Dear Mr. Parker:
Under guidelines issued by the Federal Trade Commission, truth in advertising demands that when “consumers see or hear an advertisement, whether on the Internet, radio or television, or hard copy, that ad must be truthful, not misleading, and, when appropriate, backed by scientific evidence.” With that in mind, I suggest you hire a new advertising agency and change your slogan from “Something special in the air” to “Nothing special in the air.” I would also like to suggest that “Doing what (we) you do best” is alienating customers so that they use your competitors… a marketing strategy that defies understanding.
As much as I would like to be writing a letter of praise for the excellent service received from American Airlines during my recent trip to California, that just is NOT the case. Let’s begin with the cancellation of my non-stop flight from PBIA to LAX — booked in March of this year after a heavy advertising campaign by AA announcing this new service. Said flight was changed six times before my actual departure date. My non-stop flight, which departed PBIA at the reasonable hour of 9:30 am, actually departed at 7:30 am and required me to take a connecting flight in Dallas, Texas. This change demanded that I leave my home at 5:30 am in order to arrive at the airport with time to park my car, check my baggage and present myself at the gate.
Speaking of baggage — my disappointment at having my original flight changed six times over a period of a few weeks prompted me to call American Airlines and register a formal complaint. I chose AA because my husband had recently had open heart surgery and the non-stop flight would allow for a less stressful trip. However, using your airline caused nothing but stress. American Airlines response to my concern was to issue two vouchers — each worth $50.00 — which I could use to check my baggage.
On the outbound flight from PBIA, I had no problem using one of the vouchers. However, on my return from LAX, the voucher was refused. I was told that I should have “checked my baggage” online prior to arrival at the airport. Since I was not in a position to do that and had never been informed that I needed to do that, I expected your representative to handle the voucher exactly the way the agent at PBIA had done. How foolish of me to expect consistency of service! I had to pay $50.00 because the representatives at LAX were not anywhere near as accommodating as those at PBIA. Now I still have a $50.00 voucher good for nothing because I will never fly American Airlines again. I expect to be reimbursed for the $50.00 I paid for my luggage.
Here are some much needed changes that you could implement which would keep your customers happy and returning (except for me). First… when flights are delayed to the point that making connecting flights is almost impossible, notify passengers while still in flight not only of the departure gates for the connecting flights but also whether those flights have been delayed. My flight left Los Angeles an hour later than expected. We landed in Chicago five minutes before our connecting flight was to depart. Luckily, my gate was nearby. However, there were many people who needed to reach other terminals and were almost guaranteed to miss their flights. My husband and I rushed to our gate only to find that the flight was again delayed by an hour. Had we known that we could have allowed other passengers to get off in front of us rather than playing a game of push and shove.
Luggage — what incentive is there for people to check their luggage if they know they will get it checked for free just by taking it to the gate. I am a conscientious traveler and always check my bags knowing that space is limited. I PAY! But, I lost count of how many people got their bags checked for free due to overcrowding — and, remember, I had a voucher which I could not use! Allowing only pocketbooks and computers onboard would certainly increase revenue for all airlines and would make travel more equitable for everyone. Not only that — exiting the plane would go faster and smoother.
Boarding — whatever happened to boarding from the back of the plane forward. How ridiculous is it to board by “Groups?” By the time the last group gets on the plane, the people already seated have to stand up and block the aisle to let passengers sitting near the windows get settled. By then, the overhead compartments are full because people have put their bags “wherever” they could find space.
Attached is the receipt for the two bags which I checked at LAX. I will expect a check from American Airlines in the amount of $50.00 asap.
Returning to your advertising slogans one more time — if you really knew why people fly, you would do a much better job of meeting their needs and the future of air travel, at least for American Airlines, would be less in jeopardy.