American Airlines Customer Service Ruined Our Family Vacation

Author: admin
Category: Business Blog


Dear American Airlines, I know this is not your website. But I am writing this letter in disappointment and disgust in relation to your company and the staff that you employ.  I have filled in two complaint forms directly with your customer relation department, and have still had no reply. 

This is no surprise and shows what little respect American Airlines customer service show’s its customers.

In October 2015 I booked 10 flights with your company, I chose to travel with British airways / American airlines, having used both companies many times in the past, and until today had not had any problems. My flights were booked through the flight center in the UK and I was informed that the flights needed to be booked in a group of 7 and a group of 3.  I was informed this was the only way these could be booked and this would cause no problems as the agent, and I attach a copy of their e mail, confirmed that these reservations had been linked as one booking.

23 March 2016 I arrived at Heathrow airport to be met by unfriendly and rude staff. I was informed that these flights had not been booked as a group booking and also the flights from Dallas to Orlando had not been booked? This is contrary to what the flight center confirmed in the UK.  After a considerable amount of time and unfriendly representatives we managed to get checked in.  I was disappointed that although we had requested, and made it clear, that this was a family vacation and a reunion of all my children and my parents, we were not traveling together.  My two younger children aged 10 and 11 were seated at the rear of the plane with my eldest son.  Whilst I was in the middle carriage with my partner and mother and father, and my two remaining children and my son’s fiancé, were a number of rows away from us.

Your staff based in Heathrow informed me there was nothing they could do, the flight was full, and we should have checked in 24 hours prior.

This we had tried to do, but along with every other passenger in the queue, we were unable to do this as your system was down prior to our travel.  I am very disappointed that I could not sit with my younger sons, more so because this was an expensive dream vacation and we were not accommodated.

On arrival in Dallas there were many delays, due to re-stocking and loading of passengers, finally after a further one and half hour delay, whilst sat on the plane on the runway, we were informed the plane could not take off due to the pilot running out of air time.  I find it remarkable that American airlines were not aware of this prior to boarding its passengers.

There was no apology, no assistance and no help put forward.  100s of customers lined at one check in gate all trying to get outward flights, resulted in my children sleeping on the floor in Dallas airport for three hours.  One family member stood in the lengthy queue, and American Airlines staff informed two other family members, at our expense we had to call the main office and at our own expense on UK mobile phones as no phones were working in the departure line. That it was our responsibility to book our onward flight, also at 1 am in the morning we were also told there was no hotel accommodation available, and nor could we retrieve our checked luggage.

This resulted in huge stress, as my father requires urgent daily medication, and he had kept enough supply for his onward journey but the remainder of his medication for the following day was in the checked in luggage.

Your staff were rude unhelpful and informed me to write to you.  The next plane available was the following day flying to Miami, then a further connecting flight onto Orlando.  With no alternative and stranded with young children we had no further options.  Thankfully a passenger seeing our dilemma kindly offered his hotel accommodation so my children could get into a bed.  We had no clean clothes, no underwear or toiletries, these required purchasing and we had additional costs for food and drink.  Our hotel, which had been booked in Orlando, required cancelling and our car hire rearranging.

The following morning we returned to Dallas airport for our flight to Miami, again faced with huge delays due to loading passengers onto a flight, our flight was delayed by 1 and half hours.  This resulted in our connection from Miami to Orlando being missed.

Stranded once again in the evening in Miami, we were met by rude, unhelpful staff that again informed us, at our own expense, to contact the call center. Long delays stood in a queue of 100s of people and two hours later, finally a manager was very helpful, and managed to get us onward flights, regrettably not all traveling together, I had to send my three children traveling alone on a flight to Tampa, whilst I waited with the remainder of the family to travel on an alternative flight to Tampa.  This caused huge stress, I was extremely upset and tearful and this was the start of what should have been our dream family vacation.  The manager assured me this would not happen again and she had arranged for onward coach travel from Tampa to Orlando and had linked all flights together for our return journey and we should incur no more problems.

On arrival in Tampa once again American Airlines had not kept its promise, onward travel had not been arranged and no coach was there to meet us, once again we were stranded.  Thankfully the final flight out of Tampa had been delayed and was not full and we were able to board this flight. I question whether this is even acceptable from a health and safety standpoint, having to take four flights across two time zones in a 24hr period. I seriously doubt that you allow your own cabin crews to do this. It most certainly isn’t acceptable to make a family with young children do it, both morally and professionally, on what is supposed to be an enjoyable journey for a once in a lifetime holiday. When I booked this vacation initially the flights were not the cheapest but I paid the cost to only have one transfer. 

The journey, due to American Airlines incompetence, resulted in four flights, losing us one full day of our vacation, extra hotel costs and cancellations and extra costs incurred in airports as well as the emotional upset and stress.

This then resulted in my 11 year old developing an ear abscess, which in the medical opinion of a doctor, was due to the four flights in a 24-hour period.  This resulted in further costs in a visit to an ER department in Florida and large medical costs.

Keen to ensure we had an uneventful travel back to the UK on the 7th April, and following advice from your staff, I e mailed customer services with all information and asked them to confirm our seats were allocated and our bookings were linked together.  To date they have not had the common decency to respond to this e-mail, I enclose receipt of them receiving this e-mail.

The flight from Orlando to Charlotte, again resulted in my children sitting in one coach separate to me, and the staff were again unhelpful.  Upon arrival in Charlotte we needed to collect our boarding passes for our onward travel to Heathrow, an 8 hour flight during the night, our seats had been allocated all over the plane, none of our family members were seated together, and again we were met with opposition and rudeness. After two hours and having been spoken to rudely and having two managers involved they did manage to seat me with my children but the rest of the family were separated.

I apologize for the length of this letter that I have enclosed, but American Airlines have ruined our family vacation, we have not had an apology and not even a response to the original complaint.  I have forwarded this also to the flight center in the UK who has informed me that the problem is with you the airline.  I have also enclosed a copy of this letter to British Airways. I want reimbursing for our telephone calls we had to make in airports to arrange our onward travel, reimbursing for the cost of t -shirts and toiletries, for which the receipts are enclosed.  I would like American Airlines to compensate my family for destroying our vacation.