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June 02, 2008

An Okay Airline Experience

Donald Pittenger writes:

Dear Blowhards --

The sport du jour seems to be airline-bashing.

Lord knows there is no lack of cause. A particularly bone-headed item is American Airlines' plan to charge a fee for even one checked bag. Given the chronically too-full condition of overhead bins, imagine the chaos when a lot more passengers opt out of checking and into bin storage -- especially during winter months when heavy coats are headed for the same place. Apparently American can't do this sort of imagining.

At least they did me one kindness today, sort of.

Two months ago I cashed in frequent flier miles for a September trip to Boston, from where we'll loop up to Québec, up along the St. Lawrence River and on to Toronto and Niagara Falls. I told the American Airlines staffer that a return from Rochester or Buffalo would be fine -- pick one or the other. So it was Rochester.

This morning I received an email from American advising me that there were some schedule changes -- flight numbers and times, etc. Glancing over the printout I noticed a tiny detail that I had missed in previous emailed itineraries: the return flight was originating in Rochester, Minnesota!!

So I hopped on the phone to straighten out the mess. The lady on the other end of the line advised me that there would be a $150-per-person change-of-itinerary fee. Uh, oh. I had already booked hotel rooms and made arrangements to visit friends; too late to dump the trip.

While the lady was off-line checking something, I remembered that the initial booking was done by phone and that the mistake was American's, not mine. Rochester, MN probably appeared on a computer screen above Rochester, NY so that was the one that got selected. When I got off hold I told the lady that the error surely was American's and that I didn't feel like paying $300 for their mistake. And if she couldn't fix this, then I wanted to talk to her supervisor. She put me on hold and returned a few minutes later to tell me that the supervisor agreed there would be no penalty for the change.

Thanks, American, for doing something right. Now as for that luggage fee ...



posted by Donald at June 2, 2008


Personally, I can hardly wait for large numbers of feeble old people to be dragging their suitcases down the aisles. It will make air travel even more special than it is now.

Posted by: thaprof on June 3, 2008 1:43 PM

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