Let me begin by acknowledging that anyone who can afford to fly to Trinidad and Tobago to learn more about the culture and ends up pitching a reality show is in the extreme of privileged and fortunate people on this planet.
I also realize that anyone who travels as much as I do is bound to have some bad experiences as the law of averages catches up with her.
This is not one of those rants about how Airline X sucks and I will never fly them again. First of all, I fly American a lot and they are usually quite good. Secondly, you are usually lying when you say that because in many cases, you have no choice. If I’m flying into Devils Lake, North Dakota, there is one airline and that’s it.
HOWEVER, since we are negotiating for said reality show to be filmed in Tobago, it’s likely that my family, my staff and will be flying into Port of Spain on American Airlines a lot in the near future, I want to offer them some specific advice for how not to suck.
1. Don’t lie. I don’t know when it became your corporate policy to lie, but I highly recommend you stop it. I even suspect lying is making you some money in the short-term. Stop it anyway. Two different American Airlines employees told people they would have to sleep on cots set up in an auditorium because there were no hotel rooms. They gave excuses like there were a lot of festivities in the city. They said they had been trying all day and there were just no hotel rooms. Several people in front of me went off to the auditorium unhappily. I said, “I don’t believe it. There is not one hotel room in the city of Miami? There is no fucking way I am sleeping on a cot. I don’t believe that it is legal for an airline to have your flight delayed by hours and then tell you to sleep on the floor with no compensation.” After I pushed the issue for quite a while, someone finally admitted that, yes, I could get a hotel, pay for it myself and get reimbursed through customer service. After I questioned repeatedly the truth of every hotel room in Miami being booked, they finally admitted that no, it was only the hotels with which American had contracts that were booked. It took me 30 seconds to find a nice hotel 4 miles away using the Travelocity app on my phone. Immediately, 2 other people in line did the same thing. Now, I’m sure that it saved American a lot of money that people slept on cots instead of nice hotel rooms that were not deeply discounted to American. Still, don’t lie to people. That’s bad.
2. Don’t waste people’s time. I don’t know at what point American ran out of those discounted hotel rooms but there were a lot of people in front of me and behind me getting the same story. We waited in line for over an hour. If they write slow, it would have taken 145 seconds for an American Airlines employee with a marker and a piece of cardboard to put up a sign saying: Out of rooms at contract hotels. Your choices are a) Wait in line for food vouchers and sleep on a cot in the auditorium or b) Get your own room and mail in receipts for reimbursement. Hell, they could have made an announcement. Airlines announce something every 3.3 seconds anyway. All the people who wanted to get their own room could have left at that point and not wasted their time. The people who did want to go for the cot could have saved waiting behind all those other people.
3. Take responsibility. It was 100% the airlines fault that we missed our flights. The flight from Miami to Port of Spain was hours late, so the flight back was hours late. Why did it become MY responsibility to find a hotel room, pay for the hotel room and write American Airlines to get paid back? Why did I have to wait in line for 2 hours in Trinidad to get my ticket re-booked and another hour in Miami to be told to sleep on a cot? Call in extra employees to work. YOU fucked up. Why should your customers who pay you have to wait in line for a total of 3-4 hours? That’s not right. Call in more staff to handle customers. Figure out how to pay for people’s hotels. Give out visa gift cards. You can buy them at fucking Wal-Mart, for God’s sake. As the gentleman in front of me said about himself, “I have money and I’m going to go stay at an expensive hotel, no thanks to you people. What about all of these other people who can barely afford to travel – you have older people, families with small children – they shouldn’t be sleeping in a gym. That’s not right.”
4. Don’t get self-righteous when your passengers are angry because you have lied to them, wasted their time and failed to take responsibility. When the American employee told me we would have to sleep on a cot in an auditorium, I told him, “There is no fucking way I’m sleeping in an auditorium. Are you fucking kidding me? I KNOW that the airline can’t have passengers delayed overnight and just say that’s too bad and I fucking GUARANTEE you that there are hotel rooms in Miami.” He told me not to swear and he threatened call security on the gentleman in front of me. If your job is to deny responsibility, waste people’s time and lie to them, don’t be surprised when they get mad at you.
On the other hand Travelocity and your app, you rock. Hotel Colonnade in Coral Gables, we will be back for more margaritas and we loved the family loft.
And American, you can do better. I’m counting on you. We have a lot of travel coming up for that reality show and me launching myself at the next lying bastard would make good reality TV but probably not look to good on my permanent record.
Oh, and by the way, I was supposed to get in last night and I’m still sitting on the plane waiting for a gate at LAX.