This morning I had the miserable task of putting my child on an airplane during a pandemic.
My college-aged daughter was home for spring break when the entire world changed. Her life is back at school, her car, her passport, every one of her belongings, let alone the tattered remnants of what was to be her senior spring. Her last formal, her last mom’s weekend, her long-awaited senior walk through the historic campanile will likely never happen.
She had a ticket on American Airlines for tomorrow morning, but after watching the news and fearing further lockdowns, we decided to send her today. I covered her in protective gear and sent her with enough hand sanitizer to disinfect the entire jet.
American Airlines Is Losing BILLIONS of dollars – and WE need to be more understanding
The ticket agent at John Wayne Airport told my daughter it was NOT POSSIBLE to put her on today’s flight (despite it being empty) unless she purchased a brand new ticket.
She made a point of telling Macie that she had placed “notes in the record.” There was nothing anyone at American Airlines could do to help unless she came up with an additional $300 on the spot.
I’ve flown enough to know this is not true, she could easily place her on today’s flight, but instead chose to leave her standing at the counter sobbing and calling me for help. Kindness and compassion would have been easy, instead she chose cruelty.
The ticket agent I spoke to when I arrived was willing to put Macie on the flight until the previous agent strode down the counter to hiss at her colleague that he had better look at the NOTES IN THE RECORD.
Did the notes say, “terrified college student in tears trying to fly ahead of pandemic?” or maybe “fully paid passenger requests to fly one day early, call the sheriff?” WHAT IS IN THE NOTES???
At this point, the new and helpful ticket agent is in a bind (due to the aforementioned notes), and needs managerial approval.
NO ONE is at the airport
There are now more American Airlines employees than passengers, and the stated goal is to charge us for a brand new ticket because we want to fly our daughter out ahead of a pandemic and rumored travel ban.
I’m guessing our next contact was a mid-level manager, she was not in uniform and appeared from behind a door near the luggage belt. I was so hopeful she would be compassionate. I was wrong.
Our unpardonable sin was that Macie’s original flight was for Saturday, once we moved it to Tuesday we had used up our ONE CHANGE THAT THE AIRLINE PROVIDED US OUT OF THE GOODNESS OF THEIR HEARTS. (a gem of a quote by manager lady)
Macie then began sobbing. She’s scared, I’m scared. I think we are all scared. She’s flying back to a life that no longer exists, the friends, the classes, the senior celebrations, all gone. She’s going alone, and she’ll be driving back alone.
As I held my sobbing daughter, the manager told us, and I quote, “I know that is your life, and your problem, but you need to look at this from the airline’s point of view.” She said this, unironically.
My mouth dropped open. Intent on getting my daughter on the plane, I remained calm and kind.
The manager person continued, “the airlines are losing BILLIONS OF DOLLARS, you have to understand this.”
I swear on all that is holy; these words literally came out of her mouth. The very same day that the New York Times printed this story about Why We Should Not Feel Sorry For the Airlines.
A mid-level manager standing over my sobbing daughter, who holds a fully paid for ticket and wants to fly a day early ON AN EMPTY FLIGHT, is shaming me for not feeling sorry for the airlines.
The helpful ticket agent eventually convinced them to waive the $200 change fee and seemed terribly uncomfortable as I gave him my credit card and paid for the change in fare, $93.
As I was driving away from the airport, in tears, the headline “Airlines Ask Government for 50 Billion Dollar Bailout” popped up on my phone.
American Airlines, you should be ashamed.
I hope the $93 helps. It’s the last dollar you’ll ever get from me.