Tag Archives: American airlines

One World or Separate?

A team is as weak as its poorest link. If someone faces problems in the team, you would think that other team members would come to the rescue. That’s how a good team should work. That’s what you would expect from an airline alliance, especially as aspiringly named as the One World Alliance.

I had a bit of bad experience some years back, to begin with, flying via over-crowded Heathrow airport, but I decided to give the route a second chance. I bought the ticket with best and most affordable connections, which meant that my ticket was sold by American Airlines, although the flights were operated by Finnair and British Airways.

The Supersaver-online travel agency did not give me a chance to include my frequent flyer number, so I tried to do so at the AA-website. Nope, no can do, because the flight was not sold at the AA-website. Instead, no problem adding it on Finnair website plus I was able to choose my seat. Checked BA-site: I was able to access my ticket information, and add e.g. my contact details and emergency contact person, but not choose seat.

24 hours before departure, I enter BA-online-check-in, which according to them, should be now available, but be it bad luck or being an AA-customer, the site continuously informed that I can’t check-in. Luckily, Finnair online-check-in worked just fine.

Trip to San Francisco was smooth (despite the one hour delay at LHR). Flying back is yet another story.

As I am on train at the Bay area travelling to a business meeting early afternoon, I receive a text message from my sister who is already at SFO airport ready to take Lufthansa, saying that my flight is leaving 00.34, i.e. 4hours later than scheduled. While looking from the Caltrain window LH aircraft landing (and sighing that at least my sister’s flight will be as punctual as expected of Germans), I decide first to deal with the meeting and later think of my flights. Likely, I will miss even the last flight of the day to Helsinki, if the flight from SFO leaves four hours late. “BA apologizes”, says the sms I receive. Supersaver’s messages come way after.

After the meeting, I call up BA customer care, wait in line for an hour, after which I ask the agent for my options and possible re-routings. She puts me in hold as she tries to figure out the best suggestion. 16 minutes pass until she says, BA can’t help because my ticket is issued by AA, which should be contacted instead. I try to say that it is the operating airline (BA) which is causing the problem, and thus, I hold BA responsible. I get a minutes-long lecture on liabilities. Were BA and AA in One World or Separate Worlds? She even refuses to transfer my call to AA customer care and urges me to start the round again. No service, no solution. Only wasted time.

I call AA customer care, where I am guided by voice-directed menu (what if the system wouldn’t have recognized my accent?!). Minute and I am blessed with the voice of Daniel. He is pleasant, but immediately, says that since the flight is operated by BA, I should contact BA. Can you guess the colour I see? I demand he at least transfers me directly to someone at BA; I will not line up! “No can do”, he says. But nevertheless, transfers my call to something like “AA-BA -passage-trunkline”. I am now served by Lorraine at BA. She has all the time in the world to me, is very fair, gives me realistic options (although she neither knew that LON-HEL flight leaves from Terminal 3, not 5, which makes a difference in possibly catching the last flight of the day to HEL). Weighing the options, I choose to take the super-delayed flight and overnight in London.

Once I arrive at SFO airport, I find out that the plane is flying quite empty, (yet with estimate departure time of 00.58). In the sardine section, it means more space and service. Lovely for an extremely tired passenger.

Heathrow. I get a hotel room near the airport, bus ticket to/from, night time –survival kit, dinner & breakfast, and nice service. At the hotel, I email my appointments of the next day saying that they need to be postponed. And I sleep like a baby.

Next day everything goes well. Except my luggage does not arrive until a day after.

Flight delayed by 4.5 hours, confusion on AA/BA-responsibility, had to get a babysitter for another night, postponed a few appointments, more sleepless hours, and the souvenir that was more awaited than myself arrived almost 2 days later from the expected. Let’s see if the airlines can work unified as One World and if their team can change poor experience to superior customer service…I’ll keep you posted.