Why American Eagle's Service to San Angelo is Really, Really BadOpinion
OPINION—Yesterday, American Eagle and American Airlines proved to be the worse airlines to fly.
My day home started without a seat on my flight from DFW to San Angelo despite buying my tickets four weeks ago directly from the airline. They wouldn't assign me a seat from the very point of check-in, but the American Eagle customer service representative in Rochester, Minnesota assured me seats were available on the plane, and would be when I arrived. However, I was going to have to wait until deplaning at DFW to find out if I was going to arrive home today.
Once I arrived at DFW, I didn't have a seat and was placed on standby with three other people. Two were together, an elderly couple trying to get home. The fourth was a woman from South Africa who had been flying for three days to visit and see her daughter who had just started college at Angelo State University in January on a track scholarship. This woman had never been to the U.S. She was placed on standby earlier in the morning and was stuck in Dallas waiting for a standby flight again in the afternoon.
Her name was Louwna.
Louwna told me a story from hell, airline hell. She flew from South Africa to New York via two flights. The first flight was nine hours; the second 14 hours. Once arriving at Newark in nearby New Jersey, she had to find her way to the JFK airport to make her next flight. She had to find someone to help her figure out transit to the airport.
They got her on a bus, but it took her to Grand Central Station instead of JFK. From Grand Central Station she hailed an Uber and ended up missing her Dallas-bound American Airlines flight by just five minutes.
American Airlines put her on standby for future flights. She didn't get on the first flight to DFW, but managed to obtain a seat on the second flight after spending all night in the airport.
When she arrived at DFW, American Airlines put her on standby again, this time for the short flight to San Angelo. They passed her up on the first flight and she was attempting to get on my flight. I listened as the American Airlines ticket desk agents put her at the bottom of the standby list at the gate.
Meanwhile, American Eagle announced over the PA that they overbooked the flight to San Angelo and asked for two volunteers to accept a $500 voucher and guaranteed flight set to depart two flights later. Yet, I heard they overbooked the following morning flight as well.
The ticket agents managed to find two volunteers and two people didn't show up. It looked like all four of us sitting on standby would get on the plane for San Angelo.
They booked my seat. I waited to see what would happen to Louwna. The old couple was waiting too, as well as the volunteers.
American Airlines wouldn't give Louwna a ticket. I asked them if they planned to get her on the plane. They kept telling me to get on the plane instead. The flight was boarding.
I told them, "No, because if she doesn't get a ticket on the plane then she can have mine." They wouldn't let me give her my ticket. I then told them I refused to board. The ticket agent told me that if I refuse to board then they will give my ticket to the next person on standby.
I announced in front of the crowd I was giving up my ticket because American Airlines refuses to give this woman my ticket so she can go see her daughter. I told everyone that I would just drive her to San Angelo myself and this was ridiculous. The plane had a few more open seats and American Airlines gave the open seats to the volunteers and revoked the vouchers.
I was left at the gate with Louwna.
Louwna again tried to get another seat to San Angelo. The American Eagle agent told her they couldn't get her a seat for two more days, despite offering a ticket for tomorrow to a volunteer. They then told her because she missed her JFK flight she would continue to be on the bottom of the standby list for all future flights until she gets to her destination.
I called for a supervisor who confirmed the policy was as the ticket agent explained it, with no exceptions. They would not show her any kindness!
This lady can't drive in the U.S. Neither can her daughter. She is sitting in the DFW airport, just a four-hour drive away from her kid and wasting time she could otherwise be using to visit her.
I looked a Louwna, and said, let's go. We are leaving. I am driving us! We will get a car and leave right now!
American Eagle wouldn't give me a voucher or any money to drive to San Angelo. The Supervisor said that because I refused to board the plane, I did not volunteer to relinquish my seat. I said, I volunteered my ticketed seat and you gave it to someone to get on the plane that didn't have a seat, therefore I volunteered. He still refused.
Downstairs at the airport, I got a rental car, drove both of us to San Angelo. It was a blessing because I met a new friend in quite the craziest way. But I had to help Louwna. I had to show her that most Americans are nice and helpful. I had to get her to her daughter.
Shame on American Airlines. If I didn't have to fly them out of San Angelo, I would never buy another flight from that company.