...or, as I am now referring to them as Useless Airways.
My god-daughter and her boyfriend left today (tough enough!) and our driver picked us up in Negril at 8:15am for them to get to the airport with PLENTY of time to catch their 11:45am flight. They already had their seat assignments. Our driver was kind enough to go to the carpark so I could escort the kids in, observe their check-in and walk them up to security to see them off. When they checked in, the "agent" handed over the boarding passes...the first thing my god-daugther noticed was that her seat was changed then we noted the boarding time...12:45pm. Huh? Isn't that an hour after her flight was supposed to take off? We double-checked the itinerary and lo and behold...it was.
I scooted right up to the same agent (sorry to those on line at the time but we were starting to get squeezed for time, especially if we were going to get them back on their original flight) - and we are told that the agent "never saw them" on the earlier (11:45am) flight and the reason was that because of an "equipment change" they were involuntarily bumped to the later flight.
This would all be fine and dandy except the 1:30pm flight didn't land in Charlotte until 4:30pm...and their connection LEAVES at 5:30pm.
Sorry kids, this is NOT enough time to clear customs with checked bags, I don't care how small and podunk your airport is. Amazingly enough the agent in MoBay insisted that this was enough time...even though she had never been to the Charlotte airport. Standard turnaround for a connection where you have to clear customs is 2 hours minimum. Period. Any less you are going to be stressed and tight and run a good risk of NOT making your connection.
She asked me to wait a moment. Ten minutes later, while I thought she was working on our issue, it turns out she was checking in five people who had come up in the line during our discussion! Ten minutes gone, I ask for the supervisor.
After a few minutes of telling me there was nothing he can do and that they only needed 45 minutes to make the connection and clear customs he finally decided he'd TRY to help me. Turns out that Useless Airways does not employ the MoBay agents...it's subcontracted out...I find this out when he calls Useless Airways...since they are not employed agents they have to call the same stupid 800 number we all call and get put on hold for 45 minutes. When I asked finally what was going on he said "the recording is telling me all agents are busy". Tic Toc. It's now 10:30am. I ask him if he thinks that if he did manage to get them back on their original flight would they be able to get through security and to their gate on time. He said "yes". I took a look at the line for security which stretched across the ENTIRE airport and realized that this man has no clue. We had to change tack - so I insisted that they now be put in a seat in the front of the plane so they could have a fighting chance of making their connection which also happened to be the last flight leaving Charlotte for SFO. "Wait a minute" he says, "I've got someone on the line and they are helping me change them back to their original flight". I wanted to shake the guy. I firmly explained there was no time now for that, that we'd been trying to do that for the past hour and half and now he MUST seat them in the front of the plane, I didn't care if it was in First Class, but it must be done. I went on to FIRMLY explain that these were two "minor" kids (under 18) with little travel experience...he hung up on his "helper" over there at Useless Airways, typed some stuff in and my kids got their First Class Upgrade.
That's all fine, my god-daughter has flown First before, wonderful ONLY if they make their connection in Charlotte. At least now they do have a fighting chance because they'll be of the first off the plane.
The issues I have are as follows:
1. How can ANY airline involuntarily bump a passenger off their original flight without notification???? Is it our (the consumer's) problem if they need to bring in a smaller aircraft. No effin way.
2. Subcontracted agents at a busy (yes, BUSY) airport? Useless Airways has TONS of flights originating from many cities int he US...their counters are always the busiest...you can't PAY a Jamaican employee and train them properly so that if there is an issue such as this it can be handled efficiently????
3. If you are "subcontracting", again, training? "Hotline" to the "powers that be" for Useless Airways? We got to the airport with two hours to spare for their original flight at 11:45am....since the security line was so big and my driver was sitting in that carpark MELTING for those two hours I could not see the kids off the way I had planned, make sure they got through security ok, yadda, yadda, yadda. AND it cost me extra $$, I HAD to take care of my driver.
So...all of you flying USAirways BEWARE. Check and double and triple check your departure times with them once a week if need be in the weeks preceding your flights. This airline routinely loses baggage, not retrieving them for DAYS in some cases (remember last year's fiasco with the strike? People went for the entire vacation without their luggage), frequently have equipment problems causing delays (my kids and my friend who was on the same flight were delayed 2 hours in Charlotte because the fuel pumps at all the USAirways terminals broke and shut down) and now this.
Yeah, cheap tickets. Remember - there's no such thing as a free lunch. And cheap? Well, cheaper than others obviously, the kids paid $600 each from SFO to MoBay during PEAK season (others airlines were running $800 and up). Avoid this airline like the PLAGUE when making your travel plans.