The American Airlines Experience, In A Nutshell

Filed Under: American, Videos

UNILAD just shared a hilarious video of a vlogger’s experience on American Airlines. The video was posted just a few hours ago, and already has hundreds of thousands of views. Now that I’m looking into this more, it seems like this may have actually been filmed a while back, but this is the first time I’ve seen it, and it seems to be going viral yet again.

The reason I’m sharing it is because it’s oh-so-relatable. I have really bad luck with delays on American Airlines (like I fully acknowledge I’m cursed, because my delay percentage on American is significantly higher than the published average).

Everything about the way this delay is handled is so typical of American, especially in Miami, which I find has among the worst service in American’s system (lucky for me, it’s also my home airport).

From the confusing announcements, to the inaccurate information (including about where the inbound plane is), to the surly agents, to the gate agents just telling everyone to go to the rebooking center if they want help, this is spot on.

If you’re a frequent American flyer, you’ll likely be able to confirm how accurate this is. If you’re not a frequent American flyer but are flying them over the coming months, then maybe this is good “required watching,” given the delays American is likely to have this summer.

If you have a few minutes, you have to see this:

Comments

  1. I have a regional jet on AA from Chicago booked to New York. So what you’re saying is I should cancel the booking, eat the 9k Avios and fly another airline?

  2. It’s ok. No one panic. The executives just invested like .002% of their wealth in American stock. Everything is going to be okay now.

  3. I hadn’t seen this before but no joke this has been my exact same experience at Miami on at least a half dozen flights in 2018-2019 alone. At least the vlogger is super good natured and rolls with the punches…it’s so much harder when you don’t have status and AA employees have zero empathy for what “regular” fliers are going through. At least my work pays for hotels and I’m EXP so rebooking is a bit easier…not everyone is as lucky when AA fails…over..and over…and over again.

  4. Thank God we Europeans don’t ever have to deal with that level of degradation. Lufthansa, Swiss, Air France and SAS would never ever ever ever deal with their valued customers like that. We pity you all

  5. Yeah the delays themselves are often completely understandable, but the communication about them is were AA fails.

    You can smell the rolling delays.

  6. That’s the guy from the Fyre Festival doc on Netflix – works for F**k Jerry I believe.

  7. I have anxiety just thinking that you’re loyal to American Airlines. Time to switch to Delta already, no?

  8. I try everything I can to avoid flying AA and United. And I am not an anomaly either. But of course, the high-level executives couldn’t care less.

  9. AA is just a bigger mess than most airlines. About a year ago I had a 5:30pm flight delayed due to a windshield issue. After numerous delays of 15 minutes we took off at nearly midnight using a different aircraft.

    After exclusively using AA I’ve resorted to skipping the nonstop and instead connect on Delta. I’m often a paid first class flyer so its AA loss. I’m not sure how management survives with the poor stock price.

    Of course southwest is having issues with cancellation of flights. I guess due to the max groundings. I’ve known too many sw customers getting flights canceled within 24 hrs of departure.

    Really need more punitive action against airlines. At this time they can do as they please. Thankfully I don’t fly frequently.

  10. I will NEVER fly American again. On two consecutive family trips with three generations of our family (including a toddler and an infant!), we were delayed on EVERY leg. This included twice being stranded overnight and a third time getting into Key West at 11:30 PM instead of the scheduled 3:45 PM. The author is spot on regarding American Airlines personnel in Miami!

  11. Great video and so typical of AA in 2019. Customer facing employees have no authority and nothing but bad options to offer passengers when things go wrong. First line management who enforce the bad passenger options are much more concerned about senior management than customer response. Senior management just care about stock price. I’m glad I don’t have to fix the mess Mr. Parker had made. I just have to remember that flying AA is like eating at a dodgy buffet. It’s probably not going to be good, and I’m taking a serious risk of food poisoning.

  12. How many Neisy Caistat replicas does America have ?!
    Does everyone under 40 in that country just Vlog their life ?

  13. I was flying ABQ-DFW-DCA on AA earlier this year and they knew a few hours in advance my ABQ-DFW flight would be delayed, and alerted me to it. Then once the delay was long enough I’d miss my connection, they emailed with a link to rebook or cancel all online without having to call anyone. I ended up finding a direct ABQ-BWI on SW, and the process to cancel and request a refund on AA was all done online and approved and refunded within 24 hours.

    So at least their website and systems were pretty good at handling delays and letting you rebook or cancel. Of course, it’s better not to have a delay at all…

    AA emailed me earlier this week with a free Gold status until the end of the summer, and 10 500-mile upgrades, I guess as a status challenge. I wonder if they need to entice people back to AA?

  14. Regardless of when this happened it’s still indicative of the attitude of the airline (which is Lucky’s point I believe).

    My guilt comes into play when I realize that if you have high enough status on an airline this all kind of goes away in that as a 1k when United “delayed’ my flight a couple of times (an hour delay, no way a three hour delay) after coming back from overseas, I told them, no, I’m driving home (Houston to Austin) cause I promised my son I’d be home before he went to bed. And they said “ok we will refund you the money for your return flight portion from Houston to Austin (like $150).” Which they totally didn’t have to do, but, I am a 1k soooo…. I can’t even imagine the frustration of people like my parents who try flying United or Delta or American and have no status. No wonder they fly Southwest!!

  15. I had the worst experience yesterday in a flight from fort Lauderdale to Charlotte, flight at 514 PM I guess, they treated us like they were doing you a favor by taking us in their planes, bound girl that I cant remember her name at the counter was rude to everyone if possible I will avoid AA forever, dont fly with them.

  16. I am exec platinum on American. I fly multiple times a week. No doubt, there are horrible experiences like the one in the video. However, the vast majority of my flights on American go smoothly.

  17. Don’t take it out on the airline employees. Show some class. You wouldn’t want someone videoing you either like you’re some zoo animal. That female employee had every right to stick up for herself. My mother was a gate agent and one time an old religious woman pointed a cane at my mother and told her she was going to be cursed. All because of a delay my mother had nothing to do with. I remember how upset my mother was when she got home from work that night.

  18. AA is the worst by far!!! However @ Sammy, quit your BS comments, European airlines aren’t perfect as you state I have had miserable similar experiences on Lufthansa and Air France. So just relax with the superior attitude.

  19. This is an area AA is really the bottom of the pack on.

    I don’t live at a Delta hub (or that would be my preferred airline) but between AA and United it’s a no brainer for me. The amount of flex I have with same-day confirmed changes (for free) and United’s automatic rebooking during delays and blocking space for me on alternate flights as a 1K is invaluable. I also think they handle delays much better than AA. I’ve been at the gate on AA many times where you can see the inbound aircraft isn’t landing soon and yet they still refuse to delay up to the actual departure time. Completely ridiculous.

    In my experience Delta has been about as good as United at notifying me of delays or auto-rebooking. Definitely not the case with AA.

  20. Lucky, I whole heartedly agree that MIA skews the AA experience to the bad side, as It is the WORST of AA’s operation anywhere. The ground experience from check- in to the gate is BAD, and downright hostile at times. Being also Miami based, I make every effort to avoid flying AA, particularly if I want to have a good chance of reaching my destination on time. I just fly Delta whenever possible. If I absolutely need to fly non-stop, then I fly Jetblue. I have not taken an AA revenue flight in 2 years now. I will most likely use my AA miles on partners. I haven’t looked back at all !

  21. I will take the US domestic flight experience provided by the US3 over the European flight experience provided by the likes of BA, Air France, Lufthansa, etc., anytime, any day.

  22. AA has the worst on time record of any airline in the US, if not overseas. I am a crippled traveller and the AA employees treat me like a side of beef. No care is taken to get me on or off the plane, no apologies given if they run me into a wall. Even USAir, toward the end of their run, was better than AA, and that’s saying something.
    On the other hand, no matter which class I fly, Delta treats me like a princess. They are extremely careful when wheeling me to the plane, I get a sincere apology if an accident happens, and the flight attendants seem to enjoy visiting with me and are incredibly courteous. Thankfully, I live close to a Delta destination airport or I’d never get to travel. United could learn a thing or two from Delta. I have no hope at all for American. Too bad USAir didn’t take over AA instead of the other way round.

  23. At one point he says the aircraft are from the 1940s. ..so he’s clearly trying to exaggerate some issues. To be fair, this scenario happens with every airline

  24. Some people are a little stupid not just calling the one 800 number to get re-booked and not wait in a two hour line.

  25. Anyone know the latest rules on recording gate staff per American Airlines?

    —JRL

  26. And yet he keeps flying with them (AA)…
    I hardly ever have delays and poor customer service, I chose carefully who I fly with.
    Ok, maybe not so easy when he is an US resident, but still. Choose the best providers.

  27. Yup…never fly AA ever. I will go out of my way NOT to take AA.

    I do my fair share of flying:

    1. AC – Super Elite 100K
    2. DL – Silver Medallion
    3. SW – A Lister

    I think I’ve taken AA twice in the past 5 yrs and I also lived in So Florida and purposely drove to FLL to avoid MIA and AA.

  28. This is what United was like ca. 2014 — they’ve cleaned up their act now and although things can still go very wrong in the winter it doesn’t devolve into this kind of mess on every second flight anymore. Delta has also become very good at dealing with these situations. I would not take AA unless it’s long-haul.

    By the way, European airlines are not that much better — generally one is completely SOL with them when things go wrong, except for the protections and compensation mandated by EU law.

  29. Wow we just went through a bad experience with American Airlines also. Our flight was delayed over 2 hours from DFW to London. Obviously we missed our connection. The second leg was on British Airways so we had to locate the BA desk and rebook. As we went through security, the London group, that I’ve had horrible experiences with lost my tablet. None of the agents could find it. I was upset and tracked down a manager. Miraculously he searched for about seven to eight minutes and found it. Magic! When we arrived in Brussels our ride had to leave and go back to work. With no Internet we couldn’t make contact and alert them that we were running very late. That meant we had to hire a taxi for over $60€. When I sent a DM to AA they told me they will try hard to ensure our return trip doesn’t have issues. Yeah right!
    Mike Hinshaw
    NomadicTexan

  30. @Sammy: You’re right. Lufthansa, Swiss, Air France and SAS to on strike so often that being delayed a few hours is nothing compared to the days of disruption strikes cause. IIRC, Lufthansa has the highest number of strikes for a major airline.

  31. I fly American Airlines out of Charlotte NC every 90 days.
    I have never had a complaint. Not every flight is perfect.
    But the service has been friendly and professional.
    These people are human beings too and they have very stressful jobs with little control over their situations.
    I believe that they do their best .
    I get to my destination safely and on time .
    I’m comfortable and satisfied.
    I don’t know what there is to fuss about.
    Getting there safely and on time is what matters most to me .

  32. Tense! This video has stressed me out. Passengers are disorganized unable to communicate correctly either among themselves nor with airline’s employees. It’s a chaos.

  33. US airlines need to be RE-regulated. Plain and simple. This sh*t has gone way too far and for way too long. But I suppose the current lack of industry standards is fitting for a nation that is increasingly failing on multiple levels and will ultimately enter an inevitable death spiral. When a society celebrates the qualities of sociopaths everyone loses.

  34. No one Vlogs the normal, by far majority, of the flights day in and day out. Absolutely there are frustrating times because you are not in control and all you want is for your day/trip to go well, Just…..like…..everyone…..else. Including the people that work there.

    150 legs a year+, Phoenix based so I fly AA, no complaints.

    This is just a chance to whine and get attention.

  35. Had this happen to me in 2016 as well. Original flight was IAH-DFW-LIM. Decent connecting times. On the way to IAH, I get an alert that my IAH flight is delayed and I won’t make the DFW-LIM flight. I call AA and they tell me to go to HOU which is on the OTHER SIDE OF TOWN. At least I’d make it, so I book it to HOU. I check in, and THAT flight is delayed too! Then they said they’ll put me on an “earlier” flight which was also delayed, but I’d at least arrive in DFW with an hour layover to LIM. I get to DFW, flight was supposed to leave 9pm, I sit and wait. I see the screen, gets delayed to 10… then to 11… then to 12… no word or any announcements from AA. So I decide to call AA since nobody is at the kiosk. They tell me there’s some mechanical issue with the plane, etc. While talking, the flight goes to 4am, and everyone is freaking out. Still no word. While I am still on the phone (trying to get a better explanation), it goes to “cancelled” and still, nobody at the kiosk. I get my flight rebooked over the phone, and then, the AA people show up and then everyone rushes to the kiosk to get flight rebooked (was supposed to be 9am next day) and get hotel accommodations. It took another hour just to get our bags and they put us in a hotel 9 miles away from the airport and the hotel shuttle took another hour so we just took an uber to the hotel (arrived at hotel 2am). Long story short, we didn’t leave till 3pm the next day and a meager 10,000 miles in compensation. No apology whatsoever!! Never take AA unless it’s operated by BA and it’s a codeshare flight lol 🙂

  36. American Airlines corporate dignitaries NEVER realize what their front line employees are up against DAILY.
    The have forgotten, the reason they are in business is customers.
    Without them you have NO BUSINESS, NO INCOME, NO JOB!
    SHAME !

  37. Sammy, what are you smoking? I was HON on LH and they treated me like dirt until I got on the plane. Then things improved.

  38. This video is so true. I’m lucky I had status with them, but after they announced oasis I was done with them. Switched to delta. While their blankets might not be as nice, and there’s always connections for me, Delta’s cabins and FAs are just amazing. I’ve flow spirit over American, and felt like a king there with their big front seat compared to AA.

  39. And yet you just keep giving them your business, over and over again. So what if you’re hub captive. Hop the short hour flight up to Atlanta, or any of the other routes on DL out of MIA. I’ve gone back mostly to DL out of DCA, even when it requires a connection, over the non-stops on AA, where the service is awful. Every time.

  40. Funny, that video is three years old and this thread is full of people having the exact same experience. I’ll add ,myself to the mix, this was my exact experience last year on AA in MIA. Having lounge access was key to getting through it as the lounge agents handled all the rebooking for me.

    You’d think AA would have noticed MIA is a problem area and have addressed it. Guess not.

  41. Am I the only traveller, who has had, only great expetiences with American Airlines. I have never been to the Miami Airport. I have travelled, on various trips, and flown from, Chattanooga, Charlotte, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Chicago, and St. George. All were pleasant experiences. Only bad experience, that, I have had was on Delta.

  42. Finally made it home to LAX from Miami. I will be forwarding a formal complaint letter to American Airlines regarding my entire American Airlines experience out of Miami. The worst customer service ever. It was so bad I cannot even begin to detail it in this review. I will also be sending a copy of my complaint letter to all American Airlines competitors for their review and files. It was a total disappointment. Also to make matters worse, My spouse and I flew first class and he is disabled. I will be filing a complaint with the U.S. Justice Department’s Disabilty Rights Section as well as the ACLU and the federal aviation administration.

  43. Meanwhile on Delta….

    I received an email and app notification that my flight was delayed by an hour while en-route to the airport. The app allowed me to re-book the flight automatically onto another flight that was leaving in 45 minutes. Not only did the Delta check-in agent call baggage handling to make sure my bags were loaded on the flight (which I also got a notification of in the Delta app), but she also called the gate agent to make sure they held the plane for me. As I ran to the gate, the gate agent addressed me by name and told me they were happy to have been able to get me on the flight and “Welcome Aboard”.

    Mind you, I have no status with Delta and I wasn’t in First. That’s just how they handled my situation, extremely proactively and professionally. Not to say they’re always perfect, but failure is more of exception than a rule with Delta, in my experience.

    Also @Sam, agreed, Woof!

  44. You can add United Airlines. They use the same tactics. Stuck in DIA overnight. On aircraft over 2 hours. Served water. Comments from crew. In line for deicing, not sure what is going on, one deicing station down for the season, out of deicing liquid. After setting on the a.c. for 2 hours burning fuel and time for crew. We are told the flight is cancelled. This is about 10:00 at night. Please see the gate agent. Deplane gate agent sends everyone to passenger service. Oh by the way go to the second passenger service as the first is closed
    Get to passenger service behind no less than 250 passengers. There are 3 employees manning the station. The continues to grow by the leaps and bounds. I decide like many others to call United
    On hold for over 1.5 hours and still in line. I finally get a hold of res. Who tells me I can get a flight in the morning by flying through 3 different states with lay overs. NO I PAID FOR A FLIGHT STRAIGHT TO MY DESTINATION. I ask where she is located and she said Philippine. She found me a direct flight the next , or same day now at 3:00 pm. It is now 4:00 in the morning and I along with hundreds are still standing in line. No water or anything offered. I give up call my sister to get out of bed drive 30 miles and come get me. All this time crews are leaving a.c. by ground transportation and not one person comes to assist passenger services.

  45. It’s sad to see American continue this. Also, technically the gate staff is correct. I know two AA FA’s and I’m fairly certain as a point of your contract in flying with AA, I don’t think you’re allowed to film the staff. And I know a lot of them are very pissy about it.

  46. American Airlines is my least favorite airline…globally! At least Air Koryo felt novel.

  47. As someone based in Miami, this video is brining up PTSD-like symptoms. Been through it all that is shown here multiple times. MIA + AA is truly a unique and terrible experience where:

    – The aggressive employees get angry when you simply want an answer that you are entitled to.
    – Getting moved from E22 to a D gate is literally like going from Brickell to Miami Beach. It involves TWO train rides and a longggg walk in-between. Plus Concourse E in general is third world compared to D.
    – Lying about times. I mean, that’s typical AA regardless of airport location.
    – The FAKE CALLS! I thought I was crazy when I first reached that conclusion on a delay a few years ago.
    – Don’t even get me started on the rebooking center at Miami. Always staffed with only 2-3 employees. For years they didn’t even have on in Concourse E, so a cancellation out of there meant walking 30 minutes all the way back to D.

  48. @Val US Airways did take over American Airlines and kept the AA brand hence the abysmal management.

  49. Based out of Miami, I fly AA most of the time since they have the most flights in and out. I fly 3-4 times a month. Agreed the normal staff is not the friendliest. But that goes for all airlines out of Miami. I probably had the worst experience with Delta and Iberia. But as far as overall performance, AA is not bad, and for sure not as bad as it is being portrayed on that video.

  50. I have not flown in 30 years, and recently got a job in the federal government, so flying it is, on the cheapest airlines of course. My first experience on AA was arriving at the airport @6am, flight delayed, flight delayed again, plane lands, flight cancelled. 8 hours of misery and no compensation. Arrived at my destination @8 pm. I could have drove there in 10 hours. Not looking forward to my next flight in a couple weeks!

  51. Complains that he has to take a train to the Centurion Lounge (and they didn’t bother to tell him that…seriously??). Sense of entitlement….

  52. We get it, Ben. You don’t like American.

    I’d rather you post you personal terrible experiences than stuff like this.

  53. It happened to me the day you posted this!! Travelled YYZ-DFW smoothly, with great service in First, but then my connection to SEA is showing “cancelled.” I soon get an email from AA that they have rebooked me….on a flight leaving at 1015, in economy. Pretty sad to see queues of 30+ people waiting to be seen my 2 agents, when each case took about 10 minutes to resolve. I ended up #1 on standby presumably because of my first class ticket, but even that didn’t get me on the next flight. The gate agent booked me on Alaska, leaving at 135pm. So it was a few tense hours, loss of first class travel, and then the delay meant I was driving north from SeaTac at 5pm instead of 2pm, so you know how that went. All I can think now is that it could easily have been much, much, worse.

  54. I used to be a very loyal AA customer (ex-plat) for years. American before the merger used to be okay, but ever since it went through, things went downhill. The management is completely going the wrong way and the employees have to bear the consequences. I actually feel sorry for them. They are human beings and have emotions. American needs to acknowledge that they have a serious problem,and work on fixing it.
    I have switched my travel over to Delta. In the beginning, I couldn’t believe the difference of service. I started testing Delta as a no status traveler and they treated me way better than for years as a top status member at AA. In general, flying DL is a pleasure, especially due to their employees, who , for the most part, are amazing and genuinely happy to have you as a passenger. When you talk to them, they actually listen and try their best to help you. It may not always be possible, but at least they try.
    During the past couple of years, my life during travel has become a lot more relaxed, as I know that DL will get me to my destination and back comfortably and timely. And their employees are happier and friendlier. There is always a time when things go wrong, but it’s the way that they are dealing with it. At DL I feel like a valued customer, at AA it was like being a big inconvenience.

  55. Ive been through Hell with American Airlines in the Miami Airport on multiple occasions. One time the lady closed the gate on our family of 5 while waiting in line. She let the person standing right in front of us go, but not us. She was a complete jerk on top of it all. We had to spend the night in Miami over it. Someone from American Airlines needs to go down to Miami to see what the heck is going on.

  56. Perfect summary of the appalling level of comms AA have. I had a near identical experience flying AA biz JFK-LHR – rolling delays through the night, no info, finally left 10h later. Since then would only fly an EU261 carrier eastbound.

  57. This exact thing just happened today. I have 9 family members going to AGU. Rolling delays from a 12:55am departure to a 2:00pm departure.

    The 10:00am DFW to AGU to arrive in the middle of the day has been changed to their night flight arriving past 10:00pm. Now my family, including my 2 year old daughter, risk having a 24-36 hour layover in DFW because of a tight connection they might not make. Plus a lengthy car ride home arriving past midnight in rural Mexico, which is why I specifically booked the flight to arrive in the middle of the day.

    Has anyone had luck getting refunds or compensation for these situations?

  58. @Ever after much hassle (including escalation to regulator and CEO) I finally got a piddling amount of compensation (IIRC 20k miles or so) – nothing compared to the amount I would have got from EU261!

  59. I had the same thing happen yesterday, serial failure by AA in attempt to get cross country. The only thing the video missed was images of passengers dumped by AA on the terminal owners, looking like homeless zombies.

    Original flight DCA DFW SJC cancelled 5h before flight time. No justification.
    No alternate SJC option without flying a day later – choices to SFO via ORD or MIA.
    Earlier flights not offered as alternative.
    No compensation offered for overnight delay at origination point or extra ground transport costs at proposed destination.
    Chose ORD – big mistake. Reading other comments here sounds like MIA is also a basket case when there are failure scenarios.
    Flight was delayed on the ground 90 minutes. Landed ORD 804pm for an 819 connection.
    Connection inbound flight was delayed 9 minutes.
    Sat on tarmac 25 minutes because no gate could receive us.
    Connecting flight departure was delayed till 845 then 900.
    Arrived at connecting gate which closed before the posted time. I watched as it sat there 20min before rolling back. Can’t let you on – Federal Rules.
    Waited an hour in the Customer Assistance desk line for an agent who was unempowered to assist me.
    No meal voucher. No hotel voucher. No compensation. Delay blamed on weather so they could avoid responsibility rather than AA voluntary choice to not have last west coat flights for the day wait for flights that had landed with connecting passengers to deplane.
    Waited in line rather than using app because app failed to disclose AA now has a service level that excludes hotel vouchers when they can blame someone else for problems they could have solved themselves thru competent management.
    App option to rebook disappeared after connecting flight took off. This option should never be removed when you know I’m trapped at connecting airport with no rebooked connection and is an obvious software defect that should have been fixed before giving the app to customers.
    Call center was understaffed – offered callback 1h 9min later. When callback occurred I still had 22min on hold forced listening to ads for other AA products, or “your call is important to us” recording. If you’re going to call us back do it when an agent is available.
    Spent overnight like a zombie with 100s of others in ORD waiting for 445am boarding time for rebooked flight. No point in paying $200 for a hotel you can rest in only 2 hours.
    No ability to get baggage on rebooked flight even though there was 4 hrs to do so.

    — eventually got to SJC 18hrs late with no sleep.

    At least it wasn’t as bad as the passenger ahead of me seeking Customer Assistance who was in day 3 of rebookings and failure trying to get to her final destination. Rebooking on Greyhound would have been faster for her.

    The first flight crew were mumbling that blaming on weather was a lie to avoid responsibility.
    The Customer Assistance agent openly said she had no tools to care for me and could only follow the process. Top management cared about profits not customer experience.

    The calls for re-regulation are not unreasonable.
    The airlines have forgotten they are in the transportation business, and the customer service business – not the fees fees fees please wall street business.
    Maybe we need new laws to force mandatory passenger compensation like Europe.
    Maybe we need new “Lemon law” style penalties and compensation for intentionally sending customers on flights known doomed to fail before departure.
    Maybe we need laws that mandate clear lie-free communication with severe financial penalties for omissions, lies and dishonesty by carrier personnel.

    People do what they are incented to do, and the incentives for AA top management clearly inadequately demand customer care during times of failure.

    People in this thread say Delta is dramatically better? Maybe that’s worth a try. I just hate connections in ATL.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *