Charnell Lucich

AirTran Airways Keeping Travel Affordable

Posted on: July 29, 2008

Before you begin reading, be warned that this is a rant on customer service. If you choose to read on and wish to comment only to tell me how ridiculous I’m being – save it.  *smile* With that said, on to my bitching –

I had the chance to cover the 24 Hours of Lemons for the company that I work for, PEER 1 since we sponsored an employee and his team to run in this event. This event was taking place in Kershaw, South Carolina and at first, I was dreading it. When I first thought of Kershaw, never having heard of it or anything about it the only thing that I could think of was that I was going to get stuck in some backwoods bed and breakfast. Waking up to Billy-Ray in nothing but a pair of blue jean overalls on with half of his teeth missing, cooking my breakfast while making his best attempt to form complete sentences (flame on). After thinking about this over and over, I sent a request to our travel coordinator – “KEEP ME IN CIVILIZATION”. She found this to be hilarious, while I was being dead serious.

When it was time to go, I was e-mailed my itinerary and hotel information. I LOVE our travel coordinator! I immediately made sure that I was staying in a well populated city and I was – Charlotte, North Carolina at the Hilton Executive Park. WHEW! When she booked the flights, I had noticed AirTran Airways on the list and of course noticed it was much cheaper than the other airlines. That should have been my warning, but nooooo…I don’t pay any attention to that since another ticket had to be purchased out of my own pocket for my best friend and co-worker Kevin to come with me and I didn’t want to pay an insane amount (nor travel to a strange place alone). So I asked Blanca (our travel coordinator) about AirTran and what she knew about it. She informed me that several other employees have used this Airline with no complaints. Worked for me.

Until I had to fly. I was flying out of San Antonio, Texas to Atlanta. I printed out my boarding pass and ended up upgrading at the Airport to “Business crap Class” due to them overselling seats. Now when I think of business class, I automatically assume it’s going to be a pleasant trip. Heading to Atlanta was not a very pleasant trip. The seats were not much larger than Coach. The leg room was nice – especially since Kevin is 6ft 4in. tall, it worked well for him for the most part as there wasn’t too much room for him from side to side. He’s big. He’s wide. It didn’t really work. Of course for me, I just curled up in the seat since my feet didn’t touch the floor.

Have you ever noticed on every flight there is at least one male flight attendant who is .. nevermind. It’s best to stop there before I wind up in Africa when trying to go to Dallas. AirTran Airways flight attendants are rude, obnoxious, and just down right not nice. At first I thought it was just this flight to Atlanta, but no. It was my flight to Atlanta, my flight to Charlotte, North Carolina and all the way back home to San Antonio. Not only were the flight attendants rude, so were the attendants that worked the ticket counters in the Airports and made it as difficult for me as they could – sending me to the kiosk to print my boarding pass, which didn’t work so I ended up back at the counter only for them to send me back to the kiosk again, which didn’t work…AGAIN, and after the third time – they printed it out for me. WTF?! Why not just do that for me in the first place? I was shocked. I travel often and never have I been treated so awful – not by SouthWest Airlines, Delta, American Airlines, or United.

There was an error on our flight back to San Antonio that had to be corrected quickly. Blanca got it corrected, however the cost was purchasing another ticket home. The original purchased ticket was …. gone, no refund, no discount, no nothing, just more attitude. So not only did this Airline get to treat us like shit, they got several hundred dollars extra for it. And to top it off, apparently my suitcase grew another 2 inches while I was in Kershaw for the weekend because I had to pay an extra $29.00 for ‘over-sized’ luggage on my way home. Nothing extra in it, not packed differently, no changes. Wish I could figure out how it grew so I could do the same and have my feet touch the floor when I fly!

Being used to flying the big-boy Airlines in first class, I like having fresh fruit served on real glass dishes and drinking coffee out of real glass coffee cups. I enjoy the friendly flight attendants – especially the male attendants who make me laugh with their dramatic stories about other flights. AirTran’s Business Class motto is “world’s most affordable Business Class” and now I know why. You get your coffee in cheap styrofoam cups, you get served ‘chips and cookies’, and you get sighs of disgust and glares when you request a drink or anything else that interrupts the stewardess’ conversations in the front cabin (which is so loud it keeps everyone from being able to sleep). But that’s what I get for going ‘cheap’. Right? No. I can live with the chips, cookies, and styrofoam cups. I cannot live with the way we and others were treated by these employees. Perhaps they just don’t get paid enough to care, which is becoming more and more common in todays working world.

Aside from the shitty service, the planes we flew on were filthy. There was trash left on the floor in front of my seat, the tray that was nestled inside the arm of my chair was ‘glued’ in with gunk (or something that shouldn’t have been there had it been cleaned on a regular basis), the button to recline the chair (both mine and Kevins) was broken, and last but not least, the seat in front of ours…had no seat! The chair had the back, but the bottom was wood and falling through to the floor. How comforting is that to see when you first walk onto a plane?? And to top off my entire experience – my luggage did not come out with the others. After 20-30 minutes of waiting, I walk over to AirTran’s baggage (closet is what it looked like) booth to deal with the following:

Woman behind (bars) counter: “Yes??”

Me: My luggage didn’t come out with the others from my flight and I’m wondering if it was lost.

Woman behind (bars) counter: *heavy disgusted sigh with an eye roll* “Name.”

Me: Charnell Lucich.

Woman behind (bars) counter: *looks around her chair* “What’s it look like?”

Me: 62″ black suitcase with an orange tag, a red tag, and a bright green TSA lock.

Woman behind (bars) counter: “I don’t see it.”

By this time, another lady walks up to the bars and says, “Could this be it? Oh, no…this says Kevin.”

Me: Kevin Blalock?

Other lady: “Yes? Oh, here’s another tag – says Charnell Pugsley. Is this you?”

By this time, I’ve flown several hours, I’m tired, I’m hot, I’m hungry, I’m already pissed off from the level of service from the get-go, but I refrain from going into bitch-mode and just nod politely and whisper a “yes”.

The lady rolls my suitcase to the edge of the counter and gives me a quick ‘here ya go’ and walks away, leaving me to have to walk behind their bars/wall to get it and leave.

Needless to say, lesson learned. I will be flying to San Francisco in a couple of weeks to attend WordCamp and AirTran is NOT on the list for options of Airlines to fly. Perhaps they should take some of the extra money that they’re screwing people out of and put it towards classes on customer service.

/rant

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