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American Airlines Could Learn a Thing or Two or Three....

  • Jan 27, 2012
Usually when I fly, I fly Virgin America- they have it right on so many levels that I wish all airlines would use them as a business model. American Airlines should definitely take note. Why? Well, basically American Airlines is the worst airline I've ever flown. Apparently, I'm not alone.

In a Travel and Leisure 2009 of Best and Worst Airlines, American was rated second last with on-time performance and was rated last in 2008. Based on US News America's Meanest Airlines, American was the fifth worst in total customer complaints (I wonder where we're supposed to register them because from what I've seen on the web, this number should be higher on the list) with 1.44 reported for every 100,000 passengers. identified AA as the seventh worst company in America and cited several reasons, including high baggage fees and service cutbacks. So, now that the experts have spoken, I'm sure you're dying to hear my version.

The day before we were to leave, I had a full day of relaxation, beach, bodysurfing and margaritas planned. I had been so active in Puerto Rico that I didn't look as tan as I had hoped. First, I thought we'd print out our boarding passes. It's 10:30am and I thought we'd be done to go to breakfast and then, indulge in a day of sunshine, all in all, it should've taken 10 minutes.

Seat Assignments: When we printed the boarding passes, we noticed something interesting, I wasn't sitting next to my husband, though I had reserved the seats at the same time. In fact, I was in the back of the plane. The seat that was originally mine was now listed as Premiere and would cost an additional $14 (these seats were no different from the rest of the Coach seats as I'd see later so I'm really not sure why the extra $14).

Customer Service: Well, this should be an easy fix. I go online. There wasn't an online chat session, just a phone number. Great. Now, at 10:45am, I get to stay on the phone and deal with customer service (uggggggh). Of course, since I'm in PR, I have to dial some other number and when I get a rep, she tells me I have to talk to Orbitz.. "You didn't reserve the seats on aa.com." "Yes, yes I did. Why on Earth would I not want to sit next to my husband and why does he get his seats when I reserved them at the same time?" After more arguing, I finally decide to say, as calmly as possible, "You know, I know you're just doing your job and you neither have the power nor desire to help me solve my issue. Let me talk to your manager." "Well, he's busy." "Well, aren't we all? I don't want to yell at you since you are only doing your job..." "It might be a while"

And so I hold...and hold...and hold...should we go get breakfast? And hold...then, she comes on the line to say he'll be right with me, it's 11:30a. And I wait...and wait...wow, I'm hungry, let's walk to the local spot and get breakfast and wait...and wait. At 11:45a, we're almost to the breakfast spot and she comes on again, he'll be right with me. I say, "Listen, he damn well better be on his way to this phone. My husband and I are now walking to the airport because you can't solve a simple issue over the phone and if we get there before he gets on this phone, you guys are in big, BIG trouble." (Yes, I pulled a mom line) At this point, I'm pissed off. It's now noon, yes, NOON and no, he's not on the phone. We get to the cafe and I decide to hang up, I'm not going to yell in the middle of this cafe when people are trying to enjoy their breakfasts. But, maybe I should've yelled outside....

We finish breakfast and wait for the bus to take us to the airport so we can deal with this NOW. Bus times are on Puerto Rico time and I'm not sure anything is on a set schedule. We get to the airport and they have a section specifically for special assistance with ticketing (I thought that this was for handicapped passengers, kids and the elderly but, no, apparently, they're such screw-ups that this is actually a section for people just like us). It takes a few minutes but, at 2p (!) we get up to the counter and Stuart gets us seated next to each other. The whole thing takes 5 minutes. I'm still pissed though- they should've at least given us better seats (he put us in the back) or coupons for food or SOMETHING. No apologies, crappy seats and the last day of vacation pretty much ruined. We didn't get back to the hotel until 3:30p, thankfully, we didn't have anything planned.

Domestic Baggage Fees:
  • 1st Bag: $25
  • 2nd Bag: $35
  • 3rd Bag: $100
Overweight/Oversized Bags:
  • 51-70 lbs: $60 (up $10 from last year)
  • 71-100 lbs: $100
  • 62-125 inches: $150
Remember the good ol' days, when regular bags were free and you only had to pay if it was over 55 pounds? When you got a meal on flights over an hour and a half? When you got free pillows and blankets for red eye flights? When flying was affordable and fun and comfy? No longer. If you want a pillow and blanket, it's $9.50 with ear plugs and an eye mask. Hungry? I was STARVING and the only thing that looked mildly appetizing was a small pretzel and hummus dip for $4.49.

Suffice to say, I will never be flying American Airlines again. I just wish that Virgin America flew more places. I'd much rather give my hard earned money to any other airline. I suggest that you save your money, time, sanity and vacation for something much more worthy of your efforts.

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March 19, 2012
Seems like airlines cutomer service are really taking a nose dive these days. That is too bad. Unfortunately I may need to deal with airline drama once I go on my trip.
April 08, 2012
Try to use Virgin America/Atlantic wherever possible! They're the BEST!
January 28, 2012
I don't think I've that much problem with a Chinese airline (although some complained of bad service and delayed flights too, usually due to weather though)! However, since I've had dealings with AA, and since you aren't going to be on it ever again, let's just say at least you won't have to deal with your miles being deleted without warning after non-active for some years (if I remember correctly, 3 is the number and I lost an entire free ticket as a result of it!). Since then, no more AA for me!
January 29, 2012
Oh, man! I forgot about the miles- after using it to fly back from Puerto Rico, there weren't any miles added to my account. They have no clue about what they're doing....I'm glad you don't have to deal with that kind of stuff with Chinese airlines!
January 27, 2012
Nice review.
January 27, 2012
January 27, 2012
Happy 100th! And thanks for the review. I live in Buffalo, which isn't exactly an airline hub, so I may not have a choice with American Airlines. I think I'll just stick with Amtrak.
January 27, 2012
Thanks, I actually had to make this 101 because I felt bad making my #100 a negative one lol. I think any other airline would be better than AA- maybe their initials aren't a coincidence, maybe they're all recovering/off the bandwagon drunks? hahahaha
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American Airlines, Inc. (AA) is a major airline of the United States. It is the world's largest airline in passenger miles transported and passenger fleet size; third largest, behind FedEx Express and Delta Air Lines, in aircraft operated; and second behind Air France-KLM in operating revenues. A subsidiary of the AMR Corporation, the airline is headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas, adjacent to the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. American operates scheduled flights throughout the United States, and flights to Canada, Latin America, the Caribbean, Europe, Japan, the People's Republic of China, and India. The Chairman, President, and CEO of AA is Gerard Arpey. In 2005, the airline flew more than 138 billion revenue passenger miles (RPM). 
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