Thursday, June 28, 2007

American Airlines Has Some Problems

This is the best Pretty Lady could do for a title without becoming Vulgar.

You see, Pretty Lady was supposed to be On Vacation today. She was supposed to be in her homeland, perhaps toodling down I-35 toward Austin, her best friend at her side and a six-pack of Shiner in the cooler.

She is not. She is still in hot, muggy, grimy Brooklyn. This is American Airlines' fault.

Oh, Pretty Lady is quite aware that the there was a bit of Weather last night; she even saw the lightning. There were some rather disturbing flooding conditions round the Marble Falls area. She does not dispute these facts.

However, it would have behooved American Airlines to:

1) Inform her of these facts;

2) Apologize;

3) Inform her of her options as regards waiting in line for hours and hours and hours, with no evidence that any flight could be obtained, except for increasingly ugly rumours flying around the crowd, that no planes could be had till Sunday.

Pretty Lady has worked, herself, in Public Service for years. She has experienced her share of confrontations with angry persons whom it was beyond her power to help. And she knows, firsthand, the difference it makes when a Public Servant is courteous to these same people; when compassion and commiseration are expressed, together with an honest assessment of the situation at hand.

So it is with great confidence that she states that the employees of American Airlines, in the ticketing and check-in sectors of LaGuardia Airport, are Incompetent, Discourteous, Unhelpful, Offensive, and Not Doing Their Jobs. Telling a stranded traveler, "That flight has been cancelled. Stand in that line," is Not Enough. It is Dereliction of Duty. It is Gross Negligence.

The proper phrase is, "I'm terribly sorry. There have been some awful weather conditions all across the country this evening, and we've had to cancel a lot of flights. We're doing the best we can to re-book people, but confidentially, that line is really long. You may be standing in it for several hours, and then then best chance of getting you out of here is, realistically, Friday. Do you have a place to stay in the area? Why don't you go to it, and call this number, and stay on hold in the comfort of your own home. We're terribly sorry."

Would that have been so difficult?


k said...



It always seems easier to me to do it the courteous way.

So, once again, here we see people deliberately making the worse choice...

Sending good thoughts to the Powers of Vacations for you.

Anonymous said...

Ahhhhh, er, PL...

If you were on I35 headed for Austin right about now, you would most likely be stopped cold on the side of the road somewhere dur to the massive flooding.

It sure ain't no picnic right now.

Anonymous said...

dur = due... sorry.

Anonymous said...

We've had a lot of rain down in San Antonio today also. (Well, all over Texas according to our weather people.)

Please accept this word of apology and commiseration from someone who used to take reservations for American (back in 2000). And someone who worked in airport security for a few months in 2001. (My resume is, shall we say, colorful.)

Since my brother works part-time at JFK, I would like to suggest that you just went to the wrong airport. But, I know better.

I do hope it all works out for you.

Pretty Lady said...

DuckMan, I suspect that our résumés may have some similarities, in tone if not in actual content. Vive la lifestyle picaresque!

And the person who finally helped me over the phone was almost certainly not located anywhere near the East Coast, since his manners were perfectly fine.

Anonymous said...

Duckman--was this TSA? I may very well have scheduled your employment exam :)

Which leads me to this--PL, sorry you're not on vacation like you should be, but it sounds like it may have been circuitously serendipitous (sorry, NyQuil makes me use big words).

I spent several years in a government-contract call center, and it never ceased to amaze me how many of my co-workers *never* grasped the simple fact that getting upset, rude, or even the slightest bit discourteous has never in the history of customer service made a call go easier or faster.

When someone is already pissed off at the faceless monolith of red tape that they're calling in regards to, and then they're forced to wait on hold for anywhere from six to seventy-five minutes, a pleasant (or hell, even neutral) voice greeting them courteously and with the right combination of deference and authority can, in the space of seconds, completely transform their attitude and cooperation for the rest of the call.

That, and the assholes who just want to be pissed and yell at someone get very satisfyingly frustrated when the pissier they get, the more polite *you* get. They hang up pretty fast.

Desert Cat said...

Would those of you in the south and/or the eastern seabord please be so kind as to send some of that excess rain over to the West?

We've been laboring under a drought that's going on close to ten years now...

The Aardvark said...

NyQuil just makes my sleepy.

PL likes Shiner! Yaaaaay!

The Aardvark said...

"Would that have been so difficult?"

Clearly, YES.
Beyond the issue of personal power trips (which, not knowing these people, I cannot address), there is the problem of the utter lack of Courtesy, and Thinking of Others, in this magical 21st century. We're paying for decades of I, Me, Mine with road rage, and public hangings of surly counterpeople (a man can dream....). Momma and Grandma used to be the Purveyors of Politesse, but with the fragmentation of the nyoo-kyoo-ler family, and everyone's busy-ness, that tutelage has gone the way of antimacassars.

"Oh, the schools will teach it!"

I will say nothing about that, save to link to Billiam's amusing tidbit about the Teaching of Math.

Anonymous said...

mitzibel - No, it was Wackenhut. TSA came on board in 2002, I think. I walked off of that job five days before the shoebomber was caught because I thought most of what we did was a sham to make the passengers feel better. (And I think if we'd had people taking their shoes off earlier, maybe not all passengers would have to do it now. If anyone thinks I'm wrong, I'd be interested in discussing the subject.)

It's okay. Now I make a decent living converting aviation training courseware from an older authoring language (Mandarin) to a newer one (Authorware) for the U.S. Navy. Once conversion is completed our company will probably get to maintain it. Life is good.


Perinteger said...

Pretty Lady,

That's horrible! I have a couple of friends who were in the air Wednesday evening when their plane was struck by lightening, which didn't even turn out to be the worst experience in a trip that turned into a veritable tragicomedy.

If it's any consolation, I understand that sections of I-35 north of Austin have been badly flooded this week (and Duckman, I can provide first hand confirmation that the D/FW area is utterly swamped).