Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Delay

I had apparently used up all of my good airport karma while traveling down to New Orleans last week. My flight to New Orleans actually deposited me in The Big Easy a good hour ahead of schedule. My return flight, however, was much more like an old episode of the Keystone Cops. The finer points of missed connections, weather cancellations and botched re-bookings don't really matter here. All you need to know is that I got screwed hard by American Airlines and a hotel hosting me as a distressed passenger gave me one last rogering for good measure.

When my extensive delay ultimately led me to seek accommodations for the night, I spoke with an American Airlines rep on the ground and asked if she could provide me with a distressed passenger voucher for a lowered rate at one of the airport hotels. She told me that she was out of vouchers but pointed me to a certain hotel that would honor the distressed rate. I called that hotel and was assured that I would indeed get that lowered rate. With that in mind, I asked them to send the shuttle around to pick me up. Once I was there, the lady who had originally taken my call was about to put in my distressed rate when her manager came over and told her that the rates would not be given without vouchers and without his authorization. I protested, stating that I was told that there were not any more vouchers available and that I had already negotiated the rate. The manager didn't believe my story, stating that American Airlines always has vouchers and that, without one, I would be charged the standard rate. I wanted to scream "bait and switch", but, what could I do? I was already there and I was exhausted. I agreed to pay the standard rate.

This little tale of woe gets worse. In reading over my bill this morning, I found that I was actually charged $20 over the standard rate. I could not let this stand, so I called the hotel. The extra $20 charge was chalked up to operator error. The lady who checked me in was new. I went on explain that, even though I agreed to the standard rate, I was thoroughly disappointed at being denied the distressed rate over something as trivial as a paper voucher, even though the rate had been agreed upon prior to my arrival. Again, the excuse was being given that the employee I had dealt with was new and should not have agreed to the rate without checking with the manager first. It was eventually agreed that I would be refunded an additional $10 for all the hassle, which means I was only paying $10 over the distressed rate. It remains to be seen if they will actually call the charge back from my credit card. I'm hopeful, but, with the way I was treated, I'm not expecting much.

A small victory, I guess. It doesn't matter, really. I'm just happy to finally be home.

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