Athlete says airline charged exorbitant rates because “Curling isn’t a sport.”
A Canadian-born curler living in Oakland, California says that she was at her end with American Airlines, after she accused a gate agent of giving her the hammer in declaring: “Curling isn’t a sport.” The Washington Post reports the altercation took place over a curling bag – but both sides give a different account of what exactly took place.
Erin McInrue Savage was flying from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX) aboard American when she says her troubles began. When trying to check her curling equipment at the $25 sports equipment rate, the flyer says the gate agent refused, allegedly telling her that curling was not a “real” sport. Instead, the gate agent insisted that Savage pay $150 because the bag was over 62 inches.
By rearranging her bag and taping down the ends, the flyer reduced the bag length and within guidelines. However, she claims that it took several minutes of negotiation for the agent to accept the bag at the lower rate. When all was said and done, Savage claims the gate agent told her: “I hope you never fly American Airlines again.”
“Maybe [the American Airlines agent] was just having a bad day,” Savage told the newspaper. “I understand [customer service] can be frustrating, but this didn’t feel like any sort of way you want to be treated.”
Although her story on Facebook quickly went viral and captured the attention of USA Curling, American claims her tale is not entirely correct. In a statement, the carrier defended the gate agent, claiming that they never said the things Savage accused them of and only applied the higher fee because the bag was too long.
“We all agree that curling is a sport, and our colleague in Phoenix never stated that curling was ‘not a sport,’” Ross Feinstein, spokesperson for American, told the Washington Post in a statement. “Our colleague is a former gymnast and coach, and has great respect for all athletes.”
USA Curling confirmed to the newspaper they “reached out” to American, but would not comment further on the discussions. Savage hopes her experience will force the airlines to include curling brooms in their sporting equipment policies.