American’s Embarrassing International First Class Service

Filed Under: American, Travel

Update: See here for a full review of this Dallas to Hong Kong American Airlines first class flight.

I just flew American’s 777-300ER first class from Dallas to Hong Kong, which was a roughly 16hr30min flight. This is American’s longest route, and also one of their flagship routes, based on the fact that it features upgraded amenities and catering. Therefore one would hope that American would be putting their best foot forward on this flight.

American Airlines first class seat

Also, while I doubt/hope no one was paying this much, for “shock value” I’d like to point out that a one-way ticket for this segment in first class would cost $6,900.

Full disclosure, I was on a paid business class ticket and upgraded to first class with a systemwide upgrade.

While I’ll have a full review of this flight soon, in this post I wanted to focus specifically on the service from the crew (I won’t talk about the food, amenities, seats, etc. — I’ll save that for the review). All I can say is “wow,” and I don’t mean that in a good way.

American’s International First Class Service

I have low expectations when it comes to service on American, though I couldn’t believe how bad the service was in first class. You have two flight attendants taking care of just eight people, and despite that, I’ve had better service in economy class.

The sad thing is that the flight attendants weren’t rude, and I wouldn’t even say they were “bad apples.” Rather it’s just clear that American in no way makes an effort to differentiate service in first class.

My “issues” with service on this flight fall into two general categories — there’s the lack of basic manners (which I’d expect even in economy), and then there’s the complete lack of anything “first class” about the service.

What Happened To Basic Manners?

There are certain things we’re taught as little kids, and that I’d expect no matter what business I patronize. And those basic things were missing here:

  • I said “thank you” whenever I was served anything, and the first time that I received a “yup” (or anything) in response was 15 hours into the flight
  • The flight attendants didn’t speak in full sentences, but rather they just barked fragments at me; “drink?” “starter?”
  • Upon deplaning some first class passengers were confused about which door to deplane through; rather than saying “excuse me, we’re deplaning through this door,” the flight attendant yelled “this way, woohoo”
  • While passengers were getting ready to deplane, the crew was already packing their bags up in the galley and positioning them to get off, rather than saying bye to passengers

American 777-300ER in Hong Kong

This Is First Class, You Say?

Then there are things that you expect to be standard in international first class, but that never happened:

  • Not once was I addressed by name, and not once did either of the flight attendants introduce themselves by name
  • I wasn’t welcomed onboard, but rather my first interaction with the purser was when 10 minutes after boarding she stopped by my seat and said “orange juice, water, champagne?”
  • There was virtually no communication during the meal service; there was no “this is your appetizer, enjoy,” but rather everything was just placed on my tray without a word
  • Not once was I thanked for flying American
  • I asked the purser what kind of white wine they have, and her response was simply “you have a list,” and while I get that’s true, she should be able to phrase it differently, and/or should have a bit of knowledge about the product
  • When I pushed the call button it took a while for them to respond, and when the flight attendant appeared at my seat she said “what’s up?”
  • On many airlines (like Emirates) the first class galley is off bounds for crew members who don’t need to be there, to minimize noise and disruption; on American it’s the employee canteen and water cooler, and there was a never-ending stream of flight attendants leaving and departing the forward galley
  • The menu advertises how American not only offers turndown service in first class, but they even describe it as “premium turndown service,” and below is what that looks like (could you imagine if you were staying in a hotel and that’s how the blanket was folded for turndown service?)

American Airlines’ “premium” turndown service

The most substantial conversation I had with a flight attendant on this flight was when I went back to business class to photograph the snack bar. As I did so, a flight attendant popped up and said with a smile “so how does it look?”

Go figure she must have either been the language speaker on the flight or a reserve, because she was otherwise too young to have the seniority to work this flight.

I Don’t Actually Think This Crew Was Especially Terrible

On the one hand, it’s mind-boggling to me how this is the service that American Airlines provides in first class. The sad thing is that this isn’t even a function of being well versed in the first class service, but rather it’s about the most basic customer service skills.

Should flight attendants have to be told to please speak in full sentences, and not to get passengers’ attention by saying “woohoo?” Shouldn’t that be common sense?

Here’s the thing — I actually don’t think that this crew was especially bad by American’s standards for this route. I don’t think these flight attendants should get in trouble, and I don’t even think they should be called into their manager’s office for their performance.

Working first class is more or less just seniority based, and that’s the extent of it. It’s not like American actually has strict service standards in first class, but rather there are things that they “encourage” employees to do. How often does that actually happen? Not very often, in my experience.

As far as I’m concerned these flight attendants were just providing service in line with American’s vision… which is non-existent.

I’d say this was the third worst service I’ve had in first class, after TAAG Angola and China Southern (though based on what I’ve heard, China Southern has improved significantly in the meantime).

  1. I’m confused why you don’t think the attendants should get in trouble. If their performance was this poor, they should be disciplined and retrained. I’ve had much better service on AA in coach and Flagship First.

  2. I have had similar experiences on three American First Class flights from London
    to Dallas, and one flight from LAX to Hong Kong. One investment that American could make would be to let these poorly trained flight attendants fly first on Cathay or Lufthansa or another
    5 star airline to see what great service looks like.

  3. You had me right up until you said “ I don’t think these flight attendants should get in trouble, and I don’t even think they should be called into their manager’s office for their performance.”

    They absolutely should – basic manners are a prerequisite for any service job, even by AA standards.

  4. Upon reading this, Doug Parker’s looking at acquiring TAAG Angola to pickup some tips on how AA should adjust its service.

  5. I’m not much for formalities but service doesn’t seem to be a priority for many US airlines. Personally I think schools should teach basic ethics/manners. Nothing extreme but stuff like, if someone is hurt/sick you call 911 and not video them, saying thank you or thanks doesn’t take much effort.

    I always like it when I walk into a bar and the guy goes “What can I get you dude?”. I’m in my 50s, long past “dude”. Simply say “What can I get you?”

    FAs have too much job protection and many don’t give a damn. I think many of them view working those flights as simply a way to get a nice layover as opposed to doing a job.

    And that turndown service seems like someone simply giving you the finger.

  6. When I last flew AA flagship first I think I was probably the only person who was not Op-Upgraded or non-revenue. It was almost like the flight attendants knew that and I had to request basic F features I’d “paid” for (i.e. pajamas, turn-down, etc.) Everything was met with a big sigh and acted like I was requesting heaven and earth.

  7. I had a very similar experience in October in F. I upgraded into it, and it I had paid full fare, I would have been more irate. In addition to your experience above, there wasn’t anything proactive or first class about the experience. Lack of walking the cabin to offer service. Lack of the down offer entirely. Being a burden for requesting a snack when J class had a proper self-serve snack bar. Etc etc.

  8. @Lucky,

    It’s a bummer you had such a crappy experience, but the bright side of your particular position is that you have a lot of other long, premium-class, well-serviced flights to look forward to that will positively overshadow this one over time.

    However, I feel particularly bad for the people (like myself), for whom flights like this are a seldom luxury. I’m sure there were such people on board who spent a significant amount on a revenue ticket or a significant chunk of their points stash for the experience, only to be treated like they walked into a McDonald’s in Brooklyn.

    These are the people whom American should REALLY feel like they let down, and before whom they should feel especially ashamed of themselves.

  9. Why should they change? Their prime customer base is a lot like BA’s. They are addicted to the status and justify the mediocre service due to being in a captive market.

    Is anyone in AA first even paying for it or are they all using upgrades or corporate money?

    If no one is really willing to pay the cash difference, why bother to differentiate the product from J.

  10. Unfortunately, this may be just a reflection on how American Airlines treat their own employees. That’s why when I fly to US to Asia, I avoid flying on any of the US airlines.

  11. @rich spot on. I’m in my 30’s and everything you said resonates. Thank you doesn’t cost anything. AA needs to do much better and it starts from above. You cannot have FA’s service flights like this. Not at that dollar amount and not for a 16 hour flight.

  12. The culture of U.S. F/A’s is a brainwash. That is they actually believe that their duty is as first responders. Which, of course, is just an excuse for them to provide as little as possible so that they can gossip in the back galley and play toy blast.

    Really, why anyone would expect anything more than a $18 an hour Mall Cop on a U.S. airline is beyond me.

  13. I’m Canadian not American and I’m always shocked with the way things take place in U.S.
    Cops shooting first and asking questions later, FA treating people that way in all U.S. legacies.
    I think I will never fly with U.S. based airline when I visit U.S. unless there’s absolutely no other options.

  14. I recently upgraded from J to F on the DFW-LHR route and had a similar experience. The employees in the FFD were lacking knowledge although very cheerful. While sitting at the bar a drink was sent back from the tables for being too strong and the bartender’s remark was “Opps I forgot the tonic!”. Once on board, the purser made me feel unwelcome. I heard her conversations about not liking this route and wishing she was working X route. The remark about the galley being the canteen is spot on. The meal service, if we can call it that, was severely lacking. My order was taken and then she tried to take my order again, as she forgot she had already taken my order. What do you know my order was wrong. The cabin was full and thankfully I received my PJs as the man behind was told there were not any more for him. Turn down was done by myself after trying to get their attention for about 15 minutes. I do like the Casper products, but after this experience the only thing better than J is the PJs, large pillow, and mattress pad. The return leg in J was a much better experience and the FAs were great as I have normally experienced on AA J. I guess it is best to stick to partner F or J.

  15. Oh boy, when their things have gone downhill from when I read your AA ORD-PEK-ORD first class with immaculate service by Scott and Eliot. Every time reading that review gave me a sense of how people take their jobs very seriously!

  16. Yeah, your experience is not unlike mine, having flown the DFW-HKG route in F numerous times. In fact, I used to fly AA a lot ($60K annual spend in 2018 and $90K in 2017), but I have now taken my business elsewhere.

    This, interestingly enough, didn’t go unnoticed: I received an email from AA about a month ago telling me to call them “about my account”. So I called them and it turned out to be an interview about “what they could do better”… needless to say, I had a long list… They said that they had heard it all before…

    But if they had told me the purpose of their email, I wouldn’t have bothered calling them and wasted my time for no good reason… just another (small, but telling) example of a totally failed company and its leadership… so sad.

  17. American business and first is one of the worst products out there. Life flat roundtrip ticket for insane $1700 sale from dfw to lhr still was meh even factoring in the price. Just pathetic.

  18. Well, unfortunately, along with the seniority system of airline staffing tends to come a sense that you’re treading on their turf. And as employees get older and more entitled / familiar with the routine, they feel right at home and that flight duty is nothing special. Also, they forget (or perhaps feel bitter) that they’re actually *employees* and you’re paying several thousand dollars for this experience. Maybe the American casual/egalitarian attitude also contributes a little. But combine all these factors with a lack of training and morale, and flight attendants forget that there’s a certain tone/poise/manner to being a competent flight attendant that people at other carriers seem to remember.

  19. Good, I’ve got this to look forward to over Christmas! Just followed in your footsteps and applied a SWU from J to F on DFW-HKG. Then, I’ll have a CX flight in J from HKG-BKK that will surely be 100x better service despite “only” being J.

  20. Anyone who expects more than a larger seat in F/J on long haul AA is asking for disappointment. I Just returned on a long haul J flight, with similar experiences. No sense of “service” whatsoever. At the start of meal service the attendant just dropped the tablecloth on my tray in a crumpled bunch, I had to flatten it myself. When it was dessert service, she asked me what I wanted, and I inquired what the options were. She replied “its in your menu, look it up”. I chose the sundae. She said there are toppings, what would you like. I said “what are the toppings”. You can guess her answer.

    Anyone that pays to fly AA long haul TPAC over any asian carrier (dare I say even Chinese ones?) is insane

  21. I hope they read this blog. They can easily trace your records and the crew on duty. It’s sounds like the crew are in the wrong business Contrary to what you say of course they should be in front of management retrained etc. Or you just expect nothing to be done

  22. This is just a sign of American education that emphasize FREEDOM. I don’t know much kids with basic manners today. They all “I don’t care what you are thinking. But I did what my job description said like bringing food and pjs. I’m entitled to get this 25/hr and it’s not enough to cover my mobile game spending so we need to go strike now” people.

  23. I had the same experience from DFW to LHR. Definitely would not be making the effort to fly AA F over AA J, which looks like it is exactly the same, hard and soft product.

  24. Maybe they knew who you were and kkow you are critical of the airline? Not saying that is any excuse, but maybe that is why?

  25. Isn’t that vocabulary the same found in movies and some books nowadays? Aren’t people prioritizing being alone and emerged in their personal devices rather than looking at their neighbor’s eyes and saying “good morning” or at least a “hi”? That behavior is much more pronounced in the American culture than others but at some point, it will influence the whole world. Wait to see what we will be experiencing in 20 years! It is so sad!

  26. What do you expect if everyone feels entitled to ‘Free Upgrades’ because they have a credit card like 200+ million Americans, countless SWUs and Miles in their accounts without doing anything meaningful to earn them? And the rest of the people just fly First because of their companies travel arrangements.
    No need to provide any meaningful service to earn that business.

  27. I need to fly ORD-KRK this summer in J. Both LOT and AA fly the route. I guess LOT is the better option?

    I’ve never flown AA long haul. Flown plenty in domestic F but usually on short-haul flights operated by regional partners. Everything was fine.

  28. I flew the same flight last year and was not impressed. Food was bad but nothing about the experience was “First Class”. I would happily stay in AA Business Class which is what I’m doing next month. Why waste a SWU?

    In the last 2 years, I’ve been fortunate to fly F on CX (4x), QF, JL, EY, KE, LH (2x), and AA and for sure AA is a distant last compared to these airlines.

  29. @Andrew Y – I am letting several of my SWU expire in January – very limited options for even using them these days…

  30. Interestingly many flight attendants think their role is more related to “flight safety” and things like that rather than the “service people” in the air. After all you have to follow their instructions for “security reasons” or you’ll be kicked out of the plane. Because of that, maybe those people just think they’re superior to the passengers so it’s so embarrassing that they have to serve you.

  31. Sounds like these FAs should be on puddle jumps rather than ultra-long-haul. Maybe the Dallas-Lubbock flight would shock them back into reality.

  32. “I’m just as good as you, so don’t think I’m servile, Mr Free Upgrade Freeloader First Class Passenger”.

    Almost as silly as “Im a hub captive.”

    Tired of bAAd airlines? Guess what, they have competitors.

  33. Exactly the same experience here. 20 minutes after boarding, went and asked for a drink and some PJs. Told sharply that they’d be with me shortly and were too busy now. Asked for the turndown service (which on a good BA crew you don’t even need to ask for – they seem to be able to judge when you’d like it) and it was clearly one thing too many. Very begrudging. Food was pretty ropey.

    What is a real shame is the service in the Flagship First dining at JFK was spectacular. The food was great too. They couldn’t have been more welcoming, friendly and even a little bit fun. The onboard service was such a contrast it was a real jolt.

  34. I have flown AA Business Class to/ from Australia and to/ from Eastern Europe. The service was typical of any Business Class service I have received over 50+ years traveling on European and US based airlines. Far East airlines are superior.. I have never had a rude Flight Attendant, never had poor service, have always been addressed by name.

  35. american does not have the service mentality period. they can be friendly & helpful but not “thinking” of it as service. If they get tips their attitude can improve but still don’t do service.

    In all of the Asia airlines I’ve taken they don’t expect tips but are servicing their clients, regardless of cabin class.

  36. I don’t understand why you continue to fly AA when you obviously have such disdain for them. Anything you write about them at this point can hardly be trusted because it seems as though you go in expecting a negative experience.

  37. Your article describes with great accuracy the mediocre experience on first and business class passengers on AA . As an mature adult male I often feel that being called “honey” and “sweetie” by a crew member, as they frequently do, is disrespectful and puzzling. Wouldn’t it be considered inappropriate if a male passenger addressed a female flight attendant as “sweetie” or a similar term? I am always beside myself by the absolute lack of class displayed by AA crew and staff members. The only exception being some of the multi-language crew members, often able to entertain some level of continental grace. The average AA flight attendant seems more fit to work at a correctional facility.

  38. Wow unbelievable. In most countries and airlines First Class means First Class let alone in America which is supposed to be a leading place for “Excellence of Service”.
    The AA crew needs proper training or to use their brain because in any cheap Deli or simple family restaurant in the US ,the waiter or waitress introduces himself and addresses you as Sir or Madam”.
    And packing their bags quickly to deplane before saying good bye and thank you to passengers is absolutely unheard of in any class and on any airline(apart from AA apparently).Had i paid $6,900 for this Flight ,i would have demanded AA a full refund! Merci beaucoup

  39. I first read. Had same thoughts. Saw that everyone agreed. Enough said.
    Just off the phone with a client who flew $37,000 worth of AA flights in 2019. They never call him by his name…… And, I should wish for them to recognize me? When I only spend $18,000 a year? I actually feel sorry for Concierge Key members.

  40. This was not acceptable service. It is not what AA expects. The crew go through weeks of training. Perhaps your attitude toward people who are only there to save your lives actually comes across. Flight attendants are on board for your safety! Everything else is secondary. Those of you who think they are bot first responders or are “mall cop”…ask yourself, who will save you or evacuate the burning plane? The pilots? No. Show some reciprocal respect.

  41. By the way – while we are sharing out dismay with AA – am I the only one who has noticed that their once acclaimed Flagship Lounges are taking a dive as well? I am currently in the one in MIA and the buffet these days is mother like what they used to be when they first opened: gone are the scallops, roasted asparagus, slices of tenderloin/beef, carpaccio. Now it’s mostly chicken and pasta…

    What will the future hold? A carcass of roadkill behind the entrance doors???

  42. Sadly, I am in 100% agreement with your summary of AA’s premium service. I live in the DFW area and after so many horrible flights with American I have switched to Delta— which is night and day better. I have to make a connection in one of their hubs for international trips, but it’s worth it. Two years ago I tore up my AA credit cards and closed my AAdvantage account (EXP). It was that bad. The people of Delta, overall, are customer service experts and they treat me well. Their A220 and A321 are fantastic!

  43. Were you really that surprised with the bad service? If you do any amount of flying, you know that in general, US-based airlines service is so much worse than international airlines. The reason is the strong flight attendant union and its seniority-based system. While it provides job protection, it also fosters this I-don’t-care-because-I-have-a-job-for-life attitude.

    While I agree that there are plenty of very nice flight attendants out there, there are also plenty of rotten ones. With any job, if you don’t fear about your job security, your performance often deteriorates. On top of that, if an airlines doesn’t encourage good services (like AA, it seems), then this is what you will get.

  44. Just flew AA in J (row 1 of A330 both ways). FAs used front galley as gathering spot to complain about: ground service, customer in row 4 taking too long ordering, schedules as well as to discuss their shopping places.

    Service? well…. the good was I was NEVER out of water/other beverage (which to me was important). other than that…..

  45. Last time I flew AA First – HKG to DFW, I ordered the scallop starters. They came out cold — still had ice crystals on them so I pointed it out to the purser. He was embarrassed, took them back to the galley, and came back 5 mins later saying they didn’t have any scallops that didn’t have ice still on them and that “they should be fine to eat.”
    I politely declined, saying I wasn’t going to risk the iffy seafood.

    I still laugh thinking about this interaction. Most other airlines would have been embarrassed and apologetic. American, on the other hand, dared me to eat it.

  46. Consistent with my transcon (3-class 321T) First experience on AA. Not rude service, just highly indifferent.

    Quite the contrast with my most recent United flight from SAN to EWR, believe it or not — the flight attendant in First (and we’re talking regular domestic First, not premium transcon) was so caring, attentive, and thoughtful I immediately sent in a compliment on landing. And I wouldn’t even call that totally out of the ordinary on United, despite their reputation.

  47. Not surprised. I have flown longhaul F on UAand AA only once each. Not terrible, but a bit of a letdown, given expectations to fly in a international F. After reading this piece I immediately thought of my LX SFO-ZRH J flight. Superb. Very attendant cabin crew. Called me by my last name, Mr. …. at boarding, during the time I was in my seat and at departure a farewell in accordance with manners that recalled the golden age of flying. My last J flight was on Iberia longhaul. Another good flight experience on their new A350. I also flew recently LATAM Chile in J for a third time. Friendly crew with decorum and real care for what they were doing. Notice that when you’re on a U.S. carrier the pilot/co-pilot greeting always mentions that the cabin crew are there first and foremost for your safety. Translation: Don’t expect anything resembling service. As if they are exempted defacto from talking and chewing gum at the same time. This is not to blanket all crew on all U.S. carriers because I’ve had great service many times flying domestically, but in the main it is dismal. That said, certainly not all global carriers are great.

  48. Nothing will change unless they do get in trouble. As well as their supervisors. Otherwise this review is just a big chuckle around the water cooler.

  49. Amazing that some commenters are losing the forest for the trees.

    Lucky is quite right not calling out the FA’s. AA will know who they are anyways. Lucky’s point here is not that these flight attendants themselves were bad – which they objectively clearly are – but they’re a product of the system in which they are simply participants. Subjectively in AA’s system, these FAs are not bad. They are the norm.

    AA has made it abundantly clear – read Gary’s posts over at VFTW as well – that their FAs in all classes of service are there for safety-only. Any service above the bare minimum are secondary and for all intents and purposes – recommended-only.

    And the bare-minimum at AA does NOT include any of the points Lucky made above – regardless the class of service.

  50. Oh noes, I guess we’re going to have to seek emotional validation in forms aside from flight attendants pretending to care about us as special snowflakes when we’re taking a flight where each premium cabin passengers carbon footprint it’s larger than the annual per capita average of the world.

    Guess we better make some friends in the real world …

  51. Just flew back on Singapore business class I have to laugh.
    Night and day. I was address by name multiple times by multiple staff members. the purser came by many times to make sure I was not lacking for anything.
    perhaps this is why I’ve gone from being American executive Platinum to 0 flights on American for the last few years

  52. I am not surprised by this. At a local bank a teller responded, “Okey dokey,” to a request frim a customer.
    So many times if I say thank you I hear a “yup.” You’re welcome is sedom said.

  53. The business class service on the ATH-DFW flight I took in August was absolutely stellar; maybe the best ever including CX, JAL. Admittedly, it stands out like a sore thumb.

  54. Why does Amazon consistently have the best customer service ratings? Because you don’t have a human to ruin the experience for you.

    Most companies that deliver direct to customers – retailers, airlines, hotels, rental car companies and so on – often forget they have to invest in their key asset – their people deliver their experience. Those folks are who the customer sees and how they view their brand and company. And they talk about it to all their friends and others.

    Investing in their people is not hard – train, develop and manage them about delivering the best customer experience.

    It’s not rocket science, but I’m continuously amazed how CEO’s and leaders of these companies overlook it. Lack of competition is definitely one reason for this, but it’s also the companies culture from the top, as well as the tolerance of mediocre service like Ben experienced.

    Tolerating mediocrity basically means everyone else knows it’s ok to be mediocre – it’s hugely demotivating for better performers. And so, those better performers and their talent goes elsewhere, which just drags down performance even more.

    AA made the bed they have to lie in (or didn’t in Ben’s case!) As many have said here, it’s then simply down to customers to vote with their wallets and take their service elsewhere. AA’s financial results – which are comparatively very poor – clearly indicate it’s already happening.

  55. On my long haul AA flights in J over the last 4-5 years, I have noticed: flights to Asia and Europe out of ORD = awesome FAs service; flights to Europe out of PHL = Awesome FAs and service; flights to Asia out of LAX = awesome FAs and service; flights to anywhere out of DFW = terrible service and über-casual FAs. Huh…

  56. I’ve flow once FL to NY first and had an amazing experience. Something was wrong with those employees and this write up.

  57. Funny. I hate this for you. When I work my flights to Europe, I always use your name no matter how hard it is to pronounce and introduce myself. I always thank you for your business at the end of the flight. I always check every 20 minutes even though you are sleeping to make sure you have no needs or if you do, I can fix it for you. I also am mostly purser and my main area is business/First but there are no iron curtains for me and I am back in coach making sure my fellow crewmembers are working and I am available. Please do not just attack AA. All airlines have the same issues. Thank you very much for your comments in the future. Please do not assume that all of us do not care. Sorry that you had a few that did not. Also please note you did not pay that 6,000.00 air fare but got an upgrade for nothing.

  58. I’m glad to have found this article and am grateful that you wrote about this calling attention to something that drives me bonkers yet sometimes I feel alone in thinking the way you do.

    This is reprehensible and should be dealt with. If you weren’t paying THOUSANDS of dollars for a single flight, that’s one thing. But you are, even if upgraded into F using any mechanism (Op-up, instrument, or just plain old lucky, Lucky).

    Thanks for writing it. It’s shameful yet we continue to pay money – and lots of it by my standards – to be treated this way.

  59. I’m torn whether the FA should be disciplined. On one side, they aren’t the exception, so it’s obvious a cultural problem/ blame leadership.

    On the other, you argue these are senior FA. They rely on AA for their living, and have been through the good and bad. They missed even in common decency. I would argue if anything out of the ordinary occurred, or an unusual request/situation, they would have armoured up for their notorious power trips and act like dictators. This has happened to me mostly on AA.

    I think they should be called out. What do you think their reaction would have been if asked to quiet down in the forward galley? Probably threaten you somehow.

    Aren’t AA crew compensated more than competitors? If this is also true, definitely call them out, although human decency should never be quid pro quo for money.

  60. If AA is this bad, why are u still making yourself an AA elite?

    U can easily be a BA Gold and OWE still.

  61. As I read all your comments, I can only shake my head and say… Why are any of you surprised? We’ve been down this road REPEATEDLY! U.S. legacy carriers DO NOT CARE ABOUT THEIR CUSTOMERS — and the CUSTOMERS ARE TO BLAME! Airline execs see how you bend over backwards for status and mediocre perks, and they laugh at you. You’re like trained monkeys that love to complain but won’t do anything about it.

    When I had an issue with United, I first went to the carrier. When they ignored me, I filed a complaint with the Dept. of Transportation. I received a $200 voucher and an apology from United. Now when I fly, employees seem to go out of their way because, as I learned later, I’ve been “flagged” as someone who lodged a complaint with the federal government. While on a trip from SEA to LAX, an employee at the gate handed me a note congratulating me on being a MileagePlus member for over 10 years. I’m sure others have experienced that, but my point is they didn’t have to do that with me. They did it because I’m on their “federal” radar. Personally, I like that.

    Complaining works — but only if they’re addressed to the right people. An online rant won’t move the needle. Quit your inner-circle bitching and flood the carriers and the D.O.T. with your feelings. There are enough of us to move the needle in the right direction.

    And stop being so friggin’ nice. It’s annoying… and the airlines are taking it for granted.

  62. Where you expecting Emirates first class? Ive flown the same route and had an amazing first class expirience, you are just very un(Lucky), with American.

  63. If you want to know why AA has a service problem – the flight attendant who commented above who was trying to defend the company still couldn’t help but finish the post “Also please note you did not pay that 6,000.00 air fare but got an upgrade for nothing”!

    The mentality that “first class service” which would be an embarrassment at a Denny’s might be excused because the customer paid for only a business class ticket, and upgraded the ticket using a cert given on the basis of extensive yearly flying with the airline…I mean, I don’t know what else to say.

  64. While i get there’s a difference between F and J, the way UA boasts of their Polaris product this is exactly how i get treated in UA J all the time. Manners are so simple and go a long way but im the only one in exchanges that applies any.

    havent flown AA J or F so i can’t say but i’ll always choose any southeast asian airline over UA when i can.

  65. As many of the comments show – one way or the other – it almost completely based upon the crew you get. I flew F HKG to LAX last month. Less than a month a go. The 2 FAs in F were incredible. I wish I had my A&B certs with me. I did email customer service with their names, commending them. On almost every point Lucky writes above, I had the opposite. Addressed by name, repeatedly (but not overbearingly) asked about refills. When I didn’t finish my main (lobster ravioli in a pumpkin sauce – too sweat for my liking) I was offered another.

  66. There is a way to use your miles on airlines other than AA when you book with miles. It took me a while before I discovered the sequence of links to click on, on the AA website before you can choose ALL AIRLINES offering your desired route.

    When I am looking to treat myself with a reward fight, I will always choose a carrier other than AA if I can find a comparable flight. I found a flight for 120k miles to Tokyo on JAL compared to 240k on AA. JAL and ANA make a few food items to order throughout your fight in Business Class. This for me is argument enough to fly these carriers.

  67. It’s the culture difference:

    Foreign airlines FA: kneel down to talk to you
    Domestic airlines FA: don’t talk to me, but if I must, I will talk down to you.

    Foreign airlines FA: customers are kings and queens
    Domestic airlines FA: customers are just nuisances

    Foreign airlines FA: the job pays great, I don’t want to get fired
    Domestic airlines FA: you can’t fire me, lalalalala

  68. (I’m the same rich that posted one of the early comments.)

    Years ago I got into it with a US Airways employee (this was pre 9/11). He was working at a customer service desk and was getting pretty loud and aggressive. I won’t go into all of the details but basically US Airways screwed up the initial ticket price (was supposed to be a government airfare) and when they refunded the error, they included a $75 fee which obviously was incorrect.

    Anyhow I complained and received a phone call about that incident. In those days if an employee got two complaints they were terminated. I guess those days are long gone?

    Regarding people talking about avoiding airlines. Often it is just talk but not always. I don’t fly a lot but I used to fly AA non-stop when I did. Now for the 3rd trip in a row, I’d rather fly Delta with a stop instead of AA. I also don’t have status on Delta, nor many miles, on AA I do (lowly Gold) and have over 350K miles.

    All airlines have issues at times but AA seems to be at the top, especially too many employees. Its sad that it gets your attention when you actually have a competent or good experience.

  69. @CatherineBossi: it shouldn’t matter how you ended up sitting up front, what matters is that you are there and a basic service is expected. Paid, upgraded, miles and co-pay, you used an instrument to get a seat on what’s considered your premium product.

    @Lucky: I just flew J PVG-DFW and the FA working my aisle was awesome. I made sure to tell her how good she was and handed an AAPlause cert. Some good people are out there but they seem to be the exception instead of the norm. On the other hand and during the same trip I flew CX and KA in J and both times the purser came to introduce herself and told me to let her know if I needed anything during the flight. Also, during meal service, they stop by my seat and someone else’s seat (I assume another Emerald customer) and were served before anyone else. As you know, everyone addresses you by name and thanks you for flying with them. I really don’t need all that but it truly blows my mind how big of a difference exists between CX, KA, JL, QR, QF and even MH or UL with AA.

  70. Many years ago now, but exit row in economy on HKG-DFW and the senior FAs provided limited service and barely looked up from their book to tell me ‘I can help myself’ when I asked for a water while in the galley. The junior language speaker basically did the entire landing prep in the galley herself. I think the lack of the same purser/hierarchy as international carrier impacts as nearly everyone has seniority. I was on CX on the outbound (JFK-HKG) and had my own water bottle when I boarded and the FA proactively asked me if I would like it refilled.

    Although as others noted there is a management failure as well. HNL-DFW in business and a FA approached me in the galley as a lady from the elderly couple in the center seats was looking for me since I had helped them with headsets/IFE/personal tech earlier. The lady had been trouble navigating the IFE and the FA accidentally deleted the couple items she already ‘saved’ while trying to assist. We were talking and she noted she usually flew the DFW-LHR / HNL-DFW type flights, but the system can still be confusing and confirmed they aren’t really given training on such aspects, such as in the position of the passenger, when I asked (rebooting etc is covered). I figured if a FAs were likely to operate a long-haul route often that AA would provide them with support to have confidence navigating IFE as part of service since most passengers are likely to engage with it on such routes.

  71. I’m honestly hoping for their performance to continue sucking so it translates into their financials and their stock goes even lower…so I can buy some.

  72. flew jfk-lax-hkg in J in October. Jfk-lax flight was fine, but the hkg flight was a torture. They went serving food after 1am (4am EST), and when a flight attendant noticed we were eager to sleep he suggested to “save” the entree for later. Just that later he apparently forgot, and there was little to eat for 7-8 hours until we were in the secure environs of CX Pier lounge. The best tactic to experience normal customer service on American is not to interact with their staff. On economy segment to Bali, the CX purser introduced herself to Executive Platinum passenger and thanked for our business. Passive agressive attitude of American flight attendants stood in stark contract with Cathay Pacific staff. Also to suggest that a passenger who upgrades is somehow not entitled to a decent treatment than the one who pays cash, tells us all we need to know about service-attitude of AA staff.

  73. @ Catherine Bossi:

    He paid $4,400 for a business class ticket and then used an upgrade certificate to upgrade to First. He earned that upgrade certificate by flying over 125,000 miles and spending over $15,000 on American Airlines. I think he is entitled to having a bit more service. This is the problem with flight attendants in the United States. They think that they are there for safety. The international carriers have figured it out that flight attendants are there for SERVICE which is why their economy class is miles ahead of AA’s business class

  74. In (shocking) defense of AA, when I flew this route in F back in 2015 (hooray St. Patrick’s Day error fare) the lead purser was on top of her game. I remember she was even standing next to my seat waiting for my coat (I’d boarded late) and welcomed me in by name.

    But I’d agree AA service is woefully lacking as a whole (at least it used to be…moved my business to DL/UA because of terrible on-time performance and customer service). In over a dozen DL TPAC flights I’ve never witnessed anything close to what’s described above, and I definitely feel Delta One Suites is a better onboard product in all aspects compared to AA Flagship F.

  75. Catherine Bossi wrote: “I always use your name no matter how hard it is to pronounce and introduce myself.”

    I’m glad you do, but this really shouldn’t be seen as special and if you’re on an international flight, you shouldn’t be phased by a diversity of names. On our last EVA flight in J the flight attendant introduced herself to each passenger and ask “and how may I refer to you during this flight?” That’s how a properly trained flight attendant for a high service airline takes the time to respect their customer by learning how to quickly pronounce their name.

  76. American is a highly unionized airline and no one is getting written up or even spoken to over this lack of service. Even if AA wanted to better train their first class crews, they can’t because union contracts do not allow crew differentiation based on cabin class. A flight attendant can’t be specially trained for first like one finds on the asian carriers. So, really nothing can be done about this and it is not necessarily the fault of the airline.

  77. Sadly this is very typical of AA inflight service these days.

    @Sam the Canadian- I’m not sure if you’ve ever flown Air Canada, I’ve flown them at least 6 times in the past 2 years, and in both J and “Preference,” and their crews are very hit or miss as well. Some of the rudest, nastiest flight attendants I’ve ever encountered have been on AC.

  78. I have been in charge of First Class and have flown First Class on many different airlines. I used to work for TWA. I retired right before AA took over TWA. I do get staff travel benefits on AA with my retirement. I also have the same benefits on Qantas airline. I travel back and forth to Australia several times a year. AA is not TWA and never will be. It is a different culture. It has recently become more like USAir with their takeover of AA. Most American carriers don’t have the culture to provide excellent International service. Both TWA and PanAm were International airlines and hired a different sort of employee and trained their crews for international flights. They both flew international routes decades before the other American carriers. With the merger of USAir and AA, you have a lot of USAir senior crews flying international flights for the first time. This does not excuse the behavior this blog is complaining about. The writer is correct that flight positions on the aircraft are based on seniority. With TWA, First Class was all the senior F/A’s who loved working up there and they were mostly amazingly good. I find AA is hit or miss from A to Z and not consistent. To be fair the 8 times I have flown Qantas First Class to and from LAX to Sydney, the service has also been variable depending on the flight attendants. I have had very grumpy senior flight attendants to very engaged and warm and friendly personnel.
    I have flown both AA and Qantas Business class and AA actually has a superior cabin and service. Qantas generally has much more engaged flight attendants but then again they are being paid $100,000 a year and have a company that treats them very well. American passengers seem to be more concerned about the price of the ticket then the quality of the service and plane.
    The complaints of this writer are sad to hear and should be addressed by AA. Simple courtesy should be expected in any class of service and expectations in F/C are always at a higher level.

  79. Reading that list of compliants I’m struck by :

    A) how few of those things I actually care about – the less interaction with FA’s the better. I don’t need a chatty friend, I need a quiet place to relax and work. “Thanking” me for flying the airline is empty pointless noise.

    B) Why anyone pays for first class given the minuscule differences between it and J is beyond me.

  80. I am a Flight Attendant with American Airlines. I am disgusted by my coworkers and the company. The truth is we should have WAY better customer service. But bad management and poor training = flight attendants that aren’t happy going to work and do the bare minimum. In my own training I was taught on safety and Health, but when it came to doing a service they highly lacked the training needed for customer service. I didn’t know how to “set up” a cart because we were mainly just taught about emergencies. I do remember taking a course provided by AA about apologizing and how it goes such a long way. Truth is the company should have better food, better customer service (not just on the flight) and a company that works together. I shouldn’t have to say sorry because the system fails to meet the needs of customers. Doug Parker should do better and give us more to work with so we can do our jobs properly, we need to do better. I’m sorry isn’t going to cut it. The company should have better systems in place . So many EP’s have told me my flights delayed before I even know, I mean talk about embarrassing! On to another point I agree those flight attendants weren’t rude but it was very average service. Definitely not worth paying $6,000 a ticket for. The truth is I don’t have the seniority to hold those trips. Even those that can hold (not all) but most of them need to leave. They don’t want to be there, they treat the customers with bad service, and they get mad at us (low seniority) for working those trips. Why you ask? Because I haven’t worked in the company Long enough to “deserve” those trips. Well YOU the customers don’t deserve to deal with crappy service. If we don’t get rid of Doug Parker soon, I may not have a job 10 years from now.

    I want to be proud to work for my company, but I’m not. Hopefully you can write an email, that’s the only way we will see change. Don’t say which flight if you don’t want to write up the FA’s.

    They don’t care what WE (Employees) have to say they care about what the customers want.

    ** P.S senior flight attendants from Dallas are the WORST!

  81. We flew this exact segment using AA miles and copay to upgrade from a business class purchased seat. When we received exactly-as-described-above service, I emailed AA to ask “What’s the difference between business class and first class?” Since we have previously received excellent business-class service, I wanted to know why we paid miles and a copay for inferior service.

    The confounding part to me was not just receiving not-first-class service. The amazing thing, yes, wow, in not a good way, was that AA’s answer to my “what’s the difference” question was to give me seat dimensions of business class and first class seats.

    I cannot make this up. We went out of our way to fly in and out of DFW (based in LAS) to enjoy first class on AA. That was a mistake.

  82. I am confused. You always post crappy American reviews, yet you still fly them. I fly AA all the time and my business class experience is always good. Polite, addressed by name. Yes it is more casual than some foreign carriers, but I would say good and attentive. US first class is hit or miss. My Delta experience are quite the opposite, the worst was business nyc to ams and it was as described herein. Guess what, even when cheaper or better times I will not fly Delta, KLM yes, but Delta no, at least internationally. I know you love Delta, which is fine, but please stop flying American you clearly have bad luck or just hate it.

  83. One point the flight attendant above makes, I do think where they are stationed and from which carrier makes a difference. I fly mostly east coast and trans Atlantic and when i do go west i find the service drops, and by a ton. Way less professional. So maybe that’s why I get a different sense. For example, I have a favorite pilot, Jason, younger guys comes out before door closes, thanks everyone for flying, introduces the whole team and describes the upcoming flight. It’s great. West coast you get way less service. No thanks yous etc. Also delta out of nyc is not good so explains my dislike.

  84. Had a similar experience with my wife and I a while back JFK-LHR. We only booked First (as a Saver award) because there was no Business Saver available. The only redeeming part was the FL dining in JFK, which was very good and presented with the sort of appreciation I’d expect on the plane. Fortunately we had an incomparably better experience on JL F the following year!

  85. Not sure why you excuse the behavior of this crew. Speaking in full sentences? Showing common courtesy? Seems to me that the problem IS the crew. Does the employer really need to tell them to speak in full sentences? I’m sure AA customer service training covers at least that. The level of customer service in the US is rather pathetic. Unions make it difficult to get rid of bad apples. The problem is management won’t make a real effort to crack down on this type of crap service until passengers start complaining and it impacts their bottom line. Unfortunately US airlines know they have a captive group of passengers who may not have many other options in terms of flights. Therefore they have little incentive to offer a good product.

  86. @JD Wentworth

    I did the exact same thing. I no longer fly AA out of DFW and now prefer to fly Delta, even if a connection is required. Delta is fantastic and their employees are kind and caring, in my experience.


    I disagree that all legacy US airlines are terrible. Yes, AA and UA are terrible and not deserving of your business. However, DL and AS are quite the exception. My flights on AS have been outstanding. My recent flights on DL’s A330neo and A350 have been incredible. DL’s staff is excellent and their hard product in these a/c is highly comparable to any Asian carrier’s business class. Be careful grouping all US carriers in the same bucket of horror.

  87. i agree AA has worst first class cabins as well service. Their service in business class is also pathetic.

  88. It’s just so very, very sad what has happened to AA. Very sad. But this goes back to employees taking huge reductions in pay to bail AA out after 911. Then when things turned around the airline never restored or brought back the salaries. This has created huge resentment and frustration. The merger with US Air made it even worse as Doug Parker decimate the airline to make money, which he can not even do to raise stock price. A total change in leadership and a concerted effort to restore employee wages is the only hope i think.

  89. This is actually appalling. Especially with the myriad of choices for connections to China from the US these days. Why does American even bother offering a first class product when it is such an obvious afterthought.

  90. Actually, I see an opportunity here. If I were a flight attendant? I would be using your remarks as pointers and polishing up my skills to set my sights on bigger and better jobs. You have to remember that the airlines don’t treat their employees very well. They never have. They get paid very little to be ready on a dime to go anywhere.

    That being said, there are better companies that feature higher-quality flights. Private jets, Etc. If I were those flight attendants? I would do my best to stand out to each and every passenger because you really never know who you’re talking to. If you can shell out 7k for an airline ticket, then maybe you’re worth my time. On the other hand, if you shell out coach economy? I still don’t know who you are. Just maybe you’re still worth my time. There’s lots of opportunity here!.

  91. Recent flight back home from DFW to Knoxville, TN was quite disappointing, and that’s putting it mildly. Once I got seated, I noticed the wire frame for the backseat pocket was broken. I tried to fix it but just kept coming out of the velcro. My seat back would not lock into place. It was like a rocking chair. I couldn’t switch seats b/c the flight was booked solid. Next and most disappointing was the male flight attendant. He looked as if he just woke up, didn’t take a shower (greasy hair), and NEVER smiled. From the look of his eyes, he looked as if he had a night of too much drinking. I’ll probably look elsewhere next time I need to fly.

  92. I hope my experience is better than this.. I am flying from PHX to PHL to Paris Jan 10th. saved for years to afford the award first class update. I have a feeling it isn’t.. but I am hopeful.

  93. The 15+ hour flights aren’t easy on a good day. One of the advantages of premium class service is the premium service. As an example, I board the plane with the expectation I can eat when I want to eat and sleep when I want to sleep. I tend to go to sleep for 8 hours and wake up with an appetite for dinner and a movie. Higher expectations for the premium class should not unreasonable.

  94. I have to admit that I have never flown first class with any airlines. But I experienced fantastic service in Aeroflot’s business class, which I know Lucky and Tiffany also thought very highly of. To hear that AA’s first class experience is nowhere near other airline’s business class experience, is just….wow.

  95. The airline biz in the US is one of putting bums in seats with an oligopoly structure. The culture cannot be changed when you are flying international. You will take a lousy value proposition and like it.

  96. It’s a shame that seniority and not service is what dictates who gets these long haul routes. Maybe their service years ago helped them achieve seniority, but now the cabin crew are resting on their laurels. Water once every 5 hours? How about listening to them complain out loud about customers? One stated to another during a meal service “I just ignore anyone with headphones or earbuds.” Too many of these flight attendants (note, not all of them) appear to hate their jobs and the customers that they are serving.

  97. Mike says:
    December 11, 2019 at 1:31 pm
    It’s the culture difference:

    Foreign airlines FA: kneel down to talk to you
    Domestic airlines FA: don’t talk to me, but if I must, I will talk down to you.

    Foreign airlines FA: customers are kings and queens
    Domestic airlines FA: customers are just nuisances

    Foreign airlines FA: the job pays great, I don’t want to get fired
    Domestic airlines FA: you can’t fire me, lalalalala

    @mike: Are you serious? This is an airline, not a brothel. Go somewhere else to stroke your ego and your pants if you want subservient service.

  98. It is not just American, unfortunately; as far as my experience, it is all major US airlines. I flew United’s International First Class from San Francisco to Sydney on an upgrade from Business (list at $25,000 !!!!!!), and called ahead of time to indicate that I did not drink alcohol or caffeine, and could they please have some non-alcoholic beer or something other than soda for me to drink. Of course when I got on, my choices were some sort of instant decaf coffee, a few cheap herbal teas, orange juice or apple juice, and water. Period. Even in coach class on airlines like Lufthansa, you can get a wide array of non-alcoholic and non-caffeinated beverages. Also, this was an older 747, and the entertainment system kept breaking. I actually took out my nail clippers, unscrewed the part that was jamming, and fixed it so I would have something to watch on my very long flight. I also fly regularly to China and Taiwan, and often fly EVA. In Business Class, you can order “off the menu” ahead of time if you wish, and you can have a great meal. The price for the ticket is typically lower than what a US carrier would charge, and the service is impeccable. It is not just American; United and Delta are just as bad.

  99. I could have written this myself, from my experiences with American Airlines over the past few
    years. First off, First Class is no longer First Class. I have paid for 1st class tickets and whenever possible used Award Miles – which are few and far between. (AA makes it almost impossible).

    Since I fly AA almost exclusively, service is almost non-excitant. If more like sit down, shut up
    and I’ll get to you when I can attitude. Not always, more often than not.

    I just hope that American Airlines executive that are in charge of “airline service” reads this!
    And hires and trains the flight attendants to recognize that First Class means service, service and service!

  100. @OCTinPHL:

    Samesies, same route (HKG-LAX), same cabin (AA F), had great service that really stands out in my mind, and I’ve flown SQ J, LH J and F, LX J and F, TG J and F, NH J, OZ J and BR J. Addressed by name, solicitous but not servile service, specifically called them out on Twitter to AA.

    (They were very obviously senior FAs, so it’s not that some sprightly 20-something year old who looks good in a uniform was working the flight.)

    AA Flagship F service can apparently be.. variable. Go figure. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  101. im an American Airlines employee but my opinions do not reflect the company’s.
    on the issue of different flight attendants going through the first class cabin: on the 777 300 right above the front galley and first row seats theres the cabin rest bunks for the crew. 13 flight attendants on that flight means that at least 11 flight attendants came and went during your flight.

  102. I’ve made this flight in business class and got better service (greeted by name, head flight attendant introduced themself, thanks for flying, etc.). That being said I’ve read on numerous blogs that the difference in business and first on AA (on the few flights that have first) aren’t that great outside of a larger seat and (maybe) better food and wine. The service level, unfortunately is very similar and certainly not at a standard of international carriers’ first class soft product. DL and UA don’t even have first so it is the only option on an American carrier but I sure wouldn’t pay for it or waste an upgrade (even on that route) since business was very comfortable and I guess I lucked out by getting an engaged, professional, friendly inflight crew.

  103. Spot on.

    The main issue for me is non revenue filling in the cabin. They are loud, often interact with the flight attendances in an uncomfortable way, and at times get priority over paying customers.

  104. Haven’t you figured out that the union is in control and now the crew believes the company is in existence to serve them……pay…….medical…….free flights…..etc……….customers have just become a nuisance as they know they won’t see you again and they have lost their work ethic and self respect……….to find one on a legacy carrier would be an exception……….that’s why I fly First Class in my Tesla!

  105. My personal feeling is as this is a US carrier and as you’re probably “known” to them – they have decided to “get you” and it looks as though they did , I’d certainly send them a complaint as how “disappointed” you were with the experience – if not I’m sure it will just continue ,if you don’t bring it their attention- it seemed lousy at best

  106. Several years ago, I was in first on a three cabin flight to Argentina. On that flight the first class attendant did the bare minimum in terms of service. I was not happy.

  107. I just flew AA First class, Miami to London and I can not agree more with everything you mentioned.
    No manners at all.. When I requested the FA for Turndown service she gave me an attitude..(Later I noticed the seat wasn’t in the fullest lie flat position) why nobody does something!!

  108. I have a coworker who loves to brag about flying on AA as a non-rev through a buddy pass, including a couple of times in F. I once told her I was checking for space in F on an upcoming CX flight. Her response was “ewww, a Chinese airline?” Given her attitude, I’m not sure I feel sorry for her that her only F class experience is in AA.

  109. I could not agree more about the terrible service provided by the US based airlines especially AA. I will no longer fly AA even if I must pay more for a flight on Delta or United. I have been flying for over fifty years and I have never seen the service so bad. Whenever I fly international I only fly international airlines because their service is
    superior to Us airlines. Part of the problem in this country is that there is insufficient
    competition between the few remaining airlines. Why should they care about service when there is so few airlines to choose from. I am not impressed by the statement that the primary function of the flight attendants is safety. If their performance during an emergency is no better than their service, us passengers are in real trouble.

  110. Smile makes me safer. As well as a nice word.
    I worked for a major cruise line company as an engineer for 15 years. Some ships had capacity of up to 5000 pax and 1700 crew members. Every crew member has an emergency duty and we all went to endless fire and emergency drills. I experienced 3x a real fire on-board and 2x really bad weather and only once that I was really scared that we all might go down to the bottom. Only those times service was halted as we all went to our emergency stations-as safety IS a paramount. In a meantime nobody hides behind safety to cut the service. Cruise industry lives from service and sometimes it does not deliver but it does not use a safety as a cover! Since few years ago I choose with my feet and I never fly with companies who has service like Lucky’s AA flight. I never see grumpy faces on ads in aviation industry who invites you to fly to the safe beaches on a safe planes operated by crew whose jobs are primary your safety. Service is intrinsic part of aviation industry and a major part of experience. Deliver what you promise and we’ll all go home happy. I can also add a few examples of unhappy experience on US airlines but it will be nothing new.

  111. I don’t often get the opportunity to sit in the ‘pointy end’ but when I do, you have a certain level of expectations with regards to the service and amenities on board and would have been disappointed at the level of service described. No matter how you got there, the service should be the same.

    The best J I’ve had recently was on Air France, followed closely by Delta One where the service was impeccable and they couldn’t do enough for you. From the sound of it I’d be better off flying DL economy than AA F. This was DL transatlantic, have heard mixed reviews for domestic.

    Ah well maybe I’ll just save my money, fly coach and pay for extra legroom….

  112. Just to let you know….ALL american based carriers with international flights have rude flight attendants. Especially in first class. I have flown American, Delta and United. Delta is the best, but only because they have upgraded their planes with Delta One. American and United still has the old, crappy first class cabin. The reason for this is because all the international flights personnel are given the jobs and they are just burnt out (and typically close to retirement). And the companies can’t let non-senior flight attendants take these routes because then you would age discrimination lawsuits. So they only way to change this is to take non-american based carriers. Singapore, Cathay, Thai, Emirates, etc all have incredible personnel, service and accommodations. The downside, as you know, is that you don’t get any bonus miles and have to actually purchase the full fair ticket. Don’t expect anything will change with the american carriers regardless of them losing business.

  113. Said it once and I’ll say it again. I hit AA million miler lifetime Gold in 2012. I haven’t flown AA since 2015 because it’s a damned shitshow.

    I used to rank the US carriers with AA on top thanks to frequencies, reliability, and hard product. I now rank them behind F9 which may not be more reliable but their planes are clean and they’re generally cheap.

  114. I could not agree more about the terrible service provided by the US based airlines especially AA. I will no longer fly AA even if I must pay more for a flight on Delta or United. I have been flying for over fifty years and I have never seen the service so bad. Whenever I fly international I only fly international airlines because their service is superior to US airlines. Part of the problem is that there is insufficient competition between the few airlines remaining airlines. Why should they care about service when there are so few airlines to choose from. I am not impressed be the statement that the primary function of the flight attendant is safety. If their performance during an emergency is no better than their service us passengers are in real trouble.

  115. I live in Dallas and actively avoid this route whenever I need to fly to Hong Kong.

    Usually, I just book a Southwest ticket to LAX/SFO/SEA/ORD and then fly Cathay.

  116. As a legacy AA employee with over 25 years, One thing I would like to say is Leadership starts from the top, and the top is non existent. The direction I’ve seen this airline head since the US Air take over is sad. Unless changes are made on how upper mgmt views and treats their employees things will never change. For starters, how about getting a contract for the mechanics, it’s only been 4 years now!!

  117. I also used a SWU upgrade fro Biz class to First on the HKG/LAX flight. I fly between LAX and HKG 8 to 10 times per year. My experience was very much like Lucky’s. Slightly less impersonal but nothing special. It was not worth burning the SWU.
    My company only pays for Premium Economy. Even though I almost always get upgraded to Biz due to being Exec Plat with a rolling 12 mo spend over $20K I still usually fly Cathay for one of the legs. Minus the lie flat seat almost everything is better. I always get acknowledged by the purser and if I happen to ring the flight attendant button get prompt and courteous service.

  118. I continue to rest my case re AA and what a bad airline it is for service. Ive said it time and again, their flight attendants (stewards and stewardesses – i say that deliberately) are abysmal.

  119. Absolutely agree. Have flown this specific flight in “first class” several times, always using a SWU. Not only is it not worthwhile, but the last time I did it — for free — I regretted it so badly that I’ve stopped upgrading and just stay in business class (at one point, even letting some SWUs expire). Why? The last time I did it, the seat recline wouldn’t operate, and because of the way the first class seats are designed, none of the flight crew could figure out how to make it lie flat manually. I even asked to *downgrade* myself to business or even an empty row in coach, but of course, no seats available.

    So instead of having a lie-flat — like I would have in business class — I slept semi-jagged and slanted on an improvised pillow fort, and of course arrived after a 16 hour flight literally in pain. Back pain, difficulty walking. The whole reason I always upgrade on long flights.
    Then of course — even as an Exec Plat — I had to fight for days with AA “Customer Service” over Twitter to get any kind of compensation — including some exceedingly rude responses telling me “we will not offer you more compensation”; I kept those messages — I got a $300 voucher ***AND*** here’s the kicker: AA refused to extend the expiration period of the SWU I used. Bear in mind I paid $4,000 for the business class ticket PLUS the SWU.

    I was literally enraged and refused to fly AA again for the next 6 months. Appalling, from start to finish.

  120. I agree with your assessment, they really do not care.

    I have one more to add – a couple of times in different 12 hours flight the crew blocked the restroom saying that it was for crew members only, specifically pilots !

    I guess their comfort comes first !

  121. I recently flew American from Buenos Aires to JFK in Premium Economy. I experienced similar uninspired service- no politeness, little verbal interaction; in fact the flight attendant serving beverages waved his hand in my face to get my attention (I was wearing headphones) instead of trying to speak to me. Pretty disappointing.

  122. This entire post wouldn’t even be here if Parker would just change the name back to what the new AA has always been since the cancer ridden meger- NOTHING more than the OLD USAir. PERIOD.

  123. I fly this route regularly for work in business class and “flagship first” when my system wide upgrade goes through…the service is mostly horrible…rude pursers and flight attendant crews who need to retire or be fired and you hit the nail on the head when you said attendants use the galley as a canteen. EVERY flight I’ve been on from DFW to Asia, the flight attendants care more about catching up with each other and gossiping in the galley than doing the job they are paid to do…I’ve had to get up and bring my own trash, ask for more water, etc. America Airlines needs to send their flight attendants to train with one of their Asian partner airlines like Cathay Pacific where the attendants are actually attentive and are so polite it almost makes me blush. I’ve written several complaints over the years but nothing ever changes and with DFW being my home and American’s hub, I’ve accumulated too many miles to switch airlines or else I would’ve changed loyalty a long time ago.

  124. @Mike MacFadyen — “One investment that American could make would be to let these poorly trained flight attendants fly first on Cathay or Lufthansa or another 5 star airline to see what great service looks like.” —

    But, but, but … I thought that AA was already a 5-star airline? 😛


    (first remove the [ ] surrounding the “.” before “.com”)

  125. I recently upgraded to first class with AA and felt like the customer service was just average as well. I was sitting in the 3rd row in first class and the flight attended offered a almost completely depleted snack basket. After serving 8 folks she didn’t have anything left. She told us, “we usually have more”. Wowwww….

    I will say, I didn’t know there was such a difference between US carriers and International carriers (such as emirates) until I traveled abroad. What a huge difference in customer experience. Our US carriers are very aware and capable of doing better, but if they dont have to–they won’t.

  126. Seriously, Lucky… American Airlines??? Why would you subject yourself to this carrier? Granted, you can’t fly EVERYwhere on Emirates. But you shouldn’t fly ANYwhere on AA. Life’s too short.

  127. For HKG-LAX econ, CX is consistently hundreds more expensive than AA and yet each time I’ve flown AA to save, I’ve regretted it. AA’s service actually stresses me out and your entry just reminded me why.

  128. I have fly AA, usually business, both paid and via SWU, several times a year to Asia, out of LAX, DFW and ORD. The service has always been hit or miss. For some flights the FAs working my aisle are “on” and all goes fine, others are here nor there, while some FAs are downright awful.

    In October I flew Cathay LAX-HKG roundtrip and I was just delighted from start to finish. While the seat product is pretty comparable, the soft product on Cathay was better in every way. Food was not just edible but EVERY meal was excellent. Terrific lounges (not just HKG). And the flight attendants were fabulous — always recognized for my EXP status, always gracious, always asking what more they could do. And this was in business. Only complaint, which I hear is being addressed, is Cathay’s in-flight entertainment, which was mediocre compared to AA’s.

    I flew Cathay in business about 6 years ago. I can’t say it’s better today, but the difference in quality with today’s AA is quite striking, especially given that fares are roughly comparable. I’m getting downgraded to Plat Pro in 2020. As such, Cathay will be seeing more business from me since I won’t have SWUs to lure me to AA.

  129. This is why AA’s seniority-based assignments are so dumb. The senior crew are often the most jaded and unfriendly. Give me a young crew that has good reviews from customers any day over the grandmothers AA has running service on “flagship” routes!

  130. Flew last night JFK to GRU. I was upgraded to First. Flight was on a 777-300ER. Great experience other than a mechanical issue at JFK.

    Very please all the way around with the experience.

  131. I just returned from HKG in AC J, (to YVR). The pax in the next seat told me that he regularly flies to China from SFO, opting for AC via YVR rather than a direct flight on a US carrier because the product and service are better and the flights are affordable. One data point.

  132. US flag carriers and their old old old union flight attendants are crap. I’ll never fly them again on a long haul international route. You got robbed if you paid anything for the “better” service

  133. @SF: It shows the lack of concern and supports the idea that this poor service is throughout AA when they email you to have you call them for a survey on their service. Why expect the customer to pick up the phone to call them so they can go through the motions of caring? I get we don’t pick up random calls anymore. Send an email, describe the intent of your survey, ask the customer to expect the call, and ask to reply to the email if they aren’t interested. It always amazes me in today’s world where the seller expects the customer to make the effort to call them. I simply refuse to bite on that one.

  134. The shame of it is that the improvements needed do not cost one penny more–its a lack of leadership, culture and and a willingness to make customer service a propriety. Shows a genuine lack of leadership at AA and a complete disconnect between the extensive executive ranks and the customer experience.

    If American wanted to turn itself around, have all of its VP’s an dictators take a long AA flight and then a long flight in a good airline. They would get the message quick and much cheaper then losing money

    You can spend billions on your airline or business, but at the end of the day, it is the interaction between the front line employees and the paying public that determines your success. This is so easy to turn around but there is no one at AA apparently with the vision or smarts to do it.

  135. Thank you for confirming why I haven’t flown on American in over 7 years and probably will never fly them again.

  136. Why do you think they should be disciplined. They should not be there in the first place. They need to be retained and allowed to do serve in FC. It sounded pretty bad.

  137. I am a 30 year seniority flight attendant for American Airlines and I am horrified and sincerely embarrassed to read about experiences like this. I offer my apologies though that is small consolation. I always balked at the system where everything is based on seniority even though I am somewhat senior myself. Years ago we had what were called “check rides” where supervisors would monitor coworkers in their group. None of us looked forward to those, but I believed they served a vital role in maintaining a high standard. In recent years I see that all of our standards have become lax. Uniforms are slipshod as is grooming often times. I agree many crews do not respectfully thank passengers who, after all are paying our salaries. I’m sure I have bad days periodically, but I try to make my passengers feel they are my guest and leave the flight having gotten the respect and attention they deserve. I am proud of many of my coworkers who consistently offer superior service. I’m sorry many have become so lax. Without sounding like a Pollyanna, I still appreciate my job though our management often treat us without respect, as the recent point system where calling in sick inflicts two points. Late one minute? One point. Reach 10 points….your fired no matter 40 faithful years on the job. But still this is no excuse for basic rules of customer service. I hope you do write a letter for that specific flight. My apologies again.

  138. Shocking.

    I received better customer service on a Virgin Atlantic J flight from LHR to SFO. We had FA making and recommending drinks, conversing with the passengers, and even showing in the lounge (touch) flat screen T.V. the best parts of the bay area.

  139. I travel every week by aa domestic international I travelled many times with aa same dfw to hkg the flight and would like to share that it’s (aa) attendants are no way closer to Emirates or Qatar. If not my extensive domestic travel which being an EP helps out a lot ; my options will be qatar and Emirates.

  140. It seems that the more money and benefits the flight attendant union manages to squeeze from American Airlines Labor Relations Department, the more their flight attendants complain and the poorer their service gets. Maybe a huge pay cut will finally correct their terrible attitude.

  141. Seriously amazes me how entitled people are today. Have we forgotten how lucky we are to have the privilege of flying? We no longer have to drive, sail, or heck – travel by horse and carriage… we can hop into a metal tube and fly at 30,000+ feet and reach our destinations hours/days sooner than our ancestors. I don’t get it. I’m happy just to get on board and have a safe flight. Forget all that other crap. People have lost sight of what really matters. It’s absolutely disgusting and shameful. Millions of people don’t even have the means to fly, yet here we are griping about stupid seats, and “mediocre” food… I’m not loyal to ANY carrier, nor will I ever be. I fly all classes, depending on pricing/destination, etc. but good grief, find another hobby. Get a REAL life. Something of substance.

  142. Thankfully I’ve had great experiences on long haul flights sitting in business class. Flying LAX-SYD and DFW-NRT the FAs are amazing. It’s the short flights that seem to have the poor service and raggedy planes. I flew ORD to DFW last week and there was duct tape on a window. Imagine how uneasy that passenger felt sitting there. They should’ve been offered another seat!

  143. I’m AA Platinum which carries very little clout. I also flew DFW-HKG expecting world class service. Such a disappointment. Never heard a word back from AA after offering ideas to make the experience memorable.

  144. The difference between first and business on long haul AA flights is so miniscule that it is not worth using a system wide upgrade.
    Coach to business: Yes! Business to first: never!

  145. Ben:

    I am sorry that you had such a bad experience. I am Executive Platinum status on American and have recently begun to switch from BA to AA on the JFK to LHR (and return) portion of my trips to the Middle East. The seats in Business Class are more comfortable that BA and service is just fine as I sleep on the East bound leg. On the West bound leg the food is quite good.

    About 2 years ago I had a terrible experience when flying AA from Heathrow to JFK; so bad that I stayed away from AA for 2 years. I decided to give it another go and am pleased with my decision. That being said there are always a few bad apples in the air and on the ground. I attribute this to strained management employee relations and managing a very large operation.

    It’s probably a condition here to stay due to consolidation. I think we all are going to have to lower our expectations a bit or fly the Asian Carriers.

  146. About twenty years ago on an AA flight between JFK and LHR in First Class, I asked for Hot Chocolate and was told they ain’t any. Ok. How about an Earl Grey and the FA said, we only got Lipton. This was my shocker of what First Class was like on American carriers. United only fared better when the FA brought out her own supplies of tea bags! And American carriers wonder why people choose to fly on the likes of Emirates, Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines?

  147. In the last 18 months I flew twice on business with AA. One to Europe and one to South America. In both cases, poor service was the first thing that struck me. While I could say it’s really not that big of a deal, there are far worst first world problems etc etc. I kept the opinion to myself but I’m the kind of person that observes people and all their little idiosyncrasies. The thing that struck me most about both flights were that out of the 8 or so FAs that I interacted with only 1 actually smiled. The other 7 looked so angry I didn’t even want to ask them for anything more than can I get some water. Compare that to Jetblue Mint which I fly several times/year and have never encountered a grumpy FA or they hide it well. It just can’t be statistical that I was lucky with one and unlucky with the other. I would only fly AA on points and if it’s one of the only option left that makes sense. I would never pay for an AA ticket.

  148. Former Concierge Key with a lot of revenue first…. not flying them at all anymore. Their hard and soft product is terrible, and the FA’s are disgruntled as are the mechanics. There was so much hope right after the merger .. younger flight attendants, happy employees. That is all gone and they are back to where they were when the pissed off pilots were taxiing at 4 MPH and delaying flights at DFW in protest.

    They need to get new leadership at the top or there won’t be an airline left for any of us to grouse about.

  149. The AA long haul flight attendants seem to be doing everything they can to destroy the airline via their treatment of passengers. Flew ORD-LHR in J this past September and the flight attendant rolled her eyes and slammed the drink tray on the floor when I clarified that I had asked for a DIET doctor pepper, which was in the back of her tray. On the return flight when I asked what kind of red and white wines they were serving (my menu had fallen under the seat) the FA’s response was “red it is” as she shook her head in an “I don’t have time for this” fashion. They could not have been more miserable and rude. I am so glad my Exec Plat status is expiring.

  150. I completely understand that you have expectations when flying in Business or better. And there is no doubt that you should be receiving good service. I fly for a different airline, but our service is similar. So as I read through the article, I pictured myself in each phase of the operation. What do I do/say/think at each step? You should be greeted by someone at the door as you walk on. You should be offered a pre-departure beverage. Depending on where the boarding door is, how many passengers in the cabin, and how many FAs are working, that might mean someone offering “orange juice, water, champange?” I usually try to start with “would you like any-” but sometimes, when the passenger two rows away thinks his coat will catch fire if he has to wait for me to put down my tray, I’m in a rush. Please don’t be that person. You can wait with your coat, it hasn’t bitten you so far.

    For security reasons, a lot of FAs will never give out their name or the name of any other crew member. Think that isn’t a security issue? I know at least two FAs who’ve had passengers show up at the door of their hotel rooms after conning the front desk into telling them the room number. “I know the American crew just checked in. Could you tell me what room Sarah is in? She left her phone with me, so I can’t call her.” You’re thinking that no receptionist would be that stupid, but not everyone is as guarded as they need to be.

    Usually the purser will introduce themselves on the PA, and if they have time to the First Class cabin. That’s it. Greeting you by name. I don’t. I’m not even going to apologize for it. I say Sir and Miss. Because I do several flights a week, usually in large cabins. Half the time people move without telling us so the manifest is wrong. I know for a FACT, I won’t remember your name the whole flight. I have a lot of other things on my mind. And even if you were in the right seat, your name was perfectly easy to pronounce, and there was enough space in my head to remember it, you are almost guaranteed to be seated next to someone with a fourteen letter last name that has no vowels. And then I’m the rude one for greeting you by name and murdering your seatmate’s. I know some FAs who still try, but don’t take it personally if others don’t. There is also a culture shift happening with younger generations. A lot of people don’t like strangers using their name. I know I’m on a fine line with Sir and Miss because they’re gendered. It’s hard to win.

    Another issue was the wine selection. Well that one is dependent on when you asked. If you asked the flight attendant about the wines anytime before the 10,000ft altitude mark, she REALLY can’t tell you. On an international flight, the alcohol is in a sealed cart that CANNOT be opened on the ground without the FA being subjected to a fine up to $1500. And the wines change on a regular basis. So she probably didn’t know. Now if you asked during the beverage service, there is no excuse. She should have known, or looked to see, what was on offer. Obviously she could have explained it better, but telling you that you have a list may have been her idea of helping. Letting you know where to access the information.

    Next was communication during the meal service. No, I’m not going to tell every passenger “here’s your starter.” You know what it is. But there is communication. Because as I’m giving out the tray, I’m asking if the person would care for bread or more wine. And I do usually use complete sentences. Unless you’ve tried to guess what I was saying three times BEFORE you took the noise cancelling headphones off and then wait for me to ask again. Then you get “Bread?”

    I try to answer call buttons with “Did you need something?” But if I feel like we’ve built a rapport, I’ll ask someone “what’s up?” I do try reserve that for people I’ve already chatted with and feel wouldn’t be offended.

    The FAs coming through the galley was mentioned. Well that’s pretty simple. Most US based airlines provision crew meals in the First or Business galleys. And they can’t be taken out before the service because the crew gets the meal choices the passengers don’t want. They are held back to make sure as many passengers get their first choice as possible. So that is not a crew issue. The airline chooses where catering items are to be located. Obviously it would be best if they could do it quietly, but don’t expect your crews to refused their provisioned meals on a 15 hour flight.

    Another issue was being thanked. Will you get a personal thank you? Probably not. The end of the flight is a pretty busy time. Safety has to be the priority and putting everything away falls into that category. The purser should be saying Thank You in the landing announcements. The FA stationed at the deplaning door should be rotating “goodbye, thank you, have a good day, thanks for flying BlahBlah airline.” It isn’t meant to be rude. We’re just honestly very busy. Most of the airlines in the US have seen staffing cuts on international routes. We are working with one to three less people than we were five years ago and they keep adding service items. And passengers are getting more and more oblivious. I can’t tell you the number of times someone has tried to had me a dirty tray or even a used tissue while I’m trying to serve food or beverages to someone else. And they seem shocked when I tell them I can’t take the item because we can’t put dirty items in clean service carts/juggle them with clean trays. People ask for black coffee and then wait until we are on the next row before demanding creamer and a second drink. I’m happy to give you as many drinks as you’d like, however you like, but I need to work efficiently so I can get the cart out of the aisle so it is clear for people to access the lavatories. And while you may be thinking that some of these sound like coach issues, well that where half the business and first class FAs go after the service is done up front. Covering for the cut staff positions until each cabin is served.

    Finally, I saved the best for last. Turndown service. I know that airlines offer it. I know we are expected to do it. And I will do my job if it is requested. But any person with fully functioning limbs who asks for a turndown service on a non-luxury airline is an ASSHOLE. The luxury airlines (like Emirates) have sheets and extra pillows to go with extra staff who make up the bed. Domestic carriers, there is usually a fluffy mattress pad that can be added. So you’re asking someone who is already covering either multiple cabins, or a galley, or the pilots’ needs to lay it down and unfold your blanket all pretty for you. You feel such a need to be served that you’re asking someone else to come over and lay out one single blanket. The few people who ask for this service always want it done the moment they are done eating. They get up to use the lav, probably change into something more comfortable, and on their way they ask, expecting it to be done when they get back. The galley is still being cleaned up, half the cabin still has dessert plates, one of the crew went to the back to help, the pilots just called to have their meals cooked, 3B wants another Baileys and 2D thinks his phone fell under the seat. But let’s put that all on hold because someone wants me to put their seat down and lay out their blankie. I’m sure I’ve shocked you, but honestly most of us feel this way. Most of us wouldn’t show it with the mess in that picture, but you wouldn’t be anyone’s favorite passenger.

    I do my best to be a good flight attendant. I try to be courteous, friendly, and attentive. I even use full sentences most of the time. And I hope if any of you ever fly on one of my flights, you feel you were treated well and were satisfied with your experience. But please remember, these FAs are at work. In service jobs. And service jobs in America aren’t glamorous. The airline industry is no different. We have supervisors telling us before the flights to “make do” if we’re missing something. We have more work and less crew than ever before. And the airlines are squishing every last bit of space out of the planes, trying to make them more profitable. Which makes the passengers less comfortable and more apt to be frustrated. The glamor days are long gone. Flying is no longer an experience, it is a method of transportation. It’s perfectly reasonable to expect good service. Especially in premium cabins. And professionalism is a must. But the gracious hospitality is going to be harder to find in an overworked culture like that of The United States.

  151. Welcome to the new normal! That’s what happened when we start using txt msgs, the courtesy of complete sentences are gone and everything is just short and fast. Basic courtesies are gone and becoming a norm, so AA is just following what is out in the real world of the Americas. Been to asia, people are still behaving with respect and still talk to you with a tone of respect specially in the service world. We are supposed to get better but we going the opposite way.Sad new world!!!

  152. Good Job, Lucky.
    Why not print these comments and send to the home addresses of Parker and each member of his highly compensated Board of directors?

  153. Last time I flew int’l first on AA, we boarded and the F/A yelled “it’s very bad they let you on the plane. We’re not ready!”

    Common sense by the wayside.

  154. Sounds like a terrible flight and AA should be ashamed with this type of product. Another reason why I’m glad all my business has gone to Delta …

  155. I fly dozens of international flights each year for 15 years. What I have learned is:
    * US carriers no longer supervise their flight attendants and, as in any business, unsupervised staff do not do their jobs well.
    * Knowing I will get no service, I no longer spend money on US carriers when returning to the States, period….and traveling is much more pleasant now.
    * While flying within the United States, I only purchase tickets on budget airlines, since the service is no worse than on the majors
    * At the end of the day, begging an airline to provide service is a waste of time. Instead, we should ask ourselves, why spend money with the major carriers if we know we will not get the service we expect?

  156. Flew AA today from DFW to BOS and the FA’s were indifferent. I don’t think they like their job. Keep getting emails they will match my status on JetBlue and Delta. Based on today’s flight there is not a chance I would take them up on their free offer. For Asia I use CX and the service is amazing

  157. Yes, this is pretty typical for AA, even in Flagship first class. FAs aren’t rude but they aren’t welcoming. There are exceptions, and I’ve most often had outstanding FAs between LAX and LHR: typically older a FAs with the seniority to work whatever and wherever they like, and they chose F on LHR. FAs who love to fly, who welcome me as soon as I get to my seat, who chat, who explain the service items.

  158. AA business and first class service is just sad. Once I called the attention to a purser about her angry look on her face, being rude, she looked like she hated her job, or being there. I simply said: you look sad, upset, all things shall pass or something like that, trying to show some empathy but not being invasive. she treatened me to get me arrested upon arrival to the USA. I said Wow, that’s what I get. I paid top dollar to fly business from Tokyo to Lax, and now the FA is threatening me. Other passengers heard, got involved and that particular FA did not set foot in my aisle for the rest of the flight. That was just one bad experience, I had many more, the truth is I avoid AA like the plague.

  159. What I surprised by, @Ben, is that you seem shocked that one-way F is $6,900. That’s pretty cheap for long-haul first class. Trans-Atlantic, with much shorter flight, business class is typically $7k ($3k if you find a good I fare on sale), first class Is usually $11-12k. Trans-Pacific is usually more.

  160. I avoid AA like the plague. When I go to asia I fly Cathay, when I go to SA I usually fly Latam or Azul. Pay top dollar to fly first or business and getting grumpy people to treat you like dirt for 8, 10, 13 hrs, well thats not for me.

  161. Come on everyone. Status is dead. Travel for comfort.
    For international, definitely don’t travel UA, AA as basics.
    A lot better choices out there.
    If they don’t learn, too bad.

  162. But…but … but___ The FA’s ARE BAD!! They are. They KNOW what first class is supposed to be like. They know the costs (regardless if paid or upgrades or points) are high, and their standards should be as well. And for them to fail like this is inexcusable. To excuse them just helps perpetuate the AA mess.

  163. Nice to know that there is such a small response to this post.

    I have been in the program since day 1, have 9.7MM miles to date and i am losing it with AA.

    in my opinion, they don’t know who they want to be when they “grow up” or at this point, they simply don’t care about their customer at all.

    Their 787/789 and reconfigured 772 aircraft and service are about the best cabins BC flying even without the new “door” however, they don’t hold a candle to QR’s Q suites..

    Their 757/767’s and A330’s are horrible international products

    Domestically, it looks like they want to become Spirit- a bus on wings

    I have been in FC DFW-HKG many times – all on SWU’s and, like AA itself, it’s a strange and inconsistent product –

    The seat is the original 777 seat but it is fine except about 1/2 of the screens in the cabin were inop

    F/A’s are inconsistent – it’s the luck of the draw but that’s the same on US airlines –

    Menu was strange – an 8 course dinner service (total overkill) and virtually no in-flight snacks. On my last flight, they had a galley buffet set up but it was cannibalized by the flight crew..

    Before they can fix these issues, they have to figure out whether they want to be a world-class airline or a fleet of “flying busses” – they can’t have both!!

  164. @David: You must be right. Your comment is filled with shortcuts that my English teachers would have filled with red marks. To be honest, the business emails people are willing to send representing themselves is just sad.

  165. The only surprise to me anyway, is that you’re surprised. Airlines are not going to deliver premium products when the occupants are on award tickets, upgrades and non revs.

  166. Flight Attendants Union anyone?
    You cant really touch the Mammas and Queens.

    Just dont expect royalty treatment as an upgraded passenger. They know you are an upgraded or miles passenger. Maybe the word is already out.

    Exec Platinum….double yawn, everybody seems to get that. No wonder they are closing accounts.
    Even Lufthansa has discouraged F class but for true LH customers.
    ( or their idiotic 8 kg bag restriction)

  167. @AnonymousFA you can feel the attitude in the post, filled with excuses and validation for bad behavior and service. safety first BS and able bodied passengers flight first class are AH’s if they request the service OFFERED by the airline. I’ll bet this FA is on a US carrier, stop whining and take another job. The “other” carriers don’t view a FA position as a long term 40 yr career its a point in one’s career not the end all. I’m a business owner and treat my customers no matter their position with our organization as the people that put food on our tables. I’m polite and thankful and we provide service with smile and great attitude. Try it

  168. I forgot to add, Ben you are an ultra seasoned and refined traveller.
    I dont hold the “Whatsup hun?” against anybody.

  169. Hanta, Amen. When I took US Airways to Tel Aviv (not by choice) and the service was terrible, I swore never to fly on any US carrier overseas as going across the country is enough for me. This was also after taking United to Tokyo and US Airways to London with also crappy service. I don’t expect to have great service on U.S. carriers anymore. It’s unfortunate. I think it’s part of our culture.

  170. @AnonymousFA:

    How do FAs on other airlines manage to do everything you’ve complained about, flying on the same type of planes, without whining about it?

    Maybe because they realize their first priority is the passenger. Not all the other rubbish you’ve banged on about. You have a lot of things to do? Big deal, so does everyone in every job. Being a professional means getting everything done and hiding your irritation when a new task/request sidetracks you from what you had planned to do.

    It’s very evident that US FAs resent having to serve other people. They see themselves as the equal, or superior, of the passengers they are being paid to serve.

    “Safety” and “security” are just convenient BS excuses, and I think everyone knows it. Plus, it’s not like FAs at foreign airlines are not trained in those aspects– they would probably be much better than you lot at those too. I can just imagine the whining: “I know for a FACT that I am not going to have time to help you out of your First Class seat if the plane is going down… I have a lot of things on my mind…”

  171. I have only done one leg , Narita to Chicago a year back in biz. It was VERY average, the old lady (no other way to describe her) poured me a few wines after dinner and then snapped: ‘Go to sleep’. So I resolved not to fly AA again, and haven’t. Simple!

  172. @AnonymousFA

    You will be hard pressed to find too many sympathizers here of your woes, comparisons and reasoning. In fact, you prove exactly why many (including myself) are disgusted with U.S. carriers and on International flights will go out of our way to avoid them.

    My favorite in your non-sensical reasoning for providing less is that there are luxury airlines in the world for which you can’t provide the same service. BA, Lufthansa, Cathay, ANA, SQ, as well as your aforementioned Emirates, are Intl. carriers that compete with AA, UA, and DL on countless routes and often at the same if not lesser fares. This is hardly a Four Seasons Hotel at $700 a night compared to Hampton Inn at $125 a night. In that case our expectations would be less. But if an airline like AA expects to compete at the same price, on the same route with carriers like that, you either become heavily discounted in premium cabins to match a lesser service or you just don’t offer it all.

    I imagine if Ben had paid prices more commensurate to, say, Icelandair or Norwegian, his expectations would be less and the value would be, as you say, a luxury vs non-luxury product comparison and more generous in review.

    I am being generous here of course as well in that Icelandair and Norwegian fight attendants are far superior in their premium lite cabins than U.S. carriers on most any day.

    Even BA, far from being cutting edge and very hit and miss as to crews, goes out of its way to assure a level of civility with use of names, introductions, and a thank you from the cabin service director towards the end of the flight.

    Really, you U.S. flight attendants are completely full of yourselves with your woes. Comparing yourself to First Responders, rationalizing that foreign carriers are luxury so we should expect less, justifying that use of names is clumsy and, in your case, a security risk (*eyeroll*).

    Fine, I will turn down my own bed. But next time you get the shuttle to the Intercontinental in Madrid I expect to see you loading your own bags in the van and offloading them at the hotel. You have ‘functioning limbs” I assume?

  173. More fifth-freedom flights! And then the legacy carriers have the audacity to complain about the Middle Eastern carriers and “unfair” competition! Asian and Middle Eastern carriers should be allowed to flood the US markets and bankrupt these loser airlines. Just close them down and start from scratch. Ben, I hope you launch a social media attack and complain. People like you have influence, so the best you can do for the rest of us is exercise it. Thank you for posting this.

  174. Americans, the people not the airline, cannot accept service jobs as honorable work. A natural consequence of this is not to give service and treat customers as casually as possible. They believe this makes the server equal to the customer which they are anyway. Training will not change 250 years of socialization.

  175. This is because of Western mentality. Americans expect to get paid well and do the least amount of work. This is seen in any career. When I flew AA first, the purser told me I can do the turndown myself and started to teach me how. He acted as I was bothering him. There is no pride in their jobs. Until Americans accept this as truth, they will always lack good customer service.

  176. I said this a long time ago but will repeat it: US airlines should be forbidden to use the term “first class”. Simple as that. I praise Delta for not offering a first class on international flights as they know they can deliver first class experience. AA and UA have been for years deceiving customers who think they do. I flew once on AA international first class as I was upgraded at the gate and felt embarrassed for all the people I knew were paying for that. To summarize my experience the wine list was $10 bottles I could find on the cheapest liquor store in town and the chocolates were Ferrero Rocher which I buy at any Walgreens. Enough said.

  177. The comment string is incredibly long about this article, so it obviously has brought together many customers that have had the same experience. It seems that retraining is desperately needed and comments noted in the employees employment jacket. It’s been said hundreds of times, until Doug Parker is relieved of his command, AA will crash and burn…

  178. @Stuart you nailed it. AnonymousFA has made the case that’s it’s OK to drop to the lowest common denominator in service because some passengers are also a-holes. Your hotel price analogy is spot on. And finally FA in F earn the exact same amount if they are “serving” a cabin full of rev OR non-rev. Points or Cash or SWU- they still get paid. Airlines still get some comp on the back end of the points transaction but that doesn’t change the FA’s pay for a flight regardless of who’s paying or not to fly.
    And let’s face it – Ben PAID MORE for this Business Class fare, pre-upgrade, than what we can get F on one of the best. FA: Thanks ….’hon’

  179. you are too sensitive.
    F is about space, time, food and service. Not full sentences, saying bye, and most other things you’re complaining about.

  180. Since the AA Attendant who identified herself as Catherine Bossi wrote:”. Also please note you did not pay that 6,000.00 air fare but got an upgrade for nothing.”
    It says it all! (About some crew’s mentality)
    If you did not pay the $6900 1st Class fare then do not dare to expect a 1st class service,just ditch the AA First Class and fly eceonomy for the same (poor ) level of customer satisfaction.
    So if a Paris 5 stars hotel give you a complimentary drink ,it should be some mediocre beverage because it is given to the hotel’s customer as free & complimentary? I don’ t think so.

  181. @Jan. If you dine at the Inn at Little Washington and pay $500 for a first rate meal and the waiter grunts and just speaks in 1-3 word non sentences would you consider that acceptable?

    If you paid $700 a night at a Four Seasons are you accepting that the front desk person hands you your key and says, “Here.”

    F (and to a certain extent C) is very much a product that should compare to those in being civil and with a sense of pride. One part of Service IS speaking full sentences. It is a basic premise to a luxury product. Dozens of airlines do it very well.

  182. Why are you still flying AA? I go out of my way and pay more for other airlines. I’m glad I have that ‘privilege’ but I haven’t been on AA for 6yeara. And the last time for an emergency evacuation after two cancelled flights.

    Just cut them out. They won’t change. It’s their business culture to treat customers like sheep dingleberry.

  183. It’s American. Seems like you got the normal American service. The more status you get with American the worse they treat you.

  184. Similar experience on AA in J and F, numerous times. It actually stood out when the service was even remotely close to being what BA or LH would offer in J or F.

  185. My experience has been negative in terms of service and basic decency. When I complain, theer is no compensation in flight vouchers.


  186. Just one additional comment on the hard product: Based on the few pictures of the seat you posted, this looks to me like a very nice Business Class seat, but very far from “real” international first class otherwise.

  187. Turkish Airline: The BEST. My wife, my best friend, his wife and I flew Turkish Airline on a short trip from Istanbul to Cappadocia in June 2019. The service we received was SUPERB on economy. Not only that, the seats were comfortable and spacious. We were served WARM, delicious breakfast.
    America USED to be the land of service – We have to go back and be proper once more.

  188. FIRE Doug Parker the thief!!!
    Fire all useless over 65 year old senior greedy mamas and papas disgusting old hag flight attendants!!
    and show them how KOREAN AIRLINES and QUATAR SERVICE IS LIKE!!!
    DRAIN THE SWAMP!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  189. I agree with the author that the attendants shouldn’t get into trouble. The reason for it is that one should get into trouble when they don’t follow the training, procedure, or the expectation of the leadership. Looking at the general comments, the attendant’s behavior is not the exception to the rule and it is a common trend. That tells me that this is how all of them are trained. Other major airlines pay well and train well. I don’t think that is the case with AA. It seems that Firstclass work is just a seniority promotion without the necessary training or expectations.

  190. I fly AA regularly between MIA and LHR and have repeatedly experienced the same attitude from the flight attendants. It seems to be consistent across the fleet.

  191. IMO, all the comments with the exception of JetMech69 miss the underlying issues. Unlike most of the commentators, I am only an occasional flyer who never gets an upgrade. American companies push their employees relentlessly. A quick check of FA salaries shows that pay has DROPPED 40% since the heydays of the 60’s. How many of the commentors on this site have seen their pay drop significantly over their careers or to always have the concerns about the next layoff? American FA’s with children have concerns about day care for which there is little or no government support. European FA’s appear to be paid more and have a comprehensive social support network. You may also be seeing evidence of the increasing income disparity in the US. These attendants see their prospects increasingly being reduced while simultaneously seeing their customers enjoying ever more opulent lifestyles.

    To improve service, you should push AA and other American companies to treat their employees better; higher pay and better benefits. You should also be cognizant of your role to improve the services that only government can provide; i.e. a better and more complete social support network. Yes, that might mean higher taxes and a slightly smaller selection of appetizers for your dinner.

  192. They give us minimal to operate such service, and if you’re so important, why aren’t you on a private jet??? We can only do so much with what our USAir Mgmt gives us. Trust me, we hate it as much as you do. I used to be proud of my airline, I’m embarrassed to go to work anymore

  193. Had a similar experience JFK to LHR on the 77W. Flagship dining was exemplary. Boarded, was pointed left …found my own seat. No sign of any FAs in the FC cabin…they were in the forward gallery having a chat. After a rushed meal service. I requested a pair of PJs (these were not proactively offered)…which induced an eye-roll and a loud ‘huff’ from the FA.

  194. I don’t usually book first with my miles and would rather get all my family somewhere in economy but I decided to splurge on a solo trip from PDX to ORD after having a great time in first PDX to MCO with Alaska.

    Man what a difference between the two. Food wasn’t that great, the attendants mechanically did the bare minimum, and the seats themselves were pretty tired. It was easily half the experience of the Alaska flight. I was so disappointed the whole time and kicked myself at the waste of miles.

  195. I’m sorry @Lucky but it takes a lot of my hard earned money to afford First Class. That flight to Hong Kong would take me two months! I would expect courtesy and elevated treatment. Whenever I have the privilege, I try to be the most courteous passenger but First Class generally means that personalized service that makes you feel at home. Just this weekend I hosted friends at the Ritz LA and got a room for them at the connected JW Marriott. Both are awesome hotels kind of like First and Business but the Ritz has its upgrades. Better beds, a minibar, a doorman, better room design. I wouldn’t pay the extra $300 for practically the same room size if I wasn’t getting better service. I’ve had some BAD first class flights when United still had Global First and I tell you, it just leaves a sour reputation. I haven’t flown them in years because although I appreciate the ride, life is too short to settle for less 🙂

  196. I have flown AA for many years. When I have it’s been First or Business. Last flight was Flagship Business NY to LA. Crew was very attentive but seats were very worn and uncomfortable. Plus my screen was broken but FA gave me 10,000 miles into my account without asking and apologized. On the other hand we had a flight from Maui to Chicago that was over eight hours. We were in First and was the worst flight. Crew would not stop laughing and carrying on in the galley for hours. The cabin was dark but they just cackled the entire flight to the point a passenger asked them to please quiet down. Their response was “whatever”. Unfortunately their first class is not a consistent product. When it’s good, it’s good. When it’s bad, it’s bad. I also notice the older more senior FAs are the ones that are most curt, annoyed, and unpleasant.

  197. That’s why those FA’s are so bitter! They just want to be treated with respect. Then you have people like @Stuart that compare them to “$18 mall cops”
    Entitled trash…

  198. @Rodney – come on, that’s a cop-out. You have two attendants for eight seats. Being polite and a bit conversational is not out of your control and having a party in the front galley is also rude. As I previously wrote, I have had some great experiences, Diane on business class flight PHL to FRA a year ago, was absolutely amazing. I have had rude and I have had great, the effort is no different and if you hate your job so much that it is that miserable that you just want to bitch and be rude, then leave. Your answer is, “if your that rich why aren’t you on a private jet,” speaks volumes. Seriously you should leave your job, you clearly hate it.

  199. I’m not surprised, AA has horrible service (domestic and international) and I’ve flown them many (too many) times. Last month I flew Avianca for the first time ever MEX-LIM-MVD in business and the planes while nice, were simply A319/A320 but on all four flights (roundtrip) the flight attendants were AMAZING, introduced themselves, called me by my name and the service and food were exceptional – shockingly good. Comparing them to AA – there is NO comparison whatsoever, Avianca is FAR SUPERIOR.

  200. Given the complete and utter disdain most of the commenters here seem to have for Flight Attendants, it’s no wonder why you receive less-than-stellar service. One could hardly blame them for not putting their best face forward to a bunch of entitled old cranks that showed up here.
    A little courtesy goes a long way, both ways. You people seem to confuse service with servants… you aren’t the only person on that plane, so yes, they’ll get you what you want, but it might not be exactly when you want it because 11 other people might have asked first, so get in line. Oh, you’re first class? Lucky you! You’re line is only 12 people long instead of 275. But there’s still a line.
    Stop acting like you’re on your own personal jet with your own servants instead of a mode of public transit. Don’t want to do that? Then Netjets is always looking for new customers.

  201. If it’s not worth these flight attendants getting “in trouble” or providing this feedback to AA it’s not worth writing all of this in the first place.

  202. Here are my ideas on US flight attendants:
    Compulsory retirement at 55-there should be a law that would give them early access to Social Security.
    Take a page from British Airways and introduce a mixed fleet group. International flights need some young blood(honestly, the newly hired flight attendants should get the international routes and the older the shorter domestic routes and sports charters.
    More training.
    In the hiring process look for those who have excellent communication skills. I would look for those who have a background in languages.

  203. Sadly AA still has better service than United. I agree that the FAs should not get in trouble for lacking in training that the company does not provide nor should the get in trouble for not following company standards that do not exist. The lack of customer service standards is not just with airlines in the US, it is in every level of the service industry. We just tolerate it better in other circumstances because we are not spending thousands of dollars nor are we captive for hours at a time. My pet peeve is FAs having personal conversations, complaining about coworkers, passengers, etc… while providing service or within earshot of customers (something that happens regularly on AA).

  204. @Anthony Wanless using your comment as my bookmark for later as I intend on reading every comment. 🙂

  205. Ben, thank you for pointing out what appears to be the norm with other US carriers too. I had a very similar experience in October, UA65 Lisbon to EWR. But in my case, the FAs were just plain rude. It began with having no amenity kits and when this was brought to one FA’s attention, instead of “sorry for the inconvenience,” I received “its not my job.” Another FA then approached me and asked, “what’s the problem here?” Given UA’s past, headline-making, horrific treatment of its customers, I thought this kind of behavior was behind it. On October 3, 2019, it was in full display in Polaris class. I was shocked by the treatment and as I write this months later, I still cannot believe how horrible a flight it was.

    I would never approach a customer in such an offensive manner. I have run a company for more than 25 years and my employees understand the importance of the customer’s positive experience with our organization. UA has had many financial problems over that 25-year span. My organization has thrived.

    If multiple FAs are acting in this manner, leadership has failed. The FAs are just not invested in their work and I believe it has a lot to do with their organizations’ broken cultures. I wholeheartedly agree with Bob Arrowsmith’s and Kaveh F’s comments (above) along this very line.

    As one poster said, this is no more than a mode of “public transit.” But, that’s not what UA is telling or selling me. Here is what UA has to say about its Polaris class: “Our United Polaris® business class service is designed to bring a new level of quality to every aspect of premium cabin travel – from lounge to landing – and provide the best sleep in the sky.”

    I have had more far more good experiences with UA than I can count. UA crews handle many tough customers. The vast majority have extraordinary patience. But when you sell on these words – “new level of quality” – you better be prepared to do deliver it to the customer. That level of service was not reflected in the service I and others received on UA65 or on the flights you and others have commented upon. And that is the gripe. You are better off paying coach and taking the upgrade. Accept the fact this is no more than public transit in the sky, no matter what they peddle you to contrary.

    I wouldn’t pay to fly Polaris and neither should anyone else.

  206. I flew AA from ORD-MBJ (CLT on way there, MIA on way back) in October in First class. I had better service on a $900 RT narrow body jet than this review. There is no excuse for the lack of service these FA’s gave.

  207. I work for AA as a FA.

    While I know DP will never make the investment, AA needs to put their FA’s in training to get everyone on the same page. There are many different cultures and personalized service standards.

    Also, international needs to be fenced off so there is concentration on service and consistency.

    A few comments:

    *US Airways f/as had international flights starting in 1987, so please don’t blame them like they have never stepped in the international arena.

    *While many senior f/a’s are tired and cranky, many of us pump it out and do a bang up job.

    *Younger fa’s better in the US?? Most have no social skills and are very indifferent to service.

    *on the 777-300, there are only 8 guest. Two fa’s. There is no excuse. When I am the #5, I don’t hide in the galley as Pursers can get very busy. Be proactive!

    *Turn down service was awkward at first but once done a few times is kind of fun. And makes the guest happy.

    *Manners are free.

    I am so disillusioned with the direction of AA and international (and being a purser), I am taking a break and going to domestic. Wanna know why you’re increasingly getting crap up front? The good ones like me have had it and would rather be happy than a bigger paycheck. I’m tired of the disrespect from a areas, the aggressive push for on time, catering screw ups, and many crews who can’t think for themselves. I’ll gladly take my 33 years of service to the domestic main cabin front and settle in with the common folk….for sanity sake.

  208. Welcome to American Worst. Until the Board wises up that they need to find an Oscar Munoz or someone similar who tells them they need to invest in and focus on the product nothing is going to change here. Parker and Company engaged in a race to get what once the US’s premium airline to the bottom of the heap and they succeeded in record time. A dubious achievement at best.

  209. US carriers just can’t compete, period.

    I just finished a five segment on ANA, only in business class (not first), and its a world of difference.

    In every way, thing issues you mentioned were never a problem, and it was top rate service all the way.

    Its sad that US carriers don’t specially train their FA for international first class.

    Never, ever, were the “barking orders” that you get on US airlines.

    PS – Even in a 4 class aircraft, the curtains were locked tight. Both passengers AND Flight Attendants stayed in their assigned cabins.

    This is one of the most annoying thing about US carriers. And the flight attendants are the worst. For some reason, the are continually going back and forth between classes of service, disturbing everybody. And since the curtains are wide open, the passengers follow, which leads to lines for lavatories, and people milling around in the aisles.

    I have given up on taking any US carrier outside of the country, I fly partner airlines and enjoy the flight.

  210. Serves you right for flying J or F on a US3 carrier.

    The airlines will never change as long as they have suckers paying for “upgraded” service. Vote with your wallets!

  211. I have been a F/A @ AA for 33 years and it is humiliating to work there. We were once a decent airline with employees that had pride in our jobs & our company. I am a Purser and your experience was deplorable. You are right, so few “senior” F/As care anymore. And as far as the next generation of FAs, the future is bleaker than you have ever dreamed!
    While I make no excuses for your experience, it is true that morale is at an all time low. Since our merger with USAir, Discount Doug Parker has taken a company in need of help and destroyed it beyond repair. Like I eluded, we were not perfect before, but now I do not see anyway to repare the damage DDParker has done to American. Parker’s discount America West style of running an airline might have worked for a small regional carrier, but it has obliterated American.
    I say I am humiliated because every complaint I hear, every bad article I read, every financial doom & gloom report is true. Even when there may be news of a new destination or expansion in one area, it always comes at the expense of an another and cancellations of another flight. Plus, DDParker has done away with every Customer Service tool we used to have for agents, pilots and flight attendants at AA. His philosophy is No customer service at all. Our onboard service is disgusting. The tools agents used to have to help customers and assist with inconvenienced customers were taken away. The ability of cabin crew and flight crew to work together with agents to hold flights for passengers known to be running to the gate or waiting at the gate has been banned. Doors are routinely slammed in customers face, even when it is a flight that operates once a day only a few times a week. DDParker doesn’t care. Shut the door 10 minutes before departure or the poor agent working the flight gets fired. There has not been overall good news at AA in so many years the employees are deflated, angry & depressed.
    You may have read about pay increases back at the beginning of the USAir merger and think employees would be overall happy. A majority of those raises were only enjoyed by previous USAir employees because they had already had the pleasure of working for DDParker for years & they were severely under paid in the industry. For those of us already working at AA, our raises were much smaller. On top of the wonderful “raise” that AA loved to publicize, we received a reduction in vacation pay, a reduction of sick pay, an increased in insurance premiums, deletion of retirement insurance plans. And a deletion of our pension program. So while AA was quick to send out press releases of their generous pay raises, it was actually a HUGE pay cut. Compound all that with a new computer program used to “design” our schedules called the “Optimizer,” which “designs” schedules more suited for robots than human beings, the recipe is a whole lot of FAs that are deflated, tired and don’t care.
    Again, I personally can not condone the awful service you described, but that is a reflection of my own personal ethics. Sadly, for many of my co-workers, they have had enough. We work for a company that doesn’t care and they cannot bring themselves to care anymore either.
    I am sorry all these responses are true and it disgusts me to work somewhere where this is how the customer feels. Unfortunately, AA hasn’t cared about the internal or external customer in many many years.

  212. We had similar experience on first class flight from Hong Kong to Dallas. The flight attendants were rude and insensitive. My wife had previous back surgery and had needed wheelchair assistance. During flight attendants were very rude to her. You cannot say that it may be language. My wife is a practicing Obstetrician in USA.Only one attendant was receptive after I complained.

  213. It’s your fault you insist on flying with American. I dont even feel bad for you my man. Im tired of your silly excuses “Oh bUt iM a HuB cApTiVe” “oH bUt sTaTuS” gimme a break.

  214. I hate the rotten attitude the old hens on any AA flight. I think most of them would have gone the “would you like fries with that” route if there wasn’t a paid for training program which is obviously lacking. As for FAs who think that their only job is for safety. That is ONE of MANY responsibilities. I think every JOB out there has multiple responsibilities? Example at Burger King the guy talking on the speaker has to take the orders and fill the drinks. He isn’t just there to take the orders and that’s it.

  215. As a retired AA purser, I am very disturbed by the treatment you received. I see lots of comments suggesting they should get rid of the senior F/A’s. The senior F/A’s are the one who were trained in the 60’s and 70’s when being a stewardess was an amazing job to have. We had passengers who really were excited to fly and we loved making it fun and entertaining for them. When I flew purser, I pulled up the passengers names before I boarded the plane, then as they boarded I would call them by name. I would put that seating chart on my carts so I wouldn’t forget their names. That was when the airlines and passengers treated us like professionals. As the planes got smaller, seats got closer, passengers got angrier, they took these change’s out on the persons they were with for the longest period of time, the F/A. Then came 9/11!! Everything changed, F/A salaries are cut, almost in half, those of us who had been flying for years still treated the passengers the same for half the paY, but some of the more junior, new hire’s were resentful and some took that out of the passengers. I loved working purser because I loved spoiling my passengers, some I had on so often that we would become friends. Some were new to my flights, but I treated everyone the same. I retired in 2013, I missed my job, my layover, Hawaii, London, New York… And, believe it or not, I still wonder how some of my passengers are doing, how are their children grown, are they still flying those flights etc, I meet once a month with other F/A’s for a happy hour, some are still working and some are retired. The working ones are not happy either with what is going on with American. They are not treated well by the company, the new hire F/A’s aren’t there for the passengers comfort and the more experienced F/A’s are trying to pick up the slack. I have friends who fly American and say the same thing, American is not the same as it was. I find this very disappointing, I don’t know why, I’m not there. Are the F/A’s being treated poorly by the company and passing it on to the staff? I don’t know, but I do resent the idea the the 65 year old are bitter and not willing to treat the passengers well, it is just the opposite. The more senior F/A’s are the one who are there because they want to be. I wish I knew why your service was so impersonal, that should never happen no matter what cabin you are traveling. I hope the at American can get it together and bring AA back to what it used to be.

  216. If they’re offering water, juice or champagne it’s almost certainly a legacy AA flight attendant. If you even ask for a coke you’ll get a dirty look. You don’t often seen this from legacy HP flight attendants who will almost always provide a full PDB service if requested. Doug Parker isn’t perfect but those blaming him for this are wrong – this goes back way before him.

  217. To the FAs who make the point that I did not pay $6000 for my ticket but got it for free. That’s the worst possible excuse you could offer for poor service. You don’t know squat about me or how I got my ticket. I “earn” my upgrades the hard way. 200+ segments, 200,000+ miles, and traveling every week of the year. So stop bellyaching because someone points out how poor your service is. If my employees performed as badly as some of you they would be working for someone else. Basic civility and service is all we are asking for. If you don’t like your job, and cannot fulfill the requirements, quit! There are FAs on the regionals that would love your job.

  218. I fly AA regularly to Italy in economy. Each international service has been a horror show. The FAs can sometimes be scary, especially at 35,000 feet in the air. They literally have meltdowns, a behavior that would normally get most of us fired from our jobs but also would be deemed a security risk. I am talking inhuman service. I blame the unions but also management. It’s trickle down hostility. While CEOs still get yearly bonuses ranging in the millions flight attendants take wage freezes. The 60-year-old average age FA on AA’s international routes wants only to work until pensions kick in. Meanwhile, expect deplorable service on overseas routes. AA’s domestic service seems much better as the younger FAs with less seniority haven’t hit the bitter and resentful stage. When you get that hateful to strangers at work, it’s time to check into a clinic.

  219. In my opinion, there are two overriding concerns at the heart of this problem we face in 1st class AA long haul flights: 1. The general national psyche is the whole “USA is #1 at everything” mindset and 2. overt and over familiarity to where everyone is treated with an egalitarian sense of “dude, what’s up?”
    Comparatively speaking, AA’s 1st class cabins is basically an overstuffed BarcaLounger with some distant relative bringing you food and drink more when it’s convenient to them vs asking what’s good for you. Compare any long haul AA 1st class cabin to Emirates, British Air, Swiss, Air France, Lufthansa, Cathay….yes I don fly a lot…and it’s is actually pitiful what AA subjects their 1st class customers to!
    When it comes to the crew service and demeanour in AA, the airlines forgets that training staff to interact with clients who fork over $6K for a one way ticket should be noticeably different from interactions with those paying $500 for the same flight; not less or more respectful, for all are worthy and deserving of respect and decency but the treatment in 1st class should be no different that what those passengers receive at any 5star hotel where the concierge actually caters to and interacts with customers differently because they are aware that customers pay a premium for not just amenities but service, neither of which is present in any AA 1st class cabin. I made that mistake once and at those prices never made it again.

  220. I am a flight attendant at American. I am very sorry you received such treatment. Some of our flight attendants wouldn’t know good service if it slapped them in the face and they shouldn’t be here. I am a purser and I fly that position 98% of the time JFK to LAX. Personally, I take lots of pride in my job always using names, trying to assist my passengers in anyway I can, accommodating any special requests that are asked for. As I’ve told many passengers during their time with me I am there for them. I hope one day to have you on one of my transcontinental flights so I may show you what a good first class service is all about and treat you like the valued passenger you are!

  221. @troll. Oh look, it’s the flight attendant who posts at View From The Wing As “Tomek”. He who believes a flight attendant is a first responder before anything else. I am happy to oblige your dream and grant you that similar pay as a Mall Cop. With that I will be more than fine in expecting the crap service you already provide in turn.

  222. This airline has been on my ‘no fly list’ since 2014. Biggest issue is the untrained and rude staff. Ground staff is even worse.

  223. wow, it s so bad beyond word. shall I say I got more attention and service in Eco of some of the airline? I fly Thaiairways in Eco a few years ago and the FA is super friendly that keep encourage me to eat staff. I end up eating so much that I feel bad for my fitness diet goal.

  224. stay AWAY american/united trans pacific like plague, you will feel much more warm welcome with asian airline , eva , jal, ana, singapore, cathay, china airlines.

  225. Having senior union members in a service industry pretty much guarantees lousy service.

    American and the other airlines need to make this change — Seniority gives you every privelege *except* which cabin you work in. Why on earth would an airline not put their best employees with their best customers? When entitled people are guaranteed something, they don’t feel the need to earn it.

  226. One of the best actions of a “First Responder” is to make a person feel safe. You achieve that by speaking calmly and treating people with respect. Threatening passengers–and I do mean threatening them!–is not the tool of a well-trained FR.

  227. AA — I live in Dallas, and I have flown my LAST transatlantic trip with you.
    Lufthansa will now be my carrier to Europe; Cathay Pacific will be my carrier over the Pacific.

    I must include AirCanada — this summer, their business class from Montreal to Dallas was dreadful! Aircraft issues, poor personal service, and nothing more than drinks – business class?!

    BA — I abandoned them 3 years ago when the OUSTED me from my PAID seat for a pilot that was doing a dead-head. And, I had to fight for a miserable refund.

  228. @Rodney. Unless you’re on some prison work release program, please find another job. If you’re embarassed to work somewhere, that’s a signal to quit. You’d be doing yourself a huge favor.

    It’s a shame you think paying $6900 for a one way flight doesn’t entitle someone to the same basic manners my 5 year old has mastered. Come to think of it, I get better service at Starbucks, Chik-fil-A, and lots of other businesses I spend a lot less money with. I guess the $15/hour employees they hire aren’t embarassed to work there — go figure.

    One flight attendant for 4 customers? Yes, sounds like a nightmare. Stay Strong!

  229. I must first say that this is simply confirming what many have been saying for long time – qualities of flight services have dropped very much. They know all try to rebound from it. Some succeed and some don’t. I can say I have some good ones on Delta’s long haul flight while not so much on short flights.

    Ben, I must say you are also wrong to point out that this crew should’ get into trouble. This crew from your report seems to be lacking in basic manner. Human to Human basic manner. What’s up, woohoo…… these are no no. First class or economy class should get basic manner. I don’t reckon that it is okay to be woohoo at economy class. Question on wine, I am aware that wine is not for everyone, so I don’t expect my flight crew to offer a tour like a sommelier, however, they can at least pull out a menu and flip the wine section for me.

  230. Absolutely agreed that flight attendants do not need to get into any trouble. Its the managment that needs to be in trouble. These Flight attendants were not properly trained.

    American in general doesn’t take good care of the employees. I’m not surprised with American’s poor customer service.

  231. Quite interesting and quite frankly my experiences like yours is consistent with American. But I will add, United and Delta are similar, albeit not as bad. After traveling over seas on several occasions, it seems it’s a cultural matter. Upon arriving to Dallas international from Singapore, you witness TSA yelling “Hello, over here! Lines this way, come on!” Or harsher customer service responses like “Do I look like XYZ, I don’t know!” and leaves a customer/flyer hanging dry. Every other airport in the world has been very accommodating for those on the plane and staff at the airports. Mind boggling customer service or … common courtesy is not practiced here.

  232. I think that American is trying hard to improve on certain things but, for the most part, the service on intercontinental first class is not worth the money. I believe that most of the staff servicing on the first class international leg are giving that assignment on the basis of seniority and not on the basis of customer satisfaction. I have flown more than 2 million miles with them and after this year I opted to travel with Emirates, ANA rather than American. I love some of the improvements like the amazing first class lounge in LAX and the service in the flag ship lounge-restaurant in JFK or London but everyone here is right that the staff does not seem to care about customer satisfaction and that is not compatible with having a premium product. To be honest, the service tends to be better in business class than in first class. We have complained about the quality of the food and some of the younger staff members have been very receptive to it and we will see some improvements but lack of consistency is a big problem. I also agree that most airlines need to find a better way to crush ice than making more noise that Mike Nicholson in the Shining. I know it can be done as only USA- based carries keep that custom as a rite of passage. I do hope that AA gathers our feedback and makes the much needed improvements.

  233. I appreciate your review but, honestly, have never had that kind of experience on AA long haul – especially DFW or LAX/ HKG. I‘ve found the FAs to be polite, service oriented and professional. The food isn’t always the best but it’s airplane food and not that different from other airlines. Seat, amenities, bedding, etc are on par with or better than a number of carriers in First and Business. And, yes, I fly other airlines. In the last 18 months I’ve flown long haul on Qatar, Qantas, CP, BA, Etihad and Emirates.
    Chalk it up to a bad day – or maybe I’ve just had incredible luck – but I’ve experienced much worse on other airlines.

  234. I was a flight attendant for 43 years. The key word is staffing. Domestic carriers have reduced staffing to FAA minimums. Less flight attendants tasked with more responsibility equals less customer service. And it’s very cute that airlines advertise “turn down” service, but do you really require that? Mommy isn’t onboard today.

  235. When passengers refer to “old hag” flight attendants, they lose all credibility. It’s offensive. Someone’s age has nothing to do with service.

  236. LAX to Tokyo is not much better. I had the same disappointing experience.
    Shame on me to try it twice and hoping for a better outcome. I did have a flight attendant who tried and I complimented him on his efforts and he mentioned that he was trying to motivate his coworkers to treat 1st class passengers well but he clearly was annoyed with the lack of their interest.
    JAL business class offers better service than AA first and is a lot cheaper!

  237. Get over yourself. “Yup” and “didn’t address me by name” being taken as lousy service is laughable. While none of the US based airlines can hold a candle to the Arab or Asian airlines, it was painfully apparent to me when flying Delta, Southwest etc., that people mistake the frozen smiles and unrealistic courtesy as better service. It is not. American has consistently better planes, food, service and frankly, routes. Not to mention they take immediate responsibility if the baggage is lost or damaged and have excellent phone staff to assist with bookings and flight change. Delta miserably refused to even acknowledge lost baggage as their mistake during a recent flight of mine. You need to reconsider what actually comprises good service and if you’re drinking the Koolaid that it means disingenuous smiles and zero follow through by Staff when it really matters, then you should reconsider writing travel blogs.

  238. Problem with Americans, not the Airline is that first they all want to be treated like movie stars, but they aren’t. They don’t have any empathy for the human being they want that excellent service from. They think that they are better then that person from behind the counter at burger king to the lead purser on any International flight. American Airlines is a business airline it has corporate accounts with thousands of billion dollar companies, where their employees get 80% discount on any fare while they travel, they get the same kind of discount with their car rental and hotel, Yet they get to keep all their miles and hotel points and take their families on a vacation once or twice a year for free. They think because of this that the employees are to wait on them hand and foot while dealing with hundred and thousands of the most entitled narcissistic humans on the Planet Americans. Look at who they voted for President. They don’t care about morals they just want or pretend to have the lifestyle of the rich and famous. American all secretly want to be Miranda Priestly. Kindness is a two way street, You get what you give.

  239. I flew FC on the 773 with AA LAX to HKG and it was the best service I’ve ever had. Coming back I flew FC on a 773 with ANA and it was worse than what you subscribe here. As it was my first time on ANA I was very disappointed, but I would never assume ANA service is always as such.

  240. I go out of my way to not fly on any American carrier of I am traveling overseas. Economy class on any of these airlines (Singapore, Asiana, Cathay, Emirates, Qatar, etc.) will put AA or United Business/First Class to shame. The internal decor, inflight entertainment and service differ so much from the American carriers that I would rather travel their economy than waste my money on AA or United business. American air carriers are about 20 years behind in this.

  241. Sounds like every experience I’ve had with AA long haul biz. They are the laziest flight attendants ever. Not bad, just lazy. I one time had to press the call button three times to get water on AA (after waiting an hour for them to walk down the aisle with beverages – no, no water in the galley – out, no refills, and no bother responding to two calls.) Seriously the worst. I came crying back to UA – world of difference (at least to me).

  242. “I pity the fool” (aka ’80’s the A-Team) who actually pays full fare these days… because in either First or Business on AA, you only get what most people traveling on upgrades paid for… nothing! The cabin crews consistently have the worst moral and don’t mind sharing that with the rest of us! Unfortunately, like most of us who do travel, our hub cities limited competition and alternatives so we continue to put up with mediocre service and perks such as SWU’s that are completely useless! And I doubt it will ever improve, as AA continues to squeeze every penny out of this airline for HUGE CEO bonuses! Just follow the money trail… it answers most questions in life!

  243. AA management has lost sight of customer service. The primary focus seems to be for the shareholders only. Employee morale is rock bottom and management has made zero effort to fix it. Employees communicate this to management and management says they are working on correcting it but after listening to this broken promise for over 10 years most employees are tired of Parkers nonsense.

  244. @Sandra Gordon — “When passengers refer to “old hag” flight attendants, they lose all credibility. It’s offensive. Someone’s age has nothing to do with service.” —

    I feel like I need to come to the defense of those who do use the term “old hag flight attendants” (I’m apparently not the only one to use this term) — please note that we’re actually being restrained here, since we could have used that other more offensive term “B!+ch” but chose not to. I appreciate your position on this issue (as a flight attendant veteran of 43 years), but in order for you to appreciate our perspective(s) as veteran travelers, please realize that we passengers are not cattle that get shuffled around the globe, and the jobs of flight attendants are not solely about “safety” … FAs can walk and chew gum at the same time — I’ve seen many do just that! And we’ve all “paid” for our tickets in one way or another (even if upgraded or using flight mile awards), so the service must be consistent at all times!

    What is at issue is that there seems to be a trend (perhaps understandably so) that too many older FAs on USA’s airlines (and perhaps others too) tend to be less friendly and enthusiastic about their jobs, and in their interactions with passengers (no matter the passenger cabin). This might be from long duration job “burnout” or over-work/over-stress, but when FAs let such issues interfere with their “proper” work and attitudes on flights, then they need to “get out” of the business, because passengers have “feet and wings” to vote with their wallets when choosing airlines to fly (excepting those on corporate flying contracts). It is extremely annoying to passengers, when they are coerced to “put up” with rude and/or unfriendly FAs for 14+ hours on a non-stop across the Pacific — being cooped up for that length of time is already “stressful” enough for many passengers!

    You probably already realize this, but Asian airlines adopt different work ethics and attitudes regarding their FAs, and many from USA view their approaches as extremely “Politically Incorrect,” but just look at how successful and appreciated those airlines are, when compared to USA airlines — why is that? Is it cultural ? Is it from “predatory marketing practices”? Or is it just common sense treatment of all passengers with due respect and honor, all of the time, while still providing superior goods and services?

    I do understand your disdain for use of terms such as “old hag FAs,” but please don’t lose sight of why passengers have become so overly frustrated, over time, to incur the need to use such terms, to begin with!

  245. @bunkybear — “Look at who they voted for President.” —

    So I guess you’re just a non-American who is just envious of what Trump has done to make America First succeed, to the chagrin of other countries?

    But seriously — why must irrelevant presidential politics get brought up like this? Makes you look like a political hack that can not be taken seriously!

  246. @Dipen Bhattacharya — “Economy class on any of these airlines (Singapore, Asiana, Cathay, Emirates, Qatar, etc.) will put AA or United Business/First Class to shame. The internal decor, inflight entertainment and service differ so much from the American carriers that I would rather travel their economy than waste my money on AA or United business. American air carriers are about 20 years behind in this.” —

    ROFLMAO! And when was the last time you flew Business/First on United, as compared to Economy on those other airlines? Have you ever even tried United Polaris? Or are you relying on information/experiences that are 20-years out-of-date?

    I challenge you to better what United Polaris offers with, for example, its Beef Rib Roast meal entree vs. anything that Economy offers on those other airlines! Just go back and retrieve some archived reviews of United Polaris offerings, or watch various video reviews on YouTube to catch up with modern times!

  247. I wish you would fly on one of my international flights! I take pride in my job and want every passengers experience to be a wonderful one. I hope to run into you someday so you may experience it for yourself.

  248. @BillC: You need to understand very little of the world has the same perspective of the US and your president as you. In context of the original post, I understood the analogy but it clearly put your tidy whites in a bundle. As the rest of us watch your impeachment hearings, we do have to wonder what happened to what once was a great country. But as noted by some here, the service on your domestic airlines has followed the downward spiral of your overall country. To clearly look at where you are from the policies since Obama, take a look at your debt and that is with near zero interest rates. Good luck!

  249. AA f/a Catherine Bossi sums up the attitude of many AA f/as:
    “Please do not assume that all of us do not care. Sorry that you had a few that did not. Also please note you did not pay that 6,000.00 air fare but got an upgrade for nothing.”

    It seems that f/as assume that those flying F/C (front cabin) are getting it “free” and, or are fools for having paid for it. Despite her thoughts, no one gets it for free, everyone has exchanged something of value, minimal though it might be.

    AA management knows what is going on and doesn’t care.

    When was the last time, anyone got a meaningful response from AA “customer service” on customer service? If anything, their responses are nonsensical or an attempt to tamp down customer expectations to the point where it is not worth contacting them.

    Sadly, these days we fly AA hoping that it is an unremarkable experience and celebrate when it is passable. Hard product in business and f/c is good for sleeping and that offers one of the few saving graces.

  250. Very poor service to say the least. I wonder if it’s crew related. My experience on my last two flights on AA have been completely the opposite. Earlier in the week flew MIA-CLT-BNA. I was upgraded on CLT-BNA, and CLT-MIA on the way back. Yesterday MIA-LAX, I was upgraded once again.
    The FA’s were very pleasant and attentive. They greeted us with a smile, spoke very well, never barked at us. It caught my attention they came around with the list of our names, making sure they pronounced it correctly. The rest of the flight they used my last name when speaking to me.
    The FA on the CLT-MIA, almost kneeled as she served our drinks, I even made the comment she was a pro, as if it would have been me, I would of dropped wine all over. She got a chuckle out of it.

  251. I fly non rev with American because my mother retired with them and they raised the prices to the point that it’s not even free anymore. A roundtrip non rev ticket from the US to Europe is about $677 in taxes and fees now.

    I flew basic economy for $541 RT last week to Zurich and had a great experience. I enjoy boarding group 5 with the citi aadvantage card. The old 767 was spacious in the main cabin. American also has a new mileage earning structure so I somehow earned five thousand miles .

    On the outbound flight from IAH to PHL on one of those small planes I mentioned to the GA that I was with the company but ran out of D3 passes for the year if there was anything she could do for me. I was given a seat in main cabin extra and enjoyed the extra space and complimentary food and wine. Thank you American ! PROUD TO BE AMERICAN !

  252. @Ray — “You need to understand very little of the world has the same perspective of the US and your president as you. In context of the original post, I understood the analogy but it clearly put your tidy whites in a bundle. As the rest of us watch your impeachment hearings, we do have to wonder what happened to what once was a great country. But as noted by some here, the service on your domestic airlines has followed the downward spiral of your overall country. To clearly look at where you are from the policies since Obama, take a look at your debt and that is with near zero interest rates.” —

    LOL! I do understand about what the “rest” of the world thinks about USA and Trump … hence my original post; as I said — the rest of the world is now totally envious of what USA has accomplished under Trump (just take an unbiased review of what some foreign government leaders and some foreign media have objectively said about Trump and USA)!

    As for that Sham impeachment Farce, you really need to understand those totally Desperate Progressives in USA in order to decipher their politics and why they’re so totally Deranged and Delusional in their pursuits! They have serious reading comprehension problems and will fabricate lies out of nothing — their Ends justify their Means, so they’ve presented No Facts in their proceedings and rely totally on Hearsay and Personal (ie, biased) Perceptions! The one and only Fact Witness interviewed by their committee even confessed that the entire basis of their impeachment sham was based on Nothing! If you live outside USA (or even within) and get your “news” from CNN International (or CNN/MSNBC), then you can safely assume that you’ve gotten total propaganda and lies about that sham proceeding!

    As for your comments about USA economy, again, you need to understand how politics in USA functions — the House (in Congress) comes up with the original budget that the President ultimately signs into effect. But Progressives in Congress play all kinds of “tricks” to “get their ways” with budgeting, by attaching their favorite “pork” spending projects into critical Bills that need to get effected. Obama ran up more national debt than all of his predecessors, yet no one cares about that … and what did USA get out of his boondoggles? Trump was coerced into signing a huge debt-laden budget into effect because the USA military was so decimated under Obama that Trump had to inject emergency funding to start resuscitating it right away … but look at the state of economy under Trump — record low unemployment for all sectors and demographics, booming businesses that have returned home from abroad after elimination of Obama’s insane anti-business regulations, Fair Trade agreements for USA with key trading partners (finally), record high stock market levels, absolutely positive optimism from consumers, etc, etc, etc … and all of these accomplishments, despite an adversarial interest rate policy from the Federal Reserve!

    However, I can’t vouch for the performance of USA airlines, as compared to those from Asia or elsewhere …

  253. My God, you really are a damn idiot BillC.
    Do you honestly think people are jealous of you troglodyte president?
    You have the mentality of a petulant teen and people like you and all the other crazy Facebook uncles of America’s low information Fox News addled far right are why your s**thole country is now a global punchline, and no amount of insane italicised ranting from a brain dead Trump-humper like you will change it, you pathetic cretin.

  254. @EBWaa:

    +1 a hundred times over. You couldn’t have said it better. Based on your comments you aren’t an “American” or living in the s**thole so not sure why @BillC seems to think you could be a “Despicable Sore Loser Progressive” unless he is just like his leader and feels anyone to the left of fascism is “progressive”.

    I don’t think you can be “too pathetically typical of your ilk”. Either you are or you aren’t. There is no need for the use of “too” but what supporter of an impeached president cares about grammar when his president can’t spell and is mentally unbalanced?

  255. @Ray — “… not sure why @BillC seems to think you could be a ‘Despicable Sore Loser Progressive’ … ” —

    So you think that Progressives only exist in USA? Wake up — if you don’t know what a Progressive is, then you might want to research that label for yourself!
    @ — “I don’t think you can be ‘too pathetically typical of your ilk’. Either you are or you aren’t. There is no need for the use of ‘too’ but what supporter of an impeached president cares about grammar when his president can’t spell and is mentally unbalanced?” —

    There are different gradations of “pathetic” for those who are discriminating enough to appreciate that …

    As for your comments about Trump, you just outed yourself as one who has gotten totally propagandized by the likes of CNN/MSNBC and NYT/WashPo, etc — name just one actual impeachable “crime” that Trump has committed, to prove your knowledge of the US Constitution?

  256. Unfortunately, as a very senior Purser (5 decades) at AA, I have to agree that we have serious problems with our Premium cabin service. Many of us do everything in our power to make it a delightful and classy service. I address everyone by name, make every effort to pronounce unusual names right (on the first round), offer to make you another main dish if you do not like what you have chosen, offer all desserts if you want to try them and keep your drinks refilled. I respond to your thank you with “my pleasure” which is the Ritz-Carlton way. I am well groomed, youthful and kind to everyone. I was raised this way. Manners, decorum and boundaries are a big deal to me.

    I do not allow my galleys to be used as a “canteen” or for “water cooler gossip” and make that very clear that the passengers come first in all of my initial briefings. I expect my flight crew to be at their boarding stations to welcome their passengers and help them to their seats during the boarding process. I expect them to be pleasant, kind and professional at all times. I agree that some need to not be there. Unfortunately, that is not my call.

    Despite what you may think about us, many of us are college educated, have graduate degrees (some are lawyers, RN’s, military reserve officers, dentists, psychologists, authors, etc.) and stay because we love our profession, enjoy the benefits/salary package and the exotic layovers. We are skilled at what we do and have the maturity and wisdom to deliver a quality product to everyone. Not to mention having the ability to make instantaneous decisions when warranted. No one retires because there is no incentive to retire. We can earn maximum pay, full pension and max social security with a full benefits package if we stay. Yes, I appreciate that. I am grateful every day. Medicare is not for me. I prefer private health insurance.

    And yes, I have flown on the Asian and Middle Eastern carriers. Just like you. I am embarrassed by the so called product that we deliver at American Airlines. It is abysmal. I try very hard to exceed what you expect from us and it means a lot when you notice. It is not that hard to be professional and kind.

    I will say this. Our management is pathetic and that falls on the shoulders of our Vice President of Flight Service, Ms. Jill Surdek. She has no experience, no clue as to what needs to be done, lacks communication skills, cannot or will not listen to the passenger concerns and most importantly, does not listen to the Purser’s written pleas to fix things. Her only concern is her exorbitant pay package and annual bonus. Nothing else. She does absolutely nothing and it has been that way since the day she arrived from Marketing. Yet, she continues to ingratiate herself with her superiors.

    We have a toxic corporate culture which is full of politics, avarice, discrimination, favoritism and nepotism. Our out of touch CEO and his cronies are clueless and like it that way. Their attitude is “We’ve got your money and so what?”. They need to go because they are not the least bit interested in doing their job. Why would they care when they fly in private, corporate provided jets, get paid obscene salaries and annual bonuses while enjoying lavish vacation homes paid for by the stockholders and your revenue? The Board of Directors do not care either because they also adore the same perks.

    I might add that none of us want management careers because our pay package far exceeds what we could make in the office. Thus, managers are hired off of the street at low wages and no inflight experience. A recipe for disaster. I do not blame them for having hard feelings towards us. Most of them work very hard and are abused by Ms. Surdek and her team. This must change.

    Most of us do care and we want you to come back. It is my hope that you are on one of my flights to see the difference.

  257. Flew this route in the other direction in Business class over the summer. The service pretty much echoed what you wrote here. The sad thing is after all of your reviews that was pretty much in line with what I was expecting and I wasn’t surprised to encounter it. After some Chinese passengers stood up to grab something from the overhead bins after the doors had been closed for departure rather than “Ma’am/sir, you must be seated during departure” they got a “You can’t stand up, you have to sit down!!” They obviously didn’t speak English and were confused as to why they were being yelled at. Seems like it wouldn’t have been too difficult to fetch a language speaker who was bound to be on the flight. Inflight service was in the similar fragmented way you described. I pressed the call button for a mid-flight snack (which to be fair, was responded to on the first time relatively quickly) with a “yeah?”. I asked for the mezze platter, “the what?”, “the mezze platter” *points at menu*, “we have hummus”… Yeah, that’s what comes in a mezze dude.

    I’m usually a United flyer and they’re not amazing by any stretch of the imagination but I think they’re still miles ahead of AA.

  258. @Weymar M Osborne — “I’m usually a United flyer and they’re not amazing by any stretch of the imagination but I think they’re still miles ahead of AA.” —

    Yes … at least United always has many FAs onboard who do speak the primary language(s) of the destination country that is being flown to or back from … gotta give them credit for that!

  259. Catherine Bossi’s comment almost had me… until she dismissed using points as, “for nothing.” No… Points represent thousands of dollars of previous loyal purchases from the airline. *THAT’S THE WHOLE IDEA* They’re not called “loyalty programs” frivolously. If you’re saying loyalty to AA is “nothing,” then there’s no reason to consistently fly on the airline, is there?

  260. @CatherineBossi – it is absurd to demean the use of an upgrade certificate. It was earned by the many thousand of dollars spent and many thousands of miles flown on a given airline. Not to mention the already pricey ticket that enabled this particular upgrade. These flyers are core customers.

    With respect to the many comments bashing domestic airline service – yes, we can all agree that many foreign carriers do it better, but as a long time UA 1K, I have to say that it is very, very rare that on a long haul BusinessFirst/Polaris flight the service is not excellent. I am consistently greeted by name, thanked for my patronage, served regularly, politely and well, and of course thanked at the end of the flight. Sometimes even on domestic flights ! I was recently recognized by name in a foreign boarding area (before she had seen the manifest) by the flight attendant who had cared for me on the outbound flight – and ended up doing the same on the return. Is everything perfect – no, but I don’t imagine my work always is either! I do think that at least on UA nowadays they are, in the immortal words of Avis, trying harder.

  261. I am so happy that I have the airlines in the middle east to choose from. The service is impeccable, polite FAs, aircraft in great condition, professional all the way. I never in my life considered flying a American Legacy, no thanks.

  262. Unfortunately this is typical for American. I am EP and I’ll be damned if I take American across an ocean. This is typical of American employees in general, you are treated as an inconvenience. I take Qatar and am always blown away by the service. American should take notes. Heck, American is not up to United”s standard right now.

  263. My recent flight between DFW and Shanghai on the Dreamliner in Business was very underwhelming as well. I took it as the price to pay for 3 seats/lie flat bed and not for the service nor amenity! Every time I fly AA I always bring the recognition certificates with me, hoping to brighten a FA’s day. However, over the past few years only maybe 2 of them were ever put to use, and my expectations weren’t even that high. SMH. 🙁

  264. Much of all of this (staffing cuts, overworked FAs, perceivably subpar in-cabin service, etc) seems to come largely from most people wanting pre-1974 service on post-2007 prices…and more nonstops while we’re at it.

    My understanding is that airlines barely make money as it is (1-2% margin in average); something’s gotta give.

    I think removing first class altogether is the right move. It is a declining market segment that is largely satisfied by business and premium economy. Those that can afford the F fare typically can afford to fly private or charter, which is really hard to compete with. It’s a money sink that could be spent on better business class and PE experiences since that’s where the money is right now.

    As for the international carriers offering higher tiers of service…aren’t most of them wholly or largely government subsidized? If so, there’s no way you can compete with a government GIVING you money to operate a loss-leading product.

  265. I’ve experienced similar service flying business class on American from London to New York:

    – food trays being literally dropped down on my table.
    – main course being plonked down before I’d finished my starter.
    – a flight attendant literally running up and down the business class cabin to serve meals and then disappearing after service.
    – serious attitude from a particular flight attendant when asking what desserts were available (“didn’t you read the menu?” she replied).

  266. Thanks for sharing and it’s a very well written (& honest!) review indeed. I thought it was only me and few other minority groups had the same experiences but I’m glad it’s not all about the race issue. I only flown AA’s first class a few times from DFW to HND and service are a joke especially compares to major Asian airlines. Once I even get insulted by AA’s attendant who said “Oh thank God that you speaking English! I was worried…” in their first class. I wrote a complaint note to AA’s customer service – never heard back. Surprised?! Not really…

  267. I think this article bases a lot of its criticism on a comment from an anonymous FA. How do we know that this person really works for American. I’m sure your experience was not up to par when compared with other airlines, but I feel you are going a bit to far with your criticism, especially when a good chunk of your article is based on an anonymous comment.

  268. I usually find that Cathay’s economy plus is a better experience than AA Business Class. It’s really sad.

  269. You’re spot on Ben, I’ve been a Legacy AA pilot for 20 years. Our ‘premium service’ on long haul is only as good as the super senior people who fly those routes care to make it. Some are great, but many do the minimum required since there is ZERO accountability. If management doesn’t care about the ‘premium’ experience why should they? What’s funny is that those same very senior crewmembers who need plenty of rest during the flight somehow manage to ‘hit the ground running’ at the layover and have plenty of energy for all-day shopping and sight-seeing…. Too bad they don’t put the same energy into their jobs anymore.

  270. Just to bring down the level of panic a bit, we flew LAXHKG a couple of days ago in F and it was quite nice. They clearly DO NOT have the level of soft product that the Asian carriers do, but the flight attendants were polite, friendly and spoke in complete sentences.

    The purser introduced herself before the flight, while the other attendant stayed seated. PDB was good.

    It was the overnight flight, so we did see premium turndown on the list of amenities, but truthfully, it was easier to just throw that mattress pad down ourselves. The seat itself was comfortable.

    The overnight portion was fine. I slept for about six hours and there was no noise from the galley. When I woke up, the F flight attendant came over and asked what parts of the meal I wanted. She came back and forth several times, serving different parts of the meal at different times and always seemed happy.

    Again, the product simply isn’t what the Asian carriers offer, and we’re pretty easy passengers (traveling with kids, no one in our family drinks, etc.), but I would happily have these flight attendants again on another flight.

  271. I’m an F/A with American. What it all comes down to is pride. People are using the excuse that they are mad at management to be lazy just like they use the excuse they don’t like the uniform to dress like a slob. There are many things I despise about management and we talk about things amongst ourselves that is pure insane with management decisions….but it isn’t managements fault that you don’t offer pre-departure (not just OJ, Champaign, or Water), smile, check in on passengers and try to be attentive. That’s just pure laziness. Sometimes domestically it can be very tiring due to delays, long days, short layovers with about 5 hours sleep, etc to always put your best foot forward….but international is one flight and you go in knowing the expectation. My fellow workers love to compare us to Delta and other airlines and I just think to myself … you wouldn’t last a month there because you have to follow serving procedures. *rant over*

  272. I’ve flown once in their international “Flagship First”. For some crazy reason a saver award popped up so I grabbed it. This was about 2.5 years ago, maybe 3. I have to believe it was a rarity, but the food was quite fantastic as was the service. The flight attendant who served my side was beyond fantastic. She knew exactly how much conversation to hold. She could anticipate my every request. The turndown service was great. When I went to the lav after dinner, she asked if I wanted my bed made. When I returned it was nicely presented.

    Yes the food was even quite good (which is rare with them these days).

    This flight attendant I do not believe went though any type of special training for this cabin. I believe she just had good instinct and was incredibly attentive. She loved her job and it showed. I have seen some of their crew like that. The one I had was just genuine. Like you say though, I do not believe they do anything different for this cabin. I just happen to get lucky. I’ll probably never fly that cabin again so I’m glad there was at least one good experience.

  273. I fly too much for work in International business class. One thing that I’ve figured out is often there is one F.A that sets the tone for how the crew is going to treat their cabin. I’m not sure if this individual has a different job title, however, some motivate other F.A to do better job and there are those that act like the boss has the day off and it’s time to play. I gave up chasing FF status and just choose who (US carrier) has the lowest business fare. Although I’ve had great and bad flights on all it seems Delta is the only one that attempts to set themselves apart. And if you travel like I do you’ll realize that isn’t saying much. I dated a flight attendant for a few years and it seemed at the time, to be a pretty thankless job. Despite all the prep work they were required to do they were not paid until the door shut. WTf? Not sure if this is still the case but she finally had it and opened a bar in, Alaska. Anyway, next time you are trapped up in the air watch for that FA that sets the tone.

  274. AA needs to remember history. The public stopped flying with Braniff for the same attitudes.
    Try and book a flight with them now.

  275. In a lot of cases flying first or even business is a once in a life time opportunity earned by saving miles or money for years. This FA has totally forgotten or ignores that this should be an incredible experience that will be remembered for life. She should be banned to economy for the rest of her career if she doesn’t get that. It sucks that airlines put FA’s in the premium cabins based on just seniority and not how well they preform. I’ve had way better flights in the back with newer hires than I’ve had in first or business with FA’s that act more spoiled and entitled than their passengers. I’ll say this doesn’t happen on Asian airlines.

  276. Ive had the same poor customer service experience on my business class flight from dallas to madrid. For the amount paid for this experience, it was not the best experience at all. They should train these people better!

  277. Reading this article and the subsequent comments made me laugh out loud. Not lol. Actually laugh out loud. Getting everything you asked for but not getting it in a way that acknowledges the specialness that your ego requires… HA! Apparently this is the pinnacle of internet complaining. Thank you to everyone who contributed. You truly made me thankful for the self awareness that all of you lack.

  278. Sadly you have half truths from the commenting flight attendants and not enough understanding from a passengers pov.
    I’m happy to elaborate more should you wish to understand facts and stigmas in the industry as a general.

  279. It’s interesting how American executives opine why their profits aren’t as high as Inited and Delta. It is simply service. I took a Delta long haul on coach recently. It was striking how much better the service is on Dl bs AA. It is something the American employees don’t want to acknowledge or simply not understand.

    We won’t even discuss the majority of foreign carriers. Simply, if I am spending my money on a business class ticket, I will spend it on an airline that consistently treats me well.

    I say all this as an AA Executive Platinum. If Delta were to grow substantially in Miami I would strongly consider switching, their service is simply that much better.

  280. American should completely eliminate first class product on all their Long haul flights. It’s simply not their cup of tea. Just leave it to the ME carriers like Emirates and Etihad or even SIA and Cathay. It’s a waste of money or miles flying intl flagship first on AA metal.

  281. If anyone thinks Cathay is better than AA, they have t flown it in a while. In the old days they had “the best airline food” for several years running. Now, it is like China Airlines food. Service is non existent and the flight attendants do not come from HK. They are country girls from Mainland (OK but) who don’t know what cognac is in business class. Finally they said “OH, vsop.” Cathay has cut every corner possible. Without elaborating farther the final blow was I didn’t get AA miles for my RT LAX HKG MNL. I had a revenue ticket and although upgraded I got 0 miles credit for any of the international legs! Stick with JAL or AA.

  282. Why are you all beating up on the flight attendants. From your experience I wouldn’t say they were rude; they just didn’t give a first class experience. Their actions done at fast food restaurant wouldn’t constitute rudeness. They were just doing their best with the tools they were given ie: AA’s first class amenities and their training of the food service. If you are going to blame anyone, blame management as they are the one’s to have hired them, provided training and given them the experience needed to perform the service you are desiring. So inform AA the services you demand and hopefully they will deliver the product you desire.

  283. Good try, I expect 1000% from a flight attendant I paid thousands of dollars for a first class service and experience than a high school senior at taco bell. you have to be kidding…

  284. WOW Flashratt. You sound as though you purchased the flight attendant for that flight. Do you even fly first class? Because your grammar suggests economy class. If you want 1000% from someone you purchased for a few hours, an airline is not the place to go.

  285. Why is it such an American thing to be reluctant to give good service. Miss Black, if you fly premium class on some one world partners, especially Qatar, you will see how good service can be.

    Good luck to all airline employees.

  286. Lee, I wasn’t saying American flight attendants were reluctant to give good service. My point is that they are doing their best with what is given to them. For example, (how this whole discussion started with the author of this site, Ben) Ben dislikes the first class lay flat seat on American. Is that that flight attendants’ fault? He’s not satisfied with the quality of the food or the lack of the buffet are in first class. Is that the flight attendants’ fault? Ben asks about the wine. The flight attendant (most likely) didn’t know and referred him the the wine list. This is the tool that management gave the flight attendant to use. They are just working with what they are given. You all seem to want this subservient “dolly” flight attendant to attend to you. If that is the case, fly an Asian airline where flight attendants are not given any respect by customers, management or their lawmakers and they will bow down to you looking for a green card.

  287. Miss Black,

    You had a good argument until about halfway through. I don’t want a “dolly” or a flight attendant to be subservient. However I do want good service or as good a service as you can provide with the tools given.

    I am an executive platinum with American but when it comes to long haul travel AA gets none of it which is all business class.

    Delta somehow manages to provide excellent service. That translates into excellent financial performance as well.

    Good luck to you and all airline employees. I sincerely hope you all get through this.

  288. Miss Black – I’ll take your advice and fly an Asian Airline. They don’t have vile attitudes and service crushing seniority. I don’t live in North America so I have real options for my business travel. When in North America…I’ll drive.

  289. On many airlines (like Emirates) the first class galley is off bounds for crew members who don’t need to be there, to minimize noise and disruption; on American it’s the employee canteen and water cooler, and there was a never-ending stream of flight attendants leaving and departing the forward galley

    This is one of the MOST annoying parts of flying a US based airline in First. Passengers from economy constantly barge in to use the restrooms, since they don’t use the separation curtain securely fastened shut. Why ? Because the CREW are the worst offenders, the entire 12 hour flight , back and forth up and down the plane, in and out of the first class or business cabin.

    On recent ANA flights (5 segments) The forward cabins were on lockdown. The cabin crew STAYED in their assigned cabin and no one from economy came forward. Period. Much more peaceful and way less commotion. Also, because of the cultural difference about public noise, it was WAY more quiet, including the flight attendants.

    US airlines are crap, hopefully after COVID they all will go out of business and their will be one airline Air USA, and foreign based airlines will enter the market.

  290. I always give AA chances, and every time, it’s exactly as you say. They have some great alliance partners, especially in Asia… But AA service in first class is about the same as economy in Delta. I don’t know if it’s the union mentality, but there’s this sense of entitlement, and the feeling that we’re bothering them by showing up for the flight.

    I made the mistake of flying BOS to HKG with them in business, and the service was atrocious, they got very aggressive with my wife when she ordered something that was on the menu, but they weren’t familiar with it. They rushed meal service like we were on a train, and then disappeared.

    On the way back we flew Cathay. Same 777, same alliance, and it was a fantastic flight, with great food, friendly and personal service, and the atmosphere was completely different. It felt relaxing and luxury

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