Just got on one more plane. On my way to Atlanta for another business trip.
Flying American Airlines for this visit. Flight number 3844. Leaving O’Hare at 8.15AM.
Just for context, I travel a lot. This past year, I will have been on the road over 225 days. I have premier status on both American and United Airlines. I am an Executive Platinum and Global Services member, respectively. Not something I’m proud of, but believe that this status should result in some level of courtesy and consideration from the airline when I travel with them. Obviously, I spend a lot of money with them.
So, here’s how I got treated this morning at O’Hare by the staff at American Airlines.
About 5 minutes before we’re ready to board, I hear my name called over the PA system. When I get to the counter, the lady there says, and I quote, “you have been downgraded, here is your new seat assignment.”
I go from seat 1A (in first class) to seat 16C (last row window, by the bathroom). All without an explanation. I reminded them that I had a first class aisle seat and as I suffer from claustrophobia, I could not have the window seat in the back and would like an aisle seat, which is always my preference, somewhere near the front. At this, one of her colleagues came around and asked me why I was complaining. “It is not our fault, it is Operations. You will get a refund for the difference”, he said. We resolved this when they changed my seat to 4A. A bit better, an aisle near the front of the plane.
Then, as I was getting ready to enter the plane, the pilot, Diego Pena, stopped me and threatened to “throw me off the plane if I so much as made a peep during the flight”. He was extremely rude, threatening and unprofessional. All because he did not think i should have asked for a different seat assignment from the one “operations assigned to me”.
Well, I do not like being mistreated. I do not like being taken for granted. And, I for sure, do not like being threatened.
Especially by a business that I have flown multi-million miles over the past few years.
And, the steps to avoid this are very simple. Here’s what they could have done:
One, if the folks at the counter had made an announcement that there would be changes in seating assignments due to an equipment change, I would not be wondering how I went from the first row to the last.
Second, if they had assigned new seats based on status and preferences of their frequent fliers, I would have been given an aisle seat. This would have managed my personal needs and reduced my anxiety at the change.
Most importantly, if they had just treated me as a person who has specific needs and addressed them in a professional manner, I would not be spending 30 minutes of my plane ride writing this.
I do know one thing. I am going out of my way to avoid flying American. I’m not sure if they can continue losing travelers like me, but they just did.