Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Are You Freaking Kidding Me?

I was supposed to go to Puerto Rico today to see my physiatrist and have my Baclofen pump refilled.  The key words in that sentence, of course, are "supposed to".

Our flight from St. Croix was scheduled to leave at 11 am.  Even though our local airport is so tiny that we can park the car, get me in my chair, check-in at the ticket counter, go through customs and security, and sit down at our gate no more than 20 minutes later, the airport staff refuse to issue boarding passes to anyone who doesn't check in at least two hours before their flight.  So we dutifully hauled ourselves out of bed early this morning -- easier for me than the HipHubby because I didn't sleep again last night, got ready (which was riddled with problems and should have tipped us off that this was not going to be the good day we were determined to have), and made it in to the American Airlines check in counter at 9 am.

That's when we overheard the kind-looking older woman behind the counter tell the people who were attempting to check in that our flight was cancelled. The news hit me with all the force of a Category 5 hurricane. 

My first thought was, "How many days before my pump runs out of medication?"  Fortunately, my alarm date isn't until next week, so I wasn't going to be in any physical danger by not getting my refill today.  We considered the option of trying to get on the 1p flight out and the 9pm flight home if the doctor was able to stay late today to see me, but quickly decided that wasn't an option -- I'd never survive trying to extend my travel day from 12 hours to 17 hours would do me in.  So I got right on the phone with the scheduler at my doctor's office, told her what had happened, and asked her when he could see  me.  Being the wonderful (and talented) many he is, my doctor agreed to make a special trip into his office on Saturday to see me, so all we needed to do was get American Airlines to rebook our flights.

The kind, older woman at the ticket counter was surrounded by frantic travelers who needed to make connecting flights today, so we decided we'd call the AA reservations number and see if we could rebook that way.   After a brief scramble to find the number, I rang them up and to my great surprise was talking with a real person in mere minutes.  I explained that our flight was cancelled and asked her to put on on the same flights on Saturday.

Her reply: "What credit card will you be using for the $100 rebooking fee?"

"EXCUSE ME?  Perhaps you didn't hear me -- *you* canceled our flight, making it impossible to see my doctor today.  The doctor can see us on Saturday"

"Well we can only rebook you for free if you travel today.  Other the standard re-booking fee of $100 applies."

"Buy my doctor can't see us today, he can only see us on Saturday.  None of this is our fault, so why should we be penalized $100?"

"Ma'am, that's the policy.  If you extend your stay, you cannot be rebooked for free unless you travel the same day."

"But we're not extending our stay ANYWHERE except home!  We live here -- we're trying to go to Puerto Rico to see my doctor for a scheduled medical procedure and are enable to go because of you!  Why should we be charged for your screw-up?"

"Hold please while I get my supervisor on the line."

Are you freakin' kidding me?

Fortunately we noticed the older lady had rebook all of the people traveling today and was ready and able to help us.  We told her the story, and she immediately redeemed her entire company.  Not only did she reschedule us for the same flights on Saturday, she issued a $100 inconvenience voucher to each of us.  I was so grateful for her kindness after the horrible morning and lack of sleep that I cried.  We asked her for her name so we could call AA and tell them what an outstanding employee she is, but she refused to tell us, saying that what she did was a no-brainer and we should just go home and get some rest.

$100 charge for changing my flight after you canceled the original flight my ass.  The people working the AA Reservations phone lines should be ashamed of themselves.

1 comment:

Jonderson said...

Penny: Good thing you didn't actually get her name and tell AA about her, or she would likely have been fired for violating company policy.

Just smile and nod, remember? :)

This is typical corporate behavior anymore here stateside. Nobody is allowed to use judgment anymore, because errors in employee judgment result in lawsuits. "Policy" is therefore written by Harvard MBA's and is driven by nothing but the statistically inferred result on the immediate bottom line. People be damned.