I debated blogging about this. I wanted to completely forget the entire situation ever happened, but I knew I wanted to address it further and tell you guys what happened. We will not make it home for Christmas.
Let’s back up to the beginning.
A few weeks ago, we booked our Christmas flights through American Airlines (AA), including paying a $350/return fee for Alfie (our dog) to go in the cabin with us. Ridiculous fees right? First of all, I don’t know why airlines charge basically another seat for an <10 pound dog to go in the cabin with us when he doesn’t even get his own seat (not that he should). The dogs go under the foot-well of the cabin and is considered the passengers 2nd carry-on luggage.
A friend told me I needed to confirm whether or not Alfie is on the connecting flight when it switches over from AA to WestJet (WJ). I assumed our dog would be brought through with us since we already paid the fees for him. I didn’t know we had to pay more fees from WestJet to book him the last leg of the flight. At least WestJet is more reasonable with their prices and charges $100/return fee for dogs in cabin. Since WJ only allows up to 4 pets in the cabin, there was not enough room for Alfie to go on. WJ suggested I call AA to change our flight in order to get Alfie on with us but she was to stay on hold. What? Ok, I’d try that.
It was a bit complicated.
Picture this. I had WestJet on the skype phone. American Airlines on my BlackBerry phone (with limited minutes sine we don’t have a phone plan LOLZ), and my husband on gmail chat, discussing it all simultaneously. I dialed into AA and waited 14 minutes to be connected to an agent (I mean, Christmas wait-times, you know and all). Talk about sweat-fest over here, leaving it all up to me to communicate everything to everyone. Especially since the AA woman kept going off on tangents and me asking her to repeat herself so I could write it in notepad, talk to WJ about it, then explain what was going on to the husband on G-Chat so he could help make some decisions.
American Airlines couldn’t get us an earlier flight to reach our connection for the Toronto to St. John’s leg in time, as they were all booked up (as it would be. Hello, Christmas). The AA flight that had enough room for two people was unavailable to book as the AA agent told me “Under our contract agreement with WJ we can only sell coshare flights not prime flights. The WJ connecting flight is a prime. AA can only sell flights they (WJ) allow them to market as AA evn though it’s marketed at WJ.” A bit over my head, but I wrote that down and recited it back to the patient WJ agent who by that time was on the phone with me 50+ minute who completely understood what I told her.
AA gave me the option to cancel the Toronto to St. John’s leg for a fee. Oh the fees. So laughable. $489 total, but then we’d be completely screwed as we’d have to book a brand new flight with WestJet. Which I mean, 2 days before travel = an arm and a leg. Right. We could have done that. But we’d pay the cancellation fee with AA, rebook with WJ pick up our checked luggage in Toronto and re-check in. Since it was a 55 minute stop over, we would not have time to land, check the bags, go through Canadian customs.The checked bag time is an hour before flight departs. Virtually impossible. AA ended up checking the flights for me for December 24, but it too didn’t work out.
Typing this and remembering what happened just minutes ago is giving me a headache.
I panicked. I did not know what to do. We are not made of money. American Airlines ended up hanging up on me after an hour into the phone call when I asked them to hold tight as I discussed incredibly expensive fee charges, with my husband then WestJet on the other phone. I mean, I’m a fast typer, especially when in a panic or angry. Why did you hang up on me, American Airlines?
That’s when I started crying and that’s when I blew up on twitter in a fury.
As soon as I realized AA hung up on me I couldn’t contain myself and I actually bawled. I tried to stay quiet but I mumbled “OMG AA hung up on me, are you f*cking serious?” WJ was still on the skype phone and I heard her sympathize with me. She was so patient with me, and I mean this is after an hour of her being on hold while I did the majority of my talking with AA. That’s Canadians for you and their awesome customer service. THANK YOU WestJet for being amazing!
I asked her if she would mind holding tight once again or if she wanted to hang up with me and I’d get another WJ agent. She told me she’d stay put while I called AA once again. Okkk! Perfect. Awesome.
American Airlines call number two. I explained to the AA agent what had happened (politely, because I mean she’s completely new to the situation, why be angry at her?). She didn’t apologize, in fact I thought she had put me on hold until I said “hello?” and she came back with a “yup?”. Great, another difficult person. She was completely confused with my request of her changing the flight and I had to repeat myself 4 times to re-explain the flight change requests until she got it. No biggie. Except changing the flight would not cost me $489 total like the previous AA agent quoted, but would cost $200/person + $99/person fee change. SIX HUNDRED DOLLARS LOLOL.
I asked her if she would be okay if I put the phone down (for the first time of this second AA call). She said “I can’t wait long” What? Well how freaking long can you wait for? I told you I was on the phone with AA previously for over an hour. You cannot wait until I type to my husband on G-Chat the $600 fee? What’s wrong with you? (I didn’t say that to her. I’m not that rude). I asked her if she was serious, I told her “WJ is on the other phone, my husband is on the computer waiting to hear back from me and you’re telling me you cannot wait? How much time do I have to type?” I sh*t you not. She said these exact three words (she sounds like a woman of many words), no more no less “2-3 minutes” I swore under my breath and I said “okay I’ll be quick.” Husband suggest I ask her to waive the fee somehow, as we are already missing out on Christmas Eve, and Christmas day with our family. Alright. Back to the phone with AA.
So, I guilt triped her. What else was there to do? If we cancelled we’d lose out on MORE money.
I told her “I’m sorry for taking up so much of you time and the flight fee is understandable as the cost of the ticket changes. But as a goodwill gesture, could you at least waive the change fee?” (The previous AA would not budge on this for me, while she was smacking her gum). I continued “we’re only bringing one checked bag between my husband and I, for Christmas to lower our costs for these flights. We have to pay $350 for our dog already. I mean you guys aren’t making it easy. We’re screwed if we try to cancel. I mean when will all the billing and charges stop?”
AA put me on hold. I guess it worked since she came back with $200 off the fee bringing it back down to $399.02 for the changes to be made to our flights. We will be missing out on Christmas Day with our family, but we will still be going home at some point over the holidays. AA made the changes and we hung up. Now that I think back on it, I hope to God it’s not $399.02/person and that is just all included now.
WJ, that same woman who was on the phone for 93 minutes with me got Alfie on our flights back to St. John’s and asked for my credit card number to book our dog on the flights. She she had heard it all, I thought I would try my luck on her and ask her if she would be able to waive the $100 fee for Alfie. She seemed so sympathetic towards the situation, I didn’t think it would hurt to ask. The worst she could say is no.
WestJet sorta waived the fee on their end (but couldn’t officially do it). Once we get to the airport, we will have to see if it is in fact waived. But for now, no charge.
We’ll be home in Newfoundland at some point. That makes me a little happier. I hope the Christmas tree will still be up by the time we make it home. I don’t expect Christmas to be put on hold just for us, either.
I don’t like to rant or use my blog as a negative outlet. But I needed to post this.
It just goes to show how customer service goes a long way. WestJet has never screwed with us. Air Canada has once or twice when I lived in Ontario. That’s besides the point. But flying with American Airlines for the first time, simply leaves a bitter taste in my mouth, especially since one agent hung up on me. The second AA agent was so quiet on the phone, not answering my questions until I said “Hello?” to her, leaving me completely bewildered. All in all, it worked out with a butt-load of fees, still missing Christmas, shortening our vacation. But at least we’ll be there.