American Airlines Follow-up (or American Airlines Still Sucks)

If you didn’t see the post-script to my post about how awful American Airlines is, and how poorly they treated my wife and I (and thousands of other people), here’s the kicker—we made it onto our final flight and arrived home, and were even treated nicely (and sympathetically) for the first time by a really nice attendant.

And then our luggage wasn’t on our flight. Or the following two flights. It made the last flight out of Miami, meaning, once again, American made us wait an extra 24 hours to get our bags.

They delayed, cancelled, caused a missed connection, or lost our luggage on every leg of our travel. Both ways. Every leg.

I wrote them a long, detailed note while waiting in the line from hell. I actually sort of held it together and didn’t devolve into an array of f-bombs and calling people douchebag. I think that showed restraint.

They responded offering my wife and I each $200 in travel vouchers.

I politely told them to stick it and asked them that they give us a meaningful refund. We’ll see where this goes.

Why I’ll Never Fly American Airlines Again

I’m sitting here, at Gate D5 in Miami, waiting for a gate agent to arrive so I can try to ensure that my wife and I will have tickets home to Boston on our flight in about 2 hours. That doesn’t sound that bad (thought we’ll see what happens when they try to tell us we don’t have seats …), and I’m an easy flyer. Shit happens, flights get delayed, whatever. I’m usually incredibly nice and understanding to the airlines and attendants—they often have crappy jobs and have to deal with rationally (and irrationally) upset people.

But I have zero sympathy for American Airlines and their staff. I will go out of my way to never fly them again. I will pay my own dollars, or take an extra leg, to avoid flying this airline that clearly could give two shits about their customers.

It Begins

Last week, we headed to Logan to get ready for our flight to St. Croix. Got there nice and early, checked in, even though American’s ticket kiosk didn’t print out one of my tickets (the first sign of their incompetence) and even though they had a huge line for baggage drop-off, with 1.5 people working.

We get to our gate, get on the flight, and then …. we sit. We sit for almost an hour because the flight crew had to “file a new flight plan due to weather”. That sounds like a pretty horseshit excuse to me—couldn’t have done that earlier?—but, again, whatever. We take off 40 minutes late but expect to make up some time in the air.

The Cracks Begin to Show

We arrive in Miami just a little later than expected, so no big deal. We’ll hustle to our gate and we should be fine. Except we don’t have a gate. We are stuck on the tarmac. For an hour.

We’ve now, basically, missed our connection to St. Croix.

We get off the flight, the gate agent basically says “The flight’s closed, but you can run and take the skyway, and maybe you’ll get lucky.”

Thanks.

We do, and we make it. In fact, there were about 6 of us in the same boat, and we all made it.

And then we sat for another 40 minutes at the gate. So, you know, we didn’t have to run. They could have just delayed the flight and we would have all felt pretty good. Making it even better? They said they were getting some last minute baggage loaded up and we’d take the extra few minutes because “it could be your bag.”

It probably was.

The First Real Fuck You

But it wasn’t. Our luggage, even though we were at the gate for almost an hour after our flight landed, didn’t make the flight. Rather than leave it to American’s crack staff to deliver it to our hotel, we got a taxi to the airport to pick it up ourselves the next afternoon.

The Beginning of the End

On our way home, we get to the airport to find our flight back to Miami has been delayed almost 2 hours. They’ve already rebooked us on a connection … the next morning.

I say to Katie “let’s just get checked in, and I’ll call and see if there isn’t an earlier flight”. I guess this is my mistake, but really, you’ll see, it’s just another fuck you from American.

They check our bags to Miami, because of our expected layover.

I call American, they find us seats on the 9pm flight. We should be landing at 7:50pm. Should be no problem. Except our luggage. We’d have to go to baggage claim, pick it up, come back, clear security, and make our flight.

No big deal right. We’re still sitting in the airport. Let’s just have some go retag our bag to Boston, and we’ll be golden.

“Not possible.”
“Can’t do it.”
“Once it’s back there, no one can go near it, really.”

Seriously? Seriously? Seriously.

This to me is where American failed us over and over. Either they don’t empower their agents to do anything to help their customers, or they have a bunch of agents who could give two shits. The airport in St. Croix is tiny. It would have taken 15 minutes, tops, to find our bag and put a new tag on it.

We get on the flight and hope for the best.

Things are looking a little rosy when the pilot says we expect to land at 7:30. Fantastic. Good news!

We land at 7:44. We wait on the plane for a gate until 8:50.

Fuck you, American. Fuck you.

We run to our gate, the flight has just left. Ironically, our originally 7:50 connection had been delayed until 9:25pm. We would have had a better shot of making that flight.

No flight, our baggage is in theory at baggage claim, and we’re stuck in Miami. We’ll head to rebooking, get a new flight and a hotel voucher, and just deal with it.

The End of the End

The rebooking line is hundreds of people long. Some folks say they’ve been there for 2 hours and are still an hour away from the front. I call to get our flight changed to the earliest flight on Saturday (today), and wait in line for a hotel voucher.

And wait.

And wait.

Eventually, we overhear that there are no more hotel vouchers. There’s no more hotels.

We’d been in line for 3 hours. Not once did someone come by and express sympathy, or apologize. At 3 hours, we overheard another conversation and learned that we were screwed again. I went to talk to an agent to see if he could help me with our bags and at least book them through to Boston. He didn’t express any sympathy, or even feign caring. He snippily said “I’m busy, you’ll have to wait a few minutes.”

I admit to losing my cool and saying “I’ve been waiting 3 fucking hours. Can you please just help me now?”

That didn’t go over well. But, honestly, I could wait him out. In theory, our bags will be on our flight.

Katie and I walked around the airport, eventually got a few minutes of restless sleep, and now we’re waiting to see if we get on the flight we’re supposed to get on. At 7:52, for a 9:35 flight, we still don’t have a gate agent to give us our seats.

At this point, the odds of both us and our luggage making it to Boston are low. The odds of American doing anything and not royally fucking it up are low.

The End End

In all of this, not a single airport employee has expressed any empathy. Not one has apologized. Actually, I take it back. They apologized by saying how hard a day they had, too. With a multi-hundred person line, they didn’t walk around letting us know what was going on, or even offer water or snacks. They just let us stand there, until all the hotels were booked, and 99% of our food options were gone, and then said “sorry, you’re on your own.”

I don’t usually bitch about service. Bad service happens. People have bad days.

This isn’t “bad days.” This is a broken company who either don’t care, or assume that we have so few options, that we can’t do anything about it.

I’ve written to them on Twitter (and in the end, I’ll admit, I basically spent the night trolling them, responding to anyone else’s complaints to highlight them—including NBA player Ed Davis, who was likewise fucked by American), I’ve filed a formal complaint via the website, I’ve liked other angry missives on Facebook, and I’m writing this.

I fully expect none of it to matter. I fully expect American just doesn’t give a shit.

That works both ways, American.

Coda

We made our flight home.

Our luggage didn’t. They lost our luggage both directions. Even though we’d been assured by a snippy gate agent (during our marathon wait in line) that it would be on the flight.

It arrived on the last flight from Miami to Boston on Saturday. We received it Sunday right around noon.

To their, “credit”, American offered us a grand $200 in vouchers to use on their airline. That we will, most certainly not use.

Wasteful Packaging

Apropos of nothing …

Since we just got married, we’ve had a pretty continuous stream of gifts showing up at our house (we have very generous friends). One of the interesting things has been seeing how different companies ship their wares.

Last week, we got two packages. After removing all the packing materials, this is what was inside:

IMG 3475

IMG 3474

Seriously.

Inside was about 6 cubic feet of bubble wrap and paper wrapping, followed by a single item.

Now, I’m guessing that they were set to ship as soon as each item was ready, but man, that’s a lot of wasted material and probably a lot of wasted space in the warehouse, shipping vehicles, etc.

Amazon, in my experience, tends to be a lot better about their packaging. Not great, but a lot less wasted space and wasted packing material. Bed Bath & Beyond has also tended to ship things reasonably tightly. On the contrary, I’ve had to fill up probably two or three full garbage bins with bubble wrap just from Crate and Barrel. That seems awfully wasteful. There’s a happy medium between packing something safely and filling up a box (a box that has a single grill spatula) with yards of bubble wrap and packing paper.

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Yes, Jerome. Please call me at 555–5555. I’m free any time.

(That’s why I don’t use real info on my test domains. Because leeches like “Jerome” skim WHOIS info and then spam the shit out of you.)

This is some supremely dumb shit

"i’ve been wearing an apple watch for weeks, and though i generally like it, it’s often uncomfortably restrictive for something tim cook calls ‘the most personal device we have ever created’ at every opportunity. the apple watch relies heavily on voice dictation from siri to mitigate its tiny, keyboard-less screen; you can use this to search for information or, more importantly, reply to messages.

i hate using siri to reply to messages. it listens to what i say and, if it hears me accurately, converts my thoughts into flat, expressionless, standardised prose with imperfect punctuation. i do not want this. i don’t type short messages in lowercase because i’m lazy or don’t know how to capitalise — i type short messages in lowercase because it’s the best way to render how i imagine my thoughts would come across. i like lending writing with accurate spelling and grammar a casual veneer by decapitating the caps. plus, well, i just think it looks better. i’ve typed in lowercase ever since i first got internet access and started talking about radiohead on audiogalaxy boards fifteen years ago. it’s why i’ve turned autocorrect off on every phone i’ve ever owned."

Pardon the cursing, but, Jesus Christ. The Verge is (was?) sort of a real tech news outlet. And they published this drivel. I completely thought it must have been a joke. Voice recognition tries to put your text into readable, accurate sentences. Hold the fucking presses. This has to be a parody of someone else’s bullshit, right?

Sadly, I don’t think it is.

(And, on top of that, I don’t have an Apple Watch, but I think you can get Siri to set your text in all lowercase. What a douche.)

(Via Dan Frakes on Twitter.)

An Actual Senator Said This

I meant to post this a while back, but even a couple of weeks later, it still deserves comment.

An actual Senator, Senator Thom Tillis from North Carolina, said:

I was having this discussion with someone, and we were at a Starbucks in my district, and we were talking about certain regulations where I felt like maybe you should allow businesses to opt out,” Tillis said, in remarks first reported by the District Sentinel. “Let an industry or business opt out as long as they indicate through proper disclosure, through advertising, through employment, literature, whatever else. There’s this level of regulations that maybe they’re on the books, but maybe you can make a market-based decision as to whether or not they should apply to you.

The idiocy of this statement knows no bounds. First, he’s suggesting that we replace the regulation that businesses require their employees to wash their hands with another regulation that says businesses post a sign about whether or not they require their employees to wash their hands.

I’m not sure that’s the type of savings the Tea Party folks in North Carolina were planning on.

Second—and granted, his statement was just stupid point scoring—this is where you draw the line? Hand washing? This occurred just a few weeks after the big measles outbreak in California. Hand washing wouldn’t have stopped that, but it’s probably not the best timing to talk about making it a market decision as to whether or not a restaurant requires its employees to wash their hands1.


  1. Let’s be honest, nothing really requires it today. But the threat of losing your job as a worker, and both the civil (being sued into bankruptcy) and criminal (ending up in jail) threat to owners for harming customers with poorly managed food, give us some hope that it’s happening.