For a number of reasons, over the last few months, I have had to connect from TWA to TWAExpress at STL.Quite honestly if UAL had their act together, i would not be doing things this way.I am a Premier status member with them. However, time and relience is important too. Or so i thought. Anyway of my 6 last flights from STL to either BMI or PIA its been something less than reliable. In June I was on the plane ready for departure just as severe thunderstorms were moving in.However we were to beat it or so we thought. As we were at the end of the runway a mechanical problem developed and we returned to the gate. The problem resulted in the flight being canceled and the thunderstorms moved in. . i wa rebooked on a flight for 20 hours later as everyuthing else was booked solid. Instead I drove to PIA, which was not offered as a solution I just appeared at PIA and was able to get on a flight leaving in about 20 minutes. Much to TWAs credit TWA did mail me a letter of apology with a coupon for $50.00 a future flight. It could have been more but at least they did try to contact me first.From that point on until i reached DCA everything was fine. A few trips after that was some small delays but nothing really awful.
This past week the cycle started all over again On August 15, i flew from DCA-STL-BMI. We arrived in STL 37 minutes early. Two hours later our flight was due to depart for BMI. Close to departure time a whole string of miss communications and no communications bewtween gate agents, mechanics etc resulted in delays. Finally after a 2 hour delay we board the flight. While we were on the plane waiting for departure the pilot thought something hit the plane. So there is a big inspection of the aircraft looking for damage etc. Thirty minutes later they find some damage and the flight is canceled. I was put on the next flight which itself left 35 minutes late. Finally i left STL close to 7 hours after arriving STL.
In PIA, a 35 mile drive from, from BMI there is terrible drop off in passenger boardings this year. Much of it was due the very high fares and parking fees in PIA. However in recent weeks much of that problem has been eliminated. So i went to the airport in PIA and tried to change my departure from BMI to PIA. I was told by the station manager there that there would be a $75.00 fee for change. i refused to pay it and kept the BMI departure.
Upon arrival last night at the BMI airport there was going to be delay in the TWA express flight, a very long delay. i was offered the option to drive back to PIA for a later departure that would get me to DCA right on schedule. I accepted the offer.The irony is that it was the same flight i tried to change to when they wanted the $75.00 change fee. From that point on things went very well and i arrived in DCA about 12 minutes early.
Now the question becomes does TWA really think another $50.00 flight coupon will smooth things over? Why does TWA, another wise wonderful airline, accept this kind of action from TWA Express over and over again. When will they get the message? Also the station manager for TWA Express in PIA is one of the most uncooperative, inflexible, unprofessional, lacking in common courtesy, persons i have ever met in the travel businesor any other industry for that matter. I have heard that recently there was an episode in PIA that someone had. The way it was presented to me was that she gave some passenger a difficult time about some minor thing. At the end of the conversation he produced 3 first class round trip tickets from PIA-Saudi Arabia and demanded a refuund. Even then she apparently did not back down or at least become courteous. Perhaps when someobody in the chain of command finds out this is going on changes will happen. Trust me that wont come too soon.
In the meantime there are a few very truly wonderful and sincere, courteous, professional and very helpful employees TWA Express employees in both PIA and BMI. They are truly a marvel. Its just that it seems the presence of the station manager on the scene gives the impression to the employees that she is watching them like a communist dictator. Maybe that is one of the causes of the drop off in passenger boardings in PIA. Are you listening TWA?