I don't normally bother posting negative travel experiences on TA other than if I've stayed in a rubbish hotel, but this was so terrible that I felt the need to share it, mostly to see if anybody else has had a similar experience with AA and how they react to customer complaints.
I was due to fly home to Heathrow from San Jose, Costa Rica, last Saturday (7th), flying with AA and connecting via Dallas. Obviously with the bad weather in Dallas, we were getting pretty nervous on the Friday evening - we couldn't get any up to date information about our flight, the AA website was still showing it as planned to leave on time, it had disappeared off the DFW airport website (not even showing as cancelled, just vanished) and similarly it had disappeared off our BA Executive Club profiles, where it had been showing previously as the DFW-LHR leg was operated by BA.
The AA website did, however, say that customers due to fly through Dallas on that date could change their flight in advance with no fee, so we decided it would be worth doing that for peace of mind that we would get home in time for work on Monday. Their Costa Rican office was closed so we tried the US office, which had a one hour wait for the call to be answered (I work with call centres and that is REALLY appalling) and wouldn't accept a non-US number for its call back service. So we were basically stuck with showing up at the airport and hoping for the best.
We got to the airport at 6am (flight was due to leave at 9.20am) and as we suspected, the flight was cancelled. We hadn't had any email notification of this from AA. At the check-in desk, the agent told us we had already been rebooked on a flight home via Miami the following day. Again, we hadn't been emailed to tell us that, and when we asked why nobody had notified us to save us showing up at the airport, she just shrugged and said "Don't know, it's nothing to do with me."
We asked if they could get us on a flight that day (there was a flight leaving for JFK at 9.45am which they had still been selling tickets for the night before) and were told in no uncertain terms that no, there were no other flights and we would just have to wait. After we said we really needed to get home on Sunday because of work, we were offered the opportunity to fly SJO-MIA, MIA-JFK and JFK-LHR, with a 9 hour layover in the middle of the night at JFK. We asked about whether they would help us out with a hotel for a few hours at JFK, or to contribute to our costs if we spent another 24 hours in San Jose, and were told (with absolutely no hint of politeness) "No, it's the weather, it's not our fault, you get nothing from us".
Eventually, we decided on the lesser of two evils and went for the flight the following day via Miami. The following day when we arrived to check in, we asked firstly if the airline would consider upgrading us as a goodwill gesture, given all the hassle we had had the day before and the lack of help in getting us onto an earlier flight. The check-in agent was incredibly rude and just kept saying "no" to whatever we asked for, including a request to change our seats so that we could sit together. Frustrated at his total lack of customer service skills, we asked to see a supervisor to see if something could be done, and he just shrugged and said "He's not here right now". At this point, fed up of being stranded thousands of miles from home and treated like a pain in the backside instead of a customer who needed some help, I told him I didn't care where his supervisor was, he should go and get him for us. The check-in agent's reaction was to threaten to call the police and security and throw me off the flight. Last time I checked, being annoyed with incompetence wasn't illegal, but hey ho...
We did eventually get checked in, but the upshot of it was that we had to shoulder all the costs of the extra 24 hours in San Jose (we do have insurance but I was astonished that AA weren't even willing to offer a hundred dollars or so towards the hotel as a goodwill gesture), we had to miss work without pay on Monday because they didn't want to foot the cost of getting us onto an earlier flight (they could have sent us via BA but would have had to pay for an upgrade), and we were basically treated like an annoyance by the airline staff who had absolutely zero interest in helping us. We are now writing a formal complaint, including specifically against the aggressive check-in agent who threatened us with removal from the flight for asking to see his supervisor. It was really the shoddiest customer service I've ever been on the receiving end of - I've never come across a service organisation before that was quite so eager to wash its hands of its customers, or that treated people it was inconveniencing with quite so much contempt.
Apologies for the long rambling post, but what I am interested in is whether anybody else has had a similar experience with AA and managed to get any decent response from them to a complaint?