Tuesday, November 20, 2007

More Waiting, and an Update From One of the Airlines

For those waiting with me to hear, there's no news yet from the hemotologist. I have to hope that means it's good news because she would have been very quick to contact me if it were bad news, right?

I hope to hear from her before my appointment tomorrow afternoon with my internist, who I was hoping would be ready to start me on Plaquenil this week. But if the test results aren't back yet, I think she's going to say I have to wait until after the holiday weekend. :(

Earlier this week, I wrote about my frustrations with United and American airlines, mostly with United.

I got an email today from Sara Holmes in customer relations at American Airlines. She says their computer shows a response was sent to me back in August and that it must have been caught in my spam filters or something.

Yeah right. Interesting that that one out of the five emails sent to me went astray when two form-letter confirmations of receipt of my email arrived just fine, as did the resend today of the alleged August email and a new response dated today in response to my post on Sunday.

Edited for clarity, brevity and commentary, the following is from Ms. Holmes:

I was sorry to learn of the health concerns which resulted in a change of your family's travel plans. Our records confirm my colleague, Ms. Moriak, processed a response on August 27 which was successfully transmitted via email to you.

It's interesting that Ms. Holmes can "confirm" the email was "successfully transmitted" to me. Because the return address on all their outgoing emails are to a no-reply address, they would have no way of knowing whether that email bounced. I'm skeptical it was actually sent back in August; call me a cynical ex-journalist.

It is certainly unfortunate you did not receive that document. Various spam blockers can often prevent the acceptance. I have requested a duplicate be processed and it should arrive shortly.

And it did. Just seconds before this email arrived. But she quoted it in its entirety for me in case the duplicate didn't make it either. Again, it's rather interesting to me that all these other emails made it into my inbox just fine, but it's very convenient to blame the absence of the first response on my spam filters.

***** (Quoted from the August email:)
Thank you for contacting American Airlines Customer Relations. I am pleased to
respond. I am sorry you are disappointed that we do not waive fare rules because of illness.

I find this a little interesting because of how clear she is that they do not waive fare rules, including the change fee. However, I know people who are in a higher class of frequent fliers who have had change fees waived happily by both United and American airlines. Apparently the rules differ greatly by whether you have the money to fly frequently (or a job that pays for you to fly frequently). My brother is in one of the elite levels of United's Mileage Plus program, and he told me about a persistent ear infection causing him to have to reschedule non-refundable tickets three times and United waived the change fees for him each time without even requesting a note from his doctor.

***** (Back to Ms. Holmes:)
As you can see, we made an effort to respond and regret it was unsuccessful.
I have reviewed your concerns and although we are unable to waive the fees, I would like the opportunity to review additional options to help ease the financial burden three change fees, due to the circumstances.

That is generous, and I appreciate it. Unfortunately, I don't think I'm confident enough that I'll be well enough for travel by early June, and certainly not enough to put out yet more money to change the tickets and risk losing that money too if I'm either still ill or come out of the remission I pray that I soon enter.

Please notify me of your receipt of this email at your earliest convenience to ensure you receive it and I will respond accordingly. Ms. Brandt, we wish you good health and look forward to hearing from you. Thank you
for contacting American.

I have responded to Ms. Holmes (having to use the blind form on American's website since of course even Ms. Holmes didn't give me a direct email address to respond to) and asked her to call me at home to discuss my situation.

Really, this round at least was a much more encouraging response than what I got initially from American or at all (so far) from United. I did say that what I hope for more than anything else is the ability to either 1) extend the expiration date of my tickets since I won't be able to use them by June and my husband has no desire to fly with Ellie without me or 2) Allow me to donate them to Make-A-Wish by making the tickets transferable.

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