Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Flight Fiasco

Going to Vegas, no matter for how long, is always a draining experience. Don't get me wrong, it's hecka fun, but I always come back home feeling exhausted and needing another vacation.  It was with that in mind that Meezy and I booked our (nonstop) return flight for 8:30am Sunday morning, so that we could arrive at 1:06pm and still have half a day to recover before having to go back to work on Monday.  We had a rental car, which had to be returned at a separate location from the airport (didn't know that when I booked it), so we planned on being there at 6:30am, which would give us time to catch a shuttle to the airport, check our bag, go through security, and be ready to board on time.

We got back to our room after midnight on Saturday night, and I decided to start packing.  I checked my phone first and noticed an email from US Airways.  Subject line - "Flight cancellation impacting xxxxxxx."  Whaaaaaaaat?  Here's the body of it:

We regret to inform you that US Airways flight # 393 from Las Vegas (LAS)
to Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) on Apr 24 at 8:30 AM has been cancelled.

Please call 1-888-204-6170 for re-accommodation assistance.

We apologize for the inconvenience. Thank you for choosing US Airways.

What the heck??  The email had been sent at 10:35pm.  There were no other notifications sent to me by text or voicemail, just the email.  Good thing I checked it, huh?  I immediately called the number and asked the agent what we were supposed to do.  He told me he would schedule us on another flight.  The alternative he gave us was a flight leaving Las Vegas at 7:20pm and arriving in DFW at 11:52pm.  Seriously?  We already had an appointment to bring our rental car back at a certain time, we needed to be checked out of the hotel by 11am, and our doggles would be left sitting at home all day.  We couldn't do that late of a flight under the circumstances.  I told him it was unacceptable and he needed to find us something else.  He says, "Okay, we have a 6:30am flight that has a stop in Phoenix, and arrives in DFW at 1:30pm."  I asked him if there was anything else available and he said no.  What else could we have done?  I told him to put us on that flight and that I wanted to know what they were planning on doing to compensate us for the fact that we paid for a nonstop flight and were not getting a comparable flight for our money (our travel time was now almost doubled).  He says, "I can't give any type of consideration.  Do you want to talk to my supervisor?"  I said, "Is he authorized to compensate us for our troubles?"  "No."  Well then what would be the point of me talking to the supervisor???  I asked him who I could talk to about a voucher or refund, and he told me to talk to the agent at the ticket counter at the airport, and they would take care of it there.  Fine.  By now it was almost 1am, and our new flight plan would require us to get up at 3:30am.  Awesome sauce.  I got all the packing done and finally laid down at 1:30am.  Two hours later our alarm went off and we were up and at 'em!

We arrived at the airport in plenty of time for the 6:30am flight (thank goodness, since the line was ridonk).  After we got to our gate, I went to the counter and asked the agent what we needed to do to get some compensation for our flight being cancelled and not being given a comparable option.  She told me there was nothing she could do there, but I could go on the website and get the customer service number and talk to them about it.  Okay, fine.  I found their number and called them right then, since we had time to kill before boarding.  I jumped through all the hoops on their ridiculous automated system and finally got to talk to a real live person.  Can you guess what she told me?  "I only handle reservations, not refunds.  You'll have to email our customer service department to talk to them about that."  Oh, the comedy.  I feel like "pass the buck" must be this company's motto.  I didn't feel like typing up a huge email on my phone, so I figured I would just wait until we got back home before contacting them again.

I headed back to the gate area and heard this announcement: "We are in an oversell situation for this flight and need volunteers to get put on a later flight.  We are offering $500 vouchers to accommodate those volunteers."  Can you believe that?  Apparently those agents magically gained the ability to offer vouchers to people in the 5 minutes that I had walked away from the counter!  I sent Meezy up there to ask them what flight they would put the volunteers on.  They told him it would be a 9:50am flight, going through Phoenix and arriving in Dallas at 4:50pm.  Umm, exsqueeze me?  Where was this flight when I was talking to the agent last night and trying to find a reasonable alternative for my cancelled flight?  I'm surprised I didn't blow a gasket and start elbow-dropping people.  This company found every way possible to infuriate me.  As much as I wanted to get $1000 in free air travel, we declined the offer because I wanted to get the hell out of this situation, and I didn't want to fly this airline ever again, even for "free."

When we got to Phoenix, we arrived in the B terminal and checked the departure board to see where our gate was for the leg to DFW.  It said A12.  Dang.  We had a decent amount of time to get there, but nobody wants to walk a mile to another terminal at 8am, on 2 hours of sleep.  We made use of the eleventy billion moving walkways, and finally arrived at A12.  I kid you not, as we were walking up, the agent at that gate was making the announcement, "US Airways flight 542 to DFW is now departing from gate B12."  I could've cried if it wasn't just so damn comical.  We hadn't even set our carry-ons down, so we just spun around and started our trek back to the terminal we had just come from.  When it rains, it pours, right?

I know being around crappy people on a flight isn't the fault of the airline, but we're going to go ahead and say it is their fault this time around, just because of what they had showed me thus far about their nature. :p  Or, maybe I can phrase it, "crappy people fly US Airways, therefore I don't want to fly with them anymore."  That'll work.  I don't feel like explaining in too much detail why my seat neighbors sucked, so let's just sum it up with this: wanna-be OC housewife next to me couldn't keep her body or belongings in her own seat, and middle-aged couple in front of me couldn't keep their lips off each other.  *smooch* pause *smooch*  Ugh.  I just threw up a little thinking about it again.      

So, this ends my rant against US Airways.  I fly quite a few times each year, and you can rest assured that none of those future flights will be with them.  I encourage you to avoid them as well!                      

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