I mentioned this a few times on my Facebook page and a lot of people were pretty curious, so as much as I was planning to blog the story, I had really hoped AirTran would step up and TRY to do SOMETHING in the form of damage control. They did exactly as I was told by others.. NOTHING.
This last week we flew with AirTran Airways to North Carolina (and then drove into South Carolina) to visit with family. We flew both there are back with them. They left us with a layover in Atlanta, GA both on our way there and on our way back. First of all, with the size and the length of the Atlanta airport, why would any airline leave a 40 minute window for a layover?! You can not make it from gate to gate in 40 minutes. Now, I know in selecting my flights that I had this layover and I could have opted for a longer layover.. but I had NEVER flew through or to Atlanta’s airport so I had no idea it wasn’t reasonable. 40 minutes is more then enough in Milwaukee, Chicago, Orlando, New York, etc in which I’ve flown through many times. I will take full responsibility for booking a flight with only a 40 minute layover and having to rush. My fault, my problem, I’m owning it.
Now this is more personal.. when I book a ticket, I sadly have to flag the ticket handicap and ask for a wheelchair. Now before someone takes it there.. I don’t feel I am entitled to ANYTHING, but if you are offering this as an option and I take that option, then follow through. PERIOD! Some airlines are VERY good about it and it’s a checkbox. AirTran wasn’t as easy and wanted to know exactly what, why and how. Fine.. but if you want to know ALL that information, then buck up and have the damn wheelchair there for me!! On the way to North Carolina they did not. They offered to call AirTran and make them come with a wheelchair. Problem.. we allowed them to call and waited 15 minutes (which we didn’t have to spare). They KNEW when we were checking bags and called for one.. no one showed.. she called again, no one showed.. My husband ran while I walked as fast as I humanly possibly could with a newly healed fractured ankle and a muscle disease that knocks the wind out of me. I didn’t CHOSE this to be, but it is. We get on the connecting flight and we land.. we get our luggage and that’s over.
Now heading home.. that was a NIGHTMARE 10 fold over. We had our flight to leave at 8:30pm. We left South Carolina and headed to Charlotte airport. We left at 3:00pm because this was a new area and we wanted to leave plenty of time for the rush hour traffic and/or detours we would have come across on the drive. We also had to drop the rental car off. We arrive at the airport and check our luggage by 4:00pm. This ment we had 4 1/2 hours to waste in the airport.. Yea, lucky us. But it’s better then pushing it and being late for our flight. Again, I was flagged handicap and there was no wheelchair. Since this time we had time to waste, I waited.. waited.. and waited more.. Finally we went through security, without the wheelchair. After security, there was a TSA agent in a business suit. We asked again. He had a wheelchair to us within 5 minutes. However, why was this TSA’s responsibility? Where the hell is AirTran in all this? We arrive at our gate and since we did have so much time and I was at the gate, we told the AirTran pusher he could go, I didn’t need a body guard. He did. 7:00pm arrives and a plane coming from Atlanta to Baltimore (gating before us on the same gate) was delayed for weather. Here we go. They weren’t set to arrive until 8:30pm which ment that there was NO way my flight was boarding on time. Since it was a 52 minute flight with a 45 minute layover, there was no way we were getting on the connecting flight. Then it comes, the announcement that said the 8:30pm flight to Atlanta was canceled.. not delayed, CANCELED. It was canceled because of the delay of the plane before us, not the weather since flights were in and out and leaving. This was an AirTran decision. They could have delayed the flight, but they didn’t. They re-booked. It was then that I was told by the AirTran guy at the desk that the flight was overbooked by 15 people anyway.. FIFTEEN? How do you overbook a plane by FIFTEEN people?! We aren’t talking about 1-2.. we are talking about 15!! Our re-booking options:
1. We stay in North Carolina overnight and get a flight to Atlanta in the morning and then take a layover and leave Atlanta for Milwaukee and arrive in Milwaukee on 8/7 at 9:30pm.
2. We take the 10:50pm flight to Atlanta, stay in Atlanta overnight, get on a flight in Atlanta on 8/7 at 8:55am and arrive in Milwaukee on 8/7 at 9:55am.
3. We fly to Orlando on 8/7 at 7:55am, take a connecting flight to Milwaukee and arrive in Milwaukee at 4:45pm on 8/7.
Here’s the problem.. my original flight was to arrive in Milwaukee at 11:45pm on 8/6. Now they want to offer me option for arrival home on 8/7. They were NOT covering a hotel. We were forced to pay for a hotel or sleep in the airport. They offered no discount, no help and guess what.. NO WHEELCHAIR!! We opt to fly to Atlanta that night and come home the next morning by 9:55am. I still had to and a 2 hour drive on top of that, since Milwaukee is 2 hours south of me. We head to Atlanta, no wheelchair is waiting. We were told our bags would be routed to stop there and not transfer. We head to baggage claim (I’m walking since it’s so late there is no one to be found let alone someone to ask for a wheelchair), I waited at baggage claim for 45 minutes. I notice an AirTran baggage service counter and a woman there. I head over and ask about my luggage. She tells me AND I QUOTE “I have no idea where your bags are. They are probably in Milwaukee because your ticket says Milwaukee.” I explain they said they were going to stop them and HOW THE HELL ARE MY BAGS ON A PLANE TO MILWAUKEE BUT I’M NOT! I was told NO MORE flights to Milwaukee, but my bags are on there way to Milwaukee.. ON. A. PLANE.
Turns out this lady was a complete wax job.. After waiting another 1/2 hour my husband goes over there and says we were told they were going to be here, we are forced to rent a hotel room, we have now waited over and hour and there is no wheelchair. She calls someone and 15 minutes later our luggage comes down the line..
I arrive at the hotel, which I paid for, in time to get 4 hours of sleep before I had to head back to the airport. We check in, they check our bags (free, this was their complimentary service for my troubles), and we wait for the wheelchair. Now I am upset and I’ve had not enough sleep and spent almost 10 hours in the airport the day before. We head up to security, having been there the day before I knew that TSA booth was right behind security.. I again ask the gentleman (same one) for a wheelchair. He pages. He then talks to us and asks why I asked him and why it wasn’t waiting by check in. We tell him the story. I show him my ticket with states “Passenger Requires Assistance & Wheelchair”. He gets this shocked look and rolls his eyes as he is looking at the ticket. He apologizes and says “AirTran is good for this. Happens all the time. Hopefully your flight isn’t overbooked.” Oh for the love of all that is holy, let this flight be overbooked and I am promising I would have been in jail.
Wheelchair arrives and the guy RUNS to the gate.. We arrive as they are boarding and get on the plane. We enjoy the 2 hour flight with a nap. We arrive.. no wheelchair. No assistance. I stop at the AirTran booth and they proceed to tell me “We did all we could to get you home, isn’t that enough.” REALLY?!?! This is how we run businesses now? We overbook flights, we re-book flights (still overbooking, we ask for a survey if you require assistance and still don’t provide it, we tell you your bags are on a plane to a city you couldn’t fly to, we lie and yet in the end that’s “all they could do”.
AirTran Airways.. Your nightmare in air travel!