AA farce, King Kong and KafkaBack to Forum
Anonymous8 Sep 2014
I’m a long term fan of this site who, as my first post, wants to share something that has turned into a surreal, Kafkaesque nightmare. I’m based in Hong Kong, a longstanding CX DM member and somewhat reluctant One World foot soldier. Back in late April, my wife and I flew biz class from HK to LA on CX, then AA biz LAX to Miami and finally on to Quito in Ecuador. It’s a long way and a trip about which we were stupidly excited, even for pretty seasoned travelers.
We were, therefore, a tad disappointed when our baggage didn’t accompany us to Quito. Especially so as we were departing at 7a the next morning in the only transfer available for the beautiful but incredibly remote Mashpi Lodge, a 4 hour drive over rough roads from Quito. But, these things happen, and we were confidently told that our bags would be on the next flight and with us within 24 hours. In a perfect storm of calamitous timing, having landed 2 days before Easter, we ended up waiting 4 days for AA to send our bags. I, a 6’4 250 pound Brit, wearing leather brogues, jeans and the same underwear for 4 days in the remote Ecuadorean jungle. None of our toiletries. No shops, save a small booth in the lodge offering t-shirts which would have looked tight on Richard Simmons. Overall, not my finest fashion hour, nor the most fragrant of getaways in one of the most romantic places on earth.
So far, so predictable. I know we should have packed a contingency bag, a lesson learnt the hard way and all that. The surreal side of things kicked in once we liaised with AA regarding their promised refund for emergency items purchased. On returning home after a magnificent trip in an extraordinary country, (AA again lost our bags on the return trip, by the way, but only for 18 hours) – we collated all the paperwork, wrote things up and sent them off to Dallas. We wait a month. Then two. Then three. Nothing. I call someone in Dallas who helpfully informs me that HK has everything in hand and the refund has been processed. Great! So I call HK who have no idea. I’m batted cluelessly back and forth like a redundant ping pong ball, before I take to Twitter. As soon as @AmericanAir is mentioned, they respond. Within 10 minutes. Hurrah! I hear you all rejoice, this long and frankly tedious report is over. But no. This is where Mr Kafka joins the party. 5 weeks later, even after the conversation below, I am still awaiting a 30 second phone call from HK. I am still none the wiser, have pulled out any remaining hairs and only find solace in sharing my woes with fellow travelers who have all been there, done that and bought the Richard Simmons t-shirt. If anyone can advise on my next move, I’d be most grateful. And if we ever get a call, or AA ever deign to refund us, you’ll be the first to know.
Direct messages › with American Airlines
Me – Aug 4 – File locator XXXXX – claim sent to Dallas May 5. Called Dallas last week and was told refund to be processed by HK. HK had no idea.
AA – Aug 4 – Chris, we do see where CBS advised you that HKG was to issue local payment to you. We’ll reach out to our contacts to (1/2) see if we can get an update. As soon as we hear back we’ll let you know. (2/2)
Me – Aug 4 – Thank you, finally
AA- Aug 4 You’re welcome.
Me – Aug 9 – I thought a quick resolution was a surprise….so no update for me 5 days later?
AA – Aug 9 – We’ve forwarded the information requested to our Hong Kong contacts. You’ll hear from them shortly.
Me – Aug 12 – What is the AA definition of ‘shortly’? I raised this 8 days ago and still none the wiser. Stunningly bad customer service.
AA – Aug 12 – Our Baggage Team sent a request to Hong Kong to finalize. We’re very sorry for the wait.
Me – Aug 15 – At what point do apologies sound hollow? 3 and a half months after your vacation was ruined with no refund? It’s now Friday afternoon.
Me – Aug 15 – FYI I’m going to take this farce to Business Traveller Magazine – seeing as we flew biz the whole way, round trip from LA-Miami-Ecuador
AA – Aug 15 We’re know you’re very frustrated and we truly are very sorry for that. We’ll reach out again requesting an update.
Me – Aug 18 – Are you speaking to Hong Kong or King Kong? This is truly beyond a joke. It’ll make a great addition to the Business Traveller piece though.
Me – Aug 24 – Another week passes and still no contact from anyone in Hong Kong or elsewhere. Utterly disgraceful disregard for your customers.
Me – Aug 24 – And of course you still owe my wife and I $300 for ruining our holiday back in May, 4 months ago.
AA – Aug 24 – We’re sorry for your frustration. We were advised that HKG will be contacting you directly. Thanks for your (1/2) continued patience. (2/2)
Me – Aug 24 – That is utterly meaningless. You need to speak to HKG again. I have heard nothing since August 4 – 20 days!!!!!!!!
Me – Aug 29 – At what stage would you think this was unacceptable? Aren’t you getting bored of hearing from me? Why can no one at AA do something?
AA – Aug 29 – We’ve reached out to our Baggage Team a few times on your behalf. They advise HKG will be in touch.
Me – Aug 29 – Well after more than 3 WEEKS of waiting, it’s pretty clear they aren’t in touch, isn’t it???
Me – Sep 2 What’s my next move? Is this some Kafkaesque descent into madness where you keep telling me the same thing and I keep believing you’ll call?
AA – Sep 2 Our apologies that it’s taking a long time. We’re still waiting for a response from HKG.
Me – Sep 2 – I just don’t believe you anymore. It’s a 30 second phone call. Loss of customer trust should be a serious issue, but not for AA.8 Sep 2014
Very frustrating I’m sure and I sympathise, but clearly AA are hoping you’ll go away and give up in frustration, which brings me on to my next point.
Is it really worth tearing your hair out for maybe a hundred or so dollars? With such a trip I presume you’re not short of a bob or two. Work out your hourly rate and see how the time you’re spending on this adds up. Then walk away and put it down to experience safe in the knowledge that next time you’ll pack a couple of spare shirts and a change of underwear.8 Sep 2014
Another example of why loyalty doesn’t pay.
In the good times airlines will encourage you to be loyal. When things go wrong they will treat you like crap.
I understand your point LP, however how hard can it really be to process a small payment like this?8 Sep 2014
It shouldn’t be hard at all Simon, but I think they just want to wriggle out of paying. But, with 22,000,000 bags going astray last year according to the WSJ, that adds up to over $2.2 billion, and with American airlines being the worst offender their share of that will no doubt be the highest.
I’m not in the Ambrovich league, or anywhere near the 1,000 richest list, and I always look for the best deals where they make economic or time sense, so I do count the pennies, but I gave up banging my head against a brick wall (I’ve no hair to tear out 😉 ) a long time ago. I know people say it’s the principle, not the money, but when I was honest, I realised I was lying, it was the money, and I suspect that’s the same with most other people as well.8 Sep 2014
LP has a point about cost versus frustration versus time spent , which brings you back to frustration . However there are times in life when cost is outweighed by being in the right, and not letting faceless corporate entities do you over.
A piece of advice…… If you indulge in Social Media , especially Twitter I’ll predict a swift resolution if you word it right, and hash tag with American Airlines not trustworthy..……or something similar.
And you’ve probably got their address, but if not…..
10/F, Peninsula Office Tower, 18 Middle Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon
EDIT…Just realised that’s also the address for Cathay8 Sep 2014
While I’m a big fan of “not sweating the small stuff” I think, over time, it actually becomes less about the money and more about not being treated with contempt by a company.
Keep up the fight TLW!8 Sep 2014
Thanks to you all for your thoughts on this one. I would have replied sooner but the site only permits one submission within the first 24 hours of signing up as a member.
To answer the key point from LuganoPirate about the economics of my pursuing this, whilst you’re right that it’s a lesson in packing a spare bag, I respectfully disagree that it’s something my wife and I should walk away from. AA owe us approx US$350 and I’m not currently working so a couple hours of my time banging my head against a brick wall is free. This was also very much a special trip for us, one paid for by MPO miles as much as cash.
More importantly, it is genuinely the P word of principle, not the money. As Vectorone says it shows total contempt on AA’s behalf and is indicative of big corporations again shamelessly shafting their customers. Our money is allegedly there, according to Dallas, but we’re still waiting for one 30 second phone call from the HK office to get it to us. They of course claim ignorance when I call.
The very latest reply from AA has again repeated the same thing, “We’re reaching out to our baggage team again, Chris.” Aside from the fact that it riles me enormously that they call me by my first name in a tweet, when they’ve never given me a contact name (first or surname) for anyone responsible their end, it just continues the farcical circle of stonewalling. So as far as a resolution is concerned, I’m considering taking canucklad’s helpful advice on the address, heading to their TST office and chaining myself to the nearest pot plant/security guard/coffee machine until I get an answer. I’ll keep you all posted. Cheers.9 Sep 2014
Morning TungLo (at least it is here 😉 ). In your case I agree it should be pursued. I apologise if I made the wrong assumptions, but the problem with a forum like this is we know very little or maybe nothing about the other posters, other than what we pick up as we read their comments.
Whenever my bags have been delayed on the outward leg, I’ve just been given a wash bag and $50 for a clean shirt and underwear, hence my assumption.
May I make another suggestion? Do you have a lawyer friend in the US? Then next time they lie or put you off, tell them you have a lawyer and you’re putting it in his hands and will also be seeking compensation for all the time wasted etc. I think they’ll pay up pretty quickly then.9 Sep 2014
Not entirely relevant as this deals with lost baggage, but I was shocked to read anything of value is sold with the money going to the airline. So lost bags become a profit centre for them.9 Sep 2014
This case speaks again to the often seen airline policy of providing nothing but meaningless platitudes in the hope that people will give up and go away. I have an ongoing court case in Istanbul with Turkish Airlines and my local lawyer there told me of the conversations he has had with their attorneys who are clearly very annoyed that I have chosen to sue the airline and its CEO personally and will not simply shut up and stop bothering them.9 Sep 2014
I once had baggage lost by KLM when arriving at Lima. Although the flight had been delayed at AMS for 90 mins to enable transferring luggage to be loaded, none was despite the fact that my inbound flight from LHR on KLM had arrived 2 hours before my scheduled departure time. Like the OP here, I had not packed a spare set of clothes in hand luggage but was able to buy cheap alternatives in Lima before departing on a touring holiday. It took 7 days to be reunited with my bag. I wrote to KLM and fairly promptly got my Warsaw Convention £75 which just about covered what I had spent on extra clothes, toiletries, sunblock and so on. I then wrote back to say that as I was a business class passenger I expected rather more than just the minimum compensation. So they sent me a bottle of wine.
I’ve never flown with KLM again as a result. Voting with my feet was the best thing I could think of.9 Sep 2014
I had my bag lost between Dubai and Muscat on Oman Air. Despite them making every excuse under the sun it didn’t reappear and after 14 days I had to claim on my insurance.
I have never had a penny from the airline who (with the exception of their London office) are totally incompetent. We immediate took Oman Air off our approved list of airlines.9 Sep 2014
I know of a man who because of the way he was treated over a lost bag problem with Air France several years ago writes to their CEO once a year with a list of the flights he has taken with other airlines to reinforce the business they have lost. I doubt I could be bothered but he says he finds it deeply satisfying.
I am a firm believer in letting the buggers know when they have messed up, if they are not told, how will they learn ?9 Sep 2014