Tuesday, January 1, 2019

It's About Time Somebody Told All This

The trip to Williamsburg, Virginia last March was supposed to be a magically submersive experience for Princess Sherri and your servant. Her Majesty would be enjoying her first big-time, big-league colonial ball -- The George Washington Ball -- in a historic town. This would be "Cinderella" without any wicked stepsisters.  Naturally, I felt the pressure to deliver for my Princess.  She had never been to Colonial Williamsburg, much less to a fancy ball of the magnitude I had invited her too.  This was prom times ten, perhaps times 100.

A mix of your servant's favourite music
and moves, set to stories and observations.
We made it to the ball. But we didn't have our luggage or our historic clothing, due to a maelstrom of weather-related flight cancellations and airline incompetence. Some 72 hours after the mess began, and 12 hours after we finally got our hands on the bag, we were on the flight home. I furiously typed out my grievances in a draft letter to American Airlines, accompanied by Andy Gibb's "Time Is Time" playing through my smartphone, a random yet powerful juxtaposition of disco and disgust as I put failure upon failure into words:
Multiple, MULTIPLE times, after our flight from DFW to Norfolk was canceled, and we had to re-book into Charlotte, we were failed by your customer service representatives. This began with two of them telling us, in separate calls, that we didn't need to do anything more to get our checked baggage put on the flight to Charlotte -- it would be done so automatically. It never was, and it remained in DFW to sit overnight until it was flown finally into Norfolk. Meanwhile in Charlotte, we were pointed back and forth between different carousels. Your customer service people were clueless as to where our luggage was until we finally had to call your toll-free number. Then, over the course of a weekend, I made no fewer than six phone calls to your baggage hotline asking when our bags were going to be delivered. Each time I got a person who lacked answers. They couldn't tell me anything. They couldn't even contact the delivery company in Norfolk (Butler Delivery), saying they got voicemail. I was told the delivery driver would call when our baggage was on the way. They never did. One of your representatives even said someone from the delivery company would call "within 20 minutes." They never did. I got an email saying the baggage would be delivered by 4:45am Sunday morning -- 24 hours after our arrival. It never did. One of your reps even admitted to me that email should've never gone out, because it was automatically generated when the baggage arrived in Norfolk, even though it hadn't been assigned to a driver. Turned out, it never was, even though your reps told us it would be, and I have the paperwork to prove it. I finally had to claim the luggage by driving 40 miles from Williamsburg to Norfolk on a Sunday night, just hours before our vacation was to end -- doing the job you failed to do despite promises you would do it. Our vacation was severely tarnished because of your incompetence. Stop apologizing. Start compensating us for your failures.
Princess Sherri made her own phone calls and wrote letters of her own. I stirred in a little social media shame on Facebook. American comped us $100 travel vouchers, and an airline worker friend of mine advised me to just call her in the future, saying that the mega-carriers weren't geared to properly serve their customers.

Yet in the worst of all of this, we learned who our friends were. Two wonderful people who lead a 18th Century dance team, among other pursuits, lent us period attire for the evening so we could cavort in something besides what we had been wearing for the past 24 hours.

We also learned several lessons. Never buy those basic economy fares if you can't take a carry-on with you, and stuff everything you can into it -- especially the historic garb.

In the ashes of the long weekend, I resolved to get a do-over, and I would not wait a year for it. I invited Princess Sherri to accompany me to another ball in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. This time, it all worked, all beautifully. Another trip to Williamsburg awaits us. We will have our second chance soon.

No comments: