Dear Doug Parker (CEO of American Airlines and US Airways),
Congratulation on your merger. You finally got the prize that you have always wanted, to run the worlds largest airline. The merger ink is fresh and I know that you are working hard on integrating the two companies but please don’t screw it up.
I say please don’t screw it up because I was a victim of your last merger and I can already see problems occurring with the integration of both systems. I understand that this is a complicated process but please do not roll something out that is not working correctly.
I have flown US Airways almost exclusively for the last ten years and have had a like/hate relationship with the airline. The hate comes from one incident that I had when you were merging US Airways and America West. The following is a copy of the email recounting the details of the problems I had.
Dear Mr. ******,
I am writing to inform you of the unacceptable experience that I am currently having with US Airways. Before I go into detail I want to make it very clear that my problem was caused by a faulty reservation system, Telephone Customer Service Agents who could not recognize that there was problem with my reservation before I got to the Airport, and a Check-In Agent that did not know how to remedy my situation in a timely manner. If the Reservation had been handled correctly I would have made my original flight and would not be writing you this letter.
The following is an account of what happened. I originally purchased a round trip ticket online from Phoenix to Madrid connecting through Baltimore and Philadelphia and returning via Barcelona, Madrid, Philadelphia, and Phoenix. Confirmation #12345. The confirmation that I received said that I would be receiving a paper ticket in the mail. After 2 weeks no paper ticket was received. I called the 800# and was connected to the International Reservation Center. I explained to the agent that I had never received my paper ticket. I was told by the agent that I had an “E-Ticket” and did not need a paper ticket. I was not really confident with this answer and called again a week later and was told the same thing. After being told the same story by 2 different people I accepted it as fact that I had a “E-Ticket” and would be able to travel without a problem.
I arrived at the airport early on 3/16/2007 to check into my flight at 8:45AM. What I found was a chaotic situation due to weather delays in the North East. I asked a customer service agent where the “E-Ticket” kiosks were and was sent upstairs to check in. I was not checking baggage so proceeded upstairs to check in. When I got to the machines I was not able to check and had to go back downstairs.
I then went back downstairs and was sent to 3 different lines to check in. I did not want to wait in the long lines because I would never make my flight if I did. I explained to the supervisor at the Group Check in Line and he let me into the line. At the Check-In counter I explained my situation to the Check-In Agent and he started to work on getting me on my flight. He immediately ran into a problem because he was not able to print out my boarding passes because I did not have a paper ticket.
This is when things started to go from bad to worse. The agent made a phone to call the Internal Service Department to have them attach my reservations to a ticket so that I could get through security and board the plane. He then spent the next 2 hours and 30 minutes on hold. During this time the Agent, whom I found out had only been working the position for about 3 weeks, tried to get help from the other agents around him and as well as a supervisor. The other agents were not able to help and the Supervisor told him he had to wait for Customer Service to answer the call and he did not seem willing to help out.
The Agent was finally able to go into the back room and found someone that knew what to do. They wrote out a Flight Coupon and sent me to security. Since I had already missed my original flight I was then put on standby on the next flight to Philadelphia so I could catch my flight to Madrid. I spent a total of 2 hour and 45 minutes at the Check-In Counter.
The next part of my ordeal started when I got to the gate. I did not make it onto the flight as a standby. I then went to the Customer Service Counter and was helped by Agent #12345. I explained my situation to her and we started to work on my problem. She tried every possible combination to get me to Madrid but could not come up with any confirmed itineraries that would get me to Madrid before Tuesday March 20. This is 2 days after my original arrival date. I was also put on standby for the next flight to Philadelphia and was told that I would be at the top of the standby list. The Agent tried very hard to help me but could only do so much.
I then went to wait at the next gate for Standby boarding. Even though the Agent told me that I was placed at the top of the Standby List there were a number of other standby passengers ahead of me who got on the plane. I was the last person called and was told to go down the Boarding Ramp because there might be a seat for me. When I got to the Plane I was sent back because there was no seats available.
The gate agents then placed me on Standby for the next flight was not schedules to leave until 10:30 PM but was delayed until 1:30AM because the flight crew had to have a mandatory rest period between flights. I was also told the flight to Madrid on 03/18/2007 was also overbooked and I would have to be on Standby for that flight. This agent also told me that I would be able to check in online 24 hours before takeoff. I later found out this to be untrue.
It was at this point, after having spent 9 Hours at the Phoenix Airport and not wanting to take the chance on standby again and spend 2 days in airports, I decided to go home and take the confirmed reservations on Monday March 19 which were made in case I did not get on the standby flights.I spent most of Sunday on hold or talking to reservation agents and the Internet Reservation Help desk trying to get an assurance that I would be able to get on my flight without a paper ticket. I was told that I would have to go to the airport early tomorrow to get a paper ticket at the airport. I plan to arrive to the airport in the morning 4 hours before I am still not confident about anything.
Because of the delay in my trip I am now trying to rearrange my planned itinerary. Because of the delay I have had to change Hotel, Train and an Airline reservation on Iberia Airlines within Spain. I am going to lose deposits for some hotels and have to pay to rebook my Iberia flight at a significantly higher cost that I paid for the original ticket. I am also not going to be able to visit all the cities that I had planned and am very upset by this.
I was told that I would be able to extend my trip without cost because of the problems (see line 18 of my record). I am a Self-Employed business owner and do not have the luxury of “Paid Vacations.” The delay to my trip is causing me to lose income since I will not be able to do work for my customers.
I cannot begin to express the extreme frustration and anger that I have because I will not be able to take my trip as planned. I have been planning this trip for over a year and it is my first real vacation in 4 years.
Finally, When I return from my trip I expect to have discussion regarding compensation for my lost time, extra expenses in rearranging my schedule and lost income. I will forward all documentation to you as soon as it is available.
I can be reached via email while traveling.
I did finally get to Madrid but the situation did not get any better on my return trip. Here is a copy of the email I sent of what happened when I tried to come home.
Thank you for responding to my email. Unfortunately my experience did not get any better after I wrote this email. I could write another 3 pages on what happened but I do not really have time to write it and I am sure that you do not have time to read it so I will give you the highlights.
I spent all day Sunday 3/18 on hold or talking to customer service reps trying to get assurance that my problem had been corrected. It had not as I later found out. I spent another hour standing at the check in counter in Phoenix while they tried to figure out how to get me on my flight on Monday 3/19.
Once that was done I told them that I was concerned about my return flight which included a connecting flight from Barcelona to Madrid on Spanair. I was told to show Spanair the notes that were made on my record. This turned out not to be true because Spanair would not issue me a manual paper ticket. I had to purchase another ticket from Spanair to get from Barcelona to Madrid to catch my flight home.
Once arriving in Madrid I spent another hour with the US Airways representative and was provided with a Lost Ticket Refund Application, which I have to send in with the cost of my Spanair flight to get reimbursed. Please have someone with Customer Relations contact me or let me know who I need to contact so we can come to a resolution on my situation.
It took over six months and countless phone calls and emails to get any resolution to the problem. I was given flight credits in compensation and a check payment for my additional Spainair purchase. I can tell you that the compensation was nice but was no where near what it should have been for the amount of time I put into dealing with the situation.
If you have not already done so I recommend that you set up a special Customer Service Team that is authorized to handle these special situations during the current merger. Using the regular customer service channels will just result in a lot of aggravation for your customers.
Good Luck with the Merger
WHAT WAS YOUR BIGGEST PROBLEM WITH AN AIRLINE?