Friday, April 11, 2008

Is Today the Day?

It's too early to tell and I'm trying not to get my hopes up, but I may actually be getting home today.

Unless you've been living under a rock, you've probably seen in the news the problems going on at American Airlines this week. They've been cancelling scores of flights while they redo maintenance and inspections to their McDonnell-Douglas (MD80) fleet. Unfortunately, three of those cancellations were for flights on which I was scheduled. I was supposed to be flying home from Raleigh, NC on Wednesday afternoon, but received a call late Tuesday letting me know that my flight was cancelled. After scrambling to get through to an agent (American's customer service lines were overwhelmed and I kept getting "all circuits are busy" messages), I was scheduled for the next afternoon. However, on Thursday morning, I was awoken by American Airlines letting me know that my flight had been cancelled. However, at this time, they had me booked on yet another flight, for Friday morning. That didn't last long, however, and I was again notified of a cancellation. Again, I was rescheduled on another flight for Friday afternoon.

I've felt bad for each of the Customer Service agents that I've worked with on this. They are clearly overwhelmed and dealing with this the best they can. It isn't their fault that the management of their company is inept. Remember, American had 18 months to complete these modifications, but did so in a manner that didn't pass inspection. American blames the FAA for "stepping up their standards" around these inspections in reaction to recent Congressional pressure stemming from two separate whistle blower incidents in the last several weeks. Can you believe that??? American blaming the FAA for being more stringent in their inspections?!?!

That makes me a little concerned that these financially strapped airlines are cutting corners with safety to save a little here and save a little there. Clearly, they've reduced their employee numbers by too much (it comes across in the crappy service that is more often the norm), but are they now cutting too deep in maintenance? I hope not.

You may ask why I haven't demanded to be placed on another airline. The fact is that I was probably going to have to extend my time here next week, so instead, I used this as my opportunity to get more work done. At the end of the day, these cancellations have not been too inconvenient. Just don't tell American that because I already put in for my $500 voucher as compensation for my trouble.

And, assuming I get home today, I have to turn right back and return on Sunday. At least I get a change of clothes while I'm home.


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