Terrible AA experience vent

 
Old Dec 26, 12, 11:37 am
  #1  
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Terrible AA experience vent

I just returned from a two week trip to London and need to vent about the trouble I had getting there on AA. I don't know if it will do any good to send a letter to AA, but I needed to say something.

I was ticketed on the December 8 direct flight from RDU to LHR, scheduled to depart at 6:00 pm. I am a graduate student at the London School of Economics and was returning to campus for my course final exams. I scheduled the flight to arrive more than a day in advance to allow me to rest and prepare for a full day of intense examinations.

My flight was delayed at RDU for just under 2 hours for a mechanical issue. The captain told us that 3 of the 6 lavatories were not working and that we couldn't fly to LHR with only three lavatories.

We were told that there was an operable plane at JFK, and that we would divert to New York, change planes then complete our trip. After we took off, the captain told us that we were too heavy to land at JFK and would need to burn off the extra fuel to shed weight. We spent three hours flying with the landing gear down to a location that normally takes less than 90 minutes. We arrived at JFK at 11:00 pm and were instructed to change gates and board the replacement plane.

Once we boarded the new plane, we were told that there was no catering loaded on the plane and we could not leave until catering at least brought beverages for the flight. At approximately 12:30 am, the captain announced that the beverages could not be delivered quickly enough for the flight crew to not “time out,” and that the flight was being canceled.

We were told that we would be rebooked on the next available flight by gate agents once we got off the plane. Everyone was lined up in the gate area with only 1-2 agents at each desk. At about 1:30 am, I was told that I was booked on a British Airways flight scheduled to leave at 8:30 am, but they could not provide me with a hotel because “there aren't any available rooms near JFK due to the Hurricane Sandy recovery.” I was left with no option other than to sleep on the floor in the gate area.

At 6:00 am, I gathered my bag and went to the British Airways check-in desk in another terminal. There were a number of people from the canceled flight in line, and we were all told that the BA flight was “oversold before we were booked on it,” and that we should return to AA and see what they could do for us.

I returned to the AA check-in desk and was put on standby for a 9:45 flight. Four people from the canceled flight were on the standby list for that flight, and none of us made it aboard. I returned to the AA check-in desk and was rebooked on a flight scheduled to leave at 6:15 pm, which ultimately departed on time.

I arrived in London 24 hours after my scheduled arrival time, with minimal sleep and only three hours before my exams were scheduled to begin. After getting my bag, making it through Border Control and taking the express train into the city, I barely had time to take a shower and change clothes before sitting for my exams.

I have been delayed and had flights canceled before, but this has been the worst travel experience of my life, and at the worst possible time.
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Old Dec 26, 12, 11:48 am
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You said you were booked on an 8:30am BA flight that was oversold. If BA could not get you on the flight and you were CONFIRMED than there is no doubt you are due full Denied Boarding Compensation (BA not AA). So you need to call BA for that.

AA per contract of carriage owes you nothing but I have no doubt that based on what you were through if you sent that letter to AA you would receive some sort of compensation.

During the period within a few days of the storm the system truly was unable to handle ANY further challenges! Even the slightest delay had domino effects!
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Old Dec 26, 12, 11:52 am
  #3  
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I am not apologizing for AA, but this is exactly the misery that can happen with air travel today - worse if the route is "long and thin" - on practically any airline. The only answer, though I would suggest putting in to AA for some compensation for sure, is to fly as defensively as you can.

Have your alternate flights on hand, the OSO / IRROPS (800-446-7834) and status telephone numbers programmed in your cell phone so you can jump queues and call preemptively for better assigned on alternate flights, etc. (I'd probably have called BA to assure I had a seat before jumping terminals, as well.)

Some things you can't do anything about - a hotel room during Sandy repairs and work is just as it is.
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Old Dec 26, 12, 11:58 am
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Sounds like a problem of supply & demand.

Sorry to hear the troubles, hope you sort things out. I would also call the Gold desk for a little help. AA has been very good to me and especially this year. They were kind enough to put me back at EXP during a 9.5 month unemployment period. I qualified for 2013 by BIS & $$ to AA for all but a few AS flights & 2 DL flights.

Be patient & you'll get something back.

WT
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Old Dec 26, 12, 11:58 am
  #5  
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Since the expended (24 hour) delay was due to mechanical and then catering issues, and not weather, I would write a brief note to AA regarding the inconvenience, and I would expect them to provide some form of compensation (points or a travel voucher)
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Old Dec 26, 12, 12:05 pm
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Originally Posted by dw View Post
Since the expended (24 hour) delay was due to mechanical and then catering issues, and not weather, I would write a brief note to AA regarding the inconvenience, and I would expect them to provide some form of compensation (points or a travel voucher)
I would agree this is within AA's control and compensation is due. I wonder why LGA area airports were not used. AA could have arranged for transportation.
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Old Dec 26, 12, 12:18 pm
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You will get comp from AA, but your need to see if you were confirmed on BA.

If so, then BA owes you comp too.
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Old Dec 26, 12, 12:22 pm
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Originally Posted by newyorkgeorge View Post
I wonder why LGA area airports were not used.
Huh?
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Old Dec 26, 12, 12:30 pm
  #9  
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Sandy-filled hotels in Queens/Long Island weren't peculiar to JFK. LGA-area equally affected. It would also make little sense to round-up busses at 1:30 AM to get people to a hotel at LGA around 2:30 AM (presuming that there were buses and drivers readily available), only to have them up at 4:30 AM and back on the bus at 5:30 AM for a return to JFK.

Major issue for OP to determine is whether he actually every was confirmed onto the BA flight. Very much doubt that BA would have accepted that many pax as confirmed at that point, so he was most likely a SB which means no comp from BA.

I would write a short note to AA focusing on the matters within its control:

1. MX due to the lavs.
2. Drinks catering caused crew to time out.
3. Told OP he was booked onto BA flight, but (presuming for the moment) that OP was only SB.

Other issues such as fuel weight are just the nature of the beast. Aircraft was fueled for TATL run and was heavy at JFK.
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Old Dec 26, 12, 12:30 pm
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Wow - sorry for your experience - and at a terrible time too with your exams. Agree with the others though that a note to AA should get you a good sum of miles, at least. I don't think this is what AA strives for. Unfortunately I've also learned the hard way that as pax we often have to be proactive in seeking out other options - had a weather delay in OKC last year on the way to ORD which would've caused me to misconnect. All the while the agent at OKC was telling us we'll all make our connections, which I knew was baloney. I quickly checked seat availability through DFW and there were open seats to my destination, so I just went to the neighboring gate and the agent kindly rebooked me so I got home on time. This isn't always possible (especially in your case) but it was a good data point to live through.

Originally Posted by newyorkgeorge View Post
I would agree this is within AA's control and compensation is due. I wonder why LGA area airports were not used. AA could have arranged for transportation.
How would LGA have helped when the poster is trying to get to LHR?
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Old Dec 26, 12, 12:34 pm
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Originally Posted by aero0729 View Post
You said you were booked on an 8:30am BA flight that was oversold. If BA could not get you on the flight and you were CONFIRMED than there is no doubt you are due full Denied Boarding Compensation (BA not AA). So you need to call BA for that.
For the BA flight even EC Regulation No 261/2004 would apply. If you indeed had a confirmed reservation for the BA flight, you should follow that route for compensation as well.
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Old Dec 26, 12, 12:45 pm
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Originally Posted by JnsV View Post
For the BA flight even EC Regulation No 261/2004 would apply. If you indeed had a confirmed reservation for the BA flight, you should follow that route for compensation as well.
Exactly what I was thinking about. If AA had confirmed the passenger and had the ticket (re)issued, then BA would be liable to pay out under the legislation. Even so, getting EUR600 for this is still little in relation to the awful travel situation

It sounds like AA had a reasonable idea on what to do in diverting and changing aeroplanes but that they managed to implement it dismally

Even with the EUR600 from BA due, I would see what AA will give for the other issues

Hope that the exam did go ok despite the lack of sleep
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Old Dec 26, 12, 1:07 pm
  #13  
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As a fellow graduate of the LSE I'm obviously concerned about this and the truly terrible journey you had. If it makes you feel any better, I've never had an experience that bad before, it will be a "one off".

As far as EU 261 is concerned, the relevant test is whether you:

have a confirmed reservation on the flight concerned and, except in the case of cancellation referred to in Article 5, present themselves for check-in,
— as stipulated and at the time indicated in advance and in writing (including by electronic means) by the air carrier, the tour operator or an authorised travel agent
And reservation is defined as:

‘reservation’ means the fact that the passenger has a ticket, or other proof, which indicates that the reservation has been accepted and registered by the air carrier or tour operator;
Now I suspect BA would contest whether they, BA, had accepted the reservation. AA may have considered themselves as having made the reservation, however. So a lot would depend on what documentation you have available. But there would be no harm in pursuing both channels.
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Old Dec 26, 12, 1:17 pm
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For a data point, I was given $200 voucher after emailing AA last year when I had to overnight at NRT due to AA mechnical and also got a hotel night.
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Old Dec 26, 12, 1:25 pm
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How did the exams turn out?

Slightly off topic--but did you do OK on the exams?
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