American Airlines Is Incapable Of Respecting Their Customers’ Time

Filed Under: American, Travel

It has been really sad to see the decline of American — I recently wrote about how I think the airline has hit rock bottom.

The problem is simple — the airline lacks a vision. Management doesn’t seem to know which direction they want to take the airline, and that rubs off on everyone at the company. They’re sending employees mixed signals as to what kind of an airline American is supposed to be.

I mean, think about it — a couple of years ago American introduced the slogan “going for great.”

Then they decided to get rid of that slogan. Think about that. They’re admitting they’re no longer going for great. What are they going for, then? The airline just seems dead inside. Management wants to coast by copying the cuts of Delta without offering any of the benefits of Delta.

In this post I wanted to address one of the things that I find most frustrating about American, which is their complete lack of respect for their customers’ time. Yesterday’s delay on a flight from JFK to Miami perfectly captured this.

Delays happen…

A few weeks ago I had a four hour delay from Miami to Quito, because an American 737 MAX went out of service due to a mechanical issue.

Yesterday when flying New York to Miami we had yet another maintenance issue. The way it happened was almost comical. We started boarding, and as I walked down the jet bridge the captain came running up saying “this plane is broken, you’re going to want to turn right around.”

In the end the flight was “only” delayed by two hours, which is much better than I was expecting. After takeoff the captain explained what happened. He apologized for jumping the gun and saying they needed to find a new plane.

I’m not sure his explanation was especially reassuring to most, though. Essentially there was an issue with icing in the gear compartment, and the captain explained that until two weeks ago this is something that would immediately take planes out of service. However, two weeks ago the rules changes, and this can now be deferred under certain circumstances. Hah.

Delays happen. I’ve just been really unlucky lately, which is fair enough, because I was really lucky for a while.

What annoys me to no end isn’t the delay as such, but the way American handles it.

The way Delta handles delays

I recently had a 30 minute delay on Delta:

  • They knew the plane would be late inbound, and they announced the delay four hours in advance, so that passengers could arrive at the airport later, etc.
  • When I arrived at the gate, they apologized again for the delay, and said that any passenger who has a question about their connection or any concerns should come see a gate agent, and they increased staffing at the gate for this
  • Delta’s app always lets you know when boarding starts, which is great, because then you know when you actually have to go to the gate

None of this is that revolutionary. This should just be a basic standard for taking care of your customers.

The way American handles delays

A moment after the delay was revealed, the gate agent announced that if anyone had concerns they could go to the rebooking center or call American. The flight originally had two gate agents, but within a few minutes they reduced staffing to one gate agent.

In other words “if you have any question, we’re not here to help.” What kind of an airline reduces staffing when there’s an issue?

The bigger issue, though, is how horrible American is about posting updates regarding delays. I understand rolling delays happen, and that you won’t know exactly when the flight will leave. But you could at least provide some updates.

For example, at 4:30PM the flight still showed a 4:15PM departure. They can’t even be bothered to update it to the current time.

At an absolute minimum the departure time should be listed as 20+ minutes in advance, since that’s the minimum amount of time it will take to board. And the airline just doesn’t seem to get how this is annoying. For example, take my Twitter exchange with American:

“Once an update is available, our team will let you know.”

There is an update available (that the plane hasn’t left), and your team didn’t let us know (I understand the Twitter team is only the messenger, so I don’t blame them… rather I feel bad they work for the airline).

After the delay was announced I went to the Flagship Lounge, and asked if they could announce when boarding for the flight starts. Presumably there are quite a few people in the Flagship Lounge who are on this flight, connecting onto or off of an international flight.

“We don’t announce domestic flights.”
“But this flight is on a rolling delay, can’t you make an exception?”
“Sorry, we only announce international flights, but you can keep an eye on the flight status.”

So I left the Flagship Lounge and went back to the gate. But then about an hour later I returned to the Flagship Lounge to get something to eat, when there still wasn’t an update on the departure time. This time I had a different agent.

“Would you be able to make an announcement for this flight since it’s on a rolling delay?”
“We only announce international flights. As a courtesy I can try to keep an eye on it, but no promises though. Your best bet is to just keep an eye on the flight status.”
“But that’s the problem, I can’t. It’s 4:30PM and the flight shows a 4:15PM departure. American doesn’t send push notifications to the app when flights board. How am I supposed to keep an eye on the departure time?”
“You can come check with us.”

And that’s exactly the problem with American. How am I supposed to keep an eye on the departure time of the flight when the airline doesn’t publish it? If a person who has access to the res system can’t be bothered to keep up with the status of the flight, how is a passenger expected to?

Bottom line

My experience is just one example of American’s inability to communicate delays with customers, and in general their inability to provide decent service. I don’t know if American doesn’t realize how bad they are at this, or if they just don’t care.

Delta seems to get that customers appreciate when delays are announced in advance (when possible), or when there are rolling delays, they at least provide a realistic timeline, and provide push notifications of boarding.

With American, on the other hand, I can’t count the number of times I’ve been on flights that showed on-time, even though the inbound aircraft wasn’t even expected to arrive until after departure time.

American is sort of like that friend who always shows up late for dinner at 8PM on a Friday night and is like “sorry, there was traffic.” You don’t say!

  1. United deserves credit for being much better than AA at this. They post delays when inbounds have a delay, and generally (with a small amount of exceptions) they don’t let departure time pass with you still at the gate and the flight being ‘on time’. With UA I feel that my time is at least respected…AA needs IT that can follow this…I believe most of what you are talking about is a complete failure of the IT system, and thus you want people to do manually what should be done via automation.
    LH pushes a notice to your phone the MINUTE boarding starts…why can’t other carriers?

  2. Ben: I get your frustration. If you substitute the word ‘American’ for the word ‘United’, your article still holds true 🙂 . That is why I avoid AA and UA nowadays.

  3. Great, I just booked a major trip involving many international and domestic legs with AA. I wanted to avoid BA at all cost. I kinda regret that now. Something I never thought I would say,…go figure!

  4. Ben, Where have you been?

    It’s nothing new. American has been abominable with delays communication for years. It’s not uncommon to see “On time” at a gate or on monitors when “On time” would mean “In 5 minutes” and the incoming plane is not there (assuming it has left from wherever it’s coming from, which is not obvious).

    To add insult to injury, the “Incoming aircraft information” which always used to be on the website, is now there or not, depending on unpublished criteria. I was once explained that it was “For Security”.


  5. The lack of the simplest thing like proper time updates on the website/app is the most infuriating, because it costs nothing. At least more gate agents has a cost associated with it, so you can see someone making the decision (however wrong) that it’s not worth it.

    I have developed work arounds by searching on external sites like FlightRadar24, FlightStats, etc, which get updates directly from the internal systems at the airlines/FAA, etc. That has almost always been the most accurate way to predict actual times. Normal caveats apply, of course, about these sites not being dispositive all the time.

  6. This is why I am no longer loyal to American. I’d rather fly Spirit with a big front seat (which can still be cheaper than American too!) The utter indifference of their employees is just frustrating. They literally cannot be bothered to help. Like they are deaf and numb. I will no longer go out of my way to fly this airline since they definitely won’t go out of their way to service me as a customer. Thank you for sharing Lucky.

  7. @Joelfreak – UA has also provides alerts pushed to your phone when boarding starts. I agree UA has gotten better lately at communicating changes. I was on a UA codeshare ANA flight in the summer departing HND and UA texted a flight delay at least 10 minutes before ANA announced or updated their time tables. Shocked me at the time.

  8. This attitude starts at the top. Look who they have running the show. DWI Doug. Why expect anything else? It won’t improve until they erase that disgrace from his throne.

  9. I agree American doesn’t respect their customers’ time but Delta doesn’t’ respect their customers’ points, so I always end up on American because I rarely use $ for any flights.

  10. Here is the thing. Last year, there was a big Flyertalk thread about American getting very aggresive in sending out delay notifications for flights. If an inbound flight had any hint of delay, they would let passengers know via text and the app. However, many times, inbound flights showed up close on time, and American, in their effort to board as soon as possible, would start boarding much sooner than the “delayed boarding time” would indicate. People missed flights as they were in the lounge or at a restaurant. The problem is that American wasn’t able to properly notify customers when flights were “undelayed.” Now, it seems like they have moved to this even less optimal system.

  11. My experience with UA and DL have been much better. Delay notifications and status updates are sent via email, text and push promptly. I’ve also had decent luck with the UA Club representatives keeping us posted doing rolling delays.

    Don’t understand why these small adjustments appear do difficult for AA to accommodate.

  12. Delta is not always perfect here, and can occasionally be as bad as AA is described to be, so nobody’s perfect.

    But, two other ways in which Delta is usually better: Sky Club agents will almost always make announcements about delayed flights, and they also have a cart at bigger airports ready to pull out with packaged snacks and soft drinks for customers on delayed flights, which is a nice touch.

  13. I had a flight in July that had several issues where no one was really informed. Initially we were delayed because the navigator called out (he was tired, not hours related). Then they found one on an incoming flight from Charlotte (I was in PHX) and would be arriving within the hour.

    While we were waiting at the gate area, the display changed the flight information to a completely different flight. The GA had no idea what was going on. The pilot on board was also confused. Then our flight info popped up on the next gate. Someone decided that a new crew was going to use our plane and take it to ORD. So the luggage had to be off loaded, etc.

    The main issue was the complete lack of communications not only to the passengers but to the clueless AA employee and he said this happens frequently.

    Last year I had a rolling 6 hr (yes 6 hours) delay on a 530PM flight that didn’t get off the ground until midnight and kept getting 15-30 minute updates on my phone, usually after the original time had already passed by. I could have gone home, rested and then came back if I knew it was going to be that long (it was a windshield problem they were working on, then thought maybe they could get one at another airport and drive it to BWI, then finally decided to wait on another aircraft).

    I’m just thankful I don’t fly very often.

  14. Yawn.

    It’s amusing how the self-appointed travel experts have convinced themselves American is terrible.

    I flew ~80 segments on AA this year: 2 major delays, both properly communicated, both quickly backed-up on alternative flights by the EXP desk. 10/10 on international upgrades. 75% success rate on domestic upgrades.

    AA is inconsistent. AA has a slightly worse on time performance than DL or UA. AA is not the flaming dumpster fire the blogosphere wants them to be.

  15. I fly DL. I know we all have issues with SkyMiles, but this is exactly the reason to keep flying DL. I recently had a delay in CLT due to weather at LGA, and it was rolling. The gate agents could not have been nicer, the pilots came out to talk to us, they rolled up a cart with snacks, and were very transparent about us maybe having to sit near the runway for a bit after we left the gate.

    Also, the app is a miracle, offering seamless rebooking to other options, when there are other options.

    DL rocks.

  16. AA has the worst operations of US legacies, IMO. Not only do they refuse to update their delays, but they board early and inconsistently, cannot even remotely manage their gates to balance arriving/departing aircraft, and their soft product is strongly lacking. I made the mistake of switching from UA to AA two years ago. In my 150k miles with AA at least 30-40% of my flights had a delay of 30 minutes or more (mostly unnecessary). In my 1M+ with UA, I have only had a handful of delays. Maybe I’ve been very “lucky”, with UA but I’ve never experienced such a worse run airline than AA.

  17. @Dan

    As a self-appointed travel expert with 150k miles on AA this year I think you’re either a troll or the luckiest AA travel ever.

    In my last two delays with them (which was 2 of my last 4 flights) they didn’t bother telling people that the gate changed. The only way people found out which gate to go to was word of mouth.

    The last flight was boarded and de-boarded because of a problem any half-competent airline would have anticipated. That was the angriest crowd I’ve ever seen in a mainline carrier and it was absolutely warranted. The passengers were openly laughing at and mocking the pilot as he made announcements.

    I’ve flown AA for literally millions of miles and I’ve seen a noticeable and steep decline in quality since USAir bought them. The only reason I’m (barely) loyal is I like JL and CX for Asia travel

  18. AA is a freaking joke. Never again will I redeem miles on their own metal for flights longer than 3 hours. Poor customer service and respect starts from the top. It’s time for a management change, the entire culture of the AA brand needs to be shifted. The largest airline in the world needs a facelift and a new leader. Enough with this bullcrap.

  19. I still don’t get why you fly American switch to Delta or United earn one world status with another one world airline

  20. I was flying Delta out of Houston a couple of years ago. The flight was delayed and then suddenly canceled due to lack of flight staff. When I spoke to the gate attendant she booked me on an alternate flight with American Airlines but told me that I would have to retrieve my bags and check back in with them. So, after waiting over 1 hour for my bag at the carousel, and fearing I would be late for check-in for the AA flight, I phoned the Delta line to ask where they were. Apparently, the bag was put on another Delta flight and would be at my final destination waiting for me. Ok, fine, no point in arguing about being told to retrieve my bags. I then asked to confirm that I had been booked into business on the AA flight. I was told that I wasn’t since my Delta ticket was for economy. I pointed out to the agent that it was paid business class. So, she looks it up and sees that, yes, I was originally booked in business. But apparently, there was nothing she could do since there was no availability in business for the AA flight (which there was when I boarded the plane). As a token gesture the agent offered me a $700 voucher – never used it because I never flew Delta again.

    So, to the point that Delta is much better than AA at proactively notifying customers of delays…frankly that hasn’t been my experience.

  21. Was booked on an AA GIG-JFK recently, scheduled for 22:00 or so, and delayed until 04:00 the next morning. Rolling delays are not uncommon on this route, and I called to inquire the nature of the delay and whether the departure time was real. No helpful information was provided, but I was told that in any case to make sure that I got to the airport no later than 23:30 because the pre-security check-in was closing at 00:00 and I wouldn’t be able to check in after that. I was incredulous that AA was telling me I needed to sleep in the airport (or go back and forth from home to the airport and back again) to check in for a flight that was subject to uncertain lengthy delays, but this was confirmed to me by a Supervisor. I wound up switching my flight at great inconvenience — to avoid this greater inconvenience caused by AA — but am often blown away by the callousness and disrespect of AA for its passengers.

  22. @Dan, your experience doesn’t match mine, and I don’t run a travel blog. Especially as an EXP, it certainly seems as though the employee effort and customer value at AA has slipped tremendously after the merger with US.

    Personally, I’ve shifted all of my domestic travel that I can to WN, since they’re employees generally are happy and don’t have to be told to “go for great”. And WN doesn’t treat their tickets like they came off Mount Sinai in stone tablets, which is such a refreshing change.

  23. I know AA is one of the founders, but can Oneworld fire AA?! The only reason I still fly AA is because of Oneworld.

    I’m hitting over 150k EQM this weekend and still have not flown domestic AA year-to-date (other than connecting to intl).. totally avoid it if I could!!

    If only QR/CX/JL fly domestically

  24. Spot on Lucky! Nothing communicates a lack of caring like not bothering to update the departure time when it’s already at or past departure time, or 5 minutes to departure time and the plane is at the gate.

  25. I’ve been complaining about what I’ve called American’s ‘Goldilocks problem’ since early 2015.

    * They don’t display the proper boarding times, agents board early and boarding passes do not inform customers of the correct boarding times anyway for large domestic aircraft. (“Boards too early”)

    * Updates departure times too late, usually they only update times after the previous one passes. So customers can’t be productive in the lounge whose price is going up, they show up at the gate even when American knows the plane isn’t going to be there let alone board on time (“Notifies customers too late”)

    And we’re all Goldilocks left in the middle looking for them to finally get it just right.

    Indeed just last month I laid out how American disrespects their customers.

    Glad to have you on board this crusade, Lucky!

  26. I will tell you the employees hate this. My dad’s an American dispatcher and they would rather do anything but rolling delays. But it’s the company’s policy.

  27. @Pierre just FYI, you can get “incoming aircraft information” through the app still. Not saying it makes these complaints invalid or better (it doesn’t), but this feature is in the app, and in general. the app has improved greatly over the last 12 months.

  28. I recently missed a delayed flight while waiting in the Admirals Club. The club attendant was great and kept calling the gate for us. She told us that the gate agent said to head over. We arrived at the gate, 4 of us, and the boarding doors were closed. The gate agent said that the club must have spoken to the another agent and that he rushed boarding because of the delay. No apology. The admirals club attendant was furious when we all got back to the club. American can’t even seem to manage internal communications. How should we expect them to be good at dealing with customers?

  29. While I can’t speak to AA or DL, I can say that UA’s app is great for delay tracking (even when it’s not the fault of UA, such as weather and airport infrastructure related issues as has got me recently).

    I get instant push notifications for updated departure/etc times, as well as instant notification when the flight boards. It works well.

    And when my luggage gets hosed, I can track via the app exactly where it is. It’s actually fascinating. Two weeks ago on a flight from IAH I was sitting over the wing and watched as my bag (which as on a mere 15 minute connection to due an inbound weather delay), made it onto the flight. I was watching the app to see if it scanned. It took about 10 seconds for it to show up in the app from the moment the guy at the conveyor belt scanned it. Super cool stuff.

    (Note: The baggage app thing works great as long as UA is in control, where it all goes to crap is if your bag gets caught in customs or the like, in which case UA’s tracking breaks down as it only shows the last known scan.)

  30. I 100% agree with Lucky. I had similar story to his on a flight from Narita to LAX this summer. After everyone was boarded the captain made an announcement that they were short a crew member but one “was on his way” and we would be going shortly. Immediately after they made an announcement in Japanese. I assumed it was the exact same. The Japanese gentlemen sitting next to me told me they just announced it would be a 3 hour delay until the crew member would arrive. I found it hard to believe that there could be such a big disconnect but sure enough 3 hours later he arrived. And guess what? Just like the Friday night dinner guest they blamed it on traffic. How unbelievably lame is that for airline communications?

  31. Yeah maybe Ryanair will bid on American airlines so we can just chalk it up to ultra low cost carrier problems.

  32. @Dan
    I call BS. This doesn’t sound like the AA I’m flying.

    I call BS. You got $700 and never used it. Either you are very bad at math or you vote for Bernie Sanders.

    DL’s ‘technology’ is much more advance than AA. I don’t blame the lounge or twitter agent. They likely see the same departure time as you and no one was accountable for updating it accordingly. One good example is DL bag tracking, your app can tell where your bag was last scanned, check-in, TSA, loaded on plane, sent to baggage claims.
    Now DL does fumble too, but like @Aztec, they are generous enough (for elites) to compensate you miles/cash. I never got anything from AA.

    Doug Parker destroyed AA.

  33. None of the domestics are great, but knock on wood, I haven’t had these sorts of troubles with AA over the last year. I’ve done 130k miles and 52 segments so far this year. I’ve only had two major delays, and both times I was proactively backed up by the EXP desk on alternative flights. The flight attendants have all been friendly and attentive, not SQ like, but still pretty good for a domestic carrier. I just don’t recognize the AA that a lot of you complain about on here.

  34. @eskimo, the $700 was a voucher meaning I would have to fly Delta in order to use it and since I never flew Delta again I think it fairly obvious how it is that I never used it. In regards to AA I received a $600 voucher on a flex fare when they had to downgrade me to economy (even though it was my fault)

    Now, don’t get me wrong, I’ve had my share of bad experiences on AA as well – just pointing out that Delta is not the paragon of good customer service that some people are making it out to be.

  35. I hate SkyMiles BUT I love Delta. I was very concerned when I moved many years ago to a Delta hub as I had almost 2MM miles with AA. I could not be happier that I only fly Delta. Also as a DM they make my life much easier.

  36. I had a ridiculous delay on a flight between BOI-PHX in June. Flight was scheduled to depart at 1:30PM and was showing on time. So, I left work about an hour and 40 minutes before my flight to drop my car at a friend’s house (who lives down the street from the airport). I go to the gate and it’s showing a 15 minute delay. Okay, that’s nothing major. After about 10 minutes of sitting there, an announcement is made that the inbound flight hadn’t even left Phoenix yet. I didn’t even get a delay notification email or text message until 3:56PM, which said “American Eagle flight 5771 from Boise to Phoenix on Thursday, June 14, 2018 at 1:30 PM has changed. Your new departure time is 4:12 PM.” I wrote to AA and did the survey to express how irritated I was…no response at all. Thanks for wasting my PTO hours, AA! I would have stayed at work, had I known the flight was delayed that much. 🙁

  37. @Ben, Consistently hearing from you and Gary Leff regarding the continued failures at American. Why don’t you cut your loses and look for alternative flying options. Granted, MIA-UIO options might be limited, but we all know that the NYC-MIA market is littered with different carriers.

  38. We here at American can only please one customer a day
    Unfortunately today is not your day nor tomorrow or the day after that
    Thank you for flying American where we were going for great
    but now shooting for sub par
    Large Cheers from management and the team

  39. AA is like some bureaucratic government agency. You know, when you call, they try to shift the work to another department or find reason to deny you service because they don’t want to do the paperwork required.

  40. In March, I was flying American from MIA-IAH on the flight that departed at 9ish PM. Somehow my upgrade as GLD cleared at T-24, but hey I’m not complaining. On the way to MIA, I get a text that my flight is delayed an hour. No big deal, I appreciate the advance notice. The flight was departing from the E gates, which is haul from everything else. Boarding started at the update time. Great right? Then it all went downhill.

    After we boarded, we sat there at the gate for over two hours. Not a single announcement from the FAs. They were busy chatting away in the galley. Then I noticed the pilots flee the flight deck and basically run into the jet bridge. After they were a safe distance away from the plane, the gate agent comes onboard announces the flight cancel because the pilots timed out and for everyone to go to the rebooking center at D30. On the way, i called American to try to get rebooked to avoid having to walk all the way to the rebooking center (which is quite a trek). The phone agent was in short worthless. He refused to confirm me on the morning flight because this was “an act of god” and would only put on my standby. Fine, there’s always the rebooking center.

    Wrong. It was closed for the evening, with a sign directing everyone toward D15 rebooking center. Get to D15, apparently the flight is NOT canceled anymore as they found another crew. So trekked all the way back to E gates only to wait another two hours before we boarded again with the new pilots, but same awful FAs.

    The only real saving grace was the gate agent who took over the flight after the “cancellation”. She seemed to be only competent American employee in Miami. Just like your experience, Ben, the (new) gate agent called multiple times for the refreshment cart but it never showed up. So she got fed up, and went to the plane to grab drinks and snacks to bring out to the gate area. Got into a quarrel with the lazy FAs as well, who incidentally refused to help her lug the stuff from the plane.

    I put up with some awful crap my 7 years as a PLT/EXP, but this takes the cake and epitomizes with I bailed on American. I fly United for non-stops (I live at a UA hub), which really isn’t too awful these days. Why should I spend a ton of money on American and be forced to connect to go pretty much anywhere only to be treated like crap?

  41. @NAUgrad05

    Could you not have tracked the inbound flight via ?

    I always check the inbound flights to see if they are delayed or not.

  42. parker’s limited management capability might have been enough for a mom n’ pop operation like us air. American is in another league and way over his head and his ability.

    But who cares, he will still make as much money as if he knew how to run this business and it will be someone else’s problem when the airline goes on a death spiral and he bails out with a golden parachute.

    Strikingly similar to trump and his henchmen.

  43. It’s like AA isn’t even trying anymore. The sheer number of replies to these kinds of posts show how pervasive AA’s shittiness is these days.

  44. All this complaining about US airlines is pointless – US domestic travel, like domestic air travel in many countries, is an oligopoly now so what’s the point in talking about how bad the service is? This is to be expected. When you have 4 major players in the market and they each have 15%+ market share, they don’t really care anymore because no amount of customer dissatisfaction is going to make them lose market share in any significant way.

  45. Though it’s been getting worse, this sort of thing has been happening all too often with AA. A few years back I had a similar sort of issue with a MX delay and poor notification and handling at ORD (on the last flight of the day). AA customer service counters at ORD and the AA phone line were backed up due to weather (though again our plane was delayed for a broken part). The two GAs actually went and hid for awhile to avoid dealing with customers! A dead-heading AA, FA who was on our flight, caught the two GAs snacking behind a closed food kiosk. When the FA confronted them, the GAs told her off. The FA then called someone at AA management at ORD but it still took awhile for the GAs to get back to the gate.

    A couple months ago at DFW we had a rolling delay and then reschedule for the following morning…didn’t get updates or notices. GAs wouldn’t even tell us basic info like if it was WX or MX. They just told us to go to the customer service desk – where there was a long line. Called AA on the phone and finally got someone – who had no information and said I’d need to ask at the airport. Still no push notices or anything. After it was all too late, I got automated phone calls announcing the delays – long after the fact. Nothing on the app.

  46. Just boarded DL 1451 BWI-MSP. The Captain told the agent that he was ready to go early, so the agent could go ahead and board the plane now and we would depart BWI 10:00 minutes early.

    AA rarely boards on time, and never boards early. But I stick with them with all of their faults (and there are many) because at least for my purposes I find the AAdvantage program much more useful than SkyMiles. That, and I absolutely refuse to transfer in ATL.

  47. Want to talk about bad slogans?…. the Washington DC metro system came up with a great slogan….”Back To Good”. So inspirational, I wonder how much the consultants were paid for that one.

  48. UA is great about this. I love the UA app, and I can honestly say, UA has surpassed AA on so many levels including this one. The FF programs are miles apart too with MileagePlus being ahead of American. AAdvantage is about as useless as it gets for award space and I strongly urge anyone to refrain from ever purchasing AA miles or bothering with their cards – it is simply no longer worth it. On the other hand, UA has a ton of saver award availability. I just booked IAH-HKG for 75k with one stop in Newark in March on a Friday. They have a ton of availability throughout the spring on this route and many others. Forget AA and go elsewhere.

  49. That is why I have not flown AA for 4 years. I stick to UA and DL as the main carriers with a smattering of WN/B6. I do not give AA any of my $$$.

    End of story.

    I actually flew AC to YYZ and connected from a US flight to a US flight so that I didn’t have to fly AA.

  50. Yup.
    Now the Only Airlines I trust in North America are Delta and Air Canada. Its just a shame. AA used to be great the last few years, now its really going rock bottom. I’m not flying with them anytime soon for the forseable future, along with Spirit, UA, Alaska, Westjet, Southwest, so only Delta and ACA will be my North American airlines.

  51. United does a great job of letting you know about any delay now. They even announce boarding via the app or text. Just this morning I was speaking with my PCP in Dallas. He is a very loyal 10MM flyer on AA. He was asking me about switching all his business to either UA or DL.

  52. I have had good and bad experiences with AA. The bad ones were so horrible. I am glad to see Lucky’s and Gary’s calling AA to account for the subpar effort from AA.

    In fact, I recently bought a roundtrip domestic F ticket on AA. Within 24h, after recalling the reporting on AA’s bad service, I invoked my refund right and got a full refund on the F ticket.

  53. I flew American yesterday and had a (surprisingly) good flight. Nice new plane (737-800, not the MAX but with the new signature interior), comfortable legroom, and four friendly flight attendants. They also gave out free cookies etc.

    I have found that while Delta is a bit more reliable, American and United have their share of hits and misses. Lots of snags but also when things go right they’re a pleasure to fly on.

  54. The only reason I went after Platinum this year is to status match with Delta or United.

    If AA can get rid of Parker and right the ship before then end of 2019, I’ll stick around.

  55. @David

    I too purchased an AA (well 24 hold) LAS-ATL ticket with a change at DFW. The LASDFW segment was on a 787 which I haven’t been on so I thought that might be fun. I travel a lot (mostly domestic) and have been pushing more and more of my travel to DL. Reading this piece reminded me why I’m a permanent plat rather than EP. Why give AA 2 chances to screw up and possibly misconnect when I have alternatives. I cancelled the hold on my F fare, and rebooked by F travel on DL for $30.00 more. Loyalty does work both ways.

  56. Unfortunately, the only news here is that Ben is just finding out how much fun it is to fly AA domestically. “AAwful” fits. But I do have a question. Do all the airlines mix planes and crews. One of the most maddening reasons for delays and cancellations on AA is “We have a plane but the crew is coming in on another flight that’s delayed” or vise versa.

  57. American does not serve peanuts. It can be a fatal allergy. Delta what’s your position? Serving an allergen like peanuts is far more disrespectful than having a plane leave late. Peanuts can make you “late” forever.

    Blogger, Pock on allergen servers and give AA some credit.

    I like AA, they treat Exec Plats really well and the new Flagship lounges are excellent. And AA might have the best safety record of all carriers.

  58. Have suggested it and said it time and again… AA is bloody useless. Does the clown who is head of the airline actually what they’re like? I use them only because of the one world connection and Qantas. Can’t understand why other one world carriers don’t call them to task.

  59. Be careful what you ask for Lucky. You can’t rely on boarding announcements in a AA lounge. The agents in the brand new IAH Admirals Club promised to announce boarding of my delayed flight. They didn’t, and the flight departed. A clear failure by the club but also a monumental #fail by the gate agents who did not contact the lounge to see if the missing EXP first-class passenger with club membership might be there by some remote chance. Good grief!

    Delta is good but not perfect. For example, it hasn’t figured out pre ordering meals for business class and premium economy in spite of the fact that it has had pre ordering special meals for years and encourages preordering Asian meals in business class. American even allows EXPs at least to pre order food in economy. It is mystifying that Delta hasn’t figured this out for all meals in business class and premium economy.

  60. Lucky, I don’t think that you have been flying DL long enough to be aware of the airline’s many deficits. I often fly PBI-LGA, where DL is the only choice if you want a front cabin. The planes are always filthy, really filthy, because the airline doesn’t allow enough time during turnaround for any type of a real cleaning. Mechanical delays are common, and when the problems occur at PBI the passenger is really in trouble, because despite having 4 or 5 daily flights to LGA, 2 to JFK, a couple to DTW and many to ATL, DL has no maintenance crew based at PBI. They must come from from FLL, which is a full hour away, before the crew even starts to work. Meanwhile, my flights on AA from PBI have been effortless and quite pleasant. Beginner’s luck on both of our parts, I guess.

  61. Whether notifications are timely and accurate, it doesn’t change the bad scenario of a maintenance (or any other) delay. It neither speeds up the departure or recovers your lost time. At the end of the day one must decide to choose AA with all its operational warts or go with Delta and its useless FF program, neither option being attractive.

  62. At the end of the day, AA will ignore these posts because you personally don’t bring in enough profit to them. I’d agree with much of what you say, but it’s fruitless effort. Until they get rid of Doug Parker, AA will remain the airline it functions as currently: US Airways.

    Bottom line is their motto these days. I’ve been a CK with AA for three years now and an explat for 10+. I’m curious to see if they extend the invitation for 2019. I’m not holding my breath.

  63. AA started going precipitously downhill once it merged with USAir. More delays, more mechanical issues, the godawful ancient aircraft (not that the new MAXies are an improvement), sorry to say but Ryder staff in general… I could go on and on as nauseam here but it should be fairly obvious to the readers here.

    Not exactly a scoop or surprise. 🙁

  64. AA and AA are in the same boat. That’s Azores Airlines (actually S4 airline code) and American Airlines. But Azores Airlines is sinking faster than AA. Last January I was booked on a 22;30 flight to TER (Terceira Island) and S4 canceled the flight. I was delayed TWO days and had to find accommodation in Boston at midnight ! In April I booked a flight for my store manager to come to the island. She had to take a bus from Cape Cod to BOS. IF Azores Airlines had been considerate of their customers’ time, they would have notified her BEFORE she traveled to BOS. But no– she arrived and was told the flight was delayed til 2pm. Then THAT flight was canceled and she was told to come back next day for a 22:30 flight, and THAT was delayed until 2:30am !! In September (this year) I was booked with two friends for the 22:30 flight. I arrived at BOS at 8:30 and was told the flight was canceled and to comeude back tomorrow. I called my friends in Cambridge (next to Boston) and said — “DON”T COME !!”. They did not receive the cancelation notice from S4 until 21:15 !! So BECAUSE of S4’s incompetence they would have traveled to BOS totally unnecessarily. All of this info was available on at 20:30, but S4 didn’t send notices until 9:15. So I guess the American Airlines inconsideration was comparatively minor, and the S4 plane is losing altitude more rapidly……..

  65. Recently flew from Orlando to LAX. We landed in LA on time and the mysteriously stopped on the taxiway. After 15 minutes I opened the app and it showed a delay to the gate of 35 minutes. 5 minutes after that the pilot finally announced our gate wasn’t ready. Why did I find out first from the app after 20 minutes of sitting?

  66. I must add priority baggage handling to the long list of rants. AA clearly has no respect for its premium passengers’ time, as I am almost always standing there with fellow business/first class passengers waiting forever for our bags while non-premium bags come streaming onto the carousel. This happens not just in overseas stations such as Hong Kong and Mexico City, but also AA hubs such as LAX, DFW and JFK, or AA-dedicated terminals such as SFO, and even on flights connecting two AA hubs – how could that be possible?

    I sometimes fly UA and priority-tagged bags always come our first. And let’s not even talk about international airlines like CX, which differentiates first class bags from business class and manages to deliver in the right order of priority in most airports.

    The only plausible answer is, AA just doesn’t care. This is a system-wide problem which they are not even pretending to address, judging by the responses to a few complaints I filed with them. They should stop putting those silly orange tags if they mean nothing.

  67. From my experience..Delta has been kind of a gold standard in saying why a plane is delayed and does respect people’s time. I feel ever since the merger, the airline is really only American Airlines in name only, but the soul is really a soul-less creature known as US(e-less) Airways. I remember flying the old version of American Airlines they really respected people and didn’t push any of these shenagians (2009-2010).

    The only reason I am really flying them again and using them is because of the blockade in Qatar (and Qatar’s flights being so prohibitively expensive out of Doha)..that I have to either use them and/or take some il-logical flights through Turkey (which ironically through my position I am not allowed to even have a layover in IST for security reasons)..I think this happened with me last year on both the flight leaving out from MIA to SEATAC (where it was a 3 hour rolling delay with some communication from the captain because an airbag issue within the A319 they selected for the exit row seats had problems)..In SEATAC it was a rolling 1 1/2 hour delay going back to Miami with hardly an explanation..and you have people chilling on the floor @ 1145PM..granted they did communicate at the check-in desk..but said we were late by like 30 minutes..and yet another rolling delay.

    And even my last trip out of PHL-MAN they had a rolling two hour delay because of somewhat wrong with the Aircon units on the A330 and no notification.

    But as I said, considering where I work ATM..sadly they are the cheapest..even with one or two stops.

  68. No doubt AA does not care for their clients nor their time with these type of scenarios + the new married segment award availability that totally screws over their most valued frequent travelers with horrid award availability— totally discusting. They’ve duped us all into being loyal to them-BUT NO MORE AA -do not think we are morons. we have already began to redirect our loyalty.

  69. It’s pretty amusing employees are miserable since it was the unions that picked this clown crew to run the airline.

  70. I hear what you are saying but I just looked up comparable award flights on the same exact day with the same exact departure and destination in economy. AA did it for 22,500 points and Delta was 37,000. And that was a lucky day where Delta had some 37K award seats left and didn’t just want to charge me 105K points for an economy seat.

  71. Perfectly stated. AA can and should post real information, promptly. But if they could only find a way to monetize such a feature?

  72. Listen, American is at the top of the heap in terms of having delays. Alright, so they don’t handle communications well on those delays. You can’t expect them to be tops at everything.

  73. AA is the worst when it comes to delays, my experience matches Lucky’s where I’ve frequently had the gate say On-Time when its at departure time, there’s no plane at the gate and the inbound is 30+ mins out. Doesn’t take a genius to sort out that its not on time, then you get the delayed by 15 minutes notice, still no plane, 20 mins later they push it another 15, rinse repeat. If only DL had decent redemptions and the ability to book F awards oh and better partner airlines I’d fly them far more.

  74. I’ve had a couple of international and domestic flights with United over the past year or so, and I’d say they were almost always on time or, when otherwise, communicated delays through their lounges and on their app. Glad I’m not bothering with oneworld at all (and I feel bad for American’s international alliance partners).

  75. Last time I had a delay on AA, they wouldn’t give me any Aadvantage miles as a token gesture. First time that has happened…

  76. I had an upcoming flight from CVG to JFK to BCA on AA. They canceled the JFK to BCA. Didn’t email me or let me know in anyway. If the time changes by one minute, I get six emails about it. But if the flight is canceled…..NOTHING! I just happened to be looking at the reservations. Was very disappointed

  77. I rolling delayed on AA yesterday on a flight from IAH to DFW. It was so frustrating because I was trying to schedule a call when I landed. Ultimately, the flight was an hour late. But there we were sitting on the plane with a departure time listed that was 15 minutes ago over and over and over again. When the departure time was updated, it was often updated to a time already past. This is the airline that used to use superior technology as a weapon against its competitors.

  78. Simple solution: don’t fly AA!

    If enough people stop flying AA, they will either change or go under. Let’s make that happen!

  79. @Lucky – To the point about technology, the irony is, Delta’s iPhone app is a much smaller footprint (size) on your phone than the AA app. Take a look!… AA is ~4x bigger, without offering any of the benefits.

  80. AA’s new slogan. “Copying the cuts of Delta without offering any of the benefits of Delta.”

    So the obvious choice is don’t fly with AA.

  81. I couldn’t agree more.
    I am “forced” to fly AA PDX-CLT monthly as the only direct option and everything about their systems and ground service is dismal. It’s like they know they have the only direct flight and want to rub it in your face, even in paid FC as I am every month.
    We do not need new airline regulations in this country, we need to END the regulations that bans foreign carriers from operating domestic routes. More competition, better service.

  82. I feel like Delta’s slogan should be ‘We screw up as much as any other airline; the difference is that we try harder to fix those problems’. As someone who lives in the small market Southeast, I have become very familiar with Delta’s load ’em and park ’em process when there’s congestion at ATL. Yet Again. Ya know, who would have thought that could happen?

    But they build enough slack into their schedule to account for what can be pretty routine 15-20 minute holds before a departure from an outstation and if the park phase does go long enough to endanger me making my connection, at least they make it easy to slip a phone out of airplane mode while we’re parked and use their app to get myself rebooked on a later flight.

  83. I am living through this right now.
    AA says delayed departure time is 5:44.
    AA also says arrival time of my plane is 6:04.


    I took a screen shot but don’t see a way to post the image.

  84. @lucky: I don’t know if AA was listing, but I’m on my 4th flight in 2 days, and not ONE flight boarded ahead, they actually boarded exactly on time! I’m very excited about this because it helps me plan much better. I got the survey they sent out to EXPs and I marked early boarding as my biggest pet peeve (luckily, I don’t experience a ton of delays, just a few here and there), but leaving the lounge with too much time or thinking I have to be here 15 minutes early just so I have overhead space in any cabin I’m in, is very annoying. I’m thinking the survey reflected how annoying this is to everyone. I’m very happy about this change. FYI, I had this happen consistently in the last 36 hours at LGA, PHL, MCI, and ORD, so it cannot be a fluke.

  85. I totally agree with this. My recent experience with AA has been that they completely do not care about their customers’ time. I was delayed serially for hours in ORD With updates trailing the current time, only one gate agent for a full flight to deal with what would now be missed connections, and zero explanation of the delay. The same week I was delayed in CLT, only to board an hour late, pull back, taxi and then return to the gate 35 mins later to be told we need to move to another plane. Everyone de-planed, moved to an entirely different terminal, and re-boarded. No explanation was ever offered not were there any meaningful updates. This part week I flew PHL to SAT through DFW with 1hr10m layover. Arrived at D29 in DFW, 20 mins late. App, website and connections agent all said SAT connection was leaving out of A28. So I took the train over. Arrived with ~35 mins to boarding. Took a seat a restaurant with a view of the gate and ordered a meal. The moment my meal arrive, approx 17 mins to boarding, I happened to refresh my AA app and see that they moved the gate to D37. No text, no push notifications, no email, no call. I took my food to go. Arrived at D37 only to further refresh the app and see they pushed back boarding by 25 mins a due to the gate change. Total gong show over at AA.

  86. Recently went into the SkyClub and the agent checked my flight and said: “Your flight is 20mins delayed so we are going to announce boarding in the lounge”
    Not really necessary for me as the Delta app keeps me updated but still a nice gesture.
    It’s really not that hard…

  87. I stopped flying American almost completely about 2 years ago. Now, I mostly only fly Alaska and Southwest, and it’s like the craziness of delays and American sending broken planes to my little airport is no longer my problem. Flying Alaska and Southwest is like WONDERFUL! In fact, flying into Portland a LOT, I can usually bank on Alaska actually getting to the gate like 20 to 30 minutes early. And, unlike American at DFW, where any early arrival just means you have to wait for a gate, at Alaska there is almost always an open gate at PDX. Even on the rare chance my Alaska flight is late (like the other day), they sent me an notification 12 hours before the flight (crew timing out issue, it turns out). I did not realize how much American sucked at on-time performance until I left that airline (and I left because they devalued their elite status so much I knew I’d never get another upgrade in my life). I now get treated with so much respect at Alaska. Lucky, you need to leave American. It was liberating for me.

  88. Your experience on American was my exact experience on Delta. The flight was 4 hours delayed, but they didn’t announce that until much later.

  89. Totally agree… No bigger frustration than there are no updates, not even a boarding change in the status to boarding.

    Such minor things that can be done to improve the airline

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