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AA Nightmare (missed ORD flight connection & staff issue)

AA Nightmare (missed ORD flight connection & staff issue)

Old Aug 20, 19, 8:04 am
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Angry AA Nightmare (missed ORD flight connection & staff issue)

My Nightmare with American Airlines began on August 14th of 2019. I was trying to get home from Minneapolis to Greenville, SC. I should have known to find a connecting flight through Atlanta as opposed to Chicago O'Hare, but alas at around 12pm I arrived at MSP to begin my adventure home. Everything seemed normal until flight 3438 decided on being late, instead of taking off at 2:05pm we were now leaving MSP at around 2:50pm. Needless to say I was worried because my connecting flight at ORD was leaving at 4:33pm. Thankfully the one decent person during this entire ordeal was kind enough to assure me there were several later flights I could be switched to if I did not make the connection, she did advise me to run to make the flight once I arrived. I took her advice.

As we took to the sky on flight 3438 I was a little on edge with plastic bits falling from the overhead compartment & water dripping on us, but not through the ac vents. The flight attendant didn't seem too concerned. Thankfully the pilot informed us that he was booking it to ORD to make up time. I breathed a sigh of relief just hoping I would make it home in time to tuck my 2 young kids into bed. We touched down at O'Hare around 3:40 and some change. I am watching the clock on my phone like a hawk at this point, thankfully fellow passengers knew I had to make a flight, and they let me down the aisle ahead of them as we exited the aircraft. The door opens at ORD right at 4:10pm, I grab my 50 pound camera bag and begin my sprint to gate L24.

In a whirlwind of a sprint I make it to my gate right around 4:18pm. The gate was empty, and my heart began to sink. The display still had the flight information and there was a nice woman waiting at the gate. I quickly approached her and asked if I had made the flight. She replied "Just in time." I couldn't believe my luck. But, this is where the real nightmare began. As the gate attendant scanned my ticket her expression went from fine to oh crap in an instant. She checked her computer then looked at me saying I am sorry sir but we sold your seat. In between my gasps for air recovering from the sprint I underwent to get there I politely ask, "How is that possible I have a seat number?" She replied "Well you were not here sir, and there were other people that needed the seat." I am a very level headed guy, my only thought was hmm there has to be a spot for me somewhere. So I politely asked the attendant why my seat was sold? She didn't have an explanation, but informed me if I ran halfway across the airport there was a flight boarding in 5 minutes that I might be able to get on. Already exhausted from my sprint to get to the gate I replied I didn't want to run for another flight, and that I was here, and would like my seat. At this point a young man walked from beside the counter to stand beside the desk agent I was speaking with. I finally asked if they had done a last call 10 minutes before the flight, which literally was about to happen as we were having the conversation. At no point did I ever raise my voice, cuss, or even become slightly rude. Well, aside from panting like a fool who needs to visit the gym more often for strange instances such as this.

As soon as I asked about the last call the young man that suddenly appeared yelled at me to "CALM DOWN." I was in a bit of a shock as I was in no way upset, or even remotely in an agitated state. He asked for my ticketed itinerary, so I handed him my tickets which also had my receipt and baggage claim ticket in the bunch. I replied "I'm not upset at all, I just want to get on my flight and go home to my kids." Once again the young man yelled at me in front of fellow airport travelers that I needed to calm down, and that I was not boarding this flight under any circumstance. The young man was physically upset, I am still not sure why. I calmly replied to the man "I am not upset, I just need to get home, this doesn't make any sense to me." The young man replied That "You are not flying anywhere today sir, I will not have you treat my staff this way." At this point I am still in shock, I asked the young man if he was having a bad day, and if so why he needed to take it out on me. Being in Marketing I was a little shocked at how this fellow went from 0 to 350mph on me in a heart beat. The young man replied he was not having a bad day, but that I was now going to have a bad day, and that he was going to ban me from American Airlines. I asked him if he was threatening me, and informed him that I would like his name & a supervisor immediately. Needless to say I am not someone who likes to mess up someones day by calling for senior staff, but this was the exception to the rule. The young man quickly spelled out his first name which I could only make out to possibly be Jaime, but he made sure to flip his badge around so I couldn't see it as soon as I asked. The young man now somewhat identified as Jaime informed me he was the supervisor, and that he was calling security. At this point I am somewhat in a state of shock that this is going on, and I am kicking myself for not having the foresight to take out my phone & record the encounter. But Jaime was hell bent on making my life as miserable as possible. I noticed Jaime had taken my tickets and receipt. At this point I knew everything was off about the situation. As he gets on the radio I step back from the desk and decide I am going to find a customer service kiosk. Jaime seemed almost happy that I was walking away as if he had vanquished the terrible passenger whose only offense had been to ask questions, possible Napoleon Complex for our good friend Jaime.

After walking about half a mile inside the maze of O'Hare I find a customer service kiosk. Boy, those folks could not have cared less what was going on. Finally the only information I received was that the flight was with American Eagle, so it wasn't their problem. Somehow the only good thing was the customer service agent printed me a ticket for a later flight from O'Hare, so at least I have that going for me. I still asked to speak to a manager or supervisor about the situation. They informed me if I walked another several thousand feet, near an obscure gate that there might be an American Eagle supervisor. Finally I found a gate with an attendant, and asked as i was told. After waiting for about 20 minutes a man named Jonathan showed up, he gave the absolute minimum in terms of trying to rectify the situation. Once I describe Jaime his expression changed, he knew exactly who I was talking about, and informed me Jaime was not a supervisor. At this point he briefly said I will look into it, and you are fine to get on the flight today. I asked him if I was in fact banned, or what impact this would have towards flying through this airport again. He looked up my profile and said he did see notes from Jaime, who literally had to be typing them up as soon as I left to cover his rear end. At this point I was just done, made sure my flight home that day was still fine, and sat down to wait my escape from hell.

It wasn't until around 11:20pm that I arrived back home, and I was so happy to see that my bag got on my original flight home, and was left out in the open with no one watching it for hours and hours. Thankfully no one stole my suitcase with several thousand dollars worth of audio recording equipment inside. From start to finish, but especially in the middle, American Airlines demonstrated how to do everything wrong. You could not pay me to fly with them again. My coworkers warned me about flying with American, if only I had listened. Safe travels out there everyone, and I hope you never encounter Jaime with American Eagle at O'Hare.
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Last edited by RossClanMan; Aug 20, 19 at 8:48 am Reason: Adding Paragraphs
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Old Aug 20, 19, 8:14 am
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Sounds like a really bad day. Don't let one person spoil your opinion on the whole airline.
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Old Aug 20, 19, 8:15 am
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Please add paragraphs and line breaks so that your post is easier to read and I'm sure you'll get a better response then as it's currently difficult to follow, maybe add a TL/DR section
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Old Aug 20, 19, 8:16 am
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Originally Posted by apeortdz View Post
Sounds like a really bad day. Don't let one person spoil your opinion on the whole airline.
Other than the gate agent at MSP no one from American Airlines gave a crap about what was going on. Not the folks at the customer service kiosk, not the folks at the call center, and definitely not the supervisor. From beginning to end they displayed the worst in company culture. Iíve seen enough to know they have issues from the top down.
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Old Aug 20, 19, 8:17 am
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Unfortunately this is the state of airline travel. Unless you are a top elite flyer with access to an airline lounge you are on your own. GAs pressured to get flights off the gate by departure time will begin to clear standbys not having the time or patience to ascertain if a missing pax is in route from a connection. Unfortunately the "stupid" factor seems also to sway how they do things. You may have sprinted towards your gate but the number of paxs that would waddle/stroll along stopping to go to the bathroom, get food, a coffee, etc. thinking the a/c is just going to have to "wait for them" is astounding. Needless to say there are in for a surprise when they show up to an empty gate.

This is not just an "American nightmare." Similar stories can be found with every US airline. When I travel and think I'm at risk for losing a connection I immediately get on my phone and do research. That way I can say I see flight xxxx appears to have open seats, can you re-book me on that flight and give me seat 10A..... No one is going to look out for you and AA is not going to take action against these GAs or others like them. If you're going to fly it will always be up to you to find optimal reroutes and never expect that an employee is going to go out of their way-like looking at missing paxs itineraries to determine if a pax might be in transit from a connection.
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Old Aug 20, 19, 8:22 am
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Here is the TL-DR
1) Original flight delayed by 45 minutes
2) Connecting flight had given his seat to a stand by when he arrived at gate
3) GA was rude and over-reacted
4) He was put on the later flight and made it home.

Last edited by Uzzar; Aug 20, 19 at 8:22 am Reason: fix
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Old Aug 20, 19, 8:27 am
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Originally Posted by Uzzar View Post
Here is the TL-DR
1) Original flight delayed by 45 minutes
2) Connecting flight had given his seat to a stand by when he arrived at gate
3) GA was rude and over-reacted
4) He was put on the later flight and made it home.
No, the more important point is the threats made by supervisor Jaimie, including not only not permitting the OP to fly on a connecting flight that day but also banning him from ever flying AA again. Fortunately the OP didn't believe it and go off to purchase a new ticket on another airline to attempt to get home that day.
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Old Aug 20, 19, 8:31 am
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It would be so much easier if people included paragraphs and topic sentences. OP clearly writes well so it seems a reasonable ask.

Bottom line is that OP was properly denied boarding because AA requires that one be at the gate for domestic departures no later than T-15. At that point, AA offloads no shows such as OP and boards standbys. This how and why overbooking works.

The rest is a matter of judgment. OP believes that the second GA was out of line while something apparently triggered that agent. None of us were there and the GA certainly is not here or, if he is, is not posting. But bottom line is that OP was rebooked,

Neither DL nor UA handle this any differently.
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Old Aug 20, 19, 8:50 am
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I just updated the post to separate it out to make it a little easier to read. Sorry about that folks, first time poster here. Also, I did add that the supervisor Jonathan informed me that Jaime was not a supervisor, and just a gate agent. Sorry for not including that.

Actually I made it there 4:17pm/4:18pm give or take a few seconds. So I was within the 15 minute window, and the ticket clearly states that it is not 15 minutes before, but 10 minutes.
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Last edited by JY1024; Aug 20, 19 at 10:38 pm Reason: Merged consecutive posts
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Old Aug 20, 19, 8:59 am
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Originally Posted by RossClanMan View Post
Actually I made it there 4:17pm/4:18pm give or take a few seconds. So I was within the 15 minute window, and the ticket clearly states that it is not 15 minutes before, but 10 minutes.
T-10 is when the door closes. They will give away your seat starting at T-15.

Originally Posted by https://www.aa.com/i18n/customer-service/support/conditions-of-carriage.jsp
Be at the gate and ready to board the plane:
  • 15 minutes before departure on domestic flights
  • 30 minutes before departure for international flights
If you're not, we may reassign your seat to another passenger.

The doors close 10 minutes before departure and you will not be allowed to board once the doors close.
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Old Aug 20, 19, 9:01 am
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Originally Posted by wetrat0 View Post
T-10 is when the door closes. They will give away your seat starting at T-15.
I was there right at that time, 16 minutes before departure like I stated previously. So by the statement you quoted they had already given my seat away well before the t-15 mark.
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Old Aug 20, 19, 9:02 am
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Originally Posted by RossClanMan View Post
At no point did I ever raise my voice, cuss, or even become slightly rude. Well, aside from panting like a fool who needs to visit the gym more often for strange instances such as this. As soon as I asked about the last call the young man that suddenly appeared yelled at me to "CALM DOWN." I was in a bit of a shock as I was in no way upset, or even remotely in an agitated state. He asked for my ticketed itinerary, so I handed him my tickets which also had my receipt and baggage claim ticket in the bunch. I replied "I'm not upset at all, I just want to get on my flight and go home to my kids." Once again the young man yelled at me in front of fellow airport travelers that I needed to calm down, and that I was not boarding this flight under any circumstance. The young man was physically upset, I am still not sure why. I calmly replied to the man "I am not upset, I just need to get home, this doesn't make any sense to me." The young man replied That "You are not flying anywhere today sir, I will not have you treat my staff this way." At this point I am still in shock, I asked the young man if he was having a bad day, and if so why he needed to take it out on me. Being in Marketing I was a little shocked at how this fellow went from 0 to 350mph on me in a heart beat. The young man replied he was not having a bad day, but that I was now going to have a bad day, and that he was going to ban me from American Airlines. I asked him if he was threatening me, and informed him that I would like his name & a supervisor immediately.
While the OP's seat being given away is fairly routine in this type of scenario with AA continuing to push D0, I can still understand OP's frustration to some degree, particularly given his description of the events that followed.

Did the gate agent "supervisor" really threaten to ban you from flying AA? Did he really call security... and did they arrive at the gate? What was it that prompted him to say that he would not allow you to treat "his" staff that way?

If the situation unfolded exactly as described, the actions of the AA crew at the gate seem egregiously over the top. The level of response strikes me as being entirely out of proportion to the events the OP described that led to it. This type of behavior toward consumers certainly would not be tolerated in my profession. Unfortunately, given the current state of the U.S. airline industry, there will likely be little further remedy available.

While any one event like this is basically a drop in the bucket and just another datapoint when viewed alone, if these types of incidents continue to be reported publicly (preferably with audio/video and/or other supporting documentation to prove misbehavior on the part of those employees in positions of trust), perhaps eventually we will start to see some reform. But I'm not holding my breath.
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Old Aug 20, 19, 9:03 am
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Originally Posted by wetrat0 View Post
T-10 is when the door closes. They will give away your seat starting at T-15.
There was a discussion about exactly this on OP earlier. The CoC say that you can lose your seat assignment at T-15 but T-10 seems to be the deadline for getting onto the flight at all, in some seat. There's a difference here between having one's seat reassigned and not being able to board the flight.
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Old Aug 20, 19, 9:10 am
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The issue is that GAs are under pressure to get the flight out on times and if they fail to do so can result in punitive action, including termination. Every airline out there gets their ontime stats published and those at the bottom are taken to task by the flying public, the press, and the government. With everything else they are tasked with, clearing standbys, upgrading paxs, processing any VDB/IDBs, etc. they probably don't have the time or patience to determine if you're in transit. The bottom line for all airlines is that once the door is closed and the GA and/or Captain won't have it re-opened you're out of luck. Arguing will get you nowhere.

As some that flys 1-2 a week heading towards PP by early next month I understand where I am on the food chain-towards the bottom. I have an AC membership and that helps but I'm still on my own. That's why I know my options and what's available. To depend upon a GA getting you home in a timely manner is a joke.

I understand the OP's frustration but that's air travel for the masses. If it doesn't suit you, not to be crass but stay home. I know numerous people that will only fly when absolutely necessary and won't take a job with travel because it's gotten to be such a de-meaning experience. Unfortunately what you see today in air travel (how people dress, act, etc.-in all cabins BTW) only makes airline employees more hardened. Sans the cigarette smoking I'd love to go back to the 1960s, even with 1960s jets.
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Old Aug 20, 19, 9:23 am
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Originally Posted by RossClanMan View Post
After walking about half a mile inside the maze of O'Hare I find a customer service kiosk. Boy, those folks could not have cared less what was going on. Finally the only information I received was that the flight was with American Eagle, so it wasn't their problem.
This statement makes no sense because customer service for AA mainline and Eagle are provided both by AA at ORD. What you encountered was a careless, lazy agent. Plenty of those at ORD too unfortunately.

Your best course of action at this point is to write a short, concise message to AA outlining your experience and why you felt it was subpar. It should be at most 1/4 the length of your post with factual bullet points. Make a special point to call out Jaime and his actions, especially if you can provide a physical description of him and/or the number of the gate he was working at and the time of the interaction. I would ask specifically that he is addressed by a supervisor about the interaction you experienced and retrained.

You will probably receive a relative pittance of AA miles for your trouble. Fortunately you reached home safely on the same day.
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