions. Our departure from Antigua had some interesting turns. We knew something was amiss as we approached the airport on May 24 for our departing early morning flight. There was a lot of commotion. It turns out American Airlines had canceled the flight due to the volcano on Montserrat spewing ash. Actually the previous night’s flight never landed in Antigua so there was no plane there for us. We were re-scheduled on the afternoon flight (a jet directly to JFK vs. a prop driven aircraft from San Juan) and would overnight at JFK. Instead we decided to stay on Antigua and take our chances with the next days’ morning flight. The next day we went through the same process. That evening several new guests arrived at our resort. They said the original flight had taken off from San Juan but there was a fire in the engine. Passengers watched as the engine was shut down. The captain said the cockpit had smoke in it. The flight returned to San Juan for repairs. They were given room and board and flight vouchers. When I returned home I called American Airlines international reservations desk and asked for clarification. They said the system still showed ash as the reason for the delay but put me on hold and went into their system to check. When they returned they said the original flight did take off and did return because of mechanical problems. Then it was grounded while parts were flown to San Juan. I wrote AA's customer relations with my concerns and here is their response.
‘Thank you for your email. Allow me to address your concerns.
Flight 5044 on May 23 was scheduled to depart at 5:35 pm. At 6:00, a decision was made that due to ashes, they would delay the departure. The flight actually took off at 6:16 pm, however, due to ashes and also a maintenance issue, the flight immediately returned to San Juan and landed. This information was combined from two different entries into the system. It's not that you were intentionally lied to, it's that you were provided with the information from the first entry regarding the ash before the second entry was added regarding the mechanical issue.
I hope this information is helpful. Please travel with us again soon.
This is an "outgoing only" email address. If you 'reply' to this message by simply selecting the reply button, we will not receive your additional comments. Please assist us in providing you with a timely response to any feedback you have for us by always sending us your email messages via AA.com at
http://www.aa.com/customerrelations.’
Sincerely,
Lisa T. Matthai
Customer Relations
American Airlines

I find this response lacking and have requested further clarification. I find it hard to understand how a flight could leave, have a ‘maintenance issue’ and return because of ash. Several passengers at the airport speculated AA used the volcano’s ash as an excuse to avoid extra costs associated with a mechanical delay. I have no opinion, I haven’t asked for anything but an adequate explanation.


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