The American Way?

24 Oct

I was in Chicago (or, more accurately, at a hotel near O’Hare) this week for the MarketingProfs Digital Marketing Mixer. Great time, a very worthwhile couple days. But don’t you hate it when a nice trip is ruined by the ride home?

Here’s what happened: My two coworkers and I were scheduled to be on the 7:40 American Airlines flight out of O’Hare Thursday night, but we got to the airport a little early so that we could try and go standby on the 5:55. No surprise, we were not the only ones with that idea, and we weren’t so lucky. So, we decided to grab some dinner and wait. The weather outside was bad; it was raining pretty hard. But planes were still taking off, although some were starting to be delayed — including ours, which we learned was pushed back from 7:40 to 10:30. (Holy delay, Batman!) Um, that sucks, we thought, and we ordered another round of drinks.

A couple hours later, though, some odd stuff started happening: We saw that the flight to Boston scheduled for 9:35 had also been delayed, but only until 9:55. Why was a flight scheduled to take off after ours, that’s going to the same destination, leaving before ours? How does that happen? Why was our flight delayed nearly three and a half hours (at this point, the departure time had changed to 11:00), and this one only 20 minutes? That’s very wrong, we thought. Of course, by the time we noticed this, it was too late to try and get on the flight.

And then, around 10:40, we made our way to our gate, where we found just about nobody waiting for the flight. That’s because the time had been moved up to 10:45. We just barely made it! Given how rare it is for a flight to take off early, and given how long this one had been delayed for, why wasn’t there an announcement made over the public address system? How much would that have sucked if we had been at the airport for six hours and then ultimately missed our flight?

I can think of worse things for American Airlines to have done than to delay us for 3.5 hours, and to tell us early enough so we didn’t have to stress. It’s not like they kept pushing back the flight by 30 minutes or an hour at a time, and we had to sit there not knowing what was going on. And it’s not like we were stuck on the plane waiting for it to take off, or anything like that, either. And it’s not like the pilot overshot the runway on his way into Logan Airport. And, truth be told, it wasn’t so bad hanging out waiting for our flight; we ate, we drank, we watched the ballgame, and we had a good time.

But seriously, American. What was up with that scheduling? We should have left before the 9:35 flight did. Isn’t that what being in line is all about? And given the late hour and the few people still left in the terminal, couldn’t you have made a loud-enough announcement about pushing up the departure time?

And, because our flight was delayed for such a long time, aren’t you supposed to offer us a voucher or something? Isn’t that what most airlines do in that situation?

I know the weather and the delays weren’t your fault, but I still think you could have handled things a little bit better.

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