American Eagle Supervisor To Me: “Do I Need To Call Law Enforcement?”

So I flew American yesterday from Salt Lake City to Los Angeles to New York in first class. I planned a long layover in Los Angeles so I could visit the new Qantas First Lounge since it was opening day (more on that later).

American-Routing

The flight from Salt Lake City to Los Angeles was operated by a Mesa CRJ-900, so I had to check my bag plane side.

That means at the gate they put a tag on your bag, and then at the bottom of the jet bridge a ramper takes the bag. When you check a bag plane side you receive it upon arrival at your immediate destination (this is different than gate checking a bag, where it’s tagged to your final destination). Plane side bags don’t have electronic tags in most cases, since they’re literally just being hand-carried about 20 feet to the plane, and then loaded on a cart for passengers to claim as they disembark.

I always make a point of being nice to the ramp agents as they take my bag from the jet bridge, since the fate of my bag rests in their hands. So as I handed the ramper my bag I smiled and said “thanks so much, I really appreciate it.”

Where’s my “plane side” bag?!

The flight from Salt Lake City to Los Angeles was uneventful, and upon arrival I waited right by the plane for my gate checked bag. The baggage handlers brought out the cart with gate checked bags, and my bag wasn’t on it. I wasn’t the only one waiting, so I figured there was a second cart coming.

After about 10 minutes of myself and two other first class passengers (and fellow Executive Platinums) waiting there, we realized that our bags weren’t coming. One of the passengers called over a ramper and explained the situation. He said he’d go take a look, but then just walked away and never came back.

Thanks for trying, captain!

At this point the crew from our flight was leaving the aircraft, and a new set of crew were boarding. The same guy stopped the captain from the new flight and explained the situation. The passenger was kind of pissed off in his tone. It’s understandable he was pissed (as was I), but the captain was just trying to help.

The captain went on the ramp and was clearly engaging in conversation with the ramp workers for several minutes, before returning and saying “I did everything I could and even looked myself, but we can’t find them.”

The other passenger got angrier. I tried to calm down the situation, and said “thanks for trying captain, I really appreciate it. It’s certainly not your fault, and you’re going above and beyond.” But everyone was frustrated.

“I am the supervisor”

At this point we came to the realization that our bags had actually been misplaced. I’ve seen a lot in my millions of miles of flying, but how three valet checked bags on a nonstop flight can be misplaced is beyond me. Especially since we were among the first three passengers to board, so it’s not like we boarded last minute and the bags were somehow left behind.

So I asked the outgoing crew to please have a supervisor come to the jet bridge.

Within a few minutes a lady showed up — let’s call her P.

“Hi, we all valet checked bags in Salt Lake City and have connections, and the bags aren’t here.”
“You need to go to baggage claim and file a report.”
“I don’t think you understand. We valet checked bags plane side on a nonstop flight, and everything we have is in them. Clearly this is a very basic oversight either here or in Salt Lake City, and the other guy has a tight connection and can’t go to baggage claim.”
“What do you want me to do?”

Like, seriously? “What do you want me to do?” Really?!

This is kind of the point at which I realized I wouldn’t get anywhere with her. If as an agent you can’t realize that “what do you want me to do?” isn’t the right answer when three people’s valet checked bags are missing then I don’t know what to say.

“To clarify, are you the supervisor?”
“Yes.”
“Okay, well is there a way you could call your supervisor then?”
“I am the supervisor.”
“Right, but surely you have a supervisor, and you don’t seem interested in helping us.”
“No, I’m in charge.”
“In charge of…?”
“The American Eagle terminal.”
“Okay, is there a chance I could meet a mainline American supervisor somewhere then?”
“I already told you I’m in charge. There’s nothing I can do, I don’t know what you want. You guys have to go to baggage claim and file a report.”
“Ma’am, you have three Executive Platinums in first class here that…”
“I don’t care if you’re in first class or economy, a missing bag is a missing bag.”

Her complete lack of any empathy was maddening. I happened to have a long connection, but one of the other passengers had a 45 minute connection, so there was no way he could get to baggage claim. And it’s one thing to have your checked bag misplaced, but to lose your valet checked carry-on is exponentially more inconvenient, since it leaves you with basically nothing.

I’ll admit this is the point at which I got a bit emotional. I didn’t yell at her or anything, but I felt myself starting to shake a bit out of anger at the situation. As humans we often just want to be heard when things go wrong, and feeling alone and not understood is the worst feeling.

So I told her I thought her behavior was unacceptable (which I realize wasn’t really constructive, but I wasn’t cussing or anything), left the jet bridge, and went into the terminal.

“Do I need to call law enforcement?”

Hilariously, as I walked out of the jet bridge in a clear state of frustration, a good friend of mine just happened to be standing at the gate. He was preparing to leave on the same plane I just flew in on. Total coincidence, and small world!

I explained to him the situation and how ridiculous it all was, and we started swapping stories.

Then P — who had been behind the podium prior to that — came over to me.

“Are you photographing me?”
“Huh?”
“That’s not allowed and I didn’t consent to you taking my picture.”
“No I didn’t photograph you.”
“Do I need to call law enforcement?”
“Look at my phone. Do you see your picture on here?” (I opened the camera roll in my iPhone)
“I don’t need to see it.”
“If you’re gong to accuse me of this, look. Look.”

At this point she walked away.

So not only did she accuse me of taking a picture of her — which I didn’t do — but when I denied it she threatened to call law enforcement, and when I wanted to prove my “innocence” she walked away.

And just to be extra clear, I didn’t have a camera out and I wasn’t provoking her by “pointing” my phone at her or anything. I was just showing something separately to my friend.

Our bags are still in Salt Lake City

At this point I kept talking to my friend while we waited for his flight to board. After we talked for a few minutes P came over to me, and her tone was considerably different.

Suddenly she was friendly and helpful, and even addressed me by name. She explained that she contacted Salt Lake City, and that they found three bags sitting on the tarmac.

She explained those bags would be placed on the next flight to Los Angeles, which was scheduled to land at 3:30PM. Apparently they couldn’t check the bag through to my final destination, but rather I’d have to pick it up at baggage claim.

Okay, my connection was at 4:45PM and that plane was scheduled to land at 3:40PM, so that should have worked… barely. Besides, I’m basically a lost puppy without my carry-on, so would have preferred picking the bag up so that I could be sure it was in my possession.

American-Flight-Status-1
My flight

American-Flight-Status-2
Flight my bag was supposedly on

Sadly this was only the very beginning of the saga.

To be continued…

Coming up next:

  • P calls me (twice!)
  • I get three “official” pieces of conflicting information as to where my bag is within a period of 15 minutes
  • I’m sitting at JFK at 3AM
  • I learn what people really want in life

Have you ever lost a plane side bag? What would you have done differently? What would you have done when a supervisor accused you of something you didn’t do and then threatened to call law enforcement?

Comments

  1. That’s crazy! I would file an official report with how bad “precious” was and how rude and unhelpful she was. I can’t believe anyone would behave in such a manner to any sort of passenger, no matter the fact that you were all first class passengers. Even if you were in economy, that’s absolutely disgraceful. She should be fired.

  2. I would have invoked the contract of carriage, filed the missing bag claim, and repurchased everything I had in the bag at my final destination. Slightly different experience — I had AA/US have no idea what happened to my bag after it was tagged and handed off to TSA at check-in — not that it was delayed, they literally had no idea where it was in the system. Was at the start of a 5 night business trip. They told me to buy everything I had in the bag. I did, and they cut me a check two weeks ago. And found my bag before I left my business trip to return home.

  3. While I’ve never had a valet checked bag go missing, I can understand how emotional this is. Long story short – a few weeks I flew from LGA>ORD with two checked bags. When I got to ORD, my bags were nowhere to be found. After about 30 minutes of back and forth, including being allowed to look in the “secure” baggage room, they were nowhere to be found. I wanted to cry. Turns out there were put on an earlier flight, and had been sitting on a different carousel. I was still pissed, since someone else could have easily taken them.

  4. 1. Look at SEC filings to see if they have a telephone number attached to their filings.
    2. Look at website to find out who is responsible for ground services/regional affiliates at mainline.
    3. Leave them a VERY detailed message as to the situation and where I am right now in terms of my problems and how they can contact me and how this is unacceptable.
    4. Expect a call back within 24 hours no matter what the outcome of my bag is.

  5. OMG I am trying to imagine what level of incompetence is required for an airline to fail to get a valet checked bag loaded on to the plane. And that supervisor. Yes, she just sounds precious. Can’t wait to hear the rest of this story.

  6. Having worked ramp for a regional (not this one) many moons ago (after many years as a revenue top tier business flyer, so I’ve been on both sides), I can say I’ve seen several iterations of this type of thing happening. The most common was valet bags accidentally going to baggage claim at the destination airport. This was more common with the CRJ200, as valet bags go into the same hold as checked bags and are “sorted” as they come out of the back. The advent of the CRJ700/900 with the forward holds cut down on that tremendously, as valet bags essentially had their own spot.

  7. Same thing happened to me last week (Dec 10th). Salt Lake City to Los Angeles to Sydney. Business Class. Took my bag from me at the gate and slapped a tag on it. I explicitly asked him whether I was to pick it up on the jet bridge in LAX, baggage claim in LAX, or baggage claim in SYD. He said baggage claim in SYD. I asked him if he was sure and he repeated himself. My name wasn’t on the tag that he put on the bag or the sticker he slapped on my boarding pass. The flight numbers were not on either the tag or the sticker either.

    Its now been 10 days and I have still not seen my bag. I literally had all my pants that fit me in that bag, so I’m incredibly frustrated. AA tells me to talk with Qantas. Qantas still cant find anything. I have a suspicion that the bag may have never left Salt Lake City.

    Curios to see how your story ends since mine is still going on.

  8. That’s the AA airlines customer service standard… I have been flying more than 200K miles per year and never faced, ecountered or dealt with anything worse that AA… Last time they made my 2 year old son travel 3 rows from my wife, I even escalated the issue to Mr. Bentel and Mr. Snook and the only response I got from AA was that they were complying with AA policy because the infant was not travelling alone (as they were both on the same plane!) It was thanks to a nice lady that entertained my son with her phone and later on the flight switched seats with my wife, because NO ONE in AA (phone reps, check in, gate or even flight crew was willing to help)

  9. Jack Buck, Are you really calling for someone to be fired because she didn’t take an appropriately deferential tone? Lets not forget that we all occasionally have bad days. My guess is both sides of this transaction got snippier than necessary. It may indeed be American Airlines policy that a claim be filed a baggage claim. And the first rule of writing a complaint letter is to state what solution you want

  10. Plane side bag lost its on the short flight from Rochester to Boston. I saw my bag being placed on the cart for baggage claim. I asked to have it and was denied. Since it has no tag we’re sending it to baggage claim. Had just enough time to exit airport, collect bag at baggage claim and proceed back through security. Something tells me that didn’t happen here for ol’ Lucky. Might have to change the moniker.

  11. As a former airline employee who was both a ramper and gate/ticket agent, you should absolutely report her. This is disgraceful and people like her give the entire airline workforce a bad name. I despised when fellow co-workers would act like this. I myself have lost baggage before and it’s never a good feeling no matter who you are. Ben, you did nothing wrong and couldn’t have done anything differently. You were polite and respectful, yet were met with an attitude and unacceptable rude behavior. More often than not, excellent customer service is simply listening and genuinely being empathetic. I’m interested in how this all eventually played out!

  12. But what about the guy with the 45 minute connection? Does his bag get to go to the final destination, or does it have to come to LAX first also?

  13. Wow…that is all I can say………..”woooowww”….

    I guess that’s another reason I stick with Delta even though with all the changes…I recently had a lost bag situation with them (international flight)..the bag actually arrived/scanned at destination but no where to be found…(new luggage..please don’t travel with nice new shiny luggage..thieves like them)…

    Anyhow…I only supplied a couple of receipts since no one keeps those on clothes/items you purchased a yr or so ago..two weeks later…Delta just wrote the check for the max on international flight and called it a day..all the agents I dealt with were apologetic and actually being helpful…have not met a grumpy/rude Delta employee yet (knock on wood…)…

  14. What a “precious” story!!!! LOL!!! TGIF so I have time to keep refreshing your page to get to the next chapter. But please, be quick!!! Cannot wait too long to read.

  15. So, how do three bags just sit on the tarmac? Nobody cares? Wouldn’t that be a safety concern where you have planes in an out and three unidentified bags just sitting there? To make things worst, if I read your story correct the bags were sitting on the tarmac from the time they were valet checked until the time she called SLC so more than 1 hours just three bags chatting in the tarmac. WTH!!!!!

  16. Lovely to hear all these horror stories about AA service after I get a boatload of AAdvantage miles courtesy of new Citi cards.

    @ Lucky, can’t wait to hear how it turns out!

  17. WM, what I am saying is that an employee like that shouldn’t be working in a customer service related position, especially being the supervisor of the terminal! I can guarantee you that the majority of those first class passengers will rethink about flying with AA in the future not because their bags weren’t loaded onto the plane, but because the way they were treated by the supervisor. Not only did she not have a “appropriately deferential tone” but she was downright rude and aggressive to the passengers. What she should have done was simply said “Alright, please follow me. We’ll head inside and figure out what is going on together.” She would have called someone, found out that the bags were still in Salt Lake, and reassured the passengers that their bags would be arriving at 3:00PM. Instead, she pretty much said “I can’t do anything. Figure it out yourself.” Ben knew she could in fact actually do something, which is why he kept asking for someone above her who was willing to make a phone call and be helpful. She just wouldn’t do it. Then she adds insult to injury by threatening to call security on a passenger for using their cell phone. She should NOT be working as a supervisor of a terminal.

  18. @ LindaK — Hah, the goal with AAdvantage miles is to redeem them on partner airlines, and not actually on American. 😉

  19. @ Lucky, Very good point. I snagged one of the AA Business miles fares from LAX to LHR this spring, and it’s all on AA, unfortunately. Hoping international service is better….

  20. I think the employees who work for Eagle at LAX are among some of the worst. I had a run in with a gate agent who called the police on me for asking his name as his customer service was so bad and he was yelling at me. He then told me to “get your ass back here” pulling me from the shuttle bus and called LAX police. I wrote the entire encounter up on my website. What I’ve learned. Avoid connections at remote terminal. It’s a terminal where everyone has a chip on their shoulder!

  21. At what point did AA figure out who you are? You would think at some point someone at AA would realize you are a blogger with significant readership and maybe they should have someone more senior dealing with this.

  22. We’ve had a gate-checked bag misplaced on Delta so again this is not specific to one airline. But I did nothing much as the lost bag only contained clothes & crap of no value to anybody else, so eventually they found it and returned it to my hotel…I don’t allow them to gate check valuables but my valuables are small enough to fit under the seat (jewelry, cash, a mini-computer). My traveling companions often have optics, multiple devices, shopping etc. so they are vulnerable to this. Scary story.

    You know what I’m thinking about this lady? When people are in the wrong, they are sometimes rude & threatening as a defensive thing. I wonder if a lot of bags are being “lost” or “stolen” on that route, and she’s helping the cover-up by intimidating passengers so they won’t complain. Not saying she’s involved in helping herself, I bet she isn’t, but she is probably worried about the numbers looking bad on that route or something.

  23. What a crazy story. It is drole and sad when people get on power trips.

    A US Airways flight attendant threatened to “have the police meet this plane when it arrives” because I said I was considering to take a photo of the passenger behind me who was intentionally putting her air vent on the top of my head because she didn’t like I was reclining my seat. This was in First class.

    Here is the story, as told live when it happened.

    http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/us-airways-dividend-miles-pre-merger/1277215-live-interesting-seat-recline-dispute-what-would-you-do.html

  24. I honestly don’t know what I would have done. I am an extremely calm guy and even stuff like a missing bag doesn’t ruffle my feathers, but when there is zero resolution what do you do? You know baggage claims can’t do anything because it was never checked. If you miss your next flight to try to get it, will they be accommodating to your story? Probably not. Calling the 800 number would be fruitless. And I can only imagine the type of person “Precious” is. I don’t look down upon anyone because of their job but lets be real, there isn’t a very high bar for someone to scan tickets and do light computer work. When she started making accusations that it when I would have started recording.

  25. @ Lucky,

    You mentioned you had a long layover at LAX and wanted to go check out the new Qantas First Class lounge. May I ask how were you planning on doing that when you did not have an international leg on your itinerary?

    Also, regardless of who you are, Precious should be fired for not knowing what to do and being as rude and incompetent as she was. There are still many people in this country looking for jobs and that want to do things the right way.

    Last but not least, I’m really looking forward to your post on finding out what people really want in life.

  26. It doesn’t matter who you are or what status you hold. She should be fired. She was on some sort of power trip and burnt out from passenger service. Problem is that she is in a service type industry in a customer facing position. No excuse.

  27. Ben,

    This is a much better story than the ones about champagne, caviar and presidential hotel suites.

    Not that misery loves company, but the pleasure of airline travel has diminished so much in the last ten years for those of us who ride in the back of the bus that it is nice to hear about a Precious little gem like this when it happens to a grizzled veteran first class guy like you.

    Love your blog and as Paul Harvey used to say, I can’t wait to read “The Rest of the Story”.

    Happy Holidays!!

  28. Ben does get better treatment than your average AA customer. The AA twitter team fawns over his every move and gets involved in ways it wouldn’t

    The tone of this conversation likely involved a petulant DYKWIA rudely demanding things of an overworked airline employee.

    If Ben hadn’t continuously been saying how amazing American is, no one would find this story so shocking. If you spend your entire life flying, your bags will get lost. It’s not a major lack of “empathy” when they dont get retrieved automatically. It’s the demands of a spoiled child

  29. Also, there’s no reason AA should treat Ben better than other customers because of this blog. No one is choosing to be a high revenue flyer on AA because of this blog. They may get more credit cards or try to fly for free in first class, but that doesn’t help AA profit.

  30. Why is it so difficult for American to sit this woman down and tell her if it happens again you are gone. We have 10K people waiting in line for your job so shape up or ship out. This is the reason I will use ghost cities, fight for price mistakes and basically do whatever I can to gain an inch on these airlines. They do NOT deserve loyalty, she showed you none.

  31. Yes. I have issues with entitled flyers who make travel worse for all of us.
    None of us were there and know exactly what the conversation was, or the tone by which any of Ben’s comments were made. From reading his blog, and seeing his tweets, he expects extremely high standards of service to be made.
    Ben has made a hysterical post about *other* people not being empathetic, after
    (1) the AA twitter team bent over backwards to do everything in its power
    (2) an agent has called him multiple times, and
    (3) there is a problem finding his bag.

    What is the point of this post? To get someone fired? A complaint that his bag was lost and people didn’t drop everything and immediately dedicate themselves to serving the Executive Platinum Elite Ben Schlappig and Blogger on one of the busiest travel days of the year?

    Perspective is important, and I can’t expect someone who’s never had a real job or has any sort of personal life other than flying on planes to have one, but the rest of us should, and shouldn’t encourage someone to raid SEC filings *because they lost their bag less than 24 hours ago.*

  32. The Executive Platinum comment probably was unhelpful. It’s the equivalent of saying “I know people” or “Do you know who I am?”. They do no care. The only time they usually care is if it is a major customer and that’s the problem with dealing with big companies. The threshold is really high to get them to care.

    OTOH, I would have had a hard time dealing calmly with the accusation of taking a photo, etc. That was really out of line and outright hostile IMHO.

    Overall, the story does not really surprise me other than the photo comment. Perhaps she was having a bad but some people just are *****. The important thing is to keep calm, know your rights and document everything as best you can and take whatever action you can. In the heat of the moment that can be hard especially when you are traveling and such problems can ruin a trip.

  33. Surprised to see Lucky engaging in a classic DYKWIA as you know better.

    Seriously this is why I never – repeat never – fly RJs if at all avoidable, even more so if you are not checking bags. Not sure if there is mainline to LAX but that would have been a better choice.

    That being said this nonsense about calling law enforcement for an improper purpose needs to be stopped. And probably will once they pull it on the wrong person.

  34. AAwesome customer service, AAm I right?

    Now what were you making fun of me for, again? Loyalty to an airline (DL) you think doesn’t care about its customers? Talk about throwing shAAde!

  35. So, all of this is really bad. But, this is a good reminder of why I always try to take non-stops wherever possible.

  36. @Adam:

    > What is the point of this post?

    What is the point? To point poor customer service when an agent was rude, unhelpful, and accused him of taking a picture no no reason. This is a travel blog, and he told a story about poor customer service while travelling. This is about on point as it gets.

    What’s the point of your comment? To take shots at his choice of profession because you perceive your own choice of career is somehow superior? How his personal life is lesser than yours? His post offered an experience in poor customer service in relation to air travel, a subject that people who comes to read this blog is interested in. What is thr point of your comment? To offer ridicule and mockery in your own perceived self-superiority?

    If you clearly find his behaviour / profession / personal life objectionable and inferior to your own, why are you here reading this and commenting, bringing yourself down to his level?

  37. It’s amazing how many commenters here must be suffering from Stockholm Syndrome. You have been so beaten down by TSA and the US airlines that you actually side with the abuser. Stop blaming the pax for everything.

    Ben certainly does not need me to defend him but let’s make one thing perfectly clear, he did absolutely nothing wrong in this situation. He said absolutely nothing wrong. The AE employee, in way too typical fashion, did nothing to resolve the problem, but actively worked to escalate the situation. Yes, if AE cared one bit about the customer experience (they don’t) she should be fired. At the very least, she should be moved to a position that is not EVER customer facing. I hope whoever suggested that firing the incompetent twit was too harsh, doesn’t work in a “customer service” business.

    During a 5.5 hour AE delay recently, I experienced the same indifference and hostility from some of their fine staff at DFW. As I wrote on another post, the delayed passengers were 10X more gracious than every AE employee encountered during the delay.

  38. GOOD NEWS STORY

    Lucky: I recall your KLM review where you found it amusing that KLM touts that it responds to twitter and FB posts within 20 minutes. Well, after connecting through AMS on way to LHR, our checked bags did not arrive. Filed a report at baggage claim but the folks there at LHR could not be specific as to when bags would resurface. Well, I went to my Twitter and FB accounts, posted to KLM and, sure enough, within 20 mins I had specific, detailed answers helpfully and cheerfully written. Bags were with us even earlier than indicated. Sort of emblematic of our KLM experiences… why we’re looking forward to our upcoming business class KLM flight once again.

  39. Legality of Taking Photos?

    That is quite a story, what do you think made the supervisor turn to be trying to be more helpful?

    Also do you know what the response of law enforcement would be if you had in fact taken photos of airline employees, other passengers? Is this a crime, and if so, what would be the charge? Is the legality or not of this different in an airport than any other venue?

    I have heard claims that one cannot take such photos, and usually the claims haven’t been explained by documentation of what crimes might be involved?

    I realize you were not taking photos, but I am still curious about the question.

  40. While it is wrong for people in position of power to use the threat of arrest to chill a legitimate complaint, we should not put ourselves in the wrong by posting this lady’s photo and full name. In my humble opinion. Give them a chance to make it right. Again, just my opinion.

  41. Peachfront, with all due respect, what the heck are you talking about? Ben didn’t take her photo ….he mentioned her first name. So what?

    You are a prime example of what I mentioned in my earlier post. Blaming the abused for their own abuse. “Surely I must have given the airline employee some reason to mistreat me. I will try to be more humble and submissive next time.”

  42. @Adam, sit on a donut. It’s obviously you’re butt hurt. Or maybe just stop being an internet troll? I’ll never understand people who stalk blogs just to harass people. You should try to do it in person cause it sounds like you’re due for a punch in the throat.

  43. So frustrating. But, here’s where I side with Precious:

    “I don’t care if you’re in first class or economy, a missing bag is a missing bag.”

  44. And to be clear, there is no reasonable expectation of privacy in an airline terminal. You could’ve legally taken her photo without her consent if you wanted to.

  45. @ Lucky — hopefully everything works/worked out for you!

    Long-time readers of the blog know that Lucky is very non-confrontational and is very forgiving so things had to be pretty bad.

  46. @Alex: You can access any LAX terminal as long as you have a valid boarding pass for a flight out of LAX, even TBIT.

  47. Boraxo nailed it.

    “I don’t care if you’re in first class or economy, a missing bag is a missing bag.”

    But, but…Don’t You Know Who I am?!

    You often come across as snobby, spoiled, and very entitled. Glad you got a chance to interact with Precious.

  48. @ John: sure, but you can’t access the Qantas First Lounge being an Emerald UNLESS you are traveling international. So again, how was Ben going to enter the new lounge? Not possible unless you pull strings.

  49. Surprised that nobody else has already posted this.

    Cue the film clip of Gollum saying: “My Pre-shussssssssss…..”

    Kidding aside, this supervisor was in the wrong. I’m a believer (to a fault) of humanity and that we all have bad days, and make mistakes. I also don’t pretend to know the daily rigors a gate agent experiences with passengers of every color of the spectrum. I have been witness to some GA’s experiencing severe verbal abuse.

    That said – and as others have adeptly pointed out – she needs to be let go or demoted from her current position (this makes the extraordinary assumption that Ben’s story is 100% factual, which based on the history of his posts, I’m confident it is). One doesn’t achieve a managerial or supervisory role and afford themselves the latitude to behave with the attitude Precious displayed – to anyone (customer, colleague, or airport staff).

    Keeping a level head is paramount – it’s called emotional intelligence. As an elite flyer, as a manager of a team of people in my own organization, and a parent, I always tell myself this every day:
    “Your ego is not your amigo.”

    The other AA Exec Plat that blew up emotionally would do well to heed this, even when he’s been wronged. There are always better solutions to a given situation.

  50. @Alex: Not correct. “Next onward flight that day must be on a oneworld operated and marketed flight” is the access rule for OWE. Nothing about “international only”.

  51. @Mika Pyyhkala

    I am a professional photographer, and (I relayed this story to lucky when it happened) I was in JFK Terminal 4 late at night and stopped by three security officers for “taking photos” during an overnight layover on my way to HKG.

    I was told the airport’s policy was “no photos” within the airport property…since they were Port of New York officers, they had all the jurisdiction they needed. This was also around the time when lucky blogged about the concern over whether to restrict the presence of electrical devices onto aircraft in passengers’ carry-on luggage, so they might have been a little extra sensitive at that time. However, I will say it is not the first time.

    @lucky,

    An amazing tale…to be sure! I had a similar incident when I flew to HKP on HA a while back. Somehow, my carry-on got handed off to a flight to OGG (at least the same island) although it took me three days to track my bag down.

    I bought everything missing, and submitted a receipt to the airlines who promptly paid me with a hard check when I returned to the HNL airport! Their customer service (and Aloha spirit) was much more pleasant that your “Precious.” She scares me, if she is in charge of the entire American Eagle terminal!

    Can’t wait to hear more of your saga! And what about the other guy with the close (45 minutes?) connection? Did you stay in contact with him to find out what happened to him?

    Mahalo!

  52. I literally do not know what some of the past “Lifetime” platinums or other folks have done to these people but unfortunately this story is not something that doesn’t ring true to my ears.

    In the past year, now I don’t know if it has something to do with the Bankruptcy filing, or union negotiations or what but I’ve repeatedly been placed in situations with employees where they are literally trying to put myself as the customer between themselves and their employer.

    I’ve been denied lounge access. I’ve been inappropriately commented on a number of things. I’ve had to basically argue just to use any of the supposed upgrades that come with my supposed status. In short, the “people” working for the airline have done everything in their power to communicate to me their distaste for me as a customer when I have never done a single thing to anyone.

    I don’t understand it at all only to venture a guess that a great deal of these folks sitting out here claiming to be million milers and the like have treated these folks with such disrespect to make their first reaction be so defensive. When they lost my bags, there was no apology, no offer of getting me home from the airport. Nothing be legalese.

    Just my chime in. If you have labor problems with your employer or don’t like your job, that’s between you and them. The passenger has nothing to do with it.

  53. Oh and you’re an airline employee, you’re not a member of the CIA, or the NSA, or a federally protected lifelong member of the secret service.

    Seriously, I have no idea what has happened to these people in the past to basically make them the world’s largest shmucks.

    Your attitude issues are completely your own. Nobody is forcing any stereotype upon you.

    If the shoe fits…

  54. Wow. Not quite the same, but years ago my dad went on a hunting trip with customers. While flying out of a very small airport, on a very small commercial prop plane, they checked the shotguns, walked to the plane, and saw the guns on the tarmac. Not thinking anything of it, they got in the plane. The doors closed, engines started, and off they went, passing the thousands of dollars worth of shotgun still sitting there, unattended. He had to stop the plane by yelling up to the pilot, back when you could yell in a plane without getting arrested.

  55. Her behavior really annoys me as I read your post. To me, missing a bag is not quite as bad as the way she handled the lost after it happened.

  56. Not quite the same story. But years back had $60,000 worth of cameras in my carryon (I’m a professional commercial photographer) required to be checked on the Tarmac. I agreed with the understanding the bags would be waiting on the Tarmac upon landing. Landed in Vail to see them toss my bag on the bottom of a pile of checked bags. Two $2500 lenses destroyed, no claim money because cameras are not covered in “checked baggage.” I was reprimanded for not understanding the carryon size restrictions on a regional jet. Luke they are actually published anywhere!

  57. Ben you come off as an arrogant prick. You may not say things that are rude or demanding or DYKWIA but even just the tone of your voice is too much to handle sometimes. It doesn’t sound like the employee acted appropriately but I would imagine if I saw this unfold I would probably have thought what an ass you were and sided with the employee…I mean you really pulled out your phone and showed her your camera roll? You just come across as a jackass. It’s sad because your blog used to be interesting with trip reports, etc. and it’s turned into drunk posts of champagne types and quite frankly pointless posts just to post. You will slowly lose your audience if you are not careful….and I like you.

  58. Similar thing happened to me on a UA RDU-ORD flight. The ramp forgot to load the cart with EVERY gate checked bag. Not just three bags – every single one! I don’t know how you miss an entire cart full of bags and forget to load it. They also were not apologetic at all…

  59. I’ve never even done valet check in as they don’t have it here in Asia but I’ve had one case of a bag not making it to the final destination. I was flying CGK KUL LHR on MH last July and there was an hour long connection. 3 bags got checked in, only 2 made it to LHR. But I was even less happy at how long it took, they said they’d deliver it as soon as it arrived on the next flight, but it took several days. It’d ridiculous that they can’t handle that properly. And even I’m baffled at how they could have left one bag behind, flew to LHR on SQ with a 50m connection all the bags made it.

  60. I’m really saddened by the comments here. This blog has begun to feel like a community to me over the past year, but today it devolved so quickly it has left me really distraught. Remember when everyone came together after MH370 and 17? Or how happy everyone was when Lucky posted on his trip with his dad? Now we are back to racist name calling and calling people “worthless pieces of human Sh***” after reading a report of one bad encounter. How sad.

  61. Great customer service really shows when help is afforded to the customer when he/she needs it most. While passengers need to understand the difficulty of airline staff, I think the staff also need to understand when a passenger needs help. Respect and understanding is always a 2-way street.

  62. Lucky, that must have been some horrible experience. and i empathize.
    but just imagine what her subordinates have to go through every working day dealing with all sorts of shi@ from her.

  63. lucky,

    It’s time to put this part of the story to rest…

    We’re all sitting by the fireside waiting to hear the end of the [Christmas] story where Ebenezer [Precious] changes their heart and you have the most wonderful experience ever!

  64. Well, my tag line at the end got removed (probably resembled html code)

    Anyway it read “that’s what people really want….just ask Hollywood….the story can have twists and turns, sorrow and disappointments…but in the end the people REALLY want (and expect) a Happy Ending!”

  65. For 2015, in order to “recreate” the current trend of airline employees passive aggressively taking out frustrations on customers, I have a plan.

    I’m going to walk the aisles of my local supermarket, armed with a shopping cart , and each time an older woman or man or a mother of two , takes an item off the shelf that isn’t part of that week’s specials or doesn’t use a coupon, I”m going to inadvertently crash my shopping cart into the corner of the “alleged customers” cart , then I’m going to kindly disclose to them that supermarket regulations clearly state that I had the right of way, and if such “alleged customer” disputes this issue or attempts to in any way document what has occurred, I shall be forced to call in ATF, the local Swat team, and K-9.

    Then I’m going to “Pfff” at the older lady or gentleman as they walk away clearly thinking that there’s something going on with me well beyond some rudimentary mental issues, and come to the internet posting here how they came off as so entitled for daring to have purchased Jujubees and sliced turkey rather than having gone to walmart and paid 1.68. The nerve of those entitled freaks.

  66. WTF Why is mentioning or hinting at someone’s race an issue??? There is this perception in America that we should all be completely color blind, which is in itself racist.

  67. I’m starting to wonder if this is a Salt Lake problem. Last year my 85-year-old aunt was flying on Delta from Chicago to Salt Lake and then Honolulu. My father, a platinum on Delta, had booked her in first class.

    She was sitting in her assigned first-class seat on the SLC-HNL flight when the gate agent came aboard and told her she needed to move to row 32. My aunt, who is a very sweet soft-spoken woman, showed her boarding pass and said she was in the correct seat. But it seems there was a Delta captain traveling on that flight and they wanted to bump her so he could sit there.

    The gate agent insisted, and then another gate agent came on board. My aunt explained that she has bad knees and that is why she was booked in first class. They again insisted that she move back to row 32. Then my aunt asked if there was another alternative. The gate agent told her she could get off the plane and wait for another flight or they could have her arrested. She was practically in tears by then.

    At that point the Delta captain who was to have taken her seat got on board. After seeing her, he didn’t have the heart to make her move and went back to sit in row 32 himself.

    I always assumed this was just bad behavior on the part of Delta, but perhaps those SLC gate agents just like to threaten to arrest passengers.
    Just precious!

  68. Oops, just realized that your issue was with an agent in LAX not SLC.
    As Roseanne Roseannadanna would say: Never Mind!

  69. Leaving what happened aside, I too have been appalled by the racist comments here, and shocked that Lucky hasn’t moderated them. Really sad all round – I won’t be reading again.

  70. Lucky- have you heard back from American Airlines? What did they say? That to me would be the hallmark of good vs bad customer service. Do they send some general boiler plate response, ignore you altogether, or address the issue specifically.

    Also, Whilst I’m on the fence about whether her name should have been published on this blog, it is certainly acceptable to send the name of the employee in question to American Airlines.

  71. Wow, there are some seriously racist comments here. Feeling really icky about this blog and its readership at the moment.

  72. @Adam. Im not Ben, but if i was flying first class too, and was exec plat, i’d expect extremely high standards of service to be made… But even as an economy traveller, last thing i would expect would be a passenger service (SERVICE!) SUPERVISOR being rude to me instead of being POLITE and APOLOGETICALLY HELPFUL.

    Point of the post? raise awareness, and hopefully get American Eagle to provide better service.. Ben afterall IS a blogger, and in a unique position to do so.

    Its not just a bag, its THREE VALET checked bags on a nonstop flight (no connections).

    To second Reine, lol, you do sound like a troll :))

    @Danny. stereotyping???

  73. Add me to the list of people disgusted by the racist comments in this thread — makes me not want to come back here and participate in this community.

  74. @YYZgayguy @Julia @Daveed

    I do have to agree… It’s neither the season for trolls, nor the season for racism. There’s a bit too much of both in the comments here. (No reflection on the initial post, of course.) I’m glad I’m not the only one who found it upsetting.

    This is a great, great blog. Lucky, you’re living the dream – and I salute you. Not all of us can brush off the worst bits of the internet quite so well, though. Do consider taking out the trash – just on this thread…

  75. Great story Ben, I am looking forward to seeing the end result. I personally did not feel it was his job to police the blog but reading some of these comments may change my mind. On the other hand sometimes it is best to let people open their mouth and show who they really are.

  76. Given Lucky has been back to comment on why he was allowed in the Qantas lounge, but has left a broad swath of racist commentary to remain unchallenged, I will be joining those who no longer will be reading this blog.

  77. Looks like a number of comments have been deleted related to the means for entering and exiting TBIT without an International ticket (not related to the main subject). Ben had replied that to exit you just simply exit (looks like Ben deleted his own comment)

    I had asked the question as well but that was deleted. My thought was he was using the SLC – LAX on Eagle to somehow get dropped off at TBIT instead.

    Seems like the media tour comment could have been post at the start. I understand that AA follows that – and maybe Ben reconsidered posting anything related to gaining access to a terminal.

  78. It is perfectly legal to take photographs in airports because they are public property, any restriction airlines invent to stop that is against the first amendment.

    They can tell you to stop but they cant make you stop without resorting to banning you from your flight. I think its very important for people to know that when in the airport terminals police threats by employees of airlines should be responded to with equal seriousness. It is censorship.

  79. @John

    You do not always have authority to take photos on airport property. That is because not all airports qualify as “public property.”

    Not all publicly owned areas are “public forums” for free speech purposes. Publicly owned airports have been specifically held by the U.S. Supreme Court to not be “public forums” (or “fora” if you prefer), but regulations that affect speech must still be reasonable.

    There are a lot of places that are “public” in the sense that they’re open and the public gathers there, but they’re not “public” in a legal sense. A mall is a good example — it’s private property. And as such, if they ask you to leave because you’re taking photos or handing out info or whatever, you have to leave.

    In 2003, a man wearing a “Give Peace a Chance” was asked to leave to leave a mall in Albany. He didn’t, the police were called, and he was arrested for trespassing. The NYCLU filed suit, arguing that the mall was subsidized by public money and thus was a public place in which people should have free speech rights. A state appeals court didn’t agree, and he lost.

  80. Ben, it is not enough for you to simply delete racist comments that litter you blogs and not call them out. That’s essentially ducking your head in the sand while enjoying the readership, clicks and referral bonuses of those who harbors such feelings right below the surface which will undoubted rear it’s ugly head on other threads. You must condemn such comments in no uncertain terms. Firmly and directly. Calling out names on this blogs as you have shown you have problem in doing with airline employees. You may very well loose a few racist readers (and their sympathizer) you’ll gain the respect and loyalty of the rest of your subscribers and let it known now and forever that your blog is no place for such rubbish.

  81. @RoloT Sorry I didn’t see your question until today. Ben did nothing wrong but another commenter in the thread had posted a link to the lady’s photo and full name, and I don’t think that’s a good idea. Anyway I think this comment has since been deleted and that’s why you couldn’t understand my remark about it.

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