My Sad, Sad Visitor Counter :(

16 October 2012

OMG where have I been? And - DON'T FLY American Airlines!

I took a trip home to jolly ol' England to visit my Mum.  A present for myself as a pick-me-up as DD has moved away to Uni.  Had a GREAT TIME (did come back with a horrible cough and cold though).

I didn't look up any airline disputes before leaving - something I will NEVER do again!  I booked American Airlines.  I've flown once with them before and don't remember it as a bad experience.  One of the reasons I picked them was because of the time the planes left in the afternoon on the way back.  Mum's is a about 2 hours away from the airport - longer since I have to use coach or something to get back.  American Airlines had a 5.15pm flight - perfect for me!

Let me say - good thing - the flights back to US were on time.  Thank goodness as I had the last connection back to Kalamazoo at night.  Wasn't sure what I was going to do if I missed that one!

The outgoing flight - nightmare.  From Kalamazoo to Chicago was fine, on time and okay.  Chicago was going fine.  It was on time right up until the time we were to board and then - NIGHTMARE - there were three or four delays on time and then they announced the plane had 'maintenance' issues.  Well, we've all heard about those - they've been in the news for weeks!  A new plane would be coming.  We all had to move to another gate.  Okay, we all thought.  New plane arrived.  It sat on the runway in total darkness - two, three time delays, 'maintenance' issues we were told again.  By this time people are getting upset - there is no way some people are going to make their connections. 

'Decision Time' the customer service manager announces when the time of departure changes again.  They will make a decision at x time.  x time arrives. Another time gets posted.  'Decision Time' the customer service manager announces.  x time arrives.  Time changes.  'Decision Time' she announces again.  Nobody seems to be able to make a deicision and decision time seems to mean nothing.  Of course by now everyone's had it.  It's getting later and later and planes can only fly until a certain time at night.

The customer service manager at this point decides to hand out free food coupons and drinks.  Most people have eaten hours ago though some people do take them.  Some people have asked to be moved to another plane.  No good they are told - bags are already on the plane.

Another announcement - Plane can't fly.  Another is on the way.  They are hoping to get it ready before the cut off time.  Change gates again.  We move to another gate and none of the customer service people come with us.  There is a queue at the desk (of people needing to fix connections) and no-one there. 

Three more time changes and half an hour after that - 5 hours after our original flight and we are on our way - after midnight when we take off!

Across the pond in England - before setting out in the morning to pick me up Brother-in-Law and Mum check the incoming flights.  On time it says.  Obviously at this point the airline KNOWS the flight isn't on time.  We'd already left at this point and they knew we were five hours late.  Almost to London and Sister calls up to tell them flight has been delayed.  It's about 2 1/2 hour drive so no point turning around only to have to drive back later.  They can't stay at Heathrow as parking charge would be ridiculous.  They go to a shopping centre.

BTW I had signed up for email notifications for this flight - not sure why as I had no way to check my email at airport and such.  When I got to Mum's house I found 23 emails about time changes on this flight.  The first one was at 6.48pm (plane due to leave at 7.10pm) telling me flight was on time and would arrive early.

What a day!  I do write to them and first all the do is 'give' me 4000 airmiles.  Not sure what good that will do me.  Subsequently they do give me a $125 voucher but I'm not sure I'll fly with them again so they are not out anything. 

Until this whole dispute is settled my advive - DON'T FLY WITH THEM!  We were not the only flight delayed that day. 

Disclaimer : - This is just my rant - yes, I know safety is a big issue and planes need to be checked, but it has been all over the news that 'maintenance' issues are the way the workers are choosing to deal with a dispute with the management. 

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