American and SuperShuttle: call me … maybe?

Dear American Airlines and SuperShuttle,

This seems obvious, but apparently you need a reminder: Don’t leave customers in the lurch. Don’t leave them guessing. Don’t cause them needless stress. Listen up …

I’ve been looking forward to a trip to Austin for my niece’s 4th birthday party. It’s coming about a week after Hurricane Sandy knocked out power, water, and cell service at my apartment. I spent five days away from home, camping out at friends’ places in a city short on extra space. A nor’easter (effectively a wintery hurricane) is on its way, which is, of course, the last thing NYC and the surrounding areas need. It also threatened my flight to Austin, which was scheduled for 5pm today.

Around 10pm last night, I went to to check on my flight. Cancelled. In bright red letters. Umm, when did they plan to tell me? I did some digging on the American Airlines Twitter feed and discovered that all flights past 3pm were preemptively cancelled due to the impending storm. Did they expect me to discover that when I arrived at the airport after braving the storm, only to turn around and go home? They should have called. Or texted. Or e-mailed.

I called their customer service line and waited on hold for over an hour before giving up. I talked to my sister in Austin and told her I wasn’t going to make it. She flies a lot on American, so has some sort of VIP hotline number. She called that and got me on an early morning flight out of Laguardia. Sweet! The trip was back on!

I balk at the high flat airport fares charged by taxis, so I reserved a SuperShuttle pickup online. I was given the window of 5:50-6:05am. I’ve found that service to be very prompt, so this morning I was not just ready, but outside, curbside at 5:50. By 6am, there was no sign of the van, so I went to SuperShuttle on my phone (nice mobile site, by the way). It said the van was 1.16 miles away. Five minutes later, it was 1.17 miles away. Another five minutes later, it was 2.15 miles away. Wrong direction! I was getting really cold, so went into the atrium of my building.

Finally, at 6:24, I got a call from the driver to confirm directions to my place. He arrived at 6:28 with no apology or acknowledgment that he was late. I’d been waiting since 5:50 with no word from him, so, by my count, he was 38 minutes late. Unacceptable! In those 38 minutes, I’d gone from eager to annoyed to panicky to angry. If he was going to be even a few minutes past the end of the window they’d given me, he should have called.

I’m now sitting at the airport, awaiting my flight. A big hug from my niece will erase my irritation, but I won’t forget that American and SuperShuttle unnecessarily created it. So, next time you know things aren’t going according to plan, will you call me … maybe?

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