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International flight on American Airlines - many problems

International flight on American Airlines - many problems

May 5th, 2011, 06:16 AM
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Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 1,583
International flight on American Airlines - many problems

Our recent flight to Europe was the worst experience we've had with an airline in 10 years. After our flight was cancelled from JFK to Barcelona we were required to find our own replacement flight which lead to missing luggage, mine for 10 days, and our return flight to the United States was cancelled, which we didn't know until we arrived at Heathrow for our return. Our last flight arriving, was on British Airlines from London to Barcelona, so I understand they are responsible for our lost luggage, even though American Airlines was actually the airline holding our luggage at JFK. We called daily about my luggage and they finally admitted they didn't know where it was.

We've submitted a baggage claim to British Airlines, and just sent this letter to American Airlines. Compensation over these problems is very vague.

I'd love to know if anyone else has received any compensation for similar problems, or if there is more I can do to resolve this situation? I did save my clothing receipts for the items I bought while in Spain and France, since I had no luggage for 10 days. Why they cancelled our return flight we'll never know.

American Airlines – Office of the Chairman (Gerard Arpey)

This describes our recent international flight on American Airlines from Cincinnati to Barcelona and returning from London to Cincinnati. Quite simply, the overall customer experience was our worst in over 50 international flights using 7 or 8 different airlines the last ten years and I am sure you will agree it does not meet your own high standards.

My wife and I were taking our 11 year old granddaughter to Europe and our journey began on April 16 with the delay and then cancellation of our AA106 flight from JFK to BCN due to weather and lack of equipment from an inbound flight from Budapest that was diverted to Boston. At this point the travel nightmare began. Specifically,

Flight cancelled – On our own to rebook. Communication by the gate agents was poor at best. When the flight was finally cancelled, we were basically told we were on our own and needed to make our own rebooking arrangements and there was no clear communication about what we should do about our checked baggage. I was able to rebook to BCN via Heathrow on an 11:00PM flight but no one could answer my baggage question even though I spoke to several AA employees.

All bags missing. When we arrived in Barcelona, all three of our bags were missing (my bag, my wife’s bag and our 11 year old granddaughter’s bag). We immediately made a baggage claim. No one could tell us if we would be able to have any compensation while we waited for the bags to be found – it seemed people were deliberately vague.

Two bags delayed 36 hours. My bag and our granddaughter’s bag arrived 36 hours later. In the meantime we bought some items so we would have clothes for the first two days in Barcelona. The claim phone number could only tell us the bags were still at JFK.

Wife’s bag delayed 10 days. My wife’s bag did not arrive for 10 days. Again, no clear direction on what we should do, how much we should spend or what was happening. The bag came to us on our last day in Paris before we took the train to London.

Return ticket cancelled. While checking our bags in London for the return flight, there was a problem with our return ticket. It had somehow been cancelled in the confusion, so we spent 45 minutes trying to straighten that out.

Poor condition of cabin. Unhappy and mean flight attendants. During the return flight on May 1 from LHR to ORD, the seats and video screens on the plane were in bad condition. My wife’s seat leaned back but would not stay back and all three video screens had problems. Worst of all, the flight attendants seemed unhappy and chose to express that too us for no obvious reason. The best example was when my wife asked one of the attendants if our granddaughter’s tray was chicken or lasagna (it was hard for my wife to see) and he angrily responded “Does that look like lasagna to you!” This was only one of 3 or 4 angry comments by this attendant to us during the return flight in response to very polite, simple and normal questions. I was afraid our granddaughter would cry.

I’m sure you are always looking for ways to improve your airline, especially in this 30th anniversary year of the AAdvantage frequent flier program. We are looking for a concrete expression of compensation for these problems, such as vouchers, frequent flier mile deposits or Business Class upgrades on our next American Airlines international flight.

If you would like, I would be happy to talk with you over the phone about our experience as a constructive way to improve your overall customer experience. A copy of our itinerary is included in the attached word document. Thank you.
Images2 is offline  
May 5th, 2011, 07:30 AM
Join Date: Jan 2005
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What a horrible experience. Did you have travel insurance? This type experience is getting more and more frequent and that is why buying travel insurance is getting to be a MUST have for travelers.

Two weeks ago, 3 of 4 travelers in my group had their return flights Palermo -JFK on DELTA cancelled. No rhyme nor reason. Alitalia accomodated us, but it CONFIRMED what I have heard: AVOID JFK AT ALL COSTS. They have the worse check-in attendants in the travel industry. I remembered one time they checked my luggage to Venice versus Nice. Luckily, I catched it, but she responded" Oh, well, it would have find its way to you eventually:" Are you f&^%$ing kidding me!! True Story.
Viajero2 is offline  
May 5th, 2011, 08:46 AM
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No we didn't buy travel insurance. We travel to Europe about 3 times a year and have been fortunate in the past. Thankfully we had a wonderful trip despite the problems with American Airlines. Until recently we have always carried on our luggage, but with all the new limitations we have been checking it lately. Guess we need to recheck this in the future.

Also I mix clothes in our luggage usually, in case l bag goes missing. This helped a bit, but my mix wasn't good enough this time.

The airlines should have clear compensation policies, instead of very vague limitations.

JFK airport as a facility was fine, but certainly not the staff or baggage handling facilities.

I can believe your Delta experience. We've stopped flying them, although they're our hub airline.
Images2 is offline  
May 5th, 2011, 10:31 AM
Join Date: May 2008
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Viajero and Images2, we had a terrible experience flying on Delta via JFK in March and April. To Palermo, home from Rome. Hours and hours and hours delay at JFK on the way out. My friend's luggage was lost for three days (better than ten, I agree!). On the way home our flight from JFK to SFO was cancelled and no one let us know. In fact, the ground staff person we first asked told us, "Oh, no I don't know why it's saying that. Your flight isn't canceled." Yipes. My other friend's luggage got lost this time, returned five days later but at least she was home by then. I fly Delta somewhat regularly and they're not great but I will never connect through JFK again if at all possible. I've had better luck in Atlanta.

I try to keep in mind that a good flight is one that takes off and lands and everyone is alive. But man, the Delta/JFK combo is a PITA.

Sorry about your experiences!
Leely2 is offline  
May 5th, 2011, 01:57 PM
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If you paid with Amex, I believe all these expenses are covered to a certain amount daily .

What a shame from the beginning. I hope you are able to get the desired response.

I will be watching this to see if you have any news to post! Good luck!
lincasanova is offline  
May 5th, 2011, 02:02 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 7,561
Bring this up with the ombudsman in Conde Nast Traveler -- they chase down airlines, rental companies, and other travel service providers who screw up and try to obtain some recompense for the aggrieved traveler.
BigRuss is offline  
May 5th, 2011, 03:18 PM
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Thanks so much for the tip BigRuss. We'll do that.

Linda, I'll post what happens with this. I'm very surprised there isn't a set policy the airlines must follow. It did allow me to see what shopping for a few clothes in Barcelona and Paris was like. Very different experiences at the major department stores. I hated spending touring time on shopping, but Emily was in heaven!
Images2 is offline  
May 5th, 2011, 03:25 PM
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 2,699
An email or letter to the company CEO is good but in the case of a rude FA, sometimes it's a good idea to talk to the lead attendant.

On a United transoceanic flight, I didn't hear the PA announcement. When I asked one of the FA what what said, she nastily replied that if I hadn't been talking I would have found out and walked away. I didn't want to cause a fuss but the man beside talked to the purser when she came by our seats about the incident. Something must have been said, because the FA was very polite the reminder of the flight.
emily71 is offline  
May 6th, 2011, 12:57 AM
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I do think the first step before the Ombudsman will intervene is to conclude that you are not happy with the airline's compensation or lack of. I am glad this is your FIRST outrageous incident I am sure many others can boast of SEVERAL.!

Sounds like you had a memorable time with Emily in spite of it all.

Hope to see you next time in Cincy. Probably October this year!
lincasanova is offline  
May 11th, 2011, 12:58 PM
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American Airlines has added 15,000 miles to each of our FF miles accounts for the problems we encountered. We are still awaiting a response from British Airlines for our delayed baggage claim.

Thanks to you all for your advise.
Images2 is offline  
May 11th, 2011, 05:13 PM
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Good to hear you have already gotten response from them. Good luck on part 2.
lincasanova is offline  
May 20th, 2011, 11:14 AM
Join Date: May 2011
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I'm also glad you received a response from AA.

I have an equally unbelievable story...

AA takes 10 weeks to review a baggage delay reimbursement claim. Yes, you read it right ... 10 weeks!

They may as well take 10 months or 10 years.

To me, it's simply a sign of disrespect towards their customers.

P.S. If any AA staffer wants to verify, the subject line of the reply I received is...

Subject: Your Response From American Airlines R2011/05-15564-00200-001-00
Daniel_Kornitzer is offline  
May 24th, 2011, 05:18 PM
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 583
They just don't care....

I'd be making every effort to fly to Europe using a European carrier, rather than an American. My past experience is that they also have better airfare deals than the American, but that was 8-10 years ago, not sure how it goes today.
mamamia2 is offline  
May 25th, 2011, 09:22 AM
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 2,420
Short complaints tend to get read. Long rants tend to be ignored.

Send it again. Remove EVERYTHING that's not related to the two main issues. Failure to communicate and baggage delays.

Leave out "how we are related" (who cares), Leave out the flight attendant complaints... that's a different issue)

And then state clearly what you want. "Due to the delay in luggage we incurred expenses of $X. The receipts are attached. Please provide us with reimbusement for these expenses" The current compensation request is too vague. If you have an account ask for some miles, but honestly, that's your best bet.

And as for "American airliens just don't care"...t he truth is that the OP's real issue with "lost luggage" was with an European carrier. When they took his "ticket' they took the responsiblity to obtain his luggage and deal with it.
CarolA is offline  
May 27th, 2011, 12:20 PM
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I'm very happy to report that British Airways has issued us a full refund for our replacement clothes due to our lost luggage. The total was around $850. I bought clothes spread out over a week, as my luggage continued not to be found. They did not refund the money we spent for numerous phone calls to the luggage claim office.

I agree, the coverage by the European airlines is much better than American airlines, and they were prompt. This claim took 3 weeks. We've learned much about the process.

Thanks for your suggestions.
Images2 is offline  
May 27th, 2011, 03:26 PM
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 12,492
lincasanova is offline  
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