We were arbitrarily prevented from boarding a plane 10 minutes before scheduled takeoff time, even though we later found out that the first officer had yet to arrive. The plane actually sat on the tarmac for two more hours before taking off.
Because our previous AA flight had been delayed 10 minutes, and security lines were unbelievably long, we literally had to run across two terminals to reach our gate 10 minutes before departure. Four other passengers from our delayed flight also ran up to the gate.
After processing my son’s boarding pass and letting him head down the ramp, the AA representative called him back. She told all 8 of us that we could not board the plane, it was past the 10 minute cut-off point, and that our boarding passes were no longer valid. She refused to let us talk to any manager. We were told we had to go to Rebooking, located all the way back where we had started, across the two huge terminals (Miami airport).
Although we ran to Rebooking, hoping to catch the next flight, we waited in line for an hour before even reaching the desk. We were told at 9pm that the next flight wasn't until 6:30am---my daughter would miss her surgery appointment the next day. We overheard another agent tell one of the four other passengers that there was a plane to Boston that had been delayed and hadn’t yet left the tarmac. She told us all, if we ran, we might catch the connecting bus and reach the plane before it took off. So all 8 of us ran back across the two terminals once more, (at one point, I slipped and fell to the ground).
Although the bus hadn’t left yet, a security guard refused to let us get on the bus. She said she couldn't contact Rebooking to confirm our situation because she did not work directly for American Airlines. She said she was also not authorized to contact the flight crew.
It was only through pure luck that we found an American Airlines representative at the next gate who could intervene. He told the guard to let us get on the bus. We begged him to stay with us to make sure we made it to the plane. After we all got on the bus, a different security guard actually ran up to the bus and insisted that all 8 of us had to get off immediately, saying that the plane to Boston had already left. Thankfully, our AA guy had stayed with us and told the guard that we were all going on the bus and if the plane wasn't there, we'd come back.
The bus drove us to the plane. IT WAS OUR OWN FLIGHT! OUR BOARDING PASSES WERE STILL VALID! Although they had given away all our seats, there were still enough seats left for all 8 of us to find one. AND THE FLIGHT OFFICER STILL DIDN"T SHOW UP FOR ANOTHER HALF HOUR. We got home after 2am.
We sent a group letter to the CEO of American Airlines, describing our experience in polite terms, recommending changes so that other customers wouldn't experience the same difficulties. We requested some form of flight credit for a future flight. Here is American Airlines unbelievable emailed response, dated a full month after our flight:
Feb. 10, 2016
Dear Ms. Masi,
The Department of Transportation Aviation Consumer Protection Division has forwarded your recent correspondence regarding your travel on January 11, 2016. In addition, we've also received your correspondence sent directly to Doug Parker's office regarding the same issues. We appreciate the opportunity to reply to your concerns.
We have looked into the issues you brought to our attention. I regret the 10 minute delay of your flight into Miami along with the long lines for U.S. Customs/Border Patrol and TSA Security assisted in the delay of your arrival at the departure gate for Flight 2440. We also apologize for any possible confusion in boarding Flight 2440.
According to American Airlines boarding policies on our website, if you are not present in the boarding area at least 15 minutes before the scheduled departure time, your reservation may be canceled and your seat may be released to another passenger. It appears that you may have arrived to the gate later than American's (15) fifteen minutes prior boarding requirement, and as a result, you were refused boarding. The DOT does not regulate an air carrier's boarding procedures or cut-off times. Still, there is simply no excuse for rudeness. Our customers should always experience polite service from our employees, regardless of the circumstances.
We acknowledge your recognition of our gate agent who assisted in accommodation you back on Flight 2440, which was delayed due to a crew-related issue. Please know we are not trying to diminish your unsatisfactory experience and regret we have fallen short of meeting your expectations. Unfortunately, passengers may presume that an airline is not customer-oriented or lacks sensitivity when compensation is not provided for service that did not meet an individual's expectations.
Rest assured your concerns have been reviewed and the intent is to use your feedback to help us to improve and make changes with the goal of improving our service and providing more efficient assistance to our passengers in the future.
Ms. Masi, while we know you are disappointed with our service, we hope you will give us another opportunity to prove traveling on American can be a pleasant experience.
American Airlines AA Ref#1-5319358624
Product or Service Mentioned: American Airlines Flight.
Reason of review: Poor customer service.
American Airlines Cons: All bad.