I just can’t.
American Airlines continually disappoints. Even famous traveler and chef, Anthony Bourdain, takes to Twitter to complain not only about the frequency of AA delays, but how unprofessionally AA handles informing customers of these delays. Many rankings of Airlines find AA at the bottom of the barrel, and yet, I booked my most recent flight from Big Island, Hawaii to Oakland, CA on American Airlines.
The flight, with a connection in Phoenix, had been $200 cheaper than the competing Hawiian Airlines flight, also with one connection. I respect that, “You get what you pay for,” but almost every time I have booked with AA the flight has been delayed or cancelled.
I had been planning to nod off at the Kona International Airport around 7p. Waking briefly at 10:30p I’d board the plane to Dallas, awakening again briefly when we landed to board the flight to Oakland, hoping to sleep again on the connecting flight to Oakland.
None of this because at 6:30p, the evening of our flight, we received a phone call from AA notifying that our flight had been cancelled. No info on rebooking was provided other than a number we could call.
The AA rep I spoke to attempted to book me on connecting flights the next day that would require us to take an initial flight at 8:33a, with one connection, that would not get us to Oakland till 10:33p! That would be an all day affair to travel 5 hours!
Desperate for a solution, my eyes immediately scanned the Departures board to seek an alternative option and found a 9:45p United Airlines flight leaving in 2 hours to San Francisco.
Perfect! It would land a little farther from Mike’s apartment, but would involve no layover, and more importantly, would place us within an Uber ride of Mike’s apartment!
However, initially the AA rep said that she could only book me on flights to Oakland, which I was surprised to hear, having done otherwise on past cancelled flights. Fortunately, after explaining that this seemed unprecedented to me, she said she would try to move us and put me on hold for about 20 minutes while she called United to see if they could accommodate us on their flight out tonight.
It worked! Except… It didn’t.
The AA rep said we were more booked on the United flight to SF that night and assured us that we need only go to the AA counter to get our new tickets. When we did so, multiple AA ticket staff shooed us away, saying they could not help.
At the United counter we are told by a rep that while AA had reserved us tickets for this flight that they had imcorrectly sent ticket numbers that made it impossible to retrieve our new United tickets.
Time was ticking, and Mike and I were getting nervous. We split up; he went to the AA counter, while I stayed at United and rang AA again.
A new AA rep attempted to book us again on the flight, after speaking to a United ticket counter rep over my phone. The AA ticket attendant tried to help Mike do the same. However, his rep booked us on a different flight to SF, one heading out the next day, without telling him till she printed the tickets for this flight! Mike was upset to have been lied to. She dodged this by saying that the United flight tonight to SF was sold out, which we later learned was a lie. Mike asked her if we could instead be booked on a 10:30p flight to San Jose. She yelled at him and told her she would do nothing for him.
I thought I was having better luck on my call with the AA phone rep saying she had secured us tickets on the SF flight that night. However, when we went to the counter the United Rep, Jan Shy (our hero), said we had three ticket reservations each on United flights, but no actual tickets booked.
Mike and I were disheartened to say the least. We had spent so much agonizing, nerve wrecking time trying to resolve this flight issue. We had been lied to multiple times by American Airlines.
What were we to do?
I had told myself that no matter what happened, “You must not be upset. Worse things happen, and you will just learn to travel all day tomorrow, and then all day the next day (we have a Monday flight from Oakland to Nyc, with a connection in Dallas).
And then… A miracle!
Jan Shy, the United Airlines rep, said she was going to make it work! She had been staring at her monitor, rapidly clicking away at the keyboard, and asking coworkers for their thoughts. And somehow she figured it out, and not only that, she booked us on Economy Plus seats that would give us extra legroom.
Jan Shy, what an extraordinary United Airlines employee!
I only wish I could have taken down her contact info to send her a thank you note, but I did not want to be inappropriate, and we had a flight that would be departing in 45 minutes! We rushed away, absolutely glowing.
It’s 9:45p. I am not asleep as I had planned. But I don’t care! I was so touched by our good fortune to have been helped by Jan and on our way home to SF.