By Charlie Johnston
I was up at 4 a.m. today to get some work done before catching an 8 a.m. flight with American Airlines to Aberdeen, South Dakota. There was a mechanical problem with the plane that delayed it for two and a half hours. I had an American Airlines (AA) connector in Dallas and a Delta connection in Minneapolis. The delay derailed that particular transportation train. No problem. AA was wonderful in putting together alternate plans and offering me options. But alas, though Delta had another flight to Aberdeen from Minneapolis just a few hours later, it would not honor the connection. It told AA I would have to pay a full new fare. After almost an hour of trying to reason with them, the embarrassed AA Agent told me what the problem was – and that AA did not have flights to Aberdeen.
It was astonishing, but AA offered several options that would have got me there. Unfortunately, all were complicated by certain time issues and logistics for my return to Denver. Finally, the AA Agent suggested she could get me to Sioux Falls early in the afternoon – a two-hour drive from Aberdeen, but with a discount car rental, it could work. I took it.
When I got to Sioux Falls, my luggage wasn’t there. I called AA – and they found the baggage change order had not gotten down in time, so my luggage was in Minneapolis. Once again, AA was wonderful. They are getting my luggage to Sioux Falls, where I will pick it up tomorrow before I drive on to Aberdeen.
Hoping that maybe we had gotten a bad apple at Delta, I asked my coordinator, Mary, to call Delta and ask if we could switch the Monday flight from Aberdeen to Denver to originating from Sioux Falls. Basically, the Delta agent told Mary it was not their problem and I was stuck. Mary said we change flights all the time with Southwest (my preference) and they never charge so long as we do it in advance. The Agent sniffed that Southwest is a “no-frills” airline, while Delta is “established,” and does not need to do such things. Perhaps, but I know two frills Southwest never scrimps on: courtesy and customer service. The corporate boneyards are littered with entities that were well-established until they decided courtesy and customer service were frills they needed no longer concern themselves with.
Anyway, my day has been so hectic I completely lost my temper at one point – and had to apologize to the very helpful people I vented on. Hopefully, tomorrow, my luggage will have arrived, I will pick it up, and have a nice ride in South Dakota. So tomorrow night I will write something serious for you.