Public Mediation

My Claim vs. American Airlines Dispute

S. T. vs. American Airlines
Amount Involved: $6,101.43
Complaint(s): Bad business practices
    • Status: In Negotiation
      This claim has posted for public comment and negotiation. It will remain posted until resolved to the claimant's satisfaction. Suggest a resolution to help these parties reach a settlement.
      (seeking public comment)
    • Claimant Seeks: 2 non-monetary items.
    • Claim #: 1604477
    • Amount Involved: 6,101.43
    • Filed On: Feb 03, 2014
    • Posted On: Feb 21, 2014
    • Complaint(s):
      • Bad business practices
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Statement of Claim
Claimant says:
"Record locators MDAIJX and GJTWPO. My family and I were returning from a vacation in Spain on Friday 1/3/2014; we left Madrid at 04.30 AM Eastern time and were scheduled to travel on AA # 3756 from Miami at 16.25 PM, arriving in Charlotte NC at 18.35 PM.

The flight was delayed several times. Finally, at about 20:00 PM, we were about to board when it was announced that the flight crew had been reassigned to the Jacksonville FL flight. The gate agent issued us with meal vouchers and told us we were on stand-by for the 21.30 PM flight; if we did NOT get on it the airline would give us further compensation and hotel rooms. If we didn't accept this, we would be on our own and there were no other available flights until the Tuesday. We dutifully waited for the 21:30 PM flight, which was also delayed several times.

Eventually I asked the gate agent how many people were on stand-by. It turned out that 37 people were on the list and our party of four was about half way down the list. I was incredulous as it was obvious that we wouldn't get on the flight and we were just being messed around until we gave up.

Multiple people—one man had been at the airport since 9.30 AM trying to get on a flight—talked to the gate agent about AA renting a coach, helping with car rentals or hotel rooms, etc. She refused to answer but kept endlessly looking for non-existent available flights.

Indeed, once the flight did board, only one stand-by seat was available. I was fourth in line to figure out what to do at about midnight when the boarded passengers disembarked again having been told that the flight had been cancelled because of an "illegality."

At after 1 AM, still in line, I called AA. The customer service rep told me that she could not help and would have to put me through to international as my flight originated overseas. Literally 1.5 hours later, I was still on hold and still in line. At that point the two customers that the gate agent had actually finished with told me that she had been unable to find them flights and had told them there were NO hotel rooms available in Miami. They were simply waiting for the car rental agencies to re-open so that they could drive to Charlotte, because they had given up on getting any intelligent help from American.

The gate agent appeared to be close to tears—even though no-one had been yelling at her—and clearly had absolutely no idea what to do. The supervisor occasionally came over but provided no help and no answers. We picked up a small amount of information only because we speak Spanish and they apparently assumed we couldn't, and it was clear that they had no plan in place. The gate agent eventually simply refused to talk to anyone. Neither agent would even contemplate finding out about a coach. Several people in line (including the mother of a very distressed autistic kid, who had to be continually drugged with Valium so that he could cope with the endless delays) were absolutely distraught.

Eventually, having been awake for 30 hours straight, we just gave up. The first hotel I called—the airport Embassy Suites—had a room available, contrary to American's assertion that no rooms were available, and we took it. At 5:30 AM, when planes started taking off overhead, I woke up after just a couple of hours of sleep and again called American. Again, I was told no-one could help and we shouldn't have left the airport. I was further told that there were no flights until Tuesday and if we rented a car we'd have to first collect our baggage.

The line in the airport was insane. Two different American employees told us that yes, we had to collect our baggage and yes, we had to stand in this line to do so. Meanwhile I called American baggage and when I eventually got through, was told that that was ridiculous; two of our bags were already in Charlotte and she had no idea why employees kept telling people they had to stand in line.

I finally got a rental car at around 10.30 AM and we started the drive back. We were exhausted. One employee at a Wal-Mart, where we stopped to get some necessary items, told us that we very clearly shouldn't be on the road. We did end up getting a hotel room part way as we really couldn't drive any further. We are lucky we didn't kill ourselves or anyone else. Just as icing on the cake, we detoured to Charlotte airport to pick up our bags as arranged, and were eventually told that they were now in TN but would be delivered. Another waste of time due to incompetence.

This whole nightmare could have easily been prevented. I have no idea why AA reassigned the flight crew, but if the gate agent had been honest about the situation we could have got a hotel room and rented a car at a reasonable hour. Then we could have easily made the drive in one day, instead of being wrecked and missing two extra days of work instead of one. Or AA could have totted up the number of passengers needing to get to Charlotte and rented an appropriately sized bus. I'm pretty sure there are bus companies in Miami.

American's strategy seems to have been to stonewall and bully passengers into giving up and finding their own way. Or perhaps they just don't train their agents at all. Either way, the end result was a lot of frustrated, angry and exhausted people on the road."
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Additional Communication Between Claimant and American Airlines Hide
  • May 14, 2014, Claiming party added:
  • Response to DOT and AA

    American effectively abandoned its passengers in Miami when it re-assigned the flight crew. Apparently this was due to American's lack of preparation for new rules about crew flying time limits.

    Passengers received no information or help other than that 'there aren't any other flights for four days' and were subjected to unconscionable delaying tactics. These appear to work most of the time, allowing American to continue its practices--oddly, my daughter found that a new classmate at UNC had been on exactly the same flight. Her parents had had previous experience trying to resolve a similar issue with American and didn't even try this time. The average person doesn't have the time, knowledge or energy to deal with all this.

    American first completely ignored attempts to resolve this via their regular customer resolution channel. Then when we tried outside help, customer service said we should use regular channels, which we took to be a joke. They eventually refunded the Miami leg of our flight. After more pressure, they agreed to refund our actual expenses for getting home. The check includes a release that I am not at this point willing to sign.

    Airlines routinely offer passengers 100,000 miles apiece for voluntarily getting bumped and taking the next flight. We were very definitely INvoluntarily bumped and abandoned, but American has offered us nothing.

    This is not just about reasonable compensation for us. American treated ALL its passengers on that flight extremely badly, and I cannot even imagine what visitors to this country, with few resources and/or no international driver's license, would have done. American needs to seriously review its policies and service.

What Claimant Wants Hide
What By When How Much
1. Apology: I'd like an apology for American's incompetence and complete lack of communication and follow-up. Feb 18, 2014 N/A
2. Change of policy: Review your procedures in case of flight cancellation, particularly insistence on stand-by Feb 18, 2014 N/A
1. Compensation: 2.5 days of hell @ $1,000 per person Feb 18, 2014 $4,000.00
2. Recovery of Losses: Car rental Feb 18, 2014 $254.88
3. Recovery of Losses: Embassy Suites 1/3/14 (inc breakfast; 4 people) Feb 18, 2014 $371.77
4. Recovery of Losses: Misc overnight/travel expenses Walmart Feb 18, 2014 $126.34
5. Recovery of Losses: Gasoline Feb 18, 2014 $91.65
6. Recovery of Losses: Lunch (4 people) 1/4/14 Feb 18, 2014 $75.60
7. Recovery of Losses: Embassy Suites 1/4/14 (inc breakfast 4 people) Feb 18, 2014 $157.07
8. Recovery of Losses: Lunch subway (4 people) Feb 18, 2014 $24.12
9. Pay me for my time: 2 days of lost work for 3 adults Feb 18, 2014 $1,000.00
10. Other – Copy claim to regulators Feb 18, 2014 $14.99
11. Other – Pay for claim posting cost Feb 18, 2014 $7.99
12. Other – Physical delivery charges Feb 18, 2014 $9.99
Just make me happy!
Claimant invites American Airlines to make a fair offer to resolve this complaint.
Cash total : $6,134.40
Non-cash: 2 items
  • 0
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Respondent's Counteroffer

There has been no response to this claim from American Airlines. This claim will remain posted until resolved
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