Thursday, July 13, 2017

Dear American Airlines

Dear American Airlines,

I have been flying American Airlines since I was in college (40+ years ago!) and have always been a fan but never more than a recent trip I took (with my American Advantage miles!) from RDU to (get ready) Martha’s Vineyard by way of DCA.  I had received an unexpected and lovely invitation to visit the Vineyard for a few days and then decided to see an old college friend living outside Boston before heading back home.  I was amazed that I could do the trip with my carefully saved miles and could actually fly in to Martha’s Vineyard (saving me the bus and ferry fares to get there). I was thrilled.

The day of travel June 25, there were weather issues elsewhere (loads of rainstorms) and at RDU we were waiting and waiting for our plane to arrive.  I began to get nervous knowing that my connection in DC was a tight one.  I tried to stay positive.

Our plane arrived around the time we were due to take off but still, it was only a forty-minute flight.  I stayed optimistic (not my natural state of affairs).  I kept telling flight attendants I had a tight connection; could they be sure I had the wheelchair assist at the gate?  Between two bad knees (getting shots in July, fingers crossed) and more recently a “collapsed” left foot, a wheelchair saved me pain and further damage to an already-not-great ankle.

We landed at 1:38 pm (about 30 minutes later than expected) but I was relieved, “I’ll make the plane with a scramble,” I thought as the flight to MVY wasn’t due to depart until 2:17.  Still, it was going to be tight.

And then.  And then we didn’t have a gate.  Or we had a gate but the gate was changed. Or we had a gate but then it was cancelled.  Another four minutes before we could head for our gate.  But then another plane was assigned to that gate ahead of us.  The clock kept running, the minutes were slipping away.  2:01pm.  I reluctantly thought, “I need to find out when’s the next flight,” and saw there was NO next flight.  Hmmm.  I looked on the next day, Monday, thinking I might have to stay in Washington DC overnight and take the first flight in the morning but no matter how I searched, NO MATCHES to be found.

Bummer.  I realized maybe American didn’t fly to Martha’s Vineyard during the week…now what?  I asked a flight attendant was anyone else on board headed for that connection?  No.  Only me.  “They’ll never hold the flight for one person,” I said to her mournfully.  I was almost in tears.  So close and yet so far.  I wasn’t sure what was possible to do.  Most of the options were time-consuming and too expensive.

Finally, we headed for a gate.  I’d already texted my host that there was no way I’d make it there that day.  UGH.  We all started to line up to exit.  I got my overhead bag out and braced myself trying not to be too upset and then, and THEN the first-class flight attendant at the door said, “Martha’s Vineyard com’ON, they're holding the plane for you!” and my eyes widened and my face lit up and the passengers ahead of me stepped aside while I scooted to the door where the wheelchair and a gate agent were awaiting me.  Things happened so quickly I never got anyone’s name I just started thanking people as we flew toward gate 34.

“I can’t believe they’re holding the plane…you don’t have another flight today and I couldn’t find one tomorrow…”

“That’s why!” this lovely gate agent said to me, “Don’t worry, they knew that and they’re holding the plane.  You gotta have faith!” and as I whizzed through the door onto the jet bridge and was wheeled down the ramp and quickly made my way onto the plane (with the next two flight attendants welcoming me aboard and congratulating me on making it) I just felt so lucky and so grateful and so thankful that someone, MORE than one someone at American Airlines decided to go out of their way and make my day.

Thank you for such terrific service!
Taken from my window, happily making the flight to my vacation!

1 comment:

  1. YAY!!! (And yay for such a beautifully written entry!!)