This recent holiday, I flashed back to a Christmas past. The year was 1999, or maybe 2002, whatever, I don’t remember. And it’s not important. What is important was how I felt that holiday when American Airlines (@AmericanAir) flew my new wife and I home to New York to spend a few precious days with my family.
It was bitterly cold that year and JFK Airport was bustling with travelers excited to see kith and kin. We arrived without problem (amazingly), and looked for our puddle-jumper flight to Rochester. It was canceled, stranding us. Or so we thought.
American Airlines “compensated” us with a free voucher worth $300 good for another hellish American Airline flight (wait, why does this voucher have an expiration date — is there a time-limit on screwing your customers?)
But instead of putting us up in a nice, heated hotel room with free dinner, American Airlines herded us into a van. A VAN! For a 7-hour drive upstate! That was bad enough, but upon heading out, the driver found that the van’s heater didn’t work. Did I mention that it was a 7-hour ride, and it was 20-degrees out?
So while the voucher was hardly sufficient compensation for canceling our flight, American Airlines did give the seven of us passengers something else, too — namely, hypothermia.
Naturally, I was upset about this unacceptable treatment and wrote a physical letter to the airline (this was pre-Internet days…). I told the story and asked for further compensation only to get rebuffed by the head of customer relations, who essentially told us: “Tough shit.” (I’m paraphrasing here.)
Shocked by American Airlines’ callous customer service, I wrote back again. This time I was asked, “What part of ‘Tough shit’ don’t you understand?” Such holiday spirit.
These “pleasant” memories came flooding back to me this Christmas as I flew a 6-hour, red-eye to see my wife’s family aboard an American Airlines airplane that, like the van, had no heat. It’s basic mechanical problems like that that make me wonder what else on their planes doesn’t work.
As a result of American Airline’s continued incompetence and indifference to its customers’ comfort or welfare, my wife and I never fly American Airlines anymore. And, as you can tell from these reports, my wife and I travel a lot.
Instead, we fly Virgin, JetBlue or United Airlines whenever possible, despite what my friend, Steve, thinks about United. In my considered opinion, American Airlines can go suck it.