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US Airways Has Caught the Air Jamaica Bug

Bodega, California
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US Airways Has Caught the Air Jamaica Bug

...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.

Springfield...
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1. Re: US Airways Has Caught the Air Jamaica Bug

Hi Rastagirl,

I'd believe anything with this airline. We flew them (big mistake) and on our return flight they didn't bother to tell us or post that our connecting flight out of Philly was moved back almost 2 HOURS. We raced through the airport because for some reason it took over an hour to get our bags in customs and the lines were backed up for reconnecting. Then found out we were leaving out of a different terminal so had no time to spare, so we thought.

The real kicker was after we got back to STL the luggage carousel kept breaking down. We waited for 1 1/2 hours for our luggage and none of it ever came. Finally this guy comes out and says thats all the luggage for USair if you didn't get your go to the claims office. I made a beeline over there as there were a lot of people waiting around. I was #5 in line and still took 45 minutes. Come to find out they INTENTIONALLY left 75 bags in Philly. Didn't tell us ours were still there when they knew it ahead of time. Not one of our bags made it on the same flight. They claimed they'd deliver that night but we didn't get our bags until MIDNIGHT the next night. Were supposed to call us when they were on their way, instead the guy calls, again at midnight, when he's parked outside our front door.

Delaware
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2. Re: US Airways Has Caught the Air Jamaica Bug

We generally plan and buy our tickets early .A few years ago flying back from Nassau when we got to the airport our flight was not on the board. There was a flight to Phl about 2 hours earlier with a different flight #. They took our tickets at the counter and we got the seats which we were originally assigned .Never notified and no explanation. Krim just explained why we do only carryon.

Long Island
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3. Re: US Airways Has Caught the Air Jamaica Bug

Rastagirl,

That's a terrible feeling that you won't make your connection, especially when GOING on vacation.

Did they mnake the connection OK?

I guess I have been lucky with Air Jamaica (knock on wood), no issues in last 8 years. What has happenned with others on Air Jamaica?

Bodega, California
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4. Re: US Airways Has Caught the Air Jamaica Bug

Update: My god-daughter called me at 5:15pm...she was JUST handing her boarding pass to the gate agent. She sounded exhausted. I'll tell ya...if she hadn't been sitting in First, she wouldn't have made that connection (she was originally seated in Row 19). Next we'll worry if their luggage made it on their airplane due to the lateness of their arrival...

...to boot, she and her boyfriend got "questioned" at customs, hanging them up just a bit longer than necessary. They wanted to know how two students can afford a vacation to Jamaica.

What a world.

She did say (and this is why she is such a wonderful kid) that even with all the stress and hunger (pretzels. That's all they gave them to eat in First Freakin' Class...Pretzels. On a 3 hour flight.) that she had such a wonderful time NOTHING could ruin that.

She's calling again when she gets home...about midnight CA time, 3:00am my time, but I'm sleeping with the phone next to my ear and the computer on for Skype...

WalkGoodPhil...type in a search for AirJamaica and you'll see what's been going on with them (though I haven't heard of problems in the last couple of months...)basically they were ROUTINELY doing this bump off flights to another flight without notification thing on a fairly regular basis...

North Carolina
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5. Re: US Airways Has Caught the Air Jamaica Bug

USAir's first class to Jamaica is SO disappointing. I have flown first class to other destinations on USAir, but Jamaica is the worst for service. Flew with my family in June from Charlotte, nothing to eat but pretzels. For THREE HOURS. The flight attendant sat in the jump seat and ate her lunch ---- in front of us. My 7 year old asked "Why does she get to eat but we don't have anything?" Why even have a first class if there is NOTHING that makes it FIRST CLASS.? It's unrealistic for airlines to expect people to have time for a meal before the flight, when airports are an hour away from home, check-in takes hours, there's precious little time to buy a meal or even a candy bar inside the airport. And it's worse on the return trip. When you've stuck in a van for two hours, having left before breakfast, then stand in line for two hours in an airport, then are facing three hours in a plane -- all without food or any type of hospitality? Especially with the carry on restrictions against liquids, it would seem the human thing to do to offer something, I'll pay for it, just something!.

When boarding at Montego Bay airport, I saw passengers taking pizza boxes from Margaritaville onto the plane. Smart move. (The USair gates have moved to a new section, and a newer Margaritaville is nearby). Anyone who is flying Jamaica to Charlotte, PREPARE YOURSELF and take something to snack on. You will not be offered anything in coach or first class. And pray you're offered some liquid so you won't choke.

CT
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6. Re: US Airways Has Caught the Air Jamaica Bug

so, what airline do people reccomend?

Long Island, NY
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7. Re: US Airways Has Caught the Air Jamaica Bug

We have ALWAYS travelled American Airlines everywhere we go, including Jamaica. Never once have had a problem with them, and have been using them for many many years!

Clearwater, Florida
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8. Re: US Airways Has Caught the Air Jamaica Bug

T-burn 251

Don't know if Spirit flies to your area, but that is what I have been using lately. Biggest advantage is avoiding Miami airport. Ugh! Spirit's hub is in Lauderdale and they just bought a whole new fleet of 737s in October. I used to use American, but after a huge problem with them (they suck) I've switched to Spirit. Besides, they connect in Miami. Customs there is a bear. So far, so good with Spirit. Shortest lines outbound from Sangster I have even encountered. I would never fly Air Jamaica. They have been in trouble for a long time and were recently taken over by the Jamaican government. From all the reports I have read on the business pages they might go under. And, from what I understand, their maintenance is way below par because they are in financial difficulty. From some I have spoke to, their airplane interior maintenance has suffered, too. Understand the planes are dirty and seats worn.

BigJ

Long Island, NY
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9. Re: US Airways Has Caught the Air Jamaica Bug

I never thought of checking Spirit for lower airfair, so I did it just for kicks. In NY they only fly out of Laguardia and it has a layover, not to mention it's more $$. I'll stick with American non-stop out of JFK for less.

Bodega, California
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10. Re: US Airways Has Caught the Air Jamaica Bug

DiamondStarHalo...EXACTLY MY POINT. When I left the kids on the HUGE security line I knew they wouldn't even have time for crappy Margaritaville ANYTHING but was CERTAIN that Useless Airways would feed them. These poor kids had nothing to eat since breakfast at 7:30am!!!!

I fly American all the time too...best service in First Class in my opinion. And I'll only fly to JA in First :) Spirit Plus was very nice but talk about nasty food...cheese whiz and corn chips? Hey, it's better than pretzels. I did Spirit from Ft. Laud to MoBay without problem/incident once...hey, it was cheap and I was able to sneak another 2 weeks on top of my two months last year.

But we digress. This thread is meant to make folks aware of the dangers and foibles of flying US Airways. I've contacted their customer service department and am waiting to hear back. They will be given a link to this thread, so bring it on!!