Monday, May 25, 2009

Customer Service


It was a leisurely Memorial day morning and in an almost random move, I decided to recheck details of an October trip to Vermont that Carole and I are taking. Good thing I did.

I pulled up the American Airlines reservation and the first anomaly that my eyes picked up was our arrival time at Hartford. Then I saw a blue box above the reservation that said, "Please note the change in your reservation." What should have been 3:30 PM ETA or so now showed 12:55 AM on the following day. It quickly hit me that good ole AA had arbitrarily moved us from an afternoon flight to an evening flight. Probably had something to do with making money or staying afloat or somesuch. Wouldn't it have been good customer service to at least inform me via email of such a change? It's like, "we're gonna destroy your plans and furthermore, we won't alert you."

Then I saw a note saying that I needed to call AA, and a 1-800 number was provided. I called. The first sentence I heard was in English, then it shifted to something that sounded very Asian, perhaps Chinese. Thinking I had misdialed, I tried the number again. The results were the same. I stayed with the recording for a long time to make sure that it didn't suddenly revert to English. No luck. So in desperation, I called the American Advantage program directly.

Bingo. I got a human. I told her my situation and we looked for another flight. I should stop here and explain something. Carole and I always have flown in the cabin section...for obvious socio-economic reasons. But I've accumulated a goodly portion of miles on my AAdvantage account now and I want to make this trip something a little special, so we're going first-class, baby. Up front where the bluebloods sit and discuss what art they have hanging in their summer cottages. Well, the lady informed me that on all the other flights to Hartford had only single seats in first-class available for AAdvantage members.

Well, by now you are bored so I'll simply say that I had to change our destination to Boston in order to get an acceptable travel time and our first-class seats. One hotel reservation had to be cancelled and another one made. So I guess we're victims of the tough economic times that impact airlines as hard as any business. AA will make more money selling those previously reserved seats to well-heeled corporate execs. I just wish they'd communicate with the consumers a bit better.

1 comment:

Steve said...

Tim,

It could have been worse. They could have booked you for an earlier flight -- without telling you!! Then, when you got to the airport you have missed your flight so you would have to pay for another one. Meanwhile, since you weren't there, they could have sold your seats to someone else so that they got double revenue.

WAIT - I better be quiet or I will be giving them ideas.

Steve

P.S. I will be referencing this comment on my resume. With marketing ideas like this, I know I can get a job with a cable company.