Dear ATA Customer Support

[Sent via ATA Customer Relations website]

Dear ATA,

On March 24th I flew from Chicago Midway to Washington Reagan on flight #4292.  This normally 90 minute flight left Chicago at 8:10pm (Washington time) and I finally entered a taxi at Reagan when I landed at 1:30am.

When our flight bound for Reagan was diverted by the tower instead to Dulles airport, I wasn’t angry.  After all, I’d rather the pilot not try and force his way into Washington Reagan given the security concerns.  When we ended up on the ground at Dulles and were told we just had to refuel before continuing, I wasn’t particularly angry.  It’s a short flight.

After all, as we sat on the tarmac at 9:30pm Washington time, we were assured that we only needed a little fuel for the short trip, and it wouldn’t take long.

Hours later, sometime after midnight, I had finally had enough.  It wasn’t the self-described "redneck biker" in my row that was suffering through nicotine and caffeine withdrawl while yelling at this soon-to-be ex-wife on the cell phone.  It wasn’t that I’d read every piece of reading material that I could beg, borrow, or steal. It wasn’t even the snit the very tired flight attendant had when a businessman in my row wondered aloud if the pilot had made some sort of error that caused the tower to divert us.  Her suggestion that he get up and inform the rest of the passengers of his special knowledge was certainly the product of a long, arduous workday.

I finally got angry because your operations team is so incompetent that it took them the better part of three and a half hours to arrange for fuel for our plane.  This is a situation you had the ability to control, and you failed to manage well.  The result is that in the time I took me to get from Chicago to Washington, I could have flow from California to New York, albeit with a slight tailwind.

When airlines overbook due to an operations failure, they ask customers to take a later flight because of the incovenience.  I was severely inconvenienced by another operations failure that ATA should have managed a lot better.  You have the ability to control my perception of this incident by providing me with a meaningful apology and a gift.  The apology should come from the Vice President for Operations who was on duty that night.  The meaningful gift should be a pair of round trip tickets from Washington Reagan to Chicago Midway for myself and my wife.

I look forward to hearing your response.


  1. Ivan on May 23, 2005 at 8:27 am

    I just had a terrible ATA experience — and I haven’t even gotten on the plane yet. I’m sending them a letter myself — via paper mail, since their web form is limtied to 1000 characters. I feel vaguely comforted, I guess, seeing that I’m not the only victim of their indifference — they’re obviously an airline to be avoided.

    (The issue was that I made an error during an online booking, and even though I called immediately to rectify it, a rude and condescending supervisor effectively conveyed that I wasn’t sufficiently accepting responsibility for the purchase, and hell would freeze over before they would even consider waiving the $50 change fee. And then it would up being a $90 change fee (x2), because you can’t make changes online, and their CS reps “don’t have access” to the online fares. What assholes.)