I flew back from Cleveland today on American Airlines. The flight was on time, the plane was clean, the staff was lovely.
I landed at JFK around 2. I then hiked about a mile to baggage claim. No problem, JFK is a big airport, not all gates can be right near baggage.
Then I waited. And waited. The baggage carousels didn't show my flight from Cleveland on their reader boards of which planes' luggage would be arriving. The arrival list didn't show it either.
I waited 45 minutes, then happened to see my bag swirling forlornly on carousel #9. The one that said Austin and Washington and didn't say Cleveland.
No problem though. I grabbed the bag, and pulled the handle. Nothing.
Crap. The rolly bag now rolls but you can only pull it if your arm extends to the height of the bag.
I looked like the Hunchback of Notre Dame pulling this thing to Baggage Services.
Where I met a very nice young man who promptly told me American Airlines really doesn't give a hoot if I fly with them again.
No they won't replace my damaged bag.
No they won't refund the $25 I paid to have it checked.
No, they won't do anything.
Ok. No problem.
I can see where I'm not wanted. And truthfully, my never flying American Airlines again won't affect them in the slightest. I'm one person of thousands, or tens of thousands who flew American Airlines in 2012.
Except, I have almost total control over where I fly and which airline I use. I can decline to fly to places that are only served by American. I can pay more if paying more puts me on a different carrier.
I never have to fly American again. And I won't.
It's not the delay.
Or the broken bag.
Or the fact that the delay and the broken bag meant I waited in a long line for a cab ($48.50 with tip) instead of taking the Airtrain and the subway ($7.00 no tip needed)
It's that they just didn't care. Their front line customer service people are taught to say no no no. No we won't help you. No we won't do this. No.
Even the hot mess that is Amtrak has better customer service. When they mess up, they give you a travel voucher. And their customer service people actually say "I'm sorry you were inconvenienced. How can I help you?"
The man I interacted with wasn't rude. He wasn't even out of line. He was doing his job. The problem is the company taught him his job was to say no.
Ok, I'm saying no too. No more American Airlines.
As it turns out, I was lucky I wasn't sitting in the pilot's lap, or still in Cleveland!