American Airlines Just Proved Customer Service is Dead

Friendly people
Problem Solvers
Works well under pressure
All of these words describe the employees at American Airlines I encountered at the St. Maarten airport.

Lack of Resources
All of these words describe American Airlines processes, procedures, and customer service.

We just flew in from St. Maarten.  All planes leave the island at around the same time, no matter where they are going. I assume because the airport is only open for several hours a day. We arrived 2.5 hours early before our flight was supposed to depart for Charlotte where we connect and then head to Nashville. When we arrived, the lines were so long and packed that we couldn’t distinguish which lines we were even supposed to get in. There was a priority access (not us), general/customer service, a self-service kiosk, and a line just for dropping off your bags after you had gone to the self-service kiosk. Eventually, an employee noticed and started conducting traffic control to get the lines split which meant you had to commit to a line without knowing exactly which line you were getting in. We ended up in the customer service line – proving to be a blessing in disguise.

Our flight ended up getting delayed by an hour due to bad weather in Charlotte which meant we were going to miss our connecting flight to Nashville. I wasn’t too concerned because I was pretty confident there would be another flight to Nashville that night; however, the family in front of us were on the same flight and were connecting to fly to Chicago. They had a sitter watching the kids for a specified time and were expected home that night. They received a notification text they were going to miss their flight and the next one available was the next morning. During our almost 2 hour wait in line, just to check one bag and get our boarding pass, the wife was on her cell attempting to speak with American Airlines (international charges apply) and I just kept hearing her say “REPRESENTATIVE!” while the husband was surfing the internet for other airlines to just get home to Chicago that night (international data charges apply).

During this fiasko, one of the only two kiosks broke down, causing the kiosk line to come to a complete stand-still. The traffic controller employee started rerouting people from the kiosk line to baggage check line and from the baggage check line to the customer service line but I’m still completely baffled why there are only two kiosks.  ONLY TWO!

My wait in line was frustrating, the family in front of us must have been terrified. I understand being delayed due to bad weather and a very good argument could be made that the couple should have planned ahead for this, but they didn’t and they had to wait 2 hours to get answers to when they were going to be home. This family was using 3 channels to try and communicate with American Airlines and all 3 failed.

  1. The bottle-neck customer service line: Why can AA not process the amount of traffic quick enough for a reasonable wait time? Bottle-necks are a reflection of inefficiency. Blame = AA
  2. Not being able to get a hold of a customer service representative on the phone: Having to say “REPRESENTATIVE” over and over and over is the most soul crushing customer service conversation ever. The amount of steps to speak to a live person is ridiculous. Blame = AA
  3. Lack of internet connection and limited interaction with customer service online: Come on AA! You have the power here to get internet connectivity at the St. Maarten airport for us. Surfing additional flights would create more efficient conversations with the customer service rep or even allow people to re-book via their phone and bypass the line all together.  Blame = AA

AA’s subpar customer service is the norm. Their employees are facing impossible challenges dealing with frustrated and even rude customers due to process and procedure breakdowns.  AA has accepted this as the standard. We have accepted this as the standard. We all should be ashamed of ourselves.

RIP Customer Service!

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