After my week in USA I wasn’t thrilled about returning to the real world and going back to work, although I was looking forward to a night in my own bed. Anyway, the second half of our trip was in Washington DC, but we got the train back to New York to fly home. So we had an early start, then a 3.5hr train ride to NYC, then we had a few hours in Manhattan before getting the train back to the airport. And had the silliest most stressful 2hrs in an airport I’ve ever had.
We had purchased our tickets through British Airways, but they were selling on behalf of American Airlines. Apparently, this is a common practise but seems a bit weird to me. It meant I checked in through BA for our outbound flight but couldn’t change our seats because it was an AA plane. It also meant that out boarding passes said we were ‘Class M’, and yet they allowed people on the plane in groups 1-8. A bit confusing on the outbound journey but not too bad.
Anyway, we couldn’t check in on our return journey so we had to do it at the airport. We entered a queue with a sign at the front which said ‘Check In’, naively thinking that was where you checked in. After getting to the front we were told we had to use the ‘kiosks’, which were the computers next to us. So we got into another queue to use the ‘kiosks’, which didn’t work. It couldn’t find my reservation, then refused to scan my passport, then printed out a ticket telling I needed to speak to an AA agent instead.
So we got back in the first queue to speak to the agent, only to be told ‘over there’ or something else equally unhelpful. And we had to go the other side of the walkway to join another queue. This queue was getting longer and longer. All the kiosks were breaking, and there was only three staff members dealing with us (after 30mins there was just one person). They were taking 15-45mins to process people. We queued in this queue for an hour and got roughly 1/3 down the line.
American Airlines is obviously a huge airline, that runs lots of domestic US flights. The people queuing in our line were taking all different flights, in the olden days different flights would have different lines so if there was a problem the plane would probably wait because it would be missing half it’s passengers. These days they didn’t seem to put a call out for anyone.
For domestic flights you only have to arrive 1hr early, we had to get there 3hrs early. With the crazy (broken kiosk) system I don’t know why there are different timescales as we were all in the same queue. And in the queue we were surrounded by people who had missed their flights as a result of the chaos. After an hour boyfriend decided to try again at the kiosks and thankfully it worked for him. The stressed out young woman in front of us went to try again too but it rejected her again, this time though it was because her flight had already taken off.
We got through security and still had 30mins before boarding so we were ok really. But my experience of American Airlines is that the system is dumb and the staff were really unhelpful.
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