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Another Airline Customer service thread.

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
I just dropped my Mom off at the RenoAirport she is on her annual trip to visit my sister in Florida. She wanted to take her new Mountain bike on the trip. When she purchased her ticket with American Airlines she specifically asked about charges to transport a bicycle. The agent told her there would be NO CHARGE to take a bicycle packed in a bicycle box. Being the worrier that my Mom is, she went down to the Reno airport American Airlines ticket counter, and asked the ticket agent about transporting the bike, she was again told that it is no problem no charge. So I go to a bike shop get a bike box and spent a couple hours breaking down her bike and packing it into the box. This morning I drop her off at the AirPort, I get about 1 mile away and she calls me. Please come back the Air Port and pick up my bike because the American Airlines ticket counter agent, is insisting that I have to pay them 80$ to take my 29LBS bike.

Real cool!! (NOT) She was very frustrated and looked like she was going to cry. Nice way to start her vacation.

Thanks American Airlines.
post #2 of 10
That totally blows, but unfortunately that charge may be legitimate. If you look at aa.com on their baggage page under "Specialty Items" they do list a $80 charge for bicycles:
Bicycles 1 non-motorized touring or racing bike. Handlebars must be fixed sideways and pedals removed. Or pedals and handlebars must be enclosed in plastic foam or similar material. $80
Exception: If bicycle and container are less than 62 dimensional inches and under 50 lbs., the bike is free in place of one 62 inch bag in the free allowance. 70 lbs
115 inches - Acceptance conditional on aircraft size and load conditions
- Exception: If a bike is less than 62 dimensional inches and 50 lbs., the above conditions do not apply
- If this item is in excess of the number of pieces allowed in the free baggage allowance, excess baggage charges apply in addition to the $80 special items fee.
However as I highlighted above, if the bike when boxed was less than the 62 inches (sum of H+W+D of box)) and because it was under 50 pounds, it should have been free - if your mom had checked no more than one other bag.

Whether the charge was justified by weight or size or number of bags, it is inexcusable of AA to have repeatedly given assurances that it would be free. At a minimum, they should have made sure they told you about the conditions of the "free" bike allowance.

Did she take the bike and pay the fee? If so, she should probably write a letter to AA demanding a refund, and if she doesn't get it, try disputing that amount of the charge from the credit card company used to pay the charge or for the ticket. If she didn't pay and take the bike, then unfortunately there's probably less leverage because the cost of a ruined/changed/lessened vacation can't be easily quantified. Did she rent a bike at her destination? Then she should demand the cost of that rental be reimbursed.

You might want to post about this over on the AA board at flyertalk.com to ask advice about the best way to proceed.

It is astonishing how airline Ticket Agents and Gate Agents seem to make up their own rules and interpretations whenever they feel like it, or don't even know their airline's policies and can't be bothered to look them up.

For future travel, I'd recommend you always check the baggage information on the airline's website, and if there are free allowances, print out that page and be ready to wave it in the agent's face at the airport if necessary. I always have it with my when I'm traveling with ski gear.

Oh one more thing. Don't fly AA. They've always been "Something Awful On The Ground" IMHO. Tiny dirty old MD80 planes, ground agents who make up stuff like "no rollaboards for you", and generally a nasty attitude. Considering how much they promote themselves as something special, as America's premium airline, as the only airline that has never filed for bankruptcy, yadda-yadda, they really have a crummy attitude. Maybe if they had gone through a bankruptcy and had passengers and corporate accounts deserting them in droves, they would have learned better how to appreciate and value their paying customers.
post #3 of 10
Originally Posted by MarkXS

It is astonishing how airline Ticket Agents and Gate Agents seem to make up their own rules and interpretations whenever they feel like it, or don't even know their airline's policies and can't be bothered to look them up.
This is what amazes me most. So you have the policy, then make sure everyone knows it and acts accodingly. If not be prepared to stand behind what one 9tow) of your agents said and make good on it.

Other option is to do as I have with a bike bag and just refer to it as a 'convention display' presto now charge.
post #4 of 10
What disgusting service. Is no one accountable in these companies?
So far, the only american domestic I've had excellent service from is Jet Blue. And they weren't just good, they were exceptional.

Continental, United, Delta and American are really dreadful. I think soon they'll be putting crates of chickens up the back, and tying string around the planes to keep them together. And the chickens will be complaining about the "service".
post #5 of 10
"Greyhound" in the sky for all of them
post #6 of 10
Actually United has been rather good lately. They've made a point to try to keep up their service. If you have at least minimal elite status (UA Premier or any other Star Alliance Elite) you get seating in the more spacious Economy Plus section of coach (E+) which has much more leg room, and they try to block out middle seats to keep them empty between elites. FA's have been quite friendly and efficient on all my recent flights with them, and on-time performance has been good most of the time.

I don't fly Continental often these days but they've gotten a reputation for having one of the better domestic services, and they're the only one left who still serves meals at mealtime in economy. The last CO flight I took was just fine.

I wouldn't put them in the same category as Delta or American, both of which are rather full of themselves about how good they are while often failing at it. Both of them are still better than US or NW, who have cut everything to the bone. However NW has one heck of a good FF program in terms of ongoing bonuses, so I've used them enough to get free trips on them plus their partners Delta and Continental.

Any airline is going to blow chunks sooner or later. I do get a laugh sometimes about people's expectations and the "I'll never fly XYZ again" blowouts.

Also find it both amusing and somewhat reverse-xenophobic when certain people who regularly fly internationally continually complain only about US-based airlines. Ever deal with totally uncontrolled boarding in Frankfurt with Lufthansa or their very "intimate" security? Or the mass inefficiency of KLM at Schipol in Amsterdam? And the way both LH and KL ignore their respective alliance's elite privileges that should be given to United and Northwest elites? Or been screamed at by a BA gate agent in Heathrow about a tiny bag that would easily fit under the seat but had to be checked on a half-empty hop up to Scotland? Or Alitalia claiming there is no free ski allowance returning from Milan when they had no problem and no charge on the flight from the US for the very same gear bag?

I'll take the average grumpy Northwest gate agent in Detroit over any of that.

I'm not defending the domestic airlines - they've been pretty stupid about a lot of things (much bigger topic than can be raised here and opens up a can of worms about organized labor/management relations among other problems) but they're no worse than many other non-US carriers.

I do agree with Ant that jetBlue gives great service. However you've got really limited choices of destinations and times (hated that DEN-BOS redeye-only service even when it was cheap - and now it's as much as United with 6 nonstops a day) and no chance at rewards other than on their own flights. Plus their FF program blows also because your points expire only one year after earning them with no way to extend them. I was 1/3 of the way to a free jetBlue ticket and now it's all gone. Whereas I've flown free to Europe several times from flying United and American and am headed to South America free from flying Northwest and Delta.
post #7 of 10
I complain about most US domestic airlines because they are gob-smackingly bad, Mark. And they are not that cheap anymore either. Just the basics, that's all I expect, and they don't deliver on any of them. Except Jet Blue, whose basic service is good, solid and reliable.

I actually have flown Continental on possibly the longest flight in existance: Australia to the US (landing in Hawaii and Denver) and then on to Gatwick (all the same flight, same plane). Words cannot describe how ordinary that airline was. Nowadays, domestically they are better but still substandard. If Jet Blue can get it right, why can't the others?
post #8 of 10
OMG ant that must have been the flight from hell even if they had song and dance, live luaus and a jazz band!

jetBlue has really gone downhill in a lot of ways - specifically in the most important area: they recently had the worst on-time performance of any airline. Love the snack assortment but if you're sitting on the tarmac for hours that doesn't really make up for it. I've got a feeling they've fallen into the trap of overexpanding beyond the extent that they can keep control of their corporate culture. I do agree that their people seem happy to be there, rather than hating their jobs and detesting their employer.

Who do you recommend as a good airline (I realize "good" is a relative term here) for international or mixed international and domestic US travel? I've heard great things about Singapore air but I don't really go anywhere they fly. Of the carriers who do (or have partners with) N. Amer, S. Amer, Europe and South Pacific/ANZ, does anybody stand out? You do a lot of international travel so I think you'd have a great perspective on what's out there. Thanks.

I wonder if we should start a "which airlines suck the least for skiers?" thread over in the Travel & Resorts section?
post #9 of 10
Jet Blue---Not 100% postive about my facts but here is how I believe they can do better than the existing:

1) new airline--employees are young, no retiree benefits are being paid for in your ticket. New employees pensions (guess here) are probably less generous than the big boys, once were.

2) They leased their airlines and the first lease payment is not due for another 3 years. (I read they got a 10 yr "no payments" lease, I assume they have been in business about 8? Planes are new---not 30+ yrs old, less maintence costs.

3) less cities served. The big boys cover the country and fly unproductive routes...probably due to politics.

Not buying or selling. I shop for the cheepest seat and expect the service I pay for. I have only complained one time to an airline. I paid full fair on USair to go on my honeymoon. The plane was also taking 75-80 kids to disney. The chaperone was late and rather than had each kid his/her personal ticket, he said....take this ticket and sit in the seat marked on the ticket. Yeah right ! Johnny is going to sit next to xyz and not his friend. Anyway, when we got on board my wife and I could not sit together, though were were ticketed this way. 3 hr flight. Flight attendant said, too bad to me and many others. She was doing her job in trying to leave the gate on time---and could you imagine trying to get 80 kids to sit in the right seat?

On the way back USAir gave us 1st class. Nice.
post #10 of 10
I wonder if we should start a "which airlines suck the least for skiers?" thread over in the Travel & Resorts section?[/quote]

This won't matter. I will speak for the "average" person on Epic. When it comes to flying price matters. We can/will/do put up with crap to save $150 dollars. Now if the price is the same, (which they rarely are) then this would be good. What would be good is xyz airline--look at these issues related to skiing. ABC airline--look at these. Best advice given is to ALWAYS look at the airline website regarding luggage before flying. And maybe print the page you are reading. In our world, they can change policy overnight, update the web and viola', you are charged extra for your ski bag.

My wife just ran into this at a hotel. She booked a facial/nail/massage package at xyz rate online. When the bill came, the price was higher and the website was updated. They denied changing the site---opps, she had a printout.
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EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › On the Snow (Skiing Forums) › General Skiing Discussion › Another Airline Customer service thread.