Cool Stuff in Paris. By Manning Leonard Krull.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Air France blew it for my return flight too.

(See my last post, Annoying Air France online check-in/booking experience.)

While I was in France I got an email about my return trip, offering an upgrade at a decent price. I clicked the link to upgrade, which took me to the appropriate page of their website. I entered my credit card info and clicked submit, and...... got an error! Again! It was a totally different error this time; very different looking page from the last time.

I poked around on the site and tried to see if I'd successfully paid and gotten my seat upgrade; it was impossible to confirm. However, this time I was able to see pending charges in my account on my bank's website for this upgrade, so I was relatively sure it had gone through.

I should've called Air France, but after all the hassle last time I just wasn't willing to. Last time I was at home before my trip with plenty of time to kill, and this time I was in Paris on a mini-vacation and had a busy schedule of enjoyable things and no time to waste on more nonsense like this.

The morning of my flight, I received an automated email from Air France confirming my flight! Great! However, I still couldn't check in on their website; I'd enter my info and it would tell me I couldn't check in online. I decided to simply go to the airport very early and deal with all of this.

I got to the airport three hours ahead of my flight time and tried the check-in machine. It said it couldn't check me in and that I'd have to proceed to the counter. I waited in line at the counter, and then the young lady who helped me stared at her screen with a confused/nervous look for a long time, and then she called over a colleague who did the same thing with her for a few minutes. Finally they told me I had to go to another counter, which they pointed out across the way. Another line to wait in.

To get to that counter I had to pass through a gate with a sign that said "passengers with boarding passes only." I didn't have my boarding pass yet, since I couldn't check in, so the lady at this gate wouldn't let me through. I explained that the other two ladies had told me I needed to get my problem resolved at the counter beyond the gate, but this lady (understandably) told me that I could not go through without a boarding pass. Fine, so what SHOULD I do? She told me to go to another counter, which she pointed out nearby. Another line to wait in.

At the third counter, another lady helped me, went through all the same steps, stared at her screen looking confused/scared, and then told me she needed to take my passport and go speak to someone else. I told her no problem. This lady and the other three Air France employees I dealt with at CDG so far were all extremely polite and kind, but they really didn't seem very confident about what they were doing.

A few minutes later this most recent lady came back with a fifth lady, and they looked at the computer together, and finally solved whatever the problem was and printed out my boarding pass. The upgrade that I had tried to pay for on the site actually did go through, so that was a relief.

All of this, with waiting in various lines and talking to five different employees at three different stations, took almost an hour.

I used to consider Air France a fantastic airline. The first dozen or so times I flew with them they really stood out as being very competent and professional; head and shoulders above the rest. They were more expensive than the other options, but their service was without a doubt much better. But something's changed. Now, the last half dozen or so times I've flown with them, I've run into these kinds of problems way too often. Their prices are still higher than their competitors (and getting higher all the time), but now they're just as much of a disorganized mess as the rest of them.

Fortunately my actual flights were fine. It's all the hassle and run-around and wasted time leading up to the flights that are an absolute disaster.

1 comment:

  1. Your experience is very close to what happened to me in New Orleans. It was Delta's (connected with AF now) fault- too long a story to go into here. I ended up standing in lines for 4 hours (no sitting, no leaving the line- STANDING) then getting a plane out 6 hours after my original flight. There was a huge line of people they were doing the same thing to. Nightmare. I ended up getting $300 gift certs for Amazon as a "so sorry we screwed up your flight" gift, but only after several hours on the phone and getting advice from the travelers union. Fly Delta again? NOPE! Unless there is absolutely no alternative. Too bad they're connected with AF.


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