Friday, June 03, 2005

Air France sucks

This was the first vacation where I really felt I got away. It had its ups and downs, but only about 3 downs, which I think is pretty damn good for planning this for about five weeks – two of which were interrupted by my significant other having to stay in the hospital for a cystic fibrosis tune-up.

(I'm not a boy and my lover is not a girl, so either one in front of 'friend' doesn't seem right; 'significant other' is dated, 'partner' has a gay implication. 'Lover' has a strictly sexual tone. Obviously, I've never come up with a good term for the other person in my life. I suppose 'mate' will have to do.)

Never choose Air France! Even though my mate never needs oxygen in daily life, the doctors suggested we look into getting it for the plane trip. After a 15 minute hold on Air France's 800 number (due to "increased volume of calls" rather than "decreased number of call operators") I was told to call another number. There I spoke with a longwinded guy named Richard, who suggested a wheelchair as well, interrupting and overriding me when I tried to explain our exact needs. Oxygen costs not just $180 each way for the installation, but you have to buy an entire extra seat for the equipment itself.

Worse yet, Richard turned my request for information into a bona-fide request for oxygen. This was about 8 days before our flight and they wanted 5 working days to get the request through. They wanted a doctor's statement that oxygen was needed. After hashing it out with the doctors, we all concluded it was nice but unnecessary, so no such statement was made. But when I tried to cancel the oxygen, Richard would not allow it. They wanted a doctor's statement saying that oxygen was not needed, and they would refuse to let us board without it. The doctors, ever aware of malpractice suits, didn't want to make that statement.

We tried to cancel. Air France refused to refund our money even though it was their worst-case assumptions that turned an information request into an order. I somewhat understand their position, but refusing to refund our tickets when they won't let us board is ridiculous. After yelling at various parties, we convinced the travel agency to cancel and rushed Orbitz for a flight on British Airways.

The day before we left, we were gratified to read in print that Air France is the worst airline around. Let our own experience underscore this.

No comments: