Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Trip Report: Airtran Airlines

You don't have to be a travel writer to notice that airlines in this country are melting down.

With that in mind, I flew to Atlanta on Airtran this weekend, my first flight since November. Airtran operates a fleet of fairly new 737s between Denver and Atlanta. They have very low profile Recaro seats that really do make you feel like you have an extra inch or two of legroom. On the other hand, United has been using very small regional jets on this rather long (3 hr) trip.

The overhead space was generous enough to easily fit my roll on in lengthwise, and gate checking our child's stroller was a breeze.

Amazingly, airline seemed to operate with almost clockwork precision. I say almost for two reasons.

1. Both flights arrived EARLY. We in Denver are used to arriving at our destination a bit early because, with six runways, aircraft departing DIA rarely have to wait in line. The arrival in Atlanta was a full 30 minutes early, while the return flight was merely 15 minutes early, due to some waiting on the ground behind other aircraft. I have reason to believe this is a common practice at Airtran as my grandmother also arrived early on her flight from Florida.

2. There was a problem with the check-in for our flight to Atlanta. We had paid an additional $5 per person in fees for reserved seats. Having chosen seats fairly close to the front of the plane, I was surprised when I checked in online to have been assigned seats in the back of the plane. Fortunately, I changed them to aisle and window seats, and we were able to enjoy a vacant middle seat between my wife, our daughter, and I.

If you have read this post, then you already know what comes next. There is no way that I will tolerate paying a fee, and then not receiving the service I paid for.

Upon my return, I wrote the following e-mail to Airtran (via their web site):
February 15, I purchased a 2 roundtrip tickets for a flight from Denver to Atlanta departing April 18, 2007. Additionally, I purchased reserve seats for $5 per/person, each way. I selected seats 15E and 15F in order to sit as close to the front of the aircraft as possible. When I checked in online for the flight on April 18th, we were given seats in the last few rows of the aircraft. I was then able to select seats only slightly forward in row 26.
Considering that my wife and I paid $10 for reserved seats, and we did not received what we paid for, I would like a refund of the $10 fee for that flight.

Sincerely, J Daniel Steele
Note that I am flying under my middle name for reasons that have been reported here.

I figured that they would deny this request or ignore it, and I would be forced to call and ask for a manager. If that didn't work, I would then launch an EECB.

Imagine my pleasant surprise when I received the following response within 24 hours:
Mr Mr. Steele,

Thank you for contacting AirTran Airways. I apologize for the inconvenience that this caused. I have refunded the seat fee for that flight in the amount of $10.00 to the credit card that was used for the original purchase. This should post to your account within 3-7 business days.

If there is anything else I may assist you with, please feel free to contact me.


Customer Relations Department, AirTran Airways
Way to go Airtran!

Nevertheless, I believe that I won't choose to pay this fee in the future as there seemed to be plenty of empty seats available for reservation 24 hours before departure.

On time service + quick resolution of a problem = someone who will choose this carrier over another in the future.

No comments: