Not a very good morning here in New Orleans as I awoke to find that American Airlines cancelled my flight @ 10:50am and booked me on another flight @ 4:05pm.
Being a frequent flier, I understand these things happen and surely the airline had no malicious intent rescheduling me to another flight that would have me getting in some 6 hours later than originally planned.
Having been on the road all week and not wanting to miss another full day from the family, I took it upon myself to search flights and see if there was something that would have me home a little earlier.
The best I could find was a flight departing at 1pm, connecting in Charlotte, and arriving in Boston at 8pm. Although my flight out was from Manchester NH, some 50 miles away from Boston, and my vehicle is there, I thought this would be a better option than getting in at 10:30pm as they had re-booked me. So I called American Airlines customer service..
Enter AJ, customer service support extraordinaire. Or so I hoped. Initially, AJ was quite pleasant assuring me he understood my situation and would “do whatever it takes” to take care of this for me.
All it was going to take is a $200 change fee to re-route me to Boston from Manchester. I explained again that the original cancellation was not something I did, but rather they did to me, and that re-routing to Boston was actually adding to my inconvenience as I would need to be picked up and then have to retrieve my vehicle 50 miles away.
Suddenly, AJ transformed from “do whatever it takes” to “that’s the best I can do”, saying that “policy” restricted him from making the flight change without collecting the $200 change fee.
It’s worth noting that I am an American Airlines Rewards Member. Although AJ had my flight record with rewards member identification, this never came up in our communication and nothing resembling ‘rewards member’ consideration was given.
This is great example of how a business can let a policy get in the way and prevent taking care of the customer – in this case, me.
AJ’s transformation from customer advocate to customer assassin was a clear case of lack of empowerment. Ultimately, he was handcuffed by a corporate policy that prohibited him from doing the single most important aspect of his customer support job.. ensuring the customer receives proper service recovery for his or her situation.
Sadly, this is not my first incident of customer disservice with American Airlines > Customer Disservice Lesson From American Airlines Seat 36F