(A tl;dr version is at the end.)
As some of you know, I was set to leave for vacation this morning at 2 am from Philadelphia International Airport, one stop to Belize City, Belize.
To start: this is a family vacation - my parents and I, my girlfriend and my sister, and my one set of grandparents. I'm the oldest in the family so my grandparents are still on the younger side.
Well, let me recount a few of the details of my day.
I wake up at about 2 am, leave to go to Philadelphia International Airport, and arrive as planned. The first problem occurs when we try to use the automated kiosks in order to print our boarding passes. Three tries later we are told by an agent that the problem is that one of us is on the Security List - but of course, she doesn't know who, so all of our bags need to be Xrayed and searched.
Granted, that's not the airline's fault - yet. Just wait for it.
Ok, now we fly to Miami, my one stopover. The flight isn't too rough, the crew seems nice, and the 737 is clean.
So we get off the plane, and we're lucky in that the reboarding is at the same gate. We go to the bathroom and come back to our gate and the flight information is no longer up on the board. I go up to ask the agent and he tells me that my flight is canceled. No announcement, nothing. About 10 minutes later he comes on the loudspeaker and tells me (and the 50 other people on the flight) that we should go to the next gate to get rebooked for the 1:45 flight to Belize instead of the 10:10 departure we were expecting.
Annoying? Yes. Acceptable? I guess so. But that's not all!
We go over to the counter and we get a woman agent talking to us. I'll say this upfront - she was an idiot. Incompetent, incompetent imbecile. She tells us at first that she has nothing to do with this - and that she has no idea as to why our flight was canceled. So we ask her to give us new boarding passes and she says that she can't and that they'll give us new boarding passes tomorrow morning.
At this point, I become quite irate. And, if you guys know how I get over the internet, imagine how I act when I actually yell in person. So me (and I'm 6'3") and my dad (who is 6'2" and bigger than I am) start to make a scene. My grandfather tears up his American Airlines Advantage card and starts talking about how he was never flying with them again. The woman (who at this point, we assume has nothing to do with our problems) books us for tomorrow's flight. I start to talk to the group of 8 behind us (a Church Mission trip) and they are being put on tomorrow's too.
Well a few minutes later the mission trip group gets boarding passes because apparently the other agent isn't an absolute moron. They let us know what happened and we complain even more. The most that the agent can do is give us hotel vouchers - we have 7 people and we demand 7 hotel rooms. We get put up at the Holiday Inn. They give us $10/person for lunch and $10/person for dinner and $5/person for breakfast tomorrow. Maybe that is acceptable if we're buying food in Philly or in Wisconsin - but in Miami, FL? $10 bought me a slice of pizza and a soda for lunch. I can't wait until I get to the hotel restaurant tonight - a pasta dish starts at $14.95. All the while, we're asking to see a supervisor and being told that it's not her fault. Oh, but it is.
Best part: we get told that our luggage is being pulled off the plane and that it will be ready - in 2 or 3 hours. Absurd, yes. But we go to the hotel and wait about 4.5 hours and go back to the airport. As we get back to the airport we see that the other flight (the 1:45pm one) was delayed almost an hour. Perhaps that was a luggage problem? I beg you, continue on.
Well we get downstairs to the baggage claim. We ask the guy where our luggage is (7 bags, mind you) and he tells us that he's not sure. It hasn't been pulled off the plane yet. "None of it has..." and other assorted lies. He gives us a phone number to call and check (we're supposed to every hour) to see if our bags got off. So we walk back upstairs, march to the first class counter and demand to speak with a supervisor. Thank God, we get someone with some intelligence this time. Ms. Soto calls around to 5 or 6 different people and finally tells us that she's pretty sure our baggage likely got sent on without us to Belize City. She also told us that we could file a claim with AA after buying things for ourselves in Miami (mind you, we have no transportation at all except the bus between the hotel and the airport) since we're not sure where anything is. I thought (like that House episode) that you couldn't send a plane off without the passengers of the checked luggage? Go figure.
Well, guess who now has no clothes? My dad has one swimming suit and one shirt, I have one pair of boxers, and my girlfriend has one pair of shorts. The other 4 members of our party have absolutely nothing to wear for the next 24 hours.
For now, I'm stuck in a Holiday Inn hotel room, in my pajamas with no clothes and no deodorant. Our connecting flight from Belize City to the Island off the shore needs to be rebooked. Our luggage may in fact be missing since we can't confirm where it is. Our house that we rented (not cheap) is sitting empty. The food we had delivered to that house today is sitting in the refrigerator. The scuba dive boat my dad chartered is not, in fact, ferrying him to a good dive spot. It's like throwing money out the window.
I can't wait to come back tomorrow and tell you the rest of the story - since our problems seem far from over.
For all of you who like the tl;dr version: I'm stuck until tomorrow morning at 10:10 am at a Holiday Inn in Miami instead of in my rented house on an island off of Belize. American Airlines is a sucky company - one mistake after another. Never ever use them.
Please comment on this travesty. Please tell me that my anger explosion is justified. Please.