Dear Customer Relations,
After flying American Airlines from Kauai, Hawaii to Chicago Flight 266 on January 24th, I received a customer survey from American specific to the Kauai to Los Angeles leg of the trip. While my comments about that particular flight were somewhat positive, I provided additional information about the two other connections that were part of the itinerary to return to Chicago. My comments were extremely negative about those flights including the Flight from Los Angeles and to Dallas/Fort Worth and the Flight from Dallas/Fort Worth to Chicago. Unfortunately, the comment section was limited, but since I expressed concern about some serious issues, I expected to be contacted by American Airlines for more details. Since I have not been contacted, I am sending this detailed letter.
The details are many, so I will attempt to summarize. Please note there were a total of nine in our party, which included five adults, three children under age 10 and an 8-month old infant.
Upon leaving Los Angeles on Flight 2400 to Dallas/Fort Worth at 11:50 PM, my wife and I were seated in the first row of First Class where we observed:
• Both flight attendants dosing during take-off and for the first 10 minutes of the flight, until they were signaled to begin cabin service.
We arrived late at Dallas/Fort Worth at about 6:00 AM during a severe rainstorm and missed our connection, Flight 2320 to Chicago. An announcement was made to approach the gate attendants to get more information about other flights. Upon deplaning:
• Both members of the ground crew seemed surprised and overwhelmed by the number of passengers needing information.
• We were shuffled from one to the other agent until we got word that we needed to get to another terminal in a hurry to catch the next flight to Chicago.
• We asked for assistance with our large family due to the fact that we were traveling with small children and the gate agent told us the motorized carts parked at the gate were only for disabled passengers.
• A cart driver saw our dilemma and told us to get aboard his cart, overriding the gate agent. He promptly delivered us to our gate.
• Upon arriving at our new gate, we were told the plane could not fly because the cockpit was leaking. Again, we were shifted to another plane and another terminal.
Finally, we were able to board what we thought was our return flight home. Just before take-off it was announced that this plane had a mechanical problem and that maintenance had been called. While waiting on the plane at the gate, my wife and I were admonished by the First Class flight attendant about storage of a purse and an unintended lapse in not turning off a cell phone. Her comments to us were loud, frenetic, and heard by everyone in First Class. Then:
• Pilot announcements regarding the progress of the repair, while frequent at the beginning of the problem, became infrequent. They stopped the longer we sat at the gate.
• The flight attendant began making comments about the fact that the plane was probably not going to leave. She encouraged passengers to deplane. Most, however, stayed.
• As time went on, more and more passengers left the plane. While my wife and I were in First Class, our children and grandchildren were in economy. Eager to get home we waited it out.
• Finally I got off the plane to assess the situation, where other passengers informed me that our flight was cancelled.
• My family was still on the plane, all of the children and grandchildren sleeping, when I gave my wife the news that the flight was cancelled. At no time was the cancellation announced in the cabin. We took responsibility for getting the rest of our family off of the plane.
• We were given an 800 number for American Airlines to find our way home.
• We worked with gate agents to try to get back to Chicago as quickly as possible. We had been detained in Dallas for 7+ hours. Some of us could get out at noon, others were put on stand-by lists. We had been traveling for over 20 hours at this point.
• Our 8-month-old granddaughter was running out of formula. None was available from either a concession or the airlines.
• When my wife and I were allowed to board a flight at approximately12:00 PM, without the rest of the family, my daughter approached a gate agent and asked her to return my cell phone to me and for me to call her so that we could communicate how we would reunite.
• After the gate attendant refused to give us the message, my son-in-law challenged her. He did not use harsh words, but said he felt enough was enough. The gate attendant became belligerent and threatened my daughter and son-in-law that they were not only not going to get on the flight, but they were not going to be allowed to fly out of the Dallas/Fort Worth airport. Both a supervisor and a manager were called and demanded the gate attendant stop harassing my family members. My daughter and son-in-law and their family were allowed to board the plane on stand-by.
Our experience flying from Kauai to Chicago and the 7+ hour delay at Dallas/Fort Worth was unacceptable for the following reasons:
• Unsafe take off from LA to Dallas/Fort Worth. Flight attendants sleeping at a critical time of flight – take-off
• Needing to bypass two disabled planes at DFW to finally get a third plane capable of getting the passengers to Chicago
• Unknowledgeable ground crew when our delayed flight landed at DFW
• Inability of ground crew and flight crew to direct passengers after problems occurred
• Inappropriate responses from gate agents in dealing with passengers in need of information and assistance getting to their destinations.
The final issue occurred upon our arrival at home. Having sat out on the tarmac at DFW in a major rainstorm for over 7 hours unprotected, our suitcases, even though well built for travel, were drenched. When we arrived home, our clothing was soaked. This trip was completely fraught with difficulties and we think you need to know about it. We have been loyal American Airline passengers for almost 30 years. This was not the experience we expected or deserved.
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