An interesting journey home from Barcelona

While I’ll have more details on my trip to Barcelona in a few days when I post the trip report, I do have a few comical/sad/ridiculous things I feel the need to mention now:

  • I nearly lost it while checking in at Barcelona Airport. The pretty but demeaning 20-something year old American contract worker that checked me in asked me how many bags I was going to check in. I said “none,” and then she looked at my bag with pure horror. Before she had the chance to object I said “it’s a standard carry-on,” to which she responded “that’s much larger than the standard size.” I responded with “it’s a 22 inch that hasn’t given me any trouble for the past 200,000 miles on American.” At this point she looked over at her colleague, rolled her eyes, mocked me for suggesting it was a standard size, and then began talking with her colleague in Spanish as if I wasn’t standing there, including the use of “muy grande.” After a minute she was informed by her colleague that I was in business class, and said “oh, business class, well that’s completely different.”
  • Aboard the flight from Barcelona to New York I talked to one of the flight attendants about American cutting the New York to Budapest flight. It goes without saying that this had something to do with Malev shutting down shop. While I often disagree with management cutting routes (as was the case with Chicago to Delhi), I loved this lady’s reasoning for why American shouldn’t cut the route – “who’s going to fly the poor people now?” Ah, yes, American’s obligation is to fly the “poor people” of Hungary. Good business model.
  • I’ll leave out the commentary, or maybe you guys can guess, but the flight attendant on my flight from Barcelona to New York got one of these from me (pardon my chicken scratch, this is the first thing I’ve written by hand in months):

And now, after flying over 40,000 butt-in-seat miles over the past two weeks, I’m beat. W Bed at home, here I come.

Filed Under: American, Mileage Runs
  1. Flew 200k last year. The only time I was separated from my standard bad was a TXL. protests don’t go far with the Germans. Most frustrated to see folks with much bigger bags them mime getting on the plane. Ah well, was no boggy just one of those silly things.

  2. First off.. I second the W bed (Heavenly Bed) it is great.

    Ben, I have a question – you flew Sri Lankan a few months ago from BOM to MLE. Can you please provide some details?

    Thank you,

  3. @ naroowal — I hope to have the trip report up soon, though do you have any specific questions in the meantime?

  4. Funny, how after two decades spent typing on a computer, my formerly pristine handwriting has evolved into “chicken scratch” as well. Yours looks pretty good though. At least it’s legible.

  5. Just wondering whether the feedback forms that we fill in onboard are truly confidential? more often than not, after making sure i’ve sealed the envelope or fiddling with those self-adhesive tape, the inflight supervisor would come up and either thank me / explain whatever feedback i’ve written! ??

  6. Love the chicken scratch 🙂

    Its easy to understand the AA attendants being inconsistent, distracted or even negative as the company starts into the chapter 11 process. I’m sure they have a lot of painful changes in their near future.

    Are you sure you just weren’t overtired or overreacting after so much back to back travel ?


  7. I warned you about the attitude in Barcelona and if was the only case you got of lightly. I find a few swear words in Catalan? sober them up quickly. OMG I just noticed you haven’t done Emirates A380 First Oh Lucky!!! You are in for one hell of a surprise and the shower is just a bit of it!!

  8. Should of just reminded the check in girl at Barcelona that if it wasn’t for people like you, she could find herself joining those at Spanair…

  9. I disagree, Ben, that flying “the poor people” isn’t a good business model. Flying the “rich” or “middle class” or whoever that American’s management has tried to appeal to over the past decade hasn’t worked out too well. How many people flying with you in those Business or First Class seats actually paid for them? American ain’t no SIA.

    On the other hand, easyjet, Ryanair, Wizz Air, Southwest, JetBlue and several of the other discount carriers have done extremely well by catering to the “poor”. It’s a business model that has indeed been tested and actually works.

  10. PS – Perhaps the flight attendant was using the word “poor” to describe, with empathy, the “unfortunate” or “hapless” people of Hungary, rather than referring to their material wealth?

  11. Ben, I encountered plenty of attitude in BCN while flying back and forth last year multiple times. After they start recognizing you they treat you better, but they are extremely arrogant at first. I think its a Catalan thing. They also bothered me multiple times with my carry on, also had to explain to them that mine was 22″ the max allowed on their airline and posted on their website everywhere. Also curious to see trip report, BCN is a fanastic city. El Prat is a beautiful airport too, T1 of course, and sala Miro is ok. I heard on flyertalk that flight attendants that cover jfk-bcn route are always in terrible mood, they dread flying the route because they very frequently have substantial delays….more details on the service evaluation pls! great work…

  12. Why don’t you check your bags? Also, I am half-Hungarian and there are many many famous and “rich” people that gave come from there. I did not like the bad remarks towards Hungary. Thank you.

  13. Just my humble opinion, but I think offering an unsolicited performance appraisal may come off as being arrogant. If it is on a provided form, hence solicited, I think it is OK. Unless, of course, your point was to come off arrogant. We don’t know how egregious the offenses were 🙂

  14. @ melvin — That’s odd, because in my experience they’re confidential. That being said, I’ve only ever filled them out when the flight attendants asked me to, and I assume those are instances where they think they’re getting good reviews, so they don’t feel a need to open it.

    @ robert — The service was actually great, as I’ll outline in the trip report. So the review was a bit of a joke.

    @ RakSiam — If only they allowed it!

    @ Joe — I’m not saying a low cost/low fare business model doesn’t work. I’m just saying that in and of itself performing a seemingly public service isn’t a reason to keep a route.

    @ ricardo — Happy to hear I’m not the only one!

    @ john — I don’t check my bags because I travel with bags that are within regulation size for being carried on, and I don’t want them to be lost or to wait at baggage claim. As far as the Budapest comment goes, please read my post again. The only thing I’m laughing at is that the flight attendant thought that a reason to keep the flight was to serve the “poor people.” Not saying cutting the route was right or wrong, I just found her reasoning ridiculous.

    @ dmodemd — Trust me, it wasn’t unsolicited, and partly an “inside joke” with this flight attendant that I’ll explain in greater detail in the trip report.

  15. “After a minute she was informed by her colleague that I was in business class, and said “oh, business class, well that’s completely different.”
    You kinda come off a little…um, smug here.
    I wonder what her ‘My evaluation of your cocky attitude’ letter might have looked like –
    I’m just saying…

  16. @ Dan — Those were her words, not mine. I thought it was ridiculous, since the carry-on limit shouldn’t be impacted by what cabin you’re in.

    And the note I wrote was a compliment. Why don’t you wait for the report before drawing conclusions? It was an inside joke…

  17. Does 15-20 minutes waiting at baggage claim that much? What about puffing all those Haha across airports , especially when you are doing many segments?

  18. @ john — Actually it does. When you travel every week, that translates to an extra 20 or so hours of waiting a year. If I can avoid it, why not?

  19. Perhaps she meant the “poor” people will need more transportation options (which AA coul dprovide and make a profit), as there will certainly be a shortage of service to Hungary. Poor not in terms of wealth, but in terms of the unfortunate ones without easy air travel access.

  20. Not only are you saving an extra 20 or so hours of waiting a year, but with the amount you travel it would be likely at least one bag would be lost if you checked them.

  21. Ben, When exactly were you in BCN? I arrived on Thursday the 9th. Too bad I forgot my universal at home, otherwise I would have taken the time to look on here and buy you a beer (or a diet coke 😉

  22. @ aviatorzz — I left Thursday morning, so sounds like I just missed you. Were you on the late inbound from JFK?

  23. I just flew home from BCN on the 9th, and as a coach passenger flying on miles but checking a bag and got absolutely no crap from the desk agent or anyone else in BCN. The agent who assisted me spoke excellent “American” English and was very helpful. My trip was BCN-JFK-ORD-TVC with an overnight in Chicago (I suffered for that reduced mileage award) and the problems with this trip started in the states at JFK. Here is where the story gets long but my wounds are fresh. Arriving at the Immigration lines at 2, I noticed that there were only two desks for dealing with US citizens and one was closing up at two. The woman directing the gigantic line to the smaller lines said, when my mom asked “Why is that one closing?,” his day is over and he must go home. I asked where the next guy was and she said the shift is 6-2 and this guy had to leave, and the next shift is 4-12. Whoever said “You can’t go home again” must have been waiting at JFK between 2 and 4 in the afternoon. But the problems with American started the next day, after the Chicago overnight, when delays, cancellations, and clumsy management of the weather issues resulted in my hour-long 11:15 AM flight to TVC becoming an 11:00 PM flight, with no clear time designated to leave the airport for those 12+ hours.

  24. I was. We had quite the experience leaving JFK due to the snow/ice that hit. Even though we had some awesome tailwinds, we still didn’t make up any time.

  25. @ Ing — I suspect we had the same agent? Younger wannabe Snooki that spoke flawless “American/New Jersey” English? Yeah, she definitely wasn’t nice to me…

  26. @ lucky — I didn’t get a Jersey feel from her, but could be wrong. She was working the counter position closest to the terminal door and was one of the two who opened the desk at around 7:30 A.M. I didn’t see any other potential-Snooki types around 🙂 You must have done something to crank her off… 😉

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