US Airways Customer Service Nightmare (2)

US Airways, always an adventure
US Airways, always an adventure

23 Days Later, They Respond


by Gordon Duff, Senior Editor


Today, the customer service department at US Airways responded to my complaint of an unprocessed refund.  I would like to say they were courteous and apologetic but that is far from the case.
They admitted that airline employees had lied to me on two occasions:

  1. Selling me a ticket to a flight that I am now told had already closed doors when my ticket was processed and my credit card charged.
  2. Refund processing done at the airport was a “pretend transaction” and meant only to push me “into the system,” a system that is more than broken.

The status of my refund for $75 dollars, tied to the mournful story below, was that I was, according to their customer service complaint “executive” non-refundable.  To them it was an “unused ticket.”
They had planned on keeping the money.
“Where can you fly for $75?”  What you get is a “Missouri boatride” tour of the Charlotte airport, courtesy of “shanks mare.”
When I asked if it were normal procedure for employees to lie to customers the response indicated, as the English languge is my mother tongue, a saying made famous by Senator Sam Ervin during the Watergate era, that lying to customers is part of the job.
How much difficulty is caused or expense, doesn’t matter.  In fact, when we reviewed the process, it seems the airline had no intention of ever refunding the money.
They had invented a pretense to keep it and had created a set of procedures that made processing a refund both burdensome and insane.
After all, I had watched my refund requested entered into their system on November 23, something they had no record of.
Other points that matter more to me are that this is one of my few visits to North Carolina.  This was only an airport and may not reflect the “real world” as it were but if it does and I am not out of line to assume so, North Carolina is far from some place I would ever visit.
These were some crazy folks around there.
I love the South.  I find southern courtesy something sorely missing in the North.  I now suspect that North Carolina may be a hellhole free of any of the redeeming characteristics of the South or, more likely, so steeped in extremism and religious insanity that it should simply be set adrift.
As a Marine, I never spent much time at Camp Lejeune.  (I got my Agent Orange in Vietnam)  I had no idea that those who did were poisoned by a water supply filled with industrial toxins.  Is that a North Carolina thing or a Marine Corps thing?  I am now thinking…North Carolina.
The Marine Corps is certainly careless, ignorant and incompetent, few who know the “suck” or “crotch” can disagree or would.
No sane person would disagree anyway.
As I digress, this reminds me of a trip to Kitty Hawk long ago, late 1990s.  We were coming in from the Outer Banks on US 64.  As we crossed the causeway, we were stopped by a traffic checkpoint.
A local sheriff had decided to look for “foreigners.”  What could be more foreign that a retired Marine driving a new 7 series BMW with Ohio license plates.  To any sane person, we would have been 50’ish tourists.  We were certainly “white,” something I am more than certain was a major issue at the time and still is.  We had nothing overtly “Jewish” on the car, no “Obama” stickers.  At the time, nobody knew who Obama was.
We were asked for our passports.
I am not kidding.
I was then asked “why” I was in North Carolina, how long I was staying, where I was staying, what I did for a living…

This was as far as I let him get.  This was not a sobriety checklane.  This was “North Carolina “redneck” Immigration.”
We had obviously entered an area that didn’t consider itself subject to the US Constitution or even good manners.
Are my recent experiences proof nothing has changed?  My guess is “probably.”

Part One below:
As editor of the largest military and veterans publication in the world, I am inundated in scams of all kinds.  As a disabled veteran, I am subjected to the horrors of VA medical care, or, more appropriately, the utter lack thereof but, moreover, charity scams, government ripoffs and every form of human depravity imaginable.
As a regular traveler, one who has millions of airline miles, some of it open cockpit flying into grass strips on the African velt, I have almost become immune to inconvenience.  Ah, but when you think you have seen it all, along comes US Airways.
Last month I had two days with retired special operations folks, meetings, dinners, etc.  Call us “old troublemakers” past our prime, but we do love to meet, share information and plot.  We do so love to plot.
Under normal circumstances I would never fly US Airways.  There was no other way to get from Detroit to New Orleans but to use them.  What a mistake.
I expect filthy planes.  I don’t mind rude crew members or pilots who flub landings, after all, this is what keeps us going. Last month, I flew Ethiopian Airways from Addis Ababa to Nairobi.  They were wonderful, new Boeing jet, great crew, wonderful airport lounge.  Why can’t US Airways do the same?
OK, here is what got to me:
I was booked for a 3 plus hour layover in Charlotte, North Carolina.  I do love the airport restaurants, you can’t get better BBQ than there.  I do so hate the pay toilets.  Please?  Pay toilets in the US?
OK, this is what I did wrong; I went to the ticket desk of US Airways and looked for an earlier flight to Detroit.  They gladly accepted my Visa card, booked what they said was an earlier flight, issued me a ticket and sent me across the airport.
I was in terminal B, the flight left from terminal E.  I estimate the distance at about a kilometer.  What I failed to notice is that the ticket they issued me gave me four minutes to walk a kilometer before the doors at the other end closed for the flight.
Here is the fun part.  Charlotte has tons of golf carts, nearly everyone rides on them to get to flights.  It seems eating that BBQ has left North Carolina with a bit of a weight problem, lots of very very heavy people buzzing around the airport, unable to walk distances that actually can be a bit much.
Dodging the zooming golf carts filled with anxious travelers or bored airport employees was actually a real danger.  Perhaps I should have been riding on one of these things?
About a week before, I had to walk across Frankfurt airport.  It took me over an hour from my gate to the first class lounge nearest my flight.  Even then, the limousine ride to the plane was 20 minutes.  Thank goodness Lufthansa offers a full spa with massage for stressed first class passengers.  I do so hate the ride out to the plane with a glass of 40 year old single malt in my hand.  Ah, but we are talking about US Airways, not Lufthansa.
There is no comparison.
I think my problem is that I don’t look “dead enough” for North Carolina.  I am a disabled veteran (100%), certainly old and  have genuinely service connected knee injuries.  Shuffling across an airport is not one of my skills, not anymore anyway.
What is also not in my skill area is being sent across an airport, a big airport, for a flight that had departed long ago, a flight I paid extra to be included on. I wasn’t the only one, there were several others that missed the same flight, those unable to match Jesse Owens or OJ Simpson.
As I had a long wait for my other flight, which I made sure I was “re-ticketed” for, I met with a US Airways supervisor and processed the refund for the extra charges to be put on the flight that really never existed.
My Visa statement showed that this process was never entered, it was all done “for show.”
Then, here, nearly 3 weeks later, I tried calling US Airways.  They refuse to process refunds over the phone.  They demand you send them an email.
I did that. Within seconds, the email was returned.  Their company mailbox was full.
So, let’s add it up:
I was lied to and cheated when I was sold a ticket change for a plane that I could never fly on. I was lied to when my refund was processed by a supervisor at Charlotte. I was “spit on” by US Airways, yes, I am a Vietnam Veteran, when my refund email was “bounced.”
I could go further.  The website for US Airways is designed to simply make people with any problem simply “go away.”  It is nearly impossible to negotiate. There are no real people you can talk to.  They don’t exist.
In fact, they are quite bad mannered and hostile, but I expect that during the holidays.  I will let that part go.
Maybe I look like I can run a four minute mile while carrying luggage across an airport.  Lots of disabled people in their 60s can do that or so US Airways seems to think.
I remember when the supervisor said, “You don’t look that old.” Don’t believe him, I feel that old. As for US Airways, saying I am “unimpressed” is an understatement. That they have recently merged with American Airlines is scary.
Will US Airways improve or American Airlines head down the slippery slope to hell? Only time will tell.



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Gordon Duff posted articles on VT from 2008 to 2022. He is a Marine combat veteran of the Vietnam War. A disabled veteran, he worked on veterans and POW issues for decades. Gordon is an accredited diplomat and is generally accepted as one of the top global intelligence specialists. He manages the world's largest private intelligence organization and regularly consults with governments challenged by security issues. Duff has traveled extensively, is published around the world, and is a regular guest on TV and radio in more than "several" countries. He is also a trained chef, wine enthusiast, avid motorcyclist, and gunsmith specializing in historical weapons and restoration. Business experience and interests are in energy and defense technology.