Minor Issues Highlight American’s Operational Incompetence

Filed Under: American

Gosh, I just dream of one trip on American where they’re not a disaster. I guess the whole “new year, new me” fad hasn’t extended to the airline with which I’m basically in an arranged relationship, thanks to being based in Miami.

I don’t want to spend too much time being repetitive, so I suggest checking out my recent post about whether or not I’ll continue to fly American in 2019, in which I explain:

  • American is in a rut because leadership is asleep at the wheel (and has been for quite a while), and customers, employees, and shareholders aren’t happy
  • I’ve had an unbelievable number of delays lately, to the point that every other flight seems to have a maintenance issue

Now I wanted to share my latest experience, or more accurately, Ford’s latest experience (but his issues are my issues, so…). 😉

While fairly minor, it perfectly sums up how horrible of a job American’s management team is doing in running an airline. I think this situation checks just about every box in “American incompetence bingo.”

What American Airlines cares about

American’s management is just so lost at this point. Frankly I think American’s management team cares about two things (I’m not trying to be shady here, as I genuinely believe this):

  • Cramming as many seats into planes as possible, without actually thinking about the implications
    • It might sound nice from a shareholder’s perspective to get as many seats as possible on a plane, but American can’t seem to figure out how to get decent yields on those seats (hint: it’s because no one wants to fly American)
  • “D0” departures (which means departing on-time), which is one of the most overrated airline metrics out there
    • Departing on-time says nothing about arriving on-time, and it creates a culture where all employees care about is closing the door, and not actually using common sense to provide customer service… oh, and American is also pretty lousy at it, because they constantly have maintenance delays

My latest example of American’s messiness

Today Ford flew from Miami to Dallas to Aspen, and I think what happened is a perfect example of why American is just so misaligned as an airline. This situation involves a maintenance delay, a checked bag, and “D0.”

A maintenance delay to start

Flying from Miami to Dallas, the flight was delayed by 37 minutes on departure due to a maintenance issue. Apparently there were issues with the smoke detector in the cargo hold. Thank goodness this at least got fixed quickly, but how is it that every other American flight seems to have a maintenance delay?!

Seriously, I’m not suggesting flying American is unsafe, or anything, but just how reactive is their approach to maintenance? This just isn’t normal.

When I told Tiffany this story and said “on the plus side, the flight only left 37 minutes late,” she (accurately) responded with “how’s that Stockholm Syndrome going?”

Checked bag incompetence

Unfortunately this was one of those trips where it was necessary to check a bag, though the connection in Dallas was still 51 minutes, which is more than the 50 minute minimum connection time.

Alaska and Delta have a 20 minute baggage guarantee, where they promise they’ll get your bag to baggage claim within 20 minutes. It took American 27 minutes to get a bag with a priority tag off the plane. No, not 27 minutes to get it to the connecting flight, but 27 minutes just to unload it. And that was a priority tag.

So naturally the bag didn’t make its connection. There were several passengers connecting, and as you might guess, the priority on the next flight was leaving early. Why? Because that’s all that American trains their employees to care about. So the connecting flight left six minutes early, without bags.

“D0” is so stupid

Don’t get me wrong, punctuality is important for an airline, though American doesn’t seem to understand the difference between on-time arrivals and on-time departures.

An on-time departure means nothing to me, yet that’s all that American cares about.

For example, the flight from Dallas to Aspen was scheduled to arrive at Gate 6 in Aspen all along.

Yet all along, the previous American flight from Aspen to Dallas wasn’t scheduled to depart from Gate 6 until 12:39PM, 18 minutes after the scheduled arrival time of the plane that was supposed to use the gate.

Fortunately that flight left 17 minutes early, which means that when Ford landed they ended up “only” having to wait for about 15 minutes to get a gate, so the flight that was supposed to arrive 11 minutes early (which is what was shown after takeoff) ended up arriving eight minutes late.

Well thank goodness they at least left DFW nice and early and left bags behind, because then they wouldn’t have had the privilege of waiting!

The icing on the cake

This is just the icing on the cake, but American actually doesn’t have a lost baggage department in Aspen, unlike Delta and United. Because why would they, it’s not like they ever lose bags?!

Instead you have to go to the departures level. Not that it’s a huge inconvenience, it’s just another way they make the entire process more complicated. If a flight is checking in around the same time, you may find yourself in a line while already frustrated.

What this tells us about American

Like I said above, this is such a textbook example of American’s incompetence at every step of the way. While Delta tries to eliminate pain points for travelers, American does nothing to avoid them.

They do all of this while constantly wanting more and more money from their top tier flyers, and they think they should be able to charge higher fares across the board.

Yet they honestly don’t get it.

I’m curious. Does American management not think passengers care about checked bags being delivered in a timely manner (this has been a consistent issue with the airline)? If not, why not?

If they do think passengers care about it but think they’re not able to deliver the same experience that Alaska and Delta offer, then why not?

Does American think that scheduling a plane to arrive at a gate 18 minutes before the plane that’s supposed to leave that gate makes sense? And then furthermore, they’ll make sure they leave early from the departure airport, so the plane can wait even longer? Or is the entire American route network based around every flight leaving 20 minutes early?

Isn’t it time for a new management team, rather than Doug Parker just constantly throwing his hands in the air, clueless as to why the airline isn’t doing as well as they should be, while they continue to deliver a crap product to passengers?

Bottom line

Obviously this isn’t singlehandedly the biggest example of American’s incompetence. But to me it’s a small example that shows just how misplaced management’s priorities are, and how every aspect of the experience makes you wonder whether anyone put any thought into the product being offered.

Hey American, how about taking a proactive approach towards maintenance, rather than a reactive approach? Why are you so abysmal with checked bags? Alaska and Delta guarantee a bag at baggage claim within 20 minutes, and you can’t even get a priority bag off a plane within 27 minutes?

I’m just about one lost bag or maintenance delay from starting a change.org petition to get Doug Parker fired.

  1. My last AA flight (award) NAS-SAN. Had 4.5hr layover in MIA. NAS-MIA delayed due to ATC originally, then opened up 90 mins later. Another AA flight on smaller jet took off for MIA before us. Got delayed total of 5hrs, enough to miss last flight. Since was in 1st, rebook was for flight 32hrs later. I cancelled that portion and bought UA tkt for following morning. Had flight insurance so still working that out. Typical.

  2. if you’re flying a connection on AA and have to check bags, may be a good idea to just ship whatever you need ahead of time with fedex or ups

  3. AA EP here who is as annoyed by the ‘new’ AA as you are. And I feel this posts breaks down, logically, why the AA experience has become so frustrating.

    I have been *exactly* where you are regarding irrational adherence to D0, misconnecting bags due to nothing else than operational inefficiency, and long claim waits for bags compared to competitors (at ORD, bag waiting time is routinely 45+ min). More and more of my flying business, on routes where two good options exist, is going to DL as a result. The experience on DL really *is* different.

  4. I just realize he was likely checking ski equip. I always fly non-stop to DEN and drive to ski destination. Don’t see the point of flying with a connection to ASE/EGE

  5. Connecting flight out of ORD got delayed 3 hours on Saturday but my bags still did not make it with me on the plane to the final destination. Go figure.

  6. im also in miami and switched back to delta due to operational problems with american. worst 2 flying years of my life and i just finally got tired of it. when you are driving away customers in your supposed fortress markets you need to seriously reevaluate how you go about operating your business.

  7. United and Delta also fly to Aspen from Miami for about the same price with about the same length of time (approx 6 hours) and around the same time of day. So, Tiffany is right about your Stockholm Syndrome, you actually do have a choice.

    A petition is unnecessary when your recourse already exists. Simply stop giving them your money.

    I divorced Northwest Airlines many years ago for the same reason. It wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t pretty, and they eventually disappeared, but I had to do what I had to do. I simply could not justify giving any more money to a company that had so little regard for me. And yes, I was living in Detroit (a captive NWA hub), so I had to get creative. But they hit the final straw and got no more money from me.

    You are at the same place with AA. Don’t be like my co-workers who continued to whine about NWA incessantly, yet still flew them ‘for the miles’.

  8. “I’m just about one lost bag or maintenance delay from starting a change.org petition to get Doug Parker fired”

    Does this have to be yours? I just had a flight yesterday from Laguardia to Orlando which was delayed 4 hours. Wondering why…maintinence. Not 1 but 2 planes had a maintenance problem. We disembarked the first plane after a while and when the second plane was about to take off we went back to the gate.

    Worst part, the original flight was taking off at 6am and i had been up since 4 am with 5 hours of sleep and i couldn’t sleep on the plane because they kept saying “15 more minutes and we will get going” (and also because AA has really uncomfortable seats).
    I was really annoyed by this and this is my 5th consecutive maintenance delay within 3 weeks 🙁

  9. The reason they likely push hard on D0 is that if they miss their take-off slot, it costs them and they have to pay more… and likely costs more than the bags being late.

    However, if their slots are that close to their departure times that there is the risk they miss it, then they have to get better at scheduling bigger gaps! And then D0 basically becomes less of an issue, customers can actually be accommodated like the case of all those connecting on Ford’s flight, and everyone ends up happy.

    Or it could be, as you say, a target everyone is measured by (& likely compensated against). But no one’s actually sure why! Everyone busts a gut trying to achieve it. And they forget about the customer.

  10. Lucky why are you still Exec Platinum with AA if you dislike them so much? Even though you are based out of MIA you are not being forced to fly them. Yes, connecting in ATL is not as convenient as flying nonstop. But then again you gone much further out of the way on international trips for positioning flights or just to fly on a different airline.

  11. @ anon Denver to Aspen is a 4 hour drive in good weather during the winter (Independence Pass is closed). depending on traffic and snow, probably longer.

  12. I’m a DFW-based AA CK. I keep a spreadsheet. It’s ugly. 110 segments. 52 were delayed 90 minutes or more. 22 were 4+ hrs. All but 6 were maintenance related (majority on 319s). And the vast majority posted revised departure times 20 minutes at a time. Pathetic. Just Pathetic. The incompetence at the very top is just stunning.

  13. @ Rich — They do, American’s communications people are great (I think they’d do a much better job running American than DP & Co.). They say everything they can, which is basically “we hear you” and also that they’re working on improving things. But realistically that’s about all they can say.

  14. @ Sam — Sadly you won’t be seeing me (or maybe not sadly, because I don’t like the cold and don’t know how to ski). Ironically enough, Ford is there for a (straight) bachelor party. Oddly timed, eh? 😉

  15. @ Sam — Because I earned it last year while actually flying American very little, as I mostly flew Qatar Airways, British Airways, etc. I didn’t at all go out of my way to fly American, though. And like I said in a post a couple of weeks ago, personally I’m not going out of my way to fly American anymore. But when you’re based in Miami and want to travel to the Caribbean or South America, for example, flying Delta just isn’t a decent option.

  16. You should try *living* in the DFW area. Their baggage handling is ridiculously poor here. Every flight is a 35-40 min wait for baggage delivery which is accentuated by the generally short walk from gate to baggage claim which results in a looooong wait at the carousel. And the Priority tag means absolutely zero here. I get that there are a lot of elites here, but it’s to the point I play the “count how many bags get delivered before ours” game now. For our last flight over 120 bags were delivered before ours – and more than half were not Priority. If American had the “20 minute guarantee” they’d go bankrupt. Again.

  17. “You should try *living* in the DFW area. Their baggage handling is ridiculously poor here.”

    I share your pain . Last year’s excuse was “…there’s so much connecting traffic here that it takes priority over the comparatively small number of originating/terminating pax with checked bags.” Seriously. Just ridiculous. Only AAirpass (which allows no-penalty and instant self re-booking) keeps me from losing my mind.

  18. @ Ben — Why on earth allow only 51 minutes for a connection when you have to check a bag? I would anticipate a mis-connect and avoid this schedule, regardless of the airline. I frequently book short connections in CLT, but I know it is a mis-connect risk. If I had to check a bag that I needed access to quickly, I wouldn’t book it.

  19. I’ve flown AA three times in the last year and only because Delta didn’t have a good flight from/to where I was headed. What’s crazy is their first class service beat all of my 16 Delta flights in first class I took last year. Better food and better service. The wait for luggage was frustrating as dozens of bags without priority tags came out first.

  20. I hear of a lot of disgruntled AA passengers based out of MIA. I lived there 20 years ago and it was a great place to be and probably still is but if I were in your profession, I might consider a move given the AA problems you’re having.

  21. @Lucky, also had a maintenance delay this morning from MIA. A new 737 Max had 2 broken seats and a couple missing seat belts… Took 1+ hour to fix and finish paperwork

  22. Recent experience for me as well. I had booked PDX-CLT-Mexico in First, with a 2-hour connection in CLT. AA changed the connection time a month or two out to only 1 hr, 7 mins. Didn’t like it but was timing my arrival with others. Left the gate on time in PDX at 11:45p, only to sit next to the runway for 35 mins waiting on ‘weight and balance paperwork’. Arrived in CLT and ran to the next plane which despite many connecting pax, was about to close the door 10 mins early. Door was closed, and then pushed back 2 feet only to wait 35 mins due to potential runway change/ATC, then 45 mins further because the tow wasn’t working properly. Needless to say bags didn’t make it (although there would have been plenty of time to load). Kicker was that the bags were delivered at 1am next day…

    Gotta say that the F experience sucked too… uncomfortable seats, no power, etc. Flew back on DL and all aspects were night and day better (service, comfort, connections, baggage, etc.).

    AA is rarely convenient for me but it was in this case. I’m fortunate to live in a place where there are better airlines.

  23. I feel for you, but at this point it’s really just blog complaint-masturbation, no?

    AA serves purpose for those of us in hub cities. I’ve said it before that even us CKs are treated to the shit end of the stick at times with our airline (and that’s life). As long as management remains in place and Parker is at the helm, you just have to learn how to deal with the executive office when things go terribly wrong.

    Emails and letters work, as long as they’re not emotional, are factual and concise while making it clear what you want as a resolution. Too many people don’t follow these rules. They also don’t realize that AA uses a lot of program scanning on their incoming emails to figure out which need to be prioritized (and which get the fun form apology).

  24. @ Gene: because American’s competitors are operationally competent and can make that timing. Blame the victim, much? Corporate-crook apologist, much?

    With all of these maintenance issues (and thanks for the data points, fatetta!), I *would* be concerned about safety issues. I will allow readers to do their own homework on cost-cutting/skimping maintenance leading to previous plane crashes.

    I have rarely had a business (including you front-line AA employees) who has gone more out of their way to try to eff me.

    Incidentally, I would be remiss if I did not accentuate the (continued) awesomeness of Tiffany and her brilliantly succinct, perceptive, and applicable comment! Wonderful (as usual)!

    Oh, and, happy new year to all of you in the OMAAT family!

  25. I’m a long-time EP and see all these same issues. And it’s easy for the execs to blame unions and lazy workers on the ramp, flight attendants, etc. I’m not saying I agree with that, but labor issues do sometimes cloud accountability.

    But look at AA’s horrible mobile app. It has so little functionality, especially compared to UA and DL. And it just seems to be rotting away, with almost no enhancements or improvements other than an occasional design update that adds no value to the end user. There are so many stupid things in there where — as someone with a background in consumer internet applications— I see could be fixed or improved upon so easily. This is a management/HQ issue, not a union labor one. And if AA can’t even show a small level of competence in this one area, it’s incredibly telling about the competence of management.

    To the AA board: it’s time to clean house. You can do so much better. Doug and team have to go. Now.

  26. Being a legacy AA employee, I can relate to the frustration and the direction of the new airline. First let’s clarify that you are not flying AA, you are flying US Airways because apart of the merger agreement, AA pilots wanted US Airways to run the new airline so basically the product that you are receiving is that of US airways. The employees are aware of the nickel and dime mentality at the cost of quality, management at every level pretend to listen to our concerns but nothing happens. At this point, we are waiting for a change in management. AA has become a large low budget airline. Nothing special in the air.

  27. LAX based CK here. It’s gotten really atrocious. Regularly wait an hour for my bag at LAX. Just last week on a return from MIA, I waited and waited for my bag. I emailed CK, got a response and even chatted on the phone with baggage sup/rep/mgr whatever before the bags came out, if that gives you any indication of how long it took.

    Usually book in first or biz since most of my travel is work related. If I’m in Main Cabin, I can expect that there won’t be enough food, they’ll be running out of some real basic drink, and a general shrug from weary flight staff. And the maintenance issues— you’ve hit it spot on, its literally every other flight. IRROPs are handled miserably. Our CK’s and EXP’s can expect irregular treatment across the board and upgrades? Forget about it. It’s gotten to the point where I just feel bad for the staff.

    I can’t remember the last time I engaged someone from AA who seemed genuinely excited to help or represent this company. It’s like they know the experience will have the worst possible outcome at the outset.

    We don’t have a lot of options. We’re a small firm that travels most of the time with less than 24 hours notice. Contracts are a lifesaver in this regard for the cost predictability and we Airpass most of our travel. But, we aren’t a multi-million dollar contract. So, that eliminates Delta as an option and United Newark hub is a no-go for our NY based staff. We’re really held hostage with American, unless DL wants to compete for small biz contracts (which, why would they, everything is great). We’re up for renewal again in the Spring and we may just incur the cost overrun of buying on market to avoid this mess.

    I do hope someone from AA is reading your posts on this, Lucky. It’s a disaster and I’d be embarrassed to work there. They really give life to the notion of being herded like cattle when it comes to flying these days…

  28. Seems u have trouble to get disconnected from AA. Its simple. Just do it.

    My last flight on AA was a couple of years back where they managed to lose my bags and my friends bags. And it took them days to even find them back.
    At which point I concluded this airline did not have their act together and have stopped flying them since.

    Compare that to SQ. Just now came off a flight and my connecting flight got delayed. They waited for me at the arrival gate with an alternative flight and luggage rebooked.
    That is how you treat customers.

  29. Then stop flying AA. And you say you are AA hub-captive due to all their non-stops out of MIA. But this involved a connection! Try taking the short hop up to ATL for some trips and see how that goes.

  30. @gene I think the 51 minutes is after the earlier flight delayed for 37 minutes. So originally the connection time was 1 hr 28 min.

  31. I’m 4 million miles with AA and have just walked away they’re so bad. Reminds me of America Worst days …

    I’m now Diamond with Delta after a year and have to say the service and staff are excellent – planes a little tired – but what they deliver consistently on everything I want and need.

  32. Sure, get flights off early. BUT leave on time if you’re still waiting for pax/bags. That seems pretty logical. Why in the world would they leave early while missing necessary pieces???

  33. “But when you’re based in Miami and want to travel to the Caribbean or South America, for example, flying Delta just isn’t a decent option.”

    JetBlue offers plenty of options from FLL.

  34. The problems that AA and several airlines (in particular those that have been around a long time), they have severely aging IT infrastructures. Its not something they can resolve in 9-12 months. If their infrastructure is as pathetic as I think they are, most of the problems they have cannot be solved anytime soon. It will likely take a decade to modernize and overhaul in the right way. But my experience with corporations is that that never happens because those in charge are generally technology inept and refuses to believe anything IT tells them. If IT tells them the solution will cost $1 million and 12 months of work, management has this tendency to think they are part of engineering inside the star ship enterprise and will respond with I’ll give you $50,000 and 3 months to do the work. No exceptions. So what does IT do? Give you a really shoddy system that can be built in 3 months.

    Airlines have spent so much time with tech fear “no no no don’t change the system, it just works right now so lets just maintain this as long as we can” while you’re thinking “great, we’re going to keep using this DOS based system from 1981”.

    Its not just airlines. Its a problem with any old, tired execs lacking reality of how software/hardware works and will tell you “I don’t need to know I just need to run the company or wait for my retirement package”.

    I don’t necessarily place all blame on companies because even if you are willing to open your wallet you can’t just say “yes we will buy that $1 billion system that will do everything for us” because you need people with tech training to either build it, find a vendor to buy from or help integrate it. There just isn’t enough people like that in the U.S. and non qualified U.S. employees (the ones who think they are techies but are more like glorified cashiers) will block every attempt you can on outsourcing (which is another set of issues altogether). So it’s just not an easy process. Had these companies due their homework early on and knock their egos aside and actually believe what IT tells them, they wouldn’t be in the situation they are now.

    Personally, I doubt airlines can solve their problems and will not last. eventually there will be demand for new disruptive tech that will make airlines superfluous.

  35. @Ben While it may be an American hub, Miami – in terms of culture, climate, state politics, and lack of state income taxes – is really a great fit for you (much, much better than LA). So, welcome home.

  36. Not all that long ago I had a flight depart Miami to New Orleans. it was the last flight of the night which tends to be on time (mostly) (the earlier ones are almost always late). This one flight I was on had a strange maintenance delay (they couldn’t figure out how to turn off a warning light). The captain was informative with everyone and apologized. The delay went on so long that I was able to watch one entire movie and two episodes of a tv show while at the gate. This plane had IFE which was brilliant as everyone was calm and quiet. There was positively no complaining at all — I equate that to full IFE so people were at least entertained.

    The delay got so bad that we had to leave that plane and go to another gate and plane. Even then, after 2.5 hours, people were all troopers and just went along with it. I DO equate people being calm because of the IFE.

    The inflight crew was quite fine, but ground crew in MIA really couldn’t care much less to be assistive to people. When people asked what gate we should go to, they were very “don’t know, don’t care” type attitudes.

    We eventually left several hours late but the in flight crew did a reasonable job.

    The thing with AA is that it is highly inconsistent, not only with plane offerings (great IFE, wifi, seat power, all the way to no wi-fi, no power, no IFE) and crew (outstanding “people” persons down to “what do you need…” type basic at best attitudes.

    I agree that this is a lack of good management.

  37. I think it would all make more sense if you stopped calling it American Airlines and called it by what it’s management really is, “America West”.

    It’s sad that the parasite America West has taken over and destroyed two legacy brands.

  38. Similar story here this week – left the gate in BWI on time. Due to “lining error” it took 1.5 hours to go through de icing process. Of course flight is late, one a day connection missed (by 10 minutes) and stuck in DFW for the night (on my dime of course). Icing on the cake – asked for the luggage to be retrieved. Only took 6 hours to do so. Just amazing.

  39. @Lucky (and other fellow Miami brethren): Oh the pain… in the proverbial bu**… of living in and and flying in and out of MIA.

    I’ve lived here for many years, and was previously very loyal to AF (I lived in
    France for a while), and hence to Delta. But as FlyingBlue messed up on my points and thus status too many times, I made the switch back to the AA side. And PS: I am currently AA/EXP, Star Gold, and FB Gold

    As so many other MIA people have stated here, Aa here can be such a disaster. But beyond Mr.DP in Dallas, I fully blame whoever has been the AA MIA Mgr., who I don’t believe has ever visited a check-in counter, or a gate, or a luggage carousel in the last couple of years! If so, the sight of 30-50 people angrily waiting on a “First Class / Emerald” luggage & check-in line… or a gate where 20 minutes after take-off time (with the screen and app still showing “on-time”) there still isn’t an aircraft as it’s “in maintenance”… or at the MIA luggage carousel where 45 minutes after landing there is still NOTHING coming… yet with the absolute assurance that again the Priority bags will come out last – if at all. It is truly such a shame! I had this again last week, and fully missed the start of an important meeting that I’d flown 3,000 miles to attend.

    The solutions for we Miami folks?? First, Lucky, we should all take pictures of the absurdly under-serviced check-in line, and send copies to Dallas daily (posted for everyone of course). Next, we should surely all meet at the Corona House for a PriorityPass “liqueous breakfast”, so we won’t be as upset if the flight-under-maintenance never boards. Then after the joy of finally boarding we should request “foodies for all” when the flight never takes off. And finally we should (maybe in all seriousness) start really demanding that a senior AA CSM (versus a totally powerless Eulen Services Agent) be brought down to the carousel area every time that there is another even 30-minute luggage-mystery… especially where Priority bags never seem to appear whatsoever!!

  40. Lowly gold here who didn’t re qualify since my gf moved to Phoenix from Tampa when she graduated. Always had these issues with flights to and from TPA on american. Spirit was always better. Just flew to and from SeaTac. Got both of us upgraded to first. I can’t believe that happened. To make matters better, on time departure and arrival. My checked bag full of coffee and stuff arrived on time. My usual PHX-MSP RT always goes right. This year though, I’m dumping them for delta. I’m tired of no IFE.

  41. Okay, heres my story, i think american handled it okay. I flew 8 segments within 10 days recently, 6 arrived on time (lhr-dfw, clt-yyz, yyz-clt, clt-ord, ord-dfw, dfw-lhr), 1 arrived 1 hour late (dfw-las), one departed and arrived 3 hrs late (las-clt).

    What im talking abt is the latter (las-clt, on a321).

    Flight scheduled 1:03am. Boarding was completed 15 mins before. Captain informed us we have a maintenance issue, ac fan needs to be replaced. He suggested 30 mins waiting and that we will be on the go shortly. We did not, and just after 3:00 we had to deplane. Until then, we got regular updates abt the situation, and also americans mobile app was refreshing accordingly.

    After deplaning, everybody thought flight was canceled, but when we gathered before the gate, the agent told us, flight is still in place, they are looking for a new plane. By 4:00 they found another a321, they boarded everyone and we really were on our way.

    Lots of us had connection, mine was gone, since i had just over 70 minutes in clt. I was the fifth in line, but at the end i did not spoke w the agent since aa’s background team rebooked me while i was in line, and the new flight info and boarding pass arrived on my mobile.

    Yes, delay was annoying, but aa handled the situation properly. At least in my case.

  42. Reading this while sitting on AA flight getting ready to depart from the gate over an hour late because the inbound flight was late.

  43. In Miami my home hub the average wait time for luggage from American is 40 mins to an hour… No exaggeration here. It’s actually a joke in our office

  44. My last 2 AA flights:
    PSP-DFW-MIA. PSP flight delayed d/t mechanical (door wouldn’t close), delayed, delayed, cancelled. So I missed my connection. Rerouted PSP-PHX-SAN-MIA, the first 2 segments in coach even though it was a J revenue ticket.

    MIA-PHL-FCO MIA flight delayed, delayed. Then there was shift change (it was originally a 1:30pm flight), so not only did the maintenance man change, but so did the gate agent! I was going to miss my PHL connection, so I was rebooked on BA via LHR. When I got off the plane in MIA to make the BA flight, the gate agent YELLED at me and said I could not leave the gate area until he offloaded me. I happened to be on the phone with EXP line, and she was stunned! (“Who was that?”) He never helped me, his shift was over & he left.
    Luggage delayed for 2 days — good thing I located it sitting in PHL & called to have it loaded on the next AA flight.
    I have been booking OW partners instead of AA whenever possible now. Recently MIA-JFK-HKG(CX) vs DFW(AA), DFW-SYD(QF) vs LAX-SYD, etc.
    And cancelled my Citibank Executive card & Barclay’s AA card last year.

  45. @terry ah I always get a chuckle out of people who fly a connection with their status airline rather than take the nonstop (on AZ in this case) and then encounter irrops

  46. @ Alinsfca — Indeed, you are correct. I should have known that Ben knew better than booking a 51 minute AA connection given their awful operational reliability!

  47. anon – AZ has it’s own issues. And I was burning expiring eVIP’s. My upgrades had cleared at booking, so at least I was protected in J on the BA flights.

  48. @Duane – you nailed it. The pilot’s union now has the airline and management they wanted. They made a deal with the devil when they threw their weight behind America West management acquiring AA, knowing full well it would dramatically consolidate the industry. The current sad state of AA from a passenger and non-pilot employee point of view is the result they were willing to stomach to “win” their decades long battle with successive AA managements. You’ll recall that MIA was the most confrontational pilot base back in the day. It’s fitting that this hub is now the worst in AA’s system from a passenger standpoint.

  49. Flew AA last week ORD->DFW on 787. Inbound aircraft from DFW was delayed due to maintenance. Switched aircraft then 2nd plane (787) also delayed for maintenance issues. That was my 3rd & 4th mnt delays for 787 domestic flights in past year – what gives?

    For the positive side of the story – due to first delay, I would miss connection in DFW. The EP phone agent very helpful to provide Options. We were confirmed FC on SWU’s on both flights and they were able to keep us in FC for second flight.

  50. I work for LAA, the biggest mistake when merging with USAir was going back to the bank system in their Hubs. LAA eliminated it and flights rarely had to wait for a gate and the system recovered quicker from weather events. If they depeak their hubs I’d solve many of the problems.

  51. Ben you do have a choice yet you rationalize choosing AA. You willfully moved to an AA fortress hub city. This rehashing is boring as f*ck. Tell us how you live in Miami and travel better. We already know AA sucks.

  52. I read so many problems and horrible customer service stories with AA I am surprised how this can be the biggest airline in the USA. American flyers don’t know what a good customer service is (on the ground and inflight). That is why I only fly long haul with the middle east airlines. The inflight service from Qatar Airways surprises every time how they can get better and better. So many years flying I never seen a maintenance delay or was not kept informed.

  53. I’m also Miami based and walked away from AA in 2018. Made the switch back to Delta, and Jetblue for
    My carribean routes. BT……AA is the only airline that does not give the cardholders free checked bags to the carribean.

  54. Stop flying AA out of MIA. FLL is a thing. LATAM is a thing, Copa is a thing. Avianca is a thing. TACA is a thing. AeroMexico is a thing.
    Tiffany is right, this is Stockholm Syndrome. You don’t need to be hostage to an airline just because of the shiny card and their frequent but terrible service from an airpor that has a reasonable alternate + other options out of that airport. Stop. Staaaahp.

    How are they ever going to learn if people keep giving them business?

  55. Try it for a year. No AA for a year. You can still promote good card offers from AA without flying them for a year. You’ve surely flown AA enough for two lifetimes. One year off would be a good story to follow, too.

  56. You’d also be wielding influence whether you intend to or not. If AA sits up and pays attention because of the net effect, the flying universe will be better for all of us.

  57. Because of your posts and warnings from your readers, I booked a same day LGA-DCA flight on Delta, instead of AA, despite having being BA gold. Being on time is very important on this trip, so I take your advice.

  58. So AA lost a piece of luggage. It happens, particularly on short connections. That’s why I left 2 hours for my UA connection to Aspen at LAX. Kind of a rookie mistake to accept the short one from AA.

    Yes I’m sure AA has its issues. All airlines do. DL offers better service but worthless skypesos. Honestly I think our bloggers don’t really get that most of us (even elites) are not treated like royalty.

  59. I was an AA loyalist and flew them consistently for years. No more.

    After 5 flights in a row (and the last one with continual delays and gate changes to boot) all going mechanical, I gave up. I haven’t flown them for 18 months. Switched mostly to Southwest for domestic and a number of others for International. It isn’t worth the aggravation. Their schedule might look promising, but then I remember they aren’t to be trusted. That flight will end up being 3 hours late….Why bother?

  60. My friends and I would be better off managing American… and we’re seniors in high school! At least I know what people want from an airline and how to make sure it’s an operational success (it’d be better then what it is now!) 😉

  61. I’m FLL based but with a partner living in Ireland and feel compelled to share the following.

    When AA and USAir merged I chose to keep my OneWorld points with BA, which for a time was a good decision. My international travel from MIA is always BA or on BA with an AA/EI/IB codeshare while my domestic travel is from FLL, typically JetBlue.

    I got laid off and started hitting to points heavily for personal travel and got a BA ticket in business for the boyfriend from DUB to MIA via LHR. I’m used to MIA shenanigans and prepped him for most of that upon arrival. What I didn’t prep him for was a 2.5 hour wait for luggage, and being told to go to departures to collect it by the very rude MIA ground staff. At first I thought this was just an extreme example of MIA nonsense, but when he told me as they were taxiing to the gate that the BA pilot said: our gate is late and your luggage will be heavily delayed due to AA incompetence, I threw my hands up in frustration.

    If we can’t even choose an alleged competitor at what point do we need a regulator to take over either MIA or AA?

  62. Me and my wife traveled London Heathrow to Jamaica via Miami on 26th December with American and had 2 flight departure time changes in the weeks before the flight and on the return journey via Chicago to London we had to collect our luggage and check it back in instead of it being transferred from American to BA ? The check in clerk was suprised.

  63. I happen to be a pilot for a regional airline that does service for American, Delta, United, and Alaska. We all have an understanding that American easily has the worst ops to the point we just want to bang our heads against the dash. Nothing more frustrating then landing 30 minutes early in Charlotte just to sit and wait for a gate for 45 minutes and miss the A0 (Which, just like the dumb D0, AAL pushes us for). Somehow the other Legacy carriers seem to be able to hire competent ops employees that prevent these issues for the most part.

  64. @Gordon, were you on separate tickets i.e. did you have one ticket (PNR) to Chicago and then a separate ticket (PNR) from Chicago to London? In that case you would have had to claim your bags and recheck them. If you were on one ticket you should’ve been able to check through. AA and BA stopped checking bags through on separate tickets, to enhance the passenger experience and improve service, of course.

  65. Priority tags mean NOTHING on AA! Last time I flew with them (MEX-PHL) my bag was second to last to come out and all the priority bags came out last. One of the AA representatives shook his head and said “You know those stickers don’t mean anything anymore”. So true and so sad…

  66. BENJAMIN-YOU HAVE A CHOICE! Have you heard of FLL Airport? or this beautiful airline called JETBLUE? Which flies to the Caribbean?

    Also, AZUL flies to Brazil, Avianca & Copa to other South American places….

    Quit complaining about being based in MIA and having no choice. YOU HAVE CHOICES!

    *i say this with love, but emphatically nonetheless* 🙂

  67. Look, AA continues to be an operational sh~tshow because they know that people in DFW, CLT, MIA have no choice and will continue to fly them. While they may say, “we know you have a choice in travel,” they know that there are effectively monopolies at their hubs.

    What’s it worth to you? Gamble that your “convenient” flight may get there on time, or take an extra connection on a more reliable carrier. So long as you (or Ford) continue to pick AA, you are part of the problem.

  68. Really interesting read and a similar issue that I had Flying from Fort Myers (RSW) to London Heathrow via Dallas a couple of weeks ago. We were slightly delayed leaving RSW due to ATC restrictions around Dallas. Arrived around mins late into Dallas leaving me with 35mins to get from C to D. Arrived at the gate 15mins later and boarding was just about to start. Got on the plane, only for us to be told by the captain, that the log book was incomplete/missing and the company was following up. We ended up leaving at 2300 (instead of 2030!), 2 1/2 hours late!! The biggest joke however was my checked luggage. Whilst it was shown as being unloaded from the flight from RSW, there was no mention of it being loaded on to the London flight. After an hour of sitting on the ground, I asked an F/A if it was normal not to reflect being loaded. She had never seen/was not aware of this feature on the app so we contacted the customer service agent (the jet bridge was still connected) who was standing outside. He said bags were still being loaded (which I didn’t believe) so I asked him again to check the computer. He came back 5 mins later and said he couldn’t find the information but a baggage handler would come up to talk to me. Eventually the baggage handler arrived and confirmed that my bag hadn’t made it! This is now over 2 hours after arriving from Fort Myers! In my very British way I suggested that since we were still here and not going anywhere anytime soon, he may like to go and find my bag and get it loaded onto the plane! 20 Mins later I got a notification that the bag was loaded. Interestingly when I collected it from the carousel at Heathrow the following morning it had been re tagged for a flight via Chicago which would ultimately have arrived 36 hours later. And despite the priority tags, it certainly came out after quite some time – I was just grateful it made the flight.
    What I would say is that the feature on the app is really useful – BA who I fly with most of the time, has nothing similar as far as I’m aware, and had I not had visibility we couldn’t have managed to get the bag on my very delayed flight.
    On a separate note, the AA Business Class reverse herringbone seats are way more comfortable and private than the BA Club World offering! I would actively try to fly AA 777’s over BA any day.

  69. Hey Ben, I’m based out of ASE so if Ford needs anything while he’s here, be sure to reach out.

  70. We’ve seen this before: Some Doug Parker history – from Wikipedia: US Airways:

    “A Consumer Reports survey of 23,000 readers in June 2007 ranked US Airways as the worst airline for customer satisfaction. The survey was conducted before the airline’s March 2007 service disruptions. A follow-up survey polling a smaller sample size, conducted in April, found that US Airways remained in last place, with its score dropping an additional 10 points.[57] Also in 2007, the Today/Zagat Airline Survey rated US Airways as the worst airline overall in the United States, ranking it 10/30 for comfort, 5/30 for food, 10/30 for service and 15/30 for its online reservations system.[58]

    On August 1, 2008, US Airways ceased providing its passengers with complimentary beverages. Passengers were required to purchase bottled water or soda for $2 US or $1 US for coffee and tea. However, the Shuttle flights between LGA, DCA and BOS continued to offer free beverages.[59] US Airways resumed serving complimentary drinks in March 2009.

    US Airways ranked last out of 20 domestic airline carriers for systemwide on-time performance in March, April, and May 2007, according to DOT figures. According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics June 2008 report (using data from May 2008), US Airways ranked 7th for percentage of on-time arrivals.

    US Airways was the leader in service complaints with 4.4 complaints per 100,000 customers. The US Airways rate of customer complaints was 7.5 times the rate of JetBlue (0.59 complaints per 100,000 customers) and 11 times the rate of Southwest Airlines (0.4 complaints per 100,000 customers).[60] US Airways had a very poor record of addressing customer complaints, answering only 50% of the telephone calls to its customer service department.

  71. Hey Lucky –
    Seems like you’re whining a little bit here… You’re upset that your flight left 37 minutes late because of a technical issue, and say that the airline should be more “proactive” rather than “reactive” when it comes to maintenance. (Should they employ a psychic to determine when a smoke detector will malfunction?)
    Then you get to DFW late and your bag doesn’t make it. (This does suck.) But should everyone else on the flight to Aspen suffer a delay to make sure your bag makes it? What about the folks flying on that same aircraft when it turns around leaves Aspen? And the next aircraft scheduled to pull into your gate, should they suffer a delay too, over one peson’s bag? You ask the airline to be proactive…. There’s not much they can do about technical issues. But they can work to keep their schedule moving so that the most people possible get to their destinations on-time. No question, your bag should have made the 51 minute connection. That’s an error. But I applaud American for focusing on D0, departing on-time. If you leave on-time, you arrive on-time.

  72. Ben — If you’re living in Miami, why are you using MIA airport? No one I know or work with in Miami flies out of MIA — they hike it up to FLL. It’s not just AA that sucks, MIA airport sucks, and the attitude from many employees are MIA also sucks.

    Re AA, keep in mind that it used to be called USeless Airways and Dougie sucked there too. New/swapping logos is a common corporate tactic, but it’s just putting lipstick on a pig. Head up to FLL and fly on B6 or DL — they’ll be more than happy to take your money and treat you better.

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