January 2, 2006

NEVER fly on America West (or US Airways)

My wife booked flights to and from Monterrey, Mexico for a 10-day visit with family and friends. Arrangements were made, agencies were paid, other plans scrapped. And then America West decided a stress-free holiday wasn't in the cards.

A month before Nadia's departure, America West -- in the midst of being subsumed by US Airways "to create the world's largest low-fare airline" -- decided to cancel their morning commuter flight to Las Vegas. Well, Nadia's itinerary just happened to involve a transfer in Vegas. Their options: 1) arrive in Las Vegas at 3 in the afternoon -- which wouldn't have been a bad idea if that weren't two hours after her connection flight was scheduled to leave, or 2) fly to Vegas the night before, stay in a hotel, and take the second leg of the trip as scheduled. Also not a bad option, if the airline was prepared to pay for the hotel. Needless to say, they weren't. "You're welcome to refund your ticket, sir, and as a show of good faith we'll waive the cancellation fee for you."

Gosh, thanks.

Okay, okay, so we booked a hotel on the strip and ate the cost -- "Oops, there's one more problem, sir: Because your wife had a paper ticket issued, we can't rebook the flight."

Well, the "paper tickeet" was issued at the behest of none other than America West. You see, the connecting airline -- Aviacsa, with which AW has a partnership, of course -- doesn't do electronic tickets. So in order to get this ticket in the first place, America West had insisted upon a paper ticket. Now they didn't want to help us because we had a paper ticket. And -- get this -- because America West proper doesn't use paper tickets anymore, my agency was forced to print the ticket with a Delta Airlines imprint. Again, this is some sort of agreement America West has with Delta; when they need to print a paper ticket, they use Delta paper stock.

"Perhaps you could rebook with Delta, sir."

Hours on hold, arguing with America West, Delta and Aviacsa, and finally we ended up with the night-before-hotel-at-our-cost deal. Everything was sorted out three weeks before the flight, and Nadia got to Mexico for a good visit.

Today she's stranded at Las Vegas International Airport; her flight from LV to Vancouver has been cancelled by, you guessed it, America West / US Airways. They won't tell me how or when she will be 'reaccomodated' -- "All of our other flights are sold out, sir... and I'm sorry, but I can't deal with this situation any longer as she's on a paper ticket from another airline..." Maddening.

Apparently over 125 people are displaced by this cancellation; there is no information forthcoming about how any of them will be getting back to Vancouver. I wonder how many people, non-English speakers especially, are taken advantage of in this way -- their infuriating refusal to share any real information with their own customers is baffling.

The customer service personnel are trained automatons without recourse or true ability to help people; the flight scheduling is a complete sham, with cancellations and delays thrown around without care for those affected; the sense of duty and responsibility to those who matter most -- the customers -- is embarrassingly shoddy.

For these reasons, I hereby boycott America West, US Airways, and any affiliated airline. For any and all future flights into, out of, or near Vancouver, Vegas or Monterrey, or any other city for that matter, neither I nor my family will be marginalised by corporate bullies any longer.

1 comment:

andrea said...

i followed your instructions and booked my flight to Hawaii with the good old Air Canada (and hope to get some healthful food on board *haha*) ... ;)