Tuesday, February 22, 2011

#48: American Airlines

Yeah, I know...shocker...an airline that sucks. But hear me out on this one. This post is not about the ridiculous baggage prices. It's not about the high prices of tickets. It's not even about the "class system" that American and other airlines promote. (Don't get me started.)

No, this post is about American's inability to service customers who fly internationally. You see, American--like other airlines--subcontracts to other carriers when you fly abroad. For example, I just flew to Brazil for work. My itinerary had me flying on American Airlines from Colorado Springs to Dallas (DFW). Then, from DFW to Sao Paulo Brazil on American. But in Sao Paulo, I had to jump over to another airline, GOL Airlines, for the last leg of my trip to Recife, Brazil. That's where the trouble begins.

My luggage wasn't in Sao Paulo when I arrived. So I couldn't carry it through Immigration. I boarded my final flight on GOL Airlines to Recife hoping my bag would make the last leg of the trip with me. No such luck. I contacted GOL at the Recife airport and they told me that I needed to talk to American, since my bag was on an American chartered flight. American said I needed to take it up with GOL. Neither airline would allow me to file a missing bag report, because they both said the other airline was responsible.

Here's the kicker: Both airlines admitted that my bag was in Sao Paulo--just a 2 and a half hour flight away from my hotel. But neither would put the bag on a plane because they didn't want to take responsibility. So, FOR SEVEN DAYS, I went without my luggage as the two airlines blamed each other. SEVEN DAYS in the Brazilian heat and humidity without clean underwear, socks, toiletries, a change of shirts, pants...nothing. (Well, after day two I went shopping and bought enough to get me through the rest of the week. $150 bucks for a pair of pants, a shirt, underwear, socks and toiletries.) At one point, a "supervisor" at American Airlines Baggage Service, Cathy Fuller, told me to "stop calling" because "we can't do anything for you."

I kid you not, my bag showed up ONE HOUR before I checked out of the hotel to return home.

Let's be honest: Airlines lose luggage all the time. Oftentimes it's recovered in a fairly timely manner. But American doesn't know how to communicate with the airlines that they themselves subcontract to. I am not a GOL Airlines customer. I'm an American Airlines customer. I booked through them. I contracted through them to get me and my luggage to Recife. How they do it is up to them. But for them to say they can't be held responsible for something their subcontractor does, that's ridiculous. For the two airlines to be unwilling to talk to each other, inane. And for American to not do the right thing and just put my bag on the 2 and a half hour flight, is unconscionable.

American Airlines: You Suck.

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