Will I Continue To Fly American Airlines In 2019?

Filed Under: American, Travel

I’ve had a lot of negative things to say about American for the past several months, and I’ve been talking about how I’m planning on switching my business away from them. I promised I’d provide an update on my situation, so in this post I wanted to share what my plan is at this point.

Why American is in a rut

American hasn’t been in a great position lately. Simply put, their shareholders, employees, and customers, aren’t happy:

  • American’s CEO bet that American’s stock would be at $60 by November 2018, and right now it’s at $32; I don’t think I need to say more
  • American recently released the results of an employee survey, and the results were terrible; for example, 26% of employees had a favorable impression of the statement “leaders at American Airlines make the right decisions that take care of our frontline team members,” which gives you a sense of how employees are feeling
  • American completely lacks a vision, and as customers we get an incredibly inconsistent experience; on one end of the spectrum American offers Flagship First Dining, on the other end of the spectrum they offer among the least comfortable domestic aircraft

My personal issue with American

I can handle American being mediocre and just not offering a great customer experience. My real issue, personally, is just how many maintenance delays I’ve had, and how poorly they’ve been handled.

About half of my flights lately have had significant maintenance delays. I simply can’t rely on American to get me where I need to go in a timely fashion anymore, and if an airline can’t get you to your destination reliably, then it’s really hard to be loyal to them.

Rather than recapping all of that here, check out my previous posts in this “saga:”

To be clear, it’s not that I don’t want American Airlines to do maintenance on their planes when something is wrong (of course I do), but rather it’s that I’d like them to take a proactive approach rather than a reactive approach to maintenance.

How is it that Delta’s on-time percentage is way better than American’s, in spite of their average fleet age being significantly higher?

I’m not switching my loyalty to another airline

When I first decided I had enough of American, my thought was to be loyal to Delta instead, since they’re the best of the “big three” global US airlines in terms of operational reliability and customer service.

But in the past several months I’ve had an epiphany. I’m done with airline loyalty. I’m not considering switching my loyalty to another US airline, but rather the only option at this point is to just become a “free agent,” and fly whatever airline works best for each trip.

Airline loyalty programs used to be compelling to the point that it was worth overlooking airlines’ shortcomings, but between the “big three” US carriers cutting elite benefits, increasing status requirements, and increasingly monetizing their premium cabins, it’s no longer worth it to me.

I still think miles are very much worth collecting, but status is no longer worth going for in the same way that it used to be. As far as I’m concerned, airlines have taken these devaluations one step too far. They’re killing the very things that made these programs mutually beneficial.

What I’ve been doing the past month

It’s only about a month ago that I decided I was “done” being loyal to American, and I don’t travel that much domestically.

So for the trips I’ve needed to take, I’ve just flown the airline that is most convenient for my schedule and that represents the best overall value. In instances where American and another airline were tied, I selected that other airline.

For example, I recently needed to fly from Chicago to Miami. American and United had similarly priced fares, and I flew United.

Then this week I needed to fly from Miami to Spokane, and American had by far the best schedule, so I booked them.

I wish I could just quit American “cold turkey,” but…

I’m a Miami hub captive

Ford and I recently moved to Miami “full time” (I’m still gone constantly, but I finally have a “real” home) to be closer to family, and this presents a challenge on the airline front.

I’ve never fully appreciated what it’s like to be a hub captive. In most markets you have a variety of airlines to choose from, and even in some major cities (Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, etc.) you can choose from several airlines.

But Miami is dominated by American to an extreme extent.

One of the things I looked forward to about being in Miami is having a direct link to the Caribbean, South America, etc. American has nonstop flights to just about everywhere from here.

If I were in another major city (other than Charlotte, Dallas, etc.) I’d just completely write off American and say I won’t fly them again, given their abysmal performance. But that’s not something you can do in Miami.

Actually this goes way beyond just what the airline offers, but also involves the airport as such. Delta and United use awful terminals in Miami that aren’t connected airside to the main terminal.

In the main terminal you have an Amex Centurion Lounge, renovated Admirals Clubs, decent Priority Pass restaurants, and more. Never mind that the terminal is reasonably nice, while the other terminals are so-not-nice.

So where does that leave me?

I’m done being loyal to American. I’m no longer going out of my way to fly with them. Ford didn’t requalify for Executive Platinum with American, and that’s by design, because we’re no longer blindly loyal to them.

All else being equal, I’m choosing to fly other airlines over American.

However, for some trips it’s just not feasible to fly another airline. What am I going to do, turn a one hour nonstop flight from Miami to the Caribbean into a six hour journey via Atlanta?

So I’m flying American only when they’re absolutely the best option by a long shot. And when I say “by a long shot,” I mean factoring in that the flight may very well be delayed by a couple of hours.

But unfortunately when you’re based in Miami, that’s still a lot of trips where they’re the best option.

Bottom line

I’ve never fully appreciated the challenges of being a true hub captive. I don’t think there are many markets where that’s more evident than Miami.

For now I’m taking things as they come. I’m loyal to American, and will choose another airline if options are comparable. But the reality is that for many trips out of Miami, you really don’t have a choice.

I don’t know what to do here. Obviously I don’t feel good about this, and I like to put my money where my mouth is. If I were in most other markets I’d quit American without giving it a second thought.

I’m curious how you guys feel about this. Are there any readers who are hub captives who still manage to not be loyal to the airline that literally dominates the airport? Am I taking a fair middle ground approach? Is it unreasonable to continue to fly them when they’re by far the most convenient option yet complain when things go wrong, because I don’t want to give them a free pass?

Comments

  1. I never plan on spending much time at my home airport anyway, so the lounge situation isn’t that important imo. I typically get there in time to grab a coffee and board the flight.

  2. I feel you! 100%! I’m captive by Charlotte airport with AA and deal with issues all of the time, but I don’t really have a choice. I have to fly AA.

  3. Living in LA you probably got spoiled by airline choice. Its truly a great market for consumers with all U.S majors (plus Southwest & Alaska) offering so much capacity.

    Unfortunately, AA does hold you captive in Miami. Maybe you should also consider options from FLL.

  4. Welcome to the Free Agent Ultimate Platinum Diamond Ambassador program, we’ve been waiting for you Mr. Lucky. We offer numerous benefits that no other program can offer including flexibility, freedom, saving money and time, and a most importantly no anxiety over requalifying for status as you are an automatic lifetime member once you join.

    Welcome aboard and Bonvoy!

  5. You will be flying AA most of the time because they will have the most non-stops that you need. Are you really ready to give up all the easy upgrades?? You are going to HAVE to fly AA most of the time anyway, so you might as well continue to maximize your status with them. Ford should have kept AA EXP if he was moving to MIA. I avoid AA like the plague and am happy I can fly AS most of the time. I was forced to fly AA for awhile due to having the need to fly into CLT but didn’t even fly one more RT to get to PlatPro but did an extra mileage run to stay 75K on AS… and I am very happy. But you are hub captive so you have to give in to the dAArk side.

  6. Miami-Fort Lauderdale (jetBlue! Yay!) is like 40 minutes away? About the same time it would take to drive from Calabasas to LAX, give or take? Would it be too pushy to look at FLL & fantastic jetBlue as an alternative?

  7. Fort Lauderdale Airport is close to Miami – JetBlue flies to a ton of destinations in the Caribbean from there, which really are the only routes where flying nonstop is the true best option. JetBlue (especially their Mint service) is much better than American, so maybe you should just fly JetBlue short haul, and then fly whatever you want on longer flights.

  8. I am a loyal AA member. Actually a Gold Member so I fly often. The staff has been nothing but professional and I like that. The planes I have taken have been clean, newer but have had one delay for maintenance.. Before the end of my flight they credited my acct. with 5000 Miles for the inconvenience. I am concerned about the maintenance issue though. Both were Boeing 787s. I am loyal to the wonderful flight staff and I usually gift them Starbucks or Subway Cards around the holidays but also am concerned about their satisfaction which makes everyones experience better. How do I relay this to management? They are the true face of American.

  9. Thanks Lucky 🙂 This summer I have to take four flights with American…..Now I’m worried! 😉

  10. Move somewhere close enough that FLL is an option, and you are instantly in business with AS/WN/B6/DL/UA and AA through FLL AND MIA is still available. It’s not like all the good places to live in that region are in the Miami city limits… and besides, extra 30 minutes on Uber or extra three hours on an AA mechanical?

  11. So you’re done with AA unless AA is the best. Which it likely will be out of MIA. I understand you may fly them less but not much will change most likely. From an AA management standpoint this is “noise around the edges” to quote Marriott.

  12. While I agree with you that MIA is dominated too much by AA and that other terminals used by UA, Delta and others, E, F, and G are completely devoid of amenities that are to be expected in 2019 and complete dumpsters. Why not focus more on FLL? Even though JetBlue, Southwest and Spirit aren’t the big 3 US carriers they have some upside and will make for some interesting reviews!

  13. I used to be loyal to AA. Continued cutbacks, and a feeling that management doesn’t care about the customer experience caused me to drop my loyalty recently. I went the free agent route – book whichever airline has the best schedule for the best price. Being based in AUS, we are blessed with choices.

    I love how AA flight attendants usually say “we know you have a choice of airlines” – thank you for reminding me to check out your competitors.

  14. I’m an ewr hub captive. LGA and JFK are not that far at 3am, but otherwise it’s a 1.5-2hr slog. That said, if I’m on UAX and an ERJ-145 for 2+ hrs, I’ll happily drive to one of those airports.

    FLL is not that far, and you don’t have any of the major traffic issues. I’d absolutely drive to FLL for any flight over 2 hrs if I were you. Heck, PBI is a bit of a hike but sometimes the fares are so much better there as well.

  15. Haha – I went the other way Miami to LA and love it for many reasons including travel options.

    While in MIA, like other suggested I often looked to FLL. Be it JetBlue, Southwest or other domestic players. They help keep the fares honest as MIA local pricing on AA can be a bit steep due lack of choices out of the airport.

  16. You can go to FLL instead, if you’re willing to take the traffic on I-95. Jetblue, Southwest and Spirit (I’m not sure if you’re willing to take them again though) have reasonable sized operations there. And there’s also Emirates new 77L business class there for future reviews ;).

  17. I’ve lately been taking the option that gives me the best personal value in terms of fare and convenience, taking into account the elite/cc benefits I’ll have on each. If it happens to be AA, then AA it is. UA next time? Sign me up. Allegiant or Frontier has the best schedule and lowest price? Not today Satan.

  18. @ Ben — I assume you moved to Miami for the tax break. I wondered why you stayed in CA, with the outrageous taxes, but Miami? It has to be one of the worst big cities in America.

  19. Go to FLL and fly JetBlue if the destination is served by them. They dont have the nicest of interiors on there 320s or 190s but they have free wifi that is actually fast and their customer service is by far better than anyone else as is the in flight service. The credit card is also valuable and a little tip if you are not mosaic, use apple pay with the card. In flight purchases fall off a few days after the flight.

  20. I think for any flights over 2 hours, you should make the commute up to FLL and fly B6. Sure Mosaic is a crappy elite status and doesn’t even give much extra legroom seat guarantee, but the funny thing is that their standard seats have almost as much room as AA, DL, and UA’s enhances offerings. I love AS for MileagePlan, but I really believe B6 is by far the best domestic carrier for onboard experience.

  21. @Ben

    Like you, I have decided that status (especially since most airlines have cut back the value of that status) is no longer my goal. Perhaps — with only a big three — getting us to abandon loyalty was what they wanted, believing that with so few choices, they no longer have to provide us anything to be loyal to, in order to make a profit. Of course, it doesn’t seem to be working that well, especially for AA.

    As for your situation, I’m with the group that says, “If you’re not going to be loyal to a particular airline, consider not being loyal to a particular airport, either, and fly out of FLL when that is the best option for you.” Besides everything else, I find it a much easier airport to deal with than MIA.

    Also, I am intrigued that — with all of the criticism given to AA’s focus on being on time, over providing customer service (like getting someone an upgrade or making sure catering is loaded) your major gripe with them is that their maintenance delays keep you from getting where you want to go in a timely fashion. Doesn’t that justify AA management’s on-time focus-to-the-detriment-of everything-else policies (regardless of the fact that the delays you’re experiencing are showing it’s not working, anyway)?

    As a rule, I’m ok getting somewhere a little late, if the onboard experience is more satisfying. I’m also wondering if those maintenance issues are a result of management’s orders to get the planes out on time, before any other consideration. Perhaps small things are ignored, until they become too big to ignore, changing potential short delays into inevitable long ones?

    Finally, the seats on AA’s 737 MAX (and now other) planes are just too uncomfortable to fly, and have become the straw (added to the hay bale of the aforementioned focus on on-time departure over passenger care, the removal of IFE, the loss of value in Aadvantage, the treatment of their front-line workers, etc.) that broke my loyalty back. As such, I have gone from an EP, going out of my way to fly AA every chance I could, to a mostly free agent, with a preference for jetBlue and Delta. Bottom line: I get treated beautifully on those two airlines. Not so much on American, anymore.

  22. For me, I’ve decided to not fly on one of the 3 majors, UA, DL, AA. Then I had to decide which one it was. I chose AA though I could see how some would choose UA and only a few DL.

    I also fly AS and WN.

  23. After beeing Executive Platinum for 10 years, i am about to give up with AA. I am now Diamond on Avianca which at this time gives a lot of perks to high level customers.
    2 years ago i got 4 worlwide upgrades after paying a lot to get 200,000 status miles. Guess what, i lost these upgrades since they are only usable on flights like Houston-Dallas or LAX-PHX. In top of all ground staff in Paris were useless on my last trip. I had a ticket CDG LHR LAX, British Airways cancelled the first leg and i couldn’t get my flight from LHR TO LAX. The staff told me that i had to buy a new ticket since the flight operated by BA was cancelled. They didn’t taje in consideration that the ticket was issued by AA.
    No more AA for me now …

  24. Last 4 flights out of fwa were delayed due to maintenance, last time took 8 hours to fly to ORD, a 26 min. flight!! If it weren’t for all our miles we would switch. Flight #5 this Thursday with 2 grandkiddos from FWA, we will see. Time before #4 was 4 hrs FWA to CLT, 4 hrs in CLT to TPA and no luggage

  25. I live in Dallas, but only fly domestically to connect internationally (when I am using oneworld). There are a lot of options though, because (for example, if I am going to AMM, which is mainly where I fly to.) I can take Emirates (DFW-DXB-AMM), but it adds an extra 2 or 3 hours going to Dubai. I can take Qatar Airways (DFW-DOH-AMM), but same problem as Emirates. Etihad has the same problem aswell (DFW-AUH-AMM). The most efficient way I can travel, is by taking British Airways using British (DFW-LHR-AMM) all the way, instead of using American to go to JFK or ORD or similar, then going on British. There are many more airlines I can take, too. But (for example) if I go to YYZ nonstop, I’m stuck with either Air Canada, or American. American flies 737 (wifi and gogoinflight equipped, starting Feb. 15), while Air Canada flies smaller aircraft such as Embraers using seperate carriers, which are more cramped and don’t have any entertainment features that American’s 737s have, so I’m forced to take American. Even with Dallas, American’s hub, I can still usually get good flights internationally, but the case is different domestically.

    (Information may be inaccurate.)

  26. American has turned into Ameriscam – a big miles ponzi scheme. I have over one million AAdvantage miles and can rarely find premium seats for international travel anymore, which is the reason I joined their program. Makes sense though to fly whoever works for you best.

  27. I used to be based in Charlotte (an airport basically built to serve AA), and I was still loyal to another airline. I only flew them when it was nessisary or when they were the cheapest option (all things considered). Normally I’d just fly to NYC and take a connecting flight from there (and because of the competition the ticket was pretty cheap).

  28. Fly out of Fort Lauderdale (FLL) it’s about 20 minutes north of north miami (like aventura) and has service from all airlines without being dominit. Fort Lauderdale is headquarter to Spirit (which you said you liked the big front seats and are adding WIFI). Southwest and JetBlue have big hubs there too. You can fly to the Caribbean via JetBlue or southwest or spirit from Fort Lauderdale for cheaper. A lot of intentional airlines fly there such as Emirates, British Airways, Norwegian (for now), Avancia, Azul, etc. And United, Delta and American all fly to all there hubs and some focus cities. Prices are cheap. The terminals are for the most part nice and easy to navigate. Terminal 4 (spirit and international) was just rebuilt and very nice. Terminal 1 (Alaska, United, Southwest and others) is nice and new and was just renovated. Terminal 2 (Delta and Air Canada) is being renovated soon. Terminal 3 (connected airside to Terminal 4) is not the best but much nicer then Terminal E-H and Miami. Eventually they are going to connect them airside and expand it and make it nicer. I know it’s leasure and they really don’t have any lounges (one small sky club and one United club) but the terminals (especially 1A) are really nice and almost feel like a lounge. It’s a smaller airport so easier to get though too in all ways. If you can forgo first class and take like JetBlue and southwest for the Carrebian and other non hub destinations and fly United and Delta to there but route from there or a one stop I would say much better then American. I used to do Miami all the time and it’s an awful airport and your stuck with American, I use FLL fully now and despite a further drive have much better experiences. Also as a south Floridan resident for almost 20 years Ben welcome to sunny South Florida!

  29. “About half of my flights lately have had significant maintenance delays.” -ok that is not a complaint the seat is too hard or you didn’t like the champagne selection in first class. That is a serious frickin issue when you are having delays 50% of the time.

  30. Dude, just fly Southwest! Best customer service by a hundred miles, a consistent flying experience, and an absolutely unrivaled rewards program. For long haul international go Delta.

    Problem solved.

  31. Come to the JetBlue darkside 😉

    Being in NYC im lucky, I do 60/40 JetBlue/Delta split for domestic flying. It works really well for me.

  32. Just curious: why don’t you use Fort Lauderdale or maybe even West Palm Beach if you have a problem with Miami?

  33. This is no different to my current and previous home airports (MEL and LHR). I am and was captive to one airline (QF and previously BA).

    Neither are as bad as AA imho (say that as an AA Platinum in a past life for several years), and I actually like QF, but there’s no competition, so they can basically do what they want.

  34. Go work for AA as a consultant, make everything better for us and yourself, and continue to fly AA. Okay thanks.

  35. I live in NY and work in Chicago. Exec Plat on AA and Plat on United. I feel like this about both airlines. Fly to Asia and Europe often and am just done. The US carriers are just BROKEN pieces of…

  36. Ben, I suggest you continue to be a free agent. Unless you live on the north side of Miami, then forget about FLL; the commute just isn’t worth the hassle. Fly AA when the schedule and cost make sense to do so, and fly the rest when AA isn’t the best option. Make lemonade out of lemons. You’re in a captive AA hub; use it to your advantage. And do what the rest of us EXP members do: Build longer connections at the hubs or intl. gateways.

  37. Welcome to Miami! I moved here 4 years ago from California and love it, Love the low taxes! Love how close I live to the ocean. As many many others have said if you are flying anything other than American, fly out of FLL, both DL and UA have lots of flights to their hubs, I have just started to fly Jet Blue a bit but FLL is a Hub for them. Luckily I live about equidistant from both airports, a little closer to FLL but I only fly out of MIA for International Nonstops now. I tried flying AA out of MIA in the beginning but it just got too frustrating with the crazy maintenance delays.

  38. So you’d fly united in coach to Chicago versus American with chance of upgrade? Or these were first fares?

  39. Short the stock. You’ll probably feel better if AA keeps headed downhill. And if AA turns around, you’ll lose money on the short but your flights will be on time, happier FAs, etc.!

  40. Mark,

    Your post made me laugh, please continue!

    Lucky,

    Ugh, you’re in the wrong hub! Hubs are the best if you live in Atlanta, Seattle, Honolulu, or Detroit. Have you thought about giving your loyalty to Alaska when you fly AA?

  41. I am with you and agree on most of your notes. After 1.5M miles and 4 straight years of EP. I’m done, now a lowly platnium and most of my $25K annual ticket spend is spread out to two other carriers.

  42. See it positive. With AA being the local goto airline for most of the routes they´ll surely command a premium which in turn will make it a walk in the park for you to achieve your qualifying dollars early. Yay!

  43. Welcome to Dallas. For most every international flights and all of the overnights from Pacific coast (crucial to connection on late TPAC arrival bank), your hands are on American. Hope Moxy works out.

  44. This whole article sounds like ridiculous, self-inflicted whining. How can you travel for a living and not know that you will be hamstringed to American Airlines should you move to Miami, especially given your constant articles expressing your hatred for the airline? There’s no way you could fly so much, hate American Airlines so much, and have no idea they dominate Miami.

    As another poster mentioned, lounges are negligible at a home airport, so lack thereof should not be reason enough not to fly a competitor.

    Giving credit where it’s due, Miami is a horrible airport…customs, security, and layout are all terrible, and weather conditions are abundant.

    It seems everyone (including me) says the same thing, fly out of FLL. I am baffled you couldn’t figure that out on your own, but I’m sure you are just looking for another reason to write another hyperbolic, whiny article about American Airlines. Is there seriously nothing else to write about?

  45. I used to work for Republic Airlines which is basically American and they are COMPLETE GARBAGE. TRASH towards the employees almost as much as the customers. They mock everyone, have disgusting attitudes, they get out of line and when you mention it you (me as the employee) gets written up about it and after a couple of times fired? They most definitely profile and discriminate and I am a white woman in her 20’s closer to 30. Just disgusting the level of rudeness it is completely absurd. They do nothing but lie, I’m sorry to say this but not sorry. ‍♀️

  46. Lucky, as a PHL-based flyer, I find myself in a very similar situation. Like you, saying that I have grown disillusioned with AA would be the understatement of the year (to come). So here’s where I landed.

    Unlike you, 95% of my travel is domestic flights under 3 hours, often from AA hub to AA hub. Even as a top tier elite, upgrades are never a guarantee and falling short of that this year means securing even fewer upgrades. I did a status match last spring to Delta (when I was a lowly gold … to lowly silver) and immediately the difference was night and day. I was once greeted by name when boarding an aircraft…compare that with AA where the flight attendant can’t even be bothered to look up from her phone. Upgrades out of PHL would clear on occasion as a Delta silver (good luck if you’re AA Gold) even at peak times. Sure, it means taking a connection but that allows me to accrue more MQMs and ultimately will ensure I make it to Diamond in 2019 with Delta instead of falling short again with AA.

    The only thing that has complicated this for me is that the discrepancy in pricing between AA nonstop and Delta with a connection is growing to a point where it is often hard for me to justify. While my company would probably never bat an eyelash, I feel guilty taking a $350 Delta flight that will take me 5.5 hours to get from point A to point B when a direct flight is available for $95 on AA. And so that’s where the challenge comes in.

    I think the only way I’ll hit Delta Diamond in 2019 is if I go out of my way to fly Delta every single time I’m flying for work this year, even when it makes little sense because of schedule or price. And I’m not sure that is something I want to do.

    This doesn’t even touch on the fact that SkyPesos are basically useless, but I typically find that getting oneworld miles is pretty easy for my two “big” trips every year on premium international oneworld carriers.

    What would you do?

  47. So, I guess the best response is “ok”…. Just not sure why your personal plight needs to be so public? When one flies a lot (AA 750k), one realizes that there is a higher probability that one will encounter a problem. Perhaps it is not the problem that is important, however, perhaps it is how you respond. I would infer that you might have difficulty responding well. And in this case perhaps you need to simplify. Food for thought. Best of luck!

  48. Hey Ben, as someone who’s been reading since before you moved to Seattle I just wanted to say it’s been wonderful and interesting watching where life has taken you. Tampa,Seattle, LA, and now Miami. Anyways congrats to you two! Glad to see your somewhat settling down to one place, maybe one day we’ll see you get a dog finally lol

  49. I live an hour and a half from DTW and as such was a loyal Delta flyer for years – diamond status – but gave it up 2 years ago to become the “free agent” you speak of, taking whatever is most convenient schedule or best price. If I go to CLT I usually take American, or United if I go to DEN, etc. I’m a lot happier as a result, I still have gold or platinum status on all of the “big 3” carriers.
    Delta lost my loyalty because I had too many bad experiences wherein I determined they don’t really care about your loyalty. I think that’s true of all of them, so why should I give it to them? They just want to herd cattle and make a lot of money.

  50. “Spoke captivity” is very real too: when your choices are American (Eagle), Frontier, and Southwest, American doesn’t seem that bad by comparison.

  51. Yeah, I have to imagine there are a lot of folks who “played the game” with status that have stopped. Corporate spend has been good these last few years, and elite ranks are replenished by people who don’t know/don’t care about maximizing their elite benefits. I was UA 1K and then AA EXP for 15 years — when AA added the revenue requirements, dumped SWUs and cut mileage earning to be tied to fare paid, I stopped cold turkey. Just wasn’t worth it anymore. My spend on AA went from $5-7k annually down to $500 last year. As a free agent now (albeit lifetime midtier status on a couple airlines) life is ok. The benefit that I miss the most is the award flexibility — when redeeming for premium awards, I now have to bag the dates/times I want the first time. Oh, and the priority on waitlists for standby (not to mention free standby and free same day changes)…

  52. AA does have a troubling amount of mechanical delays. I fly out of Boston (BOS) or Providence (PVD) so I have some choice. International airline options are great, but domestic is mostly AA…unfortunately.

  53. How is Miami Hub-captive… please explain further.
    *FLL is right up the road and JetBlue has amazing options.
    * Emirates has their 777 with the new -new 2-2-2 busienss class which I found to be the best busienss class seat I’ve experienced.
    * Almost all European Star Alliance Airlines serve Miami and actually combine for more Europe service than American.
    * Almost all SkyTeam airlines based in Europe service Miami
    * Delta has 20 flights a day to their ATL hub between MIA and FLL
    * United serves SFO and all other hubs outside LAX from both MIA and FLL
    *All South American Star Alliance and SkyTeam carriers serve Miami heavily and most FLL

    I live in Miami, left American years ago and I’m loving life!! I’ve saved thousands of dollars in cash and still gotten benefits when needing them. I also still have United 1K but I’m not 100% loyal to them. If you think you’re hub-captive in Miami , you are not the travel expert I perceive you to be.

  54. My goodness. All this complaining about American Airlines and airports. We live in a country with free enterprise and therefore our airlines do not get support from the government like most other countries. Plus, the amount of flying has increased at least ten-fold in a few years. WHY, ? because of cheaper flights. And while I dont appreciate rude airline workers, uncomfortable and dirty seats, or delays, I dont fret . First of all, I’ve been luckier with AA than with United. Delta is better but I find AA easier for my needs. I go out of EWR because it’s closest and spending time and tolls to LaGuardia or Kennedy is a waste. BUT ,( at least so far) I’ve gotten to my destinations safely and that’s the most important thing to me. Plus, why dont we talk about the prima donna flyers out there.? The rude, inconsiderate, obnoxious,etc etc . Wouldn’t flying be better for all if they would stay home.? While I don’t think workers should ever be rude, the same goes for travelers. Just because you may be a frequent flyer or a first class one , no one should be the way many travelers are. Why should a gate agent tolerate those that dont read the fine print and make demands and threats. Airlines should defend their workers and not hand out miles or cash because someone complained when they were wrong . Maybe ,then , an agent ,steward , even pilot can tell a passenger where they should go when acting up instead of letting a passengers dog shit on a seat , or bring odorous food on board, or put that third bag on top. Personally, stop complaining and be better humans. Maybe ,the airlines will follow suit . ( of course that does go for the rude AA CEO who should be fired)

  55. Finally back in a state with no income tax. Well done. If you are going to pay CA tax you really ought to actually live there and enjoy it. Not your lifestyle.

  56. My story parallel’s John’s. 3mm on AA and 1mm on DL gives me essentially the same lifetime status. Last year I stopped flying AA because of mechanical delays, Cust Svc people who have no clue what service is and dont care, and DOGS as big as me on the planes. DL was great for the year, but I had a trip to Jacksonville last week and didnt want to change planes in ATL. Both flights to/from JAX were full of dogs, big dogs. I am very allergic to dogs, cats, horses, etc. Then I left for Bend, Or, and guess what, more 100lb dogs flying in the cabin on AA. Done. I will fly SW before getting on AA again if I can help it!

  57. I fly from El Paso to Austin and occasionally to EWR. I have either AA or Southwest as options. Unfortunate Southwest direct options are very inconvenient. It is also very hard to get Emergency Row on Southwest airlines. I have been #1 in line and the people from the previous flight took over the emergency row.

    Last year I made EXP for the third year in a row. 35 – 4 segments round trips, $13500. This is my money and not paid by a company.

    With the change in required money spent I will not make EXP this year. I am 6′ 2″ tall and barely fit in most seats. The last 2 weeks of the year there were equipment issues putting me into regular seats. Because my Mesa Airlines American Eagle flight from El Paso left late. I got to the gate of my flight from DFW to Austin 3 minutes after the doors closed, the gate agents put me on the next flight, This was the last flight from DFW to AUS I was put in 18A. My knees were up against the seat in front. During takeoff the guy sitting in the seat in front of me laid his heat back into my knees causing an very large amount of pain. He was a jerk and would not put his seat completely up. It took 3 days and a chiropractor treatment to help get better.

    Then about 5 days later on my last trip of the year my scheduled flight between ELP and DFW was cancelled forcing me to take a later flight out of DFW. Originally, on the flight between DFW and LGA, I had an emergency row aisle, but because of the flight cancellation the EXP desk got me an emergency row window on the next flight, 15 A. The equipment was changed to a 737 MAX where 15A is not an emergency row. If you are not aware, the AA 737 MAX has the smallest seat width in the industry. I complained to the gate agent that as a taller and a little wider individual I would not fit in the seat. I use to be a firefighter and my shoulders are a little wider than normal, she was very rude and told me “Just get on the plane!”. She said something under her breath that sounded a lot like profanity, but I could not be sure it was directed toward me. I set on 15 A and the window frame was right on my lower ribs and the arm rest on the right side was shoving on my hips. My right shoulder was deep in to 15 B’s seat. This was the most uncomfortable I have ever been. As I was about to get off the plane due to the extreme uncomfortably, the flight attendant found someone to trade seats ,who was much smaller. This put me in a nicer seat but was still uncomfortable

    The is my once in a year vacation the only vacation I can take.

    By the way out of the 35 round trips only 2 had all 4 segments on time. The remaining trips, usually between DFW and EL Paso, at least 1 segment was late, some times 2 segments were late.

  58. I live in Denver, but refuse to fly United or southwest. I fly Delta. I’ve been platinum for the last 2 years and it has been amazing. Yes going to Vegas turns into a 5 hour flight instead of 1.5, but with the platinum card I have every good lounge available to me and above all that I’m on the best airline in the US. I refuse to add revenue to companies that do not give things back to their customers. Delta 777 international is a 3-3-3 configuration for comfort not for revenue like the typical 3-4-3 layout. There are plenty of reasons why I fly Delta but to answer your question, I live in Denver and fly Delta and love it. Their people are the best in the industry and they know how to put passenger comfort above all and that earns my money and loyalty.

  59. Nonstop always wins.
    There is no airline I hate so much that I would avoid them if they were the only nonstop option available. Lived in Philadelphia for three years prior to the US/AA merger. Loathed US, but, when going on vacation to Europe, there was absolutely no way I would change planes to fly another airline when US, with all its problems, could take me to Spain, Italy, or wherever I was going, non-stop. One several occasions over the past decade, I had to travel to Dubai, and Emirates is one of my least favorite airlines, but on the routes I was flying, it was the only non-stop, so EK it was. Can’t justify turnIng a 4 or 8 hour trip into a 12 hour one. To me, it’s a no-brainer. When you have to change planes and all fares and schedules/travel times are the same – that’s when preference comes into play and you get to have fun picking your favorite airline, which I do enjoy throughly…

  60. MIA is now your airport hub? OMG!!!!!!! Wish you luck. I found funny your post where you say you are not loyal to AA anymore, bla bla bla, BUT I have a feeling that by 12/31/2019 you will again qualify for Exec Platinum with AAA. Just a feeling that will happen again.

  61. I’m in DFW so I’m in a similar situation. Flying Southwest in cattle class isn’t going to cut it. Alaska doesn’t fly to enough destinations. I do charter sometimes but it’s my company so that comes out of my profits. If I do find get in on some crazy deal like the Cathay F one which I missed out on, I’ll probably still try to requalify to EXP.

  62. I know how you feel. I used to live in Dallas and almost flew American exclusively as AA dominated there. I have Platinum for life so that was another big incentive to use them. Platinum isn’t anything too special but in those hubs you get stuck using dominant airlines more. My guess is more times than not you will be loyal to AA.

  63. Lucky, I completely understand where you’re coming from. I am going to leave American this year, this year will be my last year as EXP and I’ve changed my business with Alaska. However I have some reservations with AA but all of them will be credited to Alaska (all of them are in business class international). I am done with their bullsh*t customer services. Sadly, they have drop their ball too many times. Only one thing I will miss AA is having the access to first class lounges.

  64. My 2019 prediction… You’ll end the year having requalified for Executive Platinum.

    As you say you’ll take lots of American Flights because of being based in Miami. By mid year you’ll be on your way to Executive Platinum, the thought of losing One World Emerald will be playing on your mind as those first class lounges are too attractive, and this idea of free agency will go out the window!

  65. I love flying AA. Unless I am going out of the country that is the only Airlines I use.I leave Dallas and get off in my home state Virginia. American offer direct flight seven days a week. My last trip I had a six hour delay because something was wrong with the plane. They gave us free sandwichs and snacks for waiting so long for another plane. That was the first time I had a delay. I rather wait, than discover something is wrong with the plan after I take off. Nothing in life is perfect so I just go with the flow and have less stress. I will continue to fly American.

  66. You write this post every year and then throughout the year you go on about how close you are to requalifying to exec plat etc. all then time

  67. I agree with the others, perhaps give FLL a shot ?
    Otherwise, when you do have to fly AA, why not instead credit them to say BAEC to really detach from them and still earn oneworld privileges for your AA flights ? Especially since BAEC Silver or gold would give you admirals club even on domestic legs ? Just a thought as it would really let you detach from AA.

  68. I have had a harsh experience with AA. They crushed a corner of my $3000 Bass Guitar and I was talking with Baggage specialist Sue Robinson. They offered me $300 or 10,000 miles which, as a professional musician, I truly thought was inconsiderate and disrespectful. She was supposed to kick me upstairs to her Superior so I could state my case. They never called back no matter how many messages I left and literally, left me hanging… I have retired the damaged bass and fixed it myself with Bondo, but it sounds completely different and has lost its gleam. Not cool AA. I wish you would just allow me to carry my bass on board in a softbag like Delta and Southwest. This never would have happened.

  69. I purchased a nonrefundable AA ticket for my wife to come visit me with insurance. My job had me change where I stayed to another state. AA would not honor the insurance. Job change is not reason for refund

  70. I have had my fair share of horrible experience with American. Below is a little run down I have emailed American and am currently waiting on a response

    American Airlines,

    I am very disappointed, annoyed, stressed, confused, you name it. I was excited about this trip not only because of the destination but also because I was going to be flying in business/first class all the way to Lisbon comfortably. That sadly did not happen.

    This trip has solidified my opinion about your company. You are lacking in customer service and satisfaction when in comes to international travel. Complications are your strong suite.

    My stateside flight went off a little late, no big deal, it happens. My overseas flight did not unfortunately even leave the ground.

    The pilot did not show up for flight AA142 which changed the departure from 11:00 AM to 7:00 PM on Dec 26th, 2018. Not an option since I was catching a connecting flight.

    When trying to figure out what my options were I called the customer service line for help. They hung up on me and sent me straight to a survey prompt. Luckily I was in line as well for the customer service at the JFK airport.

    They were able to book me on a flight to Madrid that eventually connected me to Lisbon at 9 am on December 27th. JFK to Madrid flight AA8644 and Madrid to LIS AA8736.

    This did not go without it’s complications. The customer service crew could not get anyone to retrieve my bags from the flight I would no longer be on. I was told to go to baggage claim, lost bag area to be they could helped. They sent me back to customer service, another problem arose trying to get back to customer service. They never gave me a ticket for the flight they booked me on. Luckily I was able to use the first flight to London ticket to get in.

    Once back at the counter they informed me they spoke to someone that would get my bag rerouted. I unfortunately was not able to wait to make sure this happened.

    In trying to get to my new terminal, go through security and find my gate I am told my ticket is not a boarding pass but the AA customer service informed me it is. I was not able to go through security and I had to find the Iberia ticket counter and wait for it to open to get my boarding pass.

    Finally getting my new boarding pass and getting into the correct terminal I discovered that my new flight AA8644 to Madrid is delayed but should still be able to make my connection to Lisbon. Once arriving I was cutting it close to make my connection to Lisbon, but low and behold the flight to Lisbon is also delayed.

    Once arriving in Lisbon I discovered that my bag never made it.

    I filed a lost bag claim, contacted American Airlines about the lost bag and did not get any help and was told that your airline is not responsible. The last know tracking location was at JFK in American Airlines hands, they removed the bag at 6:45 pm and my flight to Madrid was at 5 pm.

    When contacting Iberia airlines I was unable to connect with anyone who spoke English. I was assured the number given to me by American Airlines there was an English option. I contacted the airport and American Airlines daily until my bag was found. I did not receive my bag until 12:30 am on the 30th.

    In closing, I would like to still have faith in the airline but I’m not sure if it’s possible. With the downgrade in flights I am owed a refund and also I was unable to file a bag claim with American airlines. Not being able to file a claim left me with having to purchase items out of necessity and will not be reimbursed

  71. Welcome to Miami! You’ll have a great time here. But… I actually did miss my EVA flight JFK-TPE-BKK. Gave myself 3 plus hour window to make the connection from but maintenance and then holding pattern killed it. I got to see EVA push back from it’s gate as our extremely late bird was taxiing in. Thanks AA!

  72. Tip: Try and get the lowest status for each major US airline (possibly even second tier) so you will have some benefits for each airline but are not automatically drawn towards one airline.

  73. Omg. Miami? No, you need to be in FLL. Not just the airport. You should be moving to FLL. Less expensive and IMHO more scenic than MIA. Great gay friendly communities. Nice airport with lots of airlines. And for more international options, MIA is a quick easy ride on tri-Rail

  74. @Lucky – first, my very best wishes to you and Ford for your new chapter in Miami. I’ve followed your blog for years and am genuinely so happy for both of you.

    Secondly – have you thought about moving away from AAdvantage but sticking with a different OW FF programme (eg BA)? Under current BA rules I am sure you would relatively easily qualify for OWE, plus that would of course get you Flagship access in MIA on all of your AA flights, domestic or otherwise, and mean that you didn’t have to chase the EQD threshold on AA (which, again, I appreciate you may end up easily meeting anyway!). I appreciate it wold also involves giving up SWUs etc, but genuinely just wondering if you’ve thought about it as an option.

  75. There is a silver lining, though…

    At 600 Euros a shot for “Non Force Majeure” significant delays (admittedly out of Europe only, and just for that I hope that Britain remains in the EU), American can be a gold mine. You have to learn how to play the game, though, and not fall for the lame excuses which are pure bull. Once the delay has accrued, they can’t get out of the compensation unless you let them…

    Believe me, it’s worth it.

  76. I’m DFW based and have been Ex Plat for the last decade. For 2019 I joined most DFW Ex Plats in the new upgrade class: packed shoulder to shoulder in MCE, with a free cardboard box of junk sourced from a vending machine company and an ironic “thank you for your loyalty” knife twist fromt he flight attendant. I’m done with AA loyalty. AA miles are now worthless, VIP’s won’t even clear on domestic flights, and upgrades are dead. I status matched to DL last month and will fly them where I can. I’m not expecting them to be dramatically better, but I think they want my business more than AA. At least with DL my flight will always leave and return to the same terminal. Delta’s hubs aren’t any worse than AA’s and the truth is that you connect more than you’d think out of DFW with AA. They have a lot of frequency in big markets, but you go through CLT, ORD, or PHL to get anywhere else. For international travel, they premium price the nonstop DFW market to the point that it’s always much cheaper to take the connection anyway.

  77. If you compare pre- and post-Parker elite programs: CK is what Exec Plat used to be; Exec Plat, Plat Pro and Plat are basically the same — the old Gold status; Gold is what non-status passengers used to have; non-status passengers are sitting in F on discounted tickets that the business travellers can’t buy because of company restrictions. Somebody thought this was a good idea. We’ll see what happens when the economy softens and they need that loyalty back to fill planes.

  78. American Airlines management is in way over its head; I can see another bankruptcy ahead. The only individuals AA treats worse than its customers are their own employees. Whenever possible I fly the best of the carriers out there, which currently is Southwest Airlines with their attentive friendly customer service, no bag fees or change fees. On time flights, few mechanical problems or delays or cancellations works for me!

  79. I recently flew American from BOS to OGG (Kahului, Maui, Hawaii). The trip out was on par with promised services but the return trip was a nightmare. After paying full pop for first class on the OGG to Dallas route, (the flight was on the 1st of January so there could have been some caveats for that travel date) out tickets were bumped down to premium economy without conversation and gave no option to choose another flight on first by issuing an immediate refund. Yeah the difference on the refund was not much and I do not believe it made up the cost. On top of that. The flight was delayed an hour due to a fault seatbelt in the first class cabin, causing them to bump ANOTHER passenger back and someone in premium economy was bumped to the back. Due to the delay. We missed our second flight (also first class) and was put in econ. Terrible experience.

  80. I’m with you. Free agent all the way and I avoid American at all costs. Although, my struggle isn’t the on time issue lately. They would not make reasonable accommodation for my partner who is in a wheelchair to make a connecting American flight. We lost a day of vacation and what hurt most is that the people I worked with at American didn’t even try to care. If your business has lost all humanity you won’t be in business long.

  81. 2018 was no doubt a challenging year for American. The mechanical challenges, the less than stellar 737 MAX reviews to name a couple, were some challenges that defined 2018 as not being a banner year for the carrier. But the outlook for 2019 is trending up. The flight attendant group has now merged, and those service disruptions related to crew staffing issues will be greatly lessened. The upper management has committed themselves and the company to a drastic improvement over 2018. 2019 will also feature the complete installation of onboard satellite WiFi—I used it this weekend—which is an outstanding product that performs in the air as well as my home service, television streaming and all. The airline still has yet to come to terms with its mechanics, yet if they do you’ll see 2019 offer an even better product for American’s customers. The mechanics negotiations is the last merger integration issue that the carrier is facing. I think the carrier should listen more to its customers and employees about the 737 Max issues. The perception of the aircraft has already been negatively defined, and it might behoove American to rethink some of its decisions about the aircraft, but on whole, as customers of American I too foresee the airline experience trending upward.

  82. I relate. But I think it’s more than just that the “game” has changed. You have changed as well.

    And I do find it’s easier not to be loyal to an airline when you are paying to fly in F most of the time. But if you are flying in Y, I think (some) loyalty still might make sense.

  83. My last two flights on AA were very uncomfortable. This has led me to search for other airlines. The planes that are used are so out of date. Flights to Ireland didn’t even have personal TV’s, only offering was the TV monitors in the aisle. There are so many other options to choose from that I now avoid AA whenever possible.

  84. Interesting that few responces to your hub captive question came from Houston flyers. The United merger with Continental degraded airline service from Intercontinental several years ago with similar customer complaints and few alternative choices. Mergers rarely achieve the desired financial results, and yes, monopoly abuses to service can sometimes fill management’s Christmas bonus box. I too have chosen to fly away from the incumbent out of frustration. Re-regulation likely is not the answer, but the frequent publication of flight safety incidents will eventually have an impact at the congressional level and perhaps flow through to a more responsive industry, regardless of who is the worst of a bad bunch. PT Barnum said it well, and the flying public seems to be more concerned with getting there cheaply; so being told their choice is the best choice regardless of reality will prevail.

  85. PHL-based and feeling your pain. American controls 82% of traffic, and their service is abysmal. The best case ever against monopolies. They are the Comcast of airlines. (And like Comcast, which I dropped the day Verizon Fios made it to my area, I take every opportunity I can to avoid AA, even though I am Plat with AA and have no status elsewhere).

  86. I left AA because of their crappy fleet. I mostly blame it on their US Air fleet. It became too much of a burden when booking to avoid it. The US Air fleet was designed to be a low cost carrier fleet. It is basically like old Spirit planes.

  87. Lucky,

    I understand the gist of your post but as so many have posted above each situation is different. I’m 3 million on AA and 1 million on Delta. I live in Orange County, CA and fly SNA domestically usually and LAX internationally. I typically make at least 12 international trips with a heavy emphasis on Asia that typically routes through HKG. My company will pay up to premium economy but not biz class. Under this situation loyalty still means a lot to me. AA has one flight a day each way and getting systemwides is a big deal for upgrading a 14 hour flight. Also Cathay flies 3 flights a day from LAX and premium economy is a LOT better than coach. I have even been upgraded a few times on an American ticket flying Cathay due to emerald status. Finally the biggest perk with One World is the first class lounge privilege. Tough to beat with Cathay in HKG and LHR. Also Flagship in LAX and Qantas. Sometimes I go through Narita and use the first class JAL lounge. It makes a big difference to me to have a good meal and some tasty champagne before a flight if I’m going to have to be in PE.

  88. I too was loyal to AA until now. I fly from PHX to SAN frequently and my only choices for a direct flight is either AA or Southwest. For years it would cost me around 30,000 points round trip on American if booked ahead of time. Last week (after the new year) it cost me 100,000 points for the same round trip ticket. I asked why so much and the agent just said, “they have made some adjustments”.
    Needless to say, I’m going for other options.

  89. Bienvenido a Miami…. you will enjoy the summer even more than the winter with much less traffic. The city is booming with everyone from Latin American owning property but its definitely an American hub.
    Maybe, you can check out those LATAM, Avianca, Viva Air Colombia, Air Italy, Interjet flights. There are a ton of flights in and out of MIA/FLL.
    Also, I like the fact that from Brickell apartment I can hop on metro rail to MIA for $2.40. It’s a great small city.

  90. Been AA exclusively for 10 years. Been EXP the last 8 years. With their increase in spend and miles to reach EXP, supposedly for their most loyal customers, I didn’t make that level for 2019. And for 2019 AA is inreasing spend required from 12k to 15k for EXP.

    Today, first business trip of 2019, walked into Admirals lounge and. Was told there will be a $100 increase this year. I asked the nice lady what addional benefits will I receive with this increase. She couldn’t name any.

    I through getting nickel and dimed by AA. When they decide my business is of value to them, I’ll decide to stick with them.

  91. I’m burning off the last of my AA miles and I’ve closed my Citi AAdvantage card.

    Last November, a mechanical problem caused me to miss my connecting flight from MIA to EZE, so I was rerouted through DFW and downgraded from full-fare business to economy. American immediately refunded me $500 and flatly refused to discuss the actual difference between fares.

    I filed a dispute with Citi, which American never responded to, so I was awarded the disputed amount by default.

    Why would I fly an airline that won’t be transparent and honest about a fair refund for service they failed to provide?

  92. ‘I’ve never fully appreciated the challenges of being a true hub captive. I don’t think there are many markets where that’s more evident than Miami.’….Hmmmm, try being based in Doha 🙁

  93. We gave up on status years ago (after United added that ridiculous $250 copay for upgrading yourself to PS with your own miles) and have been loving the free-agent lifestyle. You don’t even realize how many overpriced, inconvenient flights you take just to keep status until you wean yourself off the addiction.

    But since you fly for its own sake, I can imagine that your own rules about what makes sense to do are very different. Since you completely omitted JetBlue from your post, I’m guessing you’re a “Mint-only” JetBlue customer. You fly so much that you’ll inevitably end up just getting American status since you live in Miami, it would take too much inconvenience for you to do otherwise. Also, you really like being on the top of the pack, and I just can’t picture you being happy boarding any flight as a kettle with no status.

  94. I work in Tech Ops for AA which is rebranding lingo for a/c maintenance. In the interest of brevity I can tell you the executives management style w/ the customers transfers to the employees seamlessly. They are a joke to us as I’m sure they are to you. The negotiations with the ground workers union is basically all but technically at an impasse. AA swears they have no inclination of outsourcing our jobs but their actions speak otherwise. Perhaps if they stopped building maintenance hangars in South America and hiring un-licensed mechanics to work in them then maybe that would be a starting point to believe them. Our company executives are as disingenuous as they come and really can’t run from it any longer. Their actions have spoken louder than their words. The frontline employees have been…. abused….for many yrs and you would be hard pressed to find one who really cares if your plane goes out of service or much less leaves on time. So why would someone stay in a relationship where they feel abused? Good question….

  95. Lucky, not sure exactly you live in Miami,but there are several areas in North Dade, Broward and Palm Besch county. Like others, FLL is great and served well by multiple airlines. It is my go to airport in South Florida.

  96. My flight was schadueled to take off at 11 am, we got to the airport at 9:30. The flight was delayed to 12:00 noon. Then was delayed to 1:30, then 2:15, then 2:45, then 3:30. And after that it was cancelled. That was a very bad experience. My wife and I were going on a trip over the weekend and thier was no seat available till after the weekend. We request a full refund and we spend over 2 hours on the phone.

  97. Just why is it so difficult for an airline in the usa to be of a good standard especially in the premium cabins? It continues to baffle me on how bad AA is. I unfortunately fly them because of 1W and specifically because of connection to Qantas.

  98. Completely understand and empathize with your situation. Being near DCA, for the most part, I’m also subject to AA-based routes as it’s just more convenient that tracking out to IAD. That was compounded with my frustration, as you mention, over lack of loyalty to those loyal to them, and the EQD increase cuts me out of EXP likely going forward. After doing some thinking and research, I’ve decided to join BA’s Executive Club. Only requires 4 flights a year on BA metal (can include code-shares) and based on my flights, I would have easily attained Gold this past year (EXP equivalent) on the flights I took, that on American only got me to Platinum. We’ll see how this works, but the concerns on AA overall are something to consider, and if they continue to only be consistent at being inconsistent, I may wind up following your lead. Good luck in your flights, look forward to following your travels.

  99. Oddly, it’s been comforting to be loyal to a different airline than the one that hubs at your home airport. For me, this is IAD, and I status matched from UA 1K to DL Platinum in mid-2017 because I was tired of their shit. Being an anti-captive now has been the best decision I’ve made in travel over the past 15 years.

    All that being said, I planned on doing what you’ve done as I book paid premium cabin only, but I found that the combination of booked premium and status goes even further than just a premium ticket. I do, however, rarely fly DL metal internationally, instead opting for the rest of SkyTeam.

  100. @Lucky – MIA now? Wow, you are gonna be content rich in 2019 with both AA and MIA frustration stories to post. I did 2 years in MIA, was released back to San Diego on good behaviour! :)))
    Hang in there!

  101. Miami? I look forward to your stories about the airport. I have rarely had good luck flying through there. The other possible way to look at being a hub captive, particulalry as you fly internationally a lot – you arent necessarily being loyal to AA, but One World…?

  102. I fly between ORD and DFW every week. I started on AA. 6 of 8 first flights were delayed because of crew not available. When I complained to AA, they respond that it isn’t their fault, don’t expect any compensation and thank you for being a loyal customer. I switched to UA even though I have lower status and the flights have been on time The delays can’t be weather because the UA and AA flights leave at approximately one the same time.

  103. @ Greg — For other Enquiring minds, 2804 Prairie Ave, Miami Beach was listed initially at $3.95 million in Feb 2017 and finally sold for $2.59 million (34.5% below initial asking) in Dec 2018. Overvalued, kinda like a UR/AMEX point valued at 2.0 cents, and proof that celebrity ownership does not add value to a property.

  104. I have another problem with AA. I’m lifetime platinum and booked a Madrid-LAX business class flight with miles on Iberia. Little did I know that that the seat I received was Premium Economy (their best seat) on a new Iberia low cost airline named “Level” but shows as Iberia until they get certification. It looks like the WOW airline of Spain. Luckily I have time before the flight to deal with this and glad I took a look at seat guru to identify the problem. Hoping AA will listen.

  105. 6 years ago, I switched from a UA captive at EWR to an AA captive at DFW. I preferred the former better.

    DFW has some non AA options both domestic and Intl but often involve some extra effort and often worth it. I’ve connected via IAH many times and even used Spirit (Hint: Always splurge for a Big Front Seat, check in on line and NEVER check your luggage. On a return, send your bag UPS or Fedex ground….cheap and never lost)

  106. Great article. Your points echo my feelings exactly.
    2018 was my 9th year in row qualifying for Exec. Plat, (a few of those earlier years were USAir Chairman) for this coming year 19. After getting stuck overnight connecting 4 times this year, and getting the brush off on a hotel, and no reimbursement… No Priority line at Customer Service when the phone are “experiencing greater than normal call volume”, Plus at least half a dozen delays with the PHX flight coming into to Denver, and then on to CLT, plus only 3 bottles of Glen Livet in 1st, plus the BS, about not just giving me a full bottle of water, The CLT concourse E, PHL Terminal F, The entire AA fiasco at LGA, the D21-25, and T9-12 nonsense in ATL, and the dreaded Gate 35x in DCA,,,,.
    ….and then when I book a flight on points for my wife and I, I can’t use my systemwide upgrades… Ya, I’m done.
    Why am I ending my loyalty to AA, they ended their loyalty to me first.
    …and if I ever see Doug Parker in a restaurant, I am going to buy him a Dewer’s Scotch Neat, since that’s the crappy scotch on AA when the 3 Glens are gone.
    So, I’m Exec. Plat. for 2019, I have 1.5 million miles and 8 Systemwide upgrades to burn the first half of this year. Then I’m switching to United or Delta, whoever does tier match.

  107. I gave up on AA status two years ago. I fly the best option for my needs that mix price and convenience. No major airline has made any compelling case for me to be loyal or fly them exclusively.

  108. Funny… I’m reading this on a maintenance delayed (improper balance of fuel load) AA flight. I wish I had options out of DFW (SWA isn’t an option for a few reason). I would say 1 out of 3 flights (75flights last year) are maintenance delayed with AA. It’s flat out ridiculous.

  109. I completely agree with you about being as I like to call it a HUB prisoner. PHL being dominated by AA the routes and schedules I need to fly can only be completed by AA. I could always drive over two hours for options, but the cost associated isn’t worth it. I have even flown Frontier and to be honest these days I can’t tell difference between AA and Frontier.

  110. Hi! So I do a shuffle between MIA ORD and BOS I am truly an AA captive. I have been ok with it, as I have 3.5 million lifetime miles, and fly in the front most of the time anyway…. BUT, all of a sudden in the last week they seem to have changed their pricing strategy for First Class. Until last weekend with about 3-4 days notice BOS-ORD was $170 one way or so in economy, and about $100 more for the front. A no brainer even as an Exec Plat. Now it is $170 or a bit over $800 o/w for first within 7 days. So, I booked economy, and got my complimentary upgrade confirmed an hour later. They cost themselves revenue. Then I went to look at ORD-MIA. Looking out for over a month, first class is well over $1000 one way with economy around $150. Some flights had less than half the seats in the front sold, and were $1500 o/w several weeks out.

    My question, are other people seeing this? Has AA abandoned or severely reduced the availability of discounted restricted first class in the last week?

  111. Obviously, AA leadership is only concerned with profits. Why would you charge customers an extra fee for seat assignments or put them in middle seats if they don’t pay the extortion fee. I’m done with these crooks.

  112. All US airlines hubs are like that. Even Delta in ATL is like that. Fortunately for me I travel mostly international so I try to avoid all of them, except when trying to connect with with better airlines out their like Singapore Airlines, and Cathay Pacific. Most US airlines function by cornering the market in there hub and then squeezing every dollar out of their costumers. They all do this without improving customer service at all. Their was a time that you paid one price and that included seat assignment, luggage and great customer service. No more now. I will not be shocked if the US airlines start charging for food on their long haul flights .

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