Has Service At American Airlines Hit Rock Bottom?

Filed Under: American, Travel

I recently took a roundtrip flight in Delta first class, and it was one of the toughest trips I’ve taken in a long time. Not because it was bad — quite to the contrary, it was fantastic — but because it made me realize the degree to which I’m settling for a subpar experience on American.

It seems it’s not just me who feels this way. Just about every American frequent flyer I hear from agrees. Wall Street certainly agrees as well. Not that they’re usually a good measure of customer service at an airline, but their concern about American’s lack of vision is well founded.

American’s customer service culture is non-existent

I’ve been flying American for years, and I think customer service at the airline has hit a new low in the past year. It’s not any one individual thing, but lately I’ve just consistently been getting the feeling that the airline simply hasn’t created a culture that’s centered around customers anymore.

Let me give a few examples (of many) from my flights in the past few days:

  • When I checked in at the first class line I greeted the agent and told her the flight I was on; she didn’t greet me or say anything, friendly other than “checking bags?” and then “gate 158” when she handed me the boarding pass; there was no “hello,” no “thanks for your business,” and not even a smile
  • I’ve now boarded two flights where the flight attendant didn’t even look up during boarding to greet passengers, but rather their faces were looking down at their phones
  • When the pilot announced we’d have an extensive delay and that maintenance would be coming on the plane soon, the crew didn’t do a drink service in first class for over 75 minutes, but rather they just sat in the galley doing… nothing
  • When my flight was delayed by four hours they announced in the gate area about two hours into the delay that they’d be offering refreshments to all passengers; an hour later I followed up about this, and the gate agent said “I don’t know why they said that, by the time they do it we’ll be on the plane”

I’m not saying any one of those things is unforgivable individually. Rather I just feel like cumulatively customer service at the airline has hit a new low. That’s to say that American’s corporate culture has sunk to a point that taking care of customers and treating them like valued guests is no longer a priority.

I’m not saying that American ever had amazing customer service, but I feel that at this point your average fast food chain and/or telecom company have more of a customer service culture than American.

Furthermore, there are still some exceptional American employees out there. But they’re exceptional because of the people they are, and not because of anything the airline is doing to encourage that.

The irony in American’s sinking service

The irony in all of this is that American gave their pilots and flight attendants pay raises last year, a couple of years ahead of when their contracts were expiring. They hoped this would lead to better relations with employees and a more motivated and happy workforce. You know, it’s the whole “we can take care of our employees and they take care of our customers” approach. But that hasn’t happened.

Why? Because presumably they thought they’d get more out of employees if they compensated them better. But without a vision for the airline, that’s not happening, as they’re sending mixed signals to employees — they’re introducing uber-exclusive Flagship First Dining and uncomfortable Boeing 737 MAX aircraft at the same time. Is American trying to be Emirates or Spirit?

For a while American’s slogan was “Going for Great.” They got rid of that, which is pretty telling. Trying to be great is no longer a priority. The question is, what are they going for at this point?

I think it’s time for a management change

I generally respect Doug Parker as a human. He seems like a nice enough guy (I’d much rather have a drink with him than Oscar Munoz or Ed Bastian), and he understands the airline itself and the industry really well.

He has built an amazing career for himself. He started off as CEO of America West, then became CEO of US Airways, and now is the CEO of the world’s largest airline. He’s a lifelong airline guy, and I respect that.

But I think it’s time American give someone else a chance. Let’s keep in mind that late last year Doug Parker made a bet that American’s stock would be at $60 by the end of November, in just over a month. This is the same time he made the ridiculous claim that American will never lose money again.

American’s stock is now at just over $30, having hit a new 52-week low (again) yesterday. So unless American’s stock price almost doubles by the end of next month, Doug Parker loses that bet.

To be clear, it’s not that I think stock price is entirely reflective of how good of a leader a CEO is being. Quite to the contrary, I think the short term focus on stock price often leads to executives making bad long term decisions.

But rather it’s part of the big picture in this situation. American management is failing investors (the stock price is way down this year), they’re failing customers (more consistently than ever before I’m hearing from people about how unpleasant their experiences on American are), and they’re failing their employees (by not giving them any sort of a vision).

What do you guys think of American’s current situation? Is it time for a management change?

  1. so, they’re trying to catch up to UA in the race to the bottom? I’d say none of this is especially surprising. All of these mergers have proven that customers come last.

    I flew B6 a couple of times over the weekend. Both were relatively pleasant experiences and both flights were early. I don’t mind paying a little more to fly with them on an E90 vs AA’s crappy old ex-US A319s or even WN’s overcrowded 737s.

    Until people start voting with their feet when they can, things will just keep getting worse. There’s no incentive to improve.

  2. Management change? PLEASE TAKE SCOTT KIRBY!! As someone stuck in a UA hub the best thing UA can do is to let go of Scott Kirby. He’s Doug Parker but ten times worse because he’s trying to get Oscar’s job.

  3. @ Ben — If this all means ever-declining fares up front, I’ll take it. I don’t need them to be nice to me.

    That said, American seems pretty ghetto now, so yes it is time for a change.

  4. Bingo. Which is why jet blue continues to shine. Especially mint class. Culture CAN be changed when people are held accountable

  5. @ Gene — Unfortunately they can’t even compete in that regard. I find Delta consistently has lower first class fares.

  6. As an insider, I can tell you that the management changes brought in by the former US Airways leadership have been appalling. Lots of very good people left and young, inexperienced people have been promoted because there is no one to fill those jobs. Everything is falling apart – quite sad!

  7. The on time % I have experienced recently is around 50%, and a lot of that seemed to be self imposed, like not being able to find an alternative gate for 40 minutes in Dallas. Although I made my connection, in that case I actually wanted the layover time I had, which was now too short.

  8. I’m sure the prospect of $100 a barrel oil after a negative cash flow company just made huge capital investment with large debt service has nothing to do with the stock decline. It’s the first class service…definitely the first class service.

  9. Airline industry desperately needs a John Legere. What he has built at T-mobile is unbelievable.

  10. Great article, and agree with your points.

    AA is headed towards rock bottom. Their Board should consider a change in management, and a new focus on customer service/ loyalty. Delta has set a wonderful precedent, and AA should work to exceed that. They have the funds to do just that.

  11. Gotta agree 100%. Flights on AA are offensive at best and downright lazy. Tired of flying them, especially in premium cabins when you can clearly see and feel the difference on other carriers. I’ll be redeeming my large stash of AA miles on partner airlines.

  12. I don’t think the service is particularly better or worse than American than any other airline at this point. I think with American as doing to it’s tin is just ghastly. The 737 program to make it more dense, removing feet from first class on the a319. Eventually even loyalists will leave the airline. I mean the upgrade program is a complete joke. I am an executive platinum, and I only get the complementary upgrade about 30% of the time. Why would you even try to be gold or platinum on this airline?!

  13. I for years was a CP on US Airways, as AA & US merged the customer service level bottomed out before my eyes. I now have no loyalty to AA. From telephone CS to Gate Agents to FAs very few seem to care. It’s as if we are just numbers not people for whom revenue is generated from.
    I’m using my AA miles up in order to switch to DA and/or JB.
    I do agree with you Ben on your perspective of AA, thank you.

  14. Haven’t flown on Delta in 20 yeyars so can’t say about them, but both UA and AA are useless.

    The problem is that AA and UA have hubs where you’d actually want to visit. I don’t use Delta because I have no need to go to their non-coastal hub cities. Detroit anyone?

  15. Finally Dougie’s disastrous decisions are coming to fruition in the only way that may affect him – the stock price. From gutting AAdvantage, removing PTVs, destroying the catering (despite the “enhancements” it’s not back to anywhere close to LAA standards), densification to Spirit levels – AA has truly lost the plot. Dougie can’t be gone soon enough!

  16. ZERO C-Space available for EXPs who would like to use them at time of booking, etc. What’s the point of become EXP if they treat everyone like garbage. Thankfully it’s my last year as EXP and will pay J tickets that fit my schedule instead of throwing all money with TINY or no returns.

  17. Lucky – thank you for writing this piece. I have criticized you in the past for being too loyal to AA. I appreciate your objectivity in this piece and yes, I agree that some major changes need to occur. I live in Dallas and fly frequently for both work and pleasure. Just a couple of months ago, I had incredibly bad luck with AA when trying to get to Europe for a cruise. At the very last minute, no explanation given, my late night fly to LHR was cancelled. The plane was at the gate and ready to go. Then, like magic, the completely full flight was cancelled. I was accommodated the following day. Lo and behold, on my way back from Europe to the USA, my flight was delayed from BCN to MIA and I was cancelled, without my consent, due to the fact that I would miss my connection in MIA to DFW. I would have rather made the flight to MIA as opposed to paying for another night’s hotel in Barcelona. Bottom-line, poor customer service on AA’s part.
    However, my overall question is that while I completely agree that AA’s customer service and overall approach to satisfying the customer is at an all-time low – can someone please explain to me why every single flight that I’ve been on in the past 2 years at least, has been completely full. Why is that?? When are people going to start hitting them where it hurts – with their pocket books? I have actively started flying either Southwest or Delta as much as I possibly can, but, being based in Dallas, this can sometimes be a bit more of a challenge.
    It’s time for Doug Parker to exit left.

  18. Long story, but proves a point I swear. For years after living in ATL and being a Delta customer, I really started getting into the miles and points thing. I had just moved out west and needed to travel for my business. I started to look into other airline mileage programs and American was one of them as I traveled to Charlotte NC about once a month. I decided to try them out the first time by purchasing a first class ticket outright, not with points on my new CC that would give me a significant leg up on my AAdvantage account. I had booked a first class flight from SLC-Newark flying through Chicago and had the worst experience. The agent checking me in was having a bad day since it was very early in the AM and we had some cold weather and there were several delays that morning of the flights out of SLC. She was surly because of it, but I let it slide. We had a mechanical delay of about 2 hours in SLC. No information was given at any time with updates just silence. We finally take off 2.5 hours late. Land in Chicago, I thought I was going to miss my flight to Newark, but oh no, guess what our flight was- delayed , due to mechanical issues. Sigh, at least I didnt miss my flight, but this time a 3 hour delay. Once again, zero communication of what was going on, just hold tight. Finally make it into Newark about 3 hours later than expected. Had my meeting and went to go home the next day hoping not to have anymore issues, but guess what, once again my flight was delayed due to…..mechanical issues this time only 30 min delay. I thought, how unlucky can one person get on a single trip having all my flights have mechanical issues. Landed in Chicago a bit later than expected but still on time for my flight home. Then the worse hit. Another you guessed it mechanical delay. I couldn’t believe it. Now Im thinking what the heck is going on with all of these mechanical issues, this literally makes 4 in a row. This does not make me feel safe on American. This last delay was the worse of them all. We were already boarded when we all had to deplane. They said we should keep our bags on because it wouldn’t be that long. Well they were wrong, the flight was cancelled. No explanation from staff just an announcement to come up to be re booked. It was chaos. I had a paid first class ticket and was told I wouldn’t be able to get on any flights that day, and because of many issues tomorrow wasn’t looking good either. No weather, just lots of mechanical issues all around. I was then told that they had no more hotel vouchers since they had so many issues they were all out. I was told I could sleep on a cot in the L concourse and I was not happy, but I maintained composure.Each employee was so rude, no “Im sorrys” no “let me see what I can do” it was all just rudeness and surly employees. I then went around trying to find a higher up, a manager or something found one and explained how ridiculous this all was, but she still did not care. I finally after 7 hours of trying to get somewhere with all this finally got management to get me a hotel at about 2 am. The whole experience was unreal. Here it was my first time flying on American and the staff and management made such a sour taste for me, that I decided not to pursue AA. Staff need to remember that it could be someones first time on that airline and first impressions mean a lot. I was traveling about 100,000 miles a year at that point and boy did they loose out on a great opportunity for a repeat customer. Its been 7 years, and even if they were the lowest price (which they never are for me) I would still not fly AA. It seems not much has changed in the last 5 years.

  19. Lucky, if you’re disappointed with them, why do you keep giving them your business? You’re the consumer, if they’re offering a bad product, don’t fly them.

  20. It’s nothing to do with management. It’s common sense to greet people Just a simple good morning etc and thank you
    Your gate number is 158 and have a good flight mr/s smith etc

    Once whilst waiting at Honolulu I observed 2 people slouched on seats , talking loudly , dressed as if they’d rolled out of a club As I walked closer, I realised they were crew. Terrible

  21. Not a big fan of living near Boston with our charming winters and uptight people, but B6 is a lifesaver. They aren’t perfect but man, they make AA and UA look terrible. I’ve flown them 125 times in 15 years and only 3x on UA and maybe 5x on AA. UA F’d me once so I won’t fly them unless I have no options.

    BOS also has a strong presence with DL along with a growing armament of international flights. So glad I don’t live near an AA or UA hub.

  22. I’m reading this literally as I’m about to board an American flight (my first in a while). So I’ll get back to you on that 😉 But let’s just say my expectations aren’t high.

  23. Having spoken to him for hours, Doug Parker is a personable and likable guy. He just doesn’t have the “SIR Richard” in him that American needs to evolve into anything other than MEH.

    Radical change happens when you do things that don’t satisfy the immediate thirst of stakeholders. Unfortunately Doug doesn’t agree with me.

    —Justin Ross Lee

  24. Take a look at DAL common this am. Up due to excellent earnings. Will it last given the current oil price spike? I don’t know.
    AA is less than a buck above it’s 52 week low and has been steadily declining from a high of almost $60. Delta, while down of very late, is at least in somewhat of an uptrend.
    If frequent flyers cannot see or feel the difference between the two carriers I just don’t know what to say.
    Even as a lowly Platinum Delta is great to me(relative to the other legacies). Yes, I will pay more. I will also leave and arrive on time, with courtesy from every employee with which I interact.

  25. Parker has gotten what he has always lusted for “leadership” of a major flag carrier, now it’s time for time to step aside and let some new blood run the show. He appears to have thought of himself as another “tricky Dickie” Anderson but he isn’t far from it. While I disagreed with Anderson on many points he did one thing and that is lay the groundwork for a new invigorated Delta Airlines. I am a mm on AS and you would think since AA is a “partner” I would fly them quite the contrary when needed I fly UA and or DL and frankly DL is better than AA by miles and UA is getting better much better than before. Doesn’t mean they don’t have a ways to go but still there is a positive attitude.

    I believe that something is going to happen at AA

    Good work Lucky

  26. The reason AA has full flights is that many people, possibly you as well, book flights on momentum. They usually fly _______ fill in the blank so that is their first try to book. Quality and customer service is hard to demonstrate and sell if the competitor isn’t tried. Regarding your management comments, go to any Chik-fil-A and you’ll see that minimum wage workers of all ages can be trained and motivated to consistently be pleasant to the customer. It seems that it isn’t a management priority at AA therefore not a priority for front line employees. I expect it will be much worse, if possible, when Delta announces their profit sharing distributions which blew out the AA bonuses last year. Delta profits are up this year. AA not so much.

  27. It’s actually a case of YMMV. Was an Plat Exec for years, but left that behind last year focus on Alaska. Had to fly AA because AS didn’t fly to LEX, so used miles for first class. Four segments, all superb from pre-departure beverages, constant refills, smiles, etc. We had one weather related delay in flight (circling), and the captain kept us updated every 15 minutes or less. The experience was excellent. Yes, I was surprised, but felt that it’s important to remember you can have a good flight on AA or a bad flight on Delta.

  28. There’s a big difference between thread-title “rock bottom” and lead-paragraph “a new low”. Rock bottom suggests things can only get better from here. A new low doesn’t mean there’s not more decline on the way.

    So, new low? Yes. Rock bottom? Unfortunately, probably not.

  29. I am an ex GROUND employee……I can completely agree with you.the AA service both on the GROUND & ON BOARD is ABSOLUTELY ATROCIOUS. I made sure every customer was made to feel special as they paid my salary. I would report any staff member to the management if they were RUDE or not CUSTOMER FOCUSED……..where did it get me……..I lost my job even tho I had many letters/emails from customers who appreciate my service…….there are some caring staff at AA but they are far and few……such a shame I loved my role….now they are not interested in CUSTOMER SERVICE just cheap and nasty abusive staff…..shame on AA

  30. I just completed a couple of delta first class flights yesterday and generally the attitude at that airline is as you say, way way better than at AA or United. Our FA didn’t get to serve PDB due to delays and full flight and he apologized to the entire F cabin before the safety video. Today I’m back in AA and I’ll be lucky to get a smile or a greeting, or an apology for a service disruption!

  31. This is why I stick to JetBlue and Delta. I fly JetBlue 90% of the time domestically (most of my flying is JFK-LAX and LGA-BOS) and Delta or its partners overseas. On JetBlue I am 9/10 times greeted by name. I flew a redeye last week from LAX to JFK in the bulkhead of even more space, and the flight attendant couldn’t have been friendlier or more proactive. I woke up with about 15 minutes left in the flight in final descent, and he still went to the back to get me a cup of coffee, without me even asking.

  32. One more thing, when you fly on a 25 year old AA plane, you know it immediately! Old seats, old controls, etc. On a 25 year old delta plane, you would hardly know unless you looked carefully! I was on a 757 yesterday that looked almost brand new on the inside!

  33. @angel – I’m with you, SLC bound flyer. There are very few good reasons to fly AA, their station employees have been unfriendly for a very, very long time.

    @bill – AA has thrown money at its employees for some time now yet service continues to degrade.

  34. Ben, I completely agree with your assessment of the situation at American. I recently flew them in business class to Beijing. The hard product on the 787 was great, but the soft product left a lot to be desired. The food was, as best, “meh”, and the crew acted like they simply did not want to be there. It’s like the entire company is just going through the motions. There’s no sense of urgency in their operations; no sense of taking pride in their jobs; and no desire to do any better.

    Delta runs by far the best overall operation in the U.S. However I refuse to fly them because of they awful Skymiles program. I stopped flying Delta when they dropped their award charts, and I haven’t been back since. I stick with American simply because of the AAdvantage program, which for me has been pretty rewarding. I’ve been pretty lucky getting last-minute award tickets on American, so for me it works. I just wish they acted like they “wanted” my business. As it is, they just get it.

  35. I’m generally a DL flyer, but as an east coast consultant, I often find myself on AA flights. I can say without question that flights in/out of PHL are consistently better than CLT. Crew are happier, more engaged, and have a customer service orientation (with rare exception) at PHL. I have to believe that this is the legacy culture of US Airways, as opposed to AA’s legacy.

    It would be interesting to have their customer service feedback data, and to match that up against the hiring entity of the crew (legacy US Air, legacy AA, or combined AA). I assume there would be some interesting, statistically significant findings.

  36. @bill – I’m not arguing that DL and others haven’t been generous, I’m saying that AA has done things poorly regarding pay. Last year AA proactively gave a raise to Pilots and FAs…the market hated the move and it clearly didn’t improve morale at all. AA’s attempts have fallen flat and have left them with a still unhappy workforce. There’s more to work-life than just pay.

  37. Simply “Getting a pay raise” does not help employees at American. We do not get paid for all of the hours we work (including those delays and maintenance issues you referenced- we do NOT get paid during those times), our attendance policy is insane (getting penalized for being 1
    minute late for sign-in, even though we do not get paid for the first hour we work), the lack of sleep, reassignments, inhumane trips and sequences and more. Our company makes it very difficult for us to go above and beyond when we are not catered correctly, missing important items, have to call several people to get things done, and more. There is also a lot more going on during boarding than you would ever know, unless you walked a week in our shoes.

    Does that mean we should be sitting on our phones, ignoring passengers, or giving a blaise experience? No, of course not…. but being as burnt out and abused as we are there are some days we can only “survive” rather than thrive.

  38. @Robert – Agree it’s more than just pay. I believe that Delta has done a superior job in getting buy in from the front line employees that they can drive customer satisfaction which links to profits which links to pay. AA employees seem to me to demonstrate customer satisfaction is not related to them.

  39. @ Ben — Sadly, not lower from ATL lately on the routes we fly. About a year ago, yes. Lately, no. Hopefully that will switch back soon.

  40. AMP – agreed on the service from PHL, it’s typically some of the best in the AA network. Although if it’s because of the US Airways legacy then CLT should be the same.

    I fly MIA-PHL a few times a month and I can typically recognize if a crew is PHL or MIA based within seconds of boarding. AA crews based in Miami are the absolute worst. Miserable human beings who could care less about service being decent let alone “great”. PHL crews seem to offer a choice of PDB in F, while MIA crews come around with water or OJ, that’s it.

  41. As with others, Lucky, I’m going to say: Vote with your feet and stop supporting them. You don’t like BA, you don’t like AA. Do all of us who would like to see AA change (and AA itself) a favor and just stop flying with them. Right now you’re just demonstrating that you’re willing to put up with a whole lot of mediocrity, and complain about it, but ultimately do nothing. You have a voice and dollars, so put it into action. AA won’t care if you complain, but they will if you leave. This is in addition to the fact that you’ve already relayed better experiences on a national competitor. A competitor which also flies plenty of flatbeds between LAX and NYC. Just leave.

  42. It seems like the consensus is that if the FAs and GAs aren’t friendly, and thankful that you (the important person) are flying their airline, then it’s bad customer service. I’m singularly focused on four things – price, routes, hard product and FF benefits. In all four of these areas (especially international J) AA gives me the best deal. I couldn’t care less about FAs and GAs attitudes, the meal offerings, booze list or the silly PDB. I’ve never had bad treatment from any current AA or US Airways employee. That said, I’m flying (almost exclusively) LUS aircraft, hubs and routes (and I assume LUS crews). BTW, I left Delta a decade ago for US Air and it was the best move I ever made with respect to flying.

    I have no complaints about Parker.

  43. Customer service is an oxymoron at AA. Case in point…the recent 5K promotion. After registering, I booked a hotel through AA’s website (which partners with Booking.com) and received an e-mail confirmation clearly stating how many AAdvantage miles I would earn (which would qualify me for the miles associated with that “task” in the 5K promotion). After completing the stay, I waited…and waited…and waited for the miles to post to my account. Never did. After 4 interactions by e-mail and phone with AA’s “Customer Service” department and e-mailing them screenshots of the confirmation e-mail and payment for the hotel, I was told I needed to call the hotel. What? You guessed it, the hotel told me that since the reservation had been made through a 3rd party booking service (AA’s use of the Booking.com engine), no miles would post to my account. I finally sent a detailed letter both by e-mail and snail mail to the 4 executives responsible for various aspects of “customer service” at AA. Do you think I even received the courtesy of a response to my e-mails/letters? Nope! I am an EP; I flew 150K+ miles and spent over $15K with AA last year. And this is how I am treated by “customer service” when their systems break down? Shame on you, AA!

  44. Doug Parker is a number guy. Always has been. He’s good at setting and analyzing key metrics. He has never been a ceo who understood customers or employees. Those people don’t always make the best ceo’s. He doesn’t have a customer focused vision. I agree with the management change opinion. AA could be the worlds greatest airline if they weren’t so determined on being better at basic economy than Spirit as their goal.

  45. I’m looking forward to the new Delta gates in Austin. As a AA platinum, my chance of an upgrade is near zero and I haven’t been able to redeem any miles in a couple of years. There’s just no availability. Delta may also have problems with their mile redemptions but I’d like to try them. I’m not sure how long it’ll take for them to establish all the routes using those new gates…it may be tough with their hubs farther than AA/UA.

  46. I think Jax’s comment is very important. Working conditions have a direct impact on performance – and frankly on safety. Scheduling, workplace rules, etc are something most of us never think about. I guess the question then becomes – what is DL doing differently?

  47. I fully agree with this and have been saying it for two years now. Doug Parker needs to be replaced. His best work was done in bringing the merger together and that is solely his “calling card.” But now the game has changed. American needs to face up to bringing a better product of service to the table. It’s become truly atrocious. And as a decades long Exec Plat I am growing more and more restless to jump ship. What keeps me with them over Delta thus far is perhaps one thing…newer planes. I despise Delta’s old aircraft (even though they try to dress them up with new bins etc). But as Delta takes more deliveries and retires the older aircraft there is nothing left to keep me from taking my money there. What I have noticed?
    1. Yes, flight attendants (especially Intl.) are more interested in their cell phones and talking to each other than ever greeting guests. South American flights are the worst.
    2. Counter agents could care less and just want to move your butts as quick as possible (which is fine) but it takes all of a few seconds to express sincerity.
    3. The HUBS are broken. Miami is a mess. The whole airport is a cluster…. Check in lines are atrocious. They typically have one or two agents handling Priority with 20-30 people waiting. It’s an embarrassment to our country as a gateway overall and American should be embarrassed of the product they offer there. Dallas is a disaster of an airport and despite any improvements still never was designed to be a HUB. They are booking connections with 30-40 minutes with the dreaded terminal change via the train that results in your getting to the gate for the connecting flight and being told that the door is closed ten minutes before departure. This with the agent standing right there and the jet bridge still connected. Chicago, Charlotte, Phoenix, LA…all of the HUBS are a mess. It’s no wonder the staff are miserable. Surprisingly the one HUB that is pleasant and the staff seems more engaged (and the system works) is JFK…go figure.
    4. Ex USAirways employees (you can always tell who they are) are perhaps dictating the culture of American now. They came with Parker and if they are any indication (and we all remember how awful USAirways was) this is the product we are now getting (with a few flashy things like Flagship lounges etc).

    I am not saying that Delta is the pinnacle of excellence in comparison to Asian or European airlines. But the HUBS work well, the standard clubs are inviting and offer a much better level of product. The staff seem to care and actually listen and have some empowerment to assist on the fly. There just seems to be a better culture overall. I agree with Lucky entirely that Delta is winning. And winning with gusto.

  48. Parker and the entire management team must go. Too many layers and no accountability for failures. AA hires management off of the street with no experience. Inflight has no leadership and hires inexperienced managers because no one wants the job or low pay. Senior employees will not work for less pay in the office and rotten work environment. Jealousy is rampant when front line employees make 4-5 times more than managers. Thus, punitive attitude from managers. Overpaid VP and Directors of Inflight do nothing to improve work group and spend too much time lunching at the Ritz-Carlton and gossiping. They only care about bonuses and nothing else. Fire them and start all over again. The Flight Service Department is an epic fail.

  49. Among the big 3, it used to be that United was the one to avoid (roughly 2013-2018) but it may now be that American is getting worse so passengers should consider DL and UA before AA. Time will tell.

    I relegated AA to 3rd place in 2018.

    Of course, there’s Alaska, Southwest, and JetBlue that passenger may consider. In some cases, they lead. AS’s frequent flyer program is now the best for many circumstances and their service is not the pits.

  50. I was with my wife in Philadelphia airport for an AA flight about a year ago (We usually fly Southwest) and when we went to bring our bags to check in the agent told my wife to lift her bag onto the belt. My wife was a bit puzzled because at Southwest they always do that for you. The AA agent replied, “It’s not my bag.” I was too shocked to even say anything at the time because I actually couldn’t believe it.

  51. Im sorry but I have to disagree with you on this one. Maybe where you’re flying from has something to do with it but I’ve been an AA EP for over 5 years and based out of MIA and can honestly say that their service, planes and crew have improved significantly over that period. Yes, like all airlines there is room for improvement but to say that others are much better is a stretch. I’ve been flying Delta and others recently to try something new and haven’t been impressed and am sticking with AA where at least as an EP I get the upgrades, have direct flights to where I need to go and fares are significantly cheaper than Delta.

  52. @Lucky — “I generally respect Doug Parker as a human.” Do you mean “genuinely”? Otherwise it’s quite an odd sentence – it implies you do have some reservations about him as a human. Is he of questionable character?

  53. A few years ago when a hurricane had it’s sights set on the Tampa Bay area I was in London and decided I should get home because the forcast changed from “missing us by a good bit” to “maybe a direct hit” overnight. I called American and tried to change my flight home. I was told that the upcoming flights had already been canceled. Very early the next morning I got a call from American saying ba decided to put one more flight on, and they could put me on that if I wanted. I thanked them and said “yes, please”. The flight had maybe 30 or 40 people on it, and landed minutes before tia was closed. Mind you I am xp – not ck, so it’s not like I have someone at as proactively looking out for me. Yet so.eone at as took it upon themselves to do so.

    If you want to judge their customer service by when you get drinks in first or if the fa smiles, then so be it. I’ll judge them on things that really matter.

  54. It’s clear Doug Parker’s bonehead decisions are hurting AA’s bottom line including the area that hurts Parker: stock price. I agree Parker must go.

    Who should replace Parker? Talk Tom Horton into coming back to AA. Or bring Oscar Munoz from UA (and let Scott Kirby become UA’s CEO like he wanted). Or bring Richard Anderson back into the airline industry. Or bring in David Neeleman. Or even Jeff Smisek (yes Smisek is an improvement over Parker)

  55. I was going to leave a critical comment about the US Airways Management Cancer (which includes Scott Kirby), but it took 5 minutes to scroll down to the comment box.

    Which is quite telling, because I think it’s unanimous that passengers are not happy with AA. I, myself, have walked away from an EXPlat status and will refuse to give AA another penny.

    Whether it’s the inconvenienced and snippy Flight Attendants in First, to the hostile HNL gate agents (I’ve been yelled at for giving them the wrong boarding pass – “WRONG ONE! WRONG ONE!”), or the LAX Admirals Club staff who view you with suspicion when you approach them, or the Executive Management who are determined to make the passengers’ flight experience as barebones and miserable as possible…

    YES, there’s a problem from the top down, and the airline simply doesn’t care. AA is the Comcast of airlines.

  56. The best thing about AA was AAdvantage and the perks you got with elite status. Since the US merger, they’ve gutted AAdvantage and downgraded elite status to the point that EXP just means you’ll be in the top 10 on the UG list for most flights when you take your seat in coach. Current management doesn’t care much about loyalty with their custoner base, and AA will pay a big price for that when we hit the next market downturn. That’s when Doug Parker’s crew will get turfed, but by then it will be too late. Parker may not see that now, but the stock market does.

  57. As a very senior flight attendant at American Airlines, I have seen the good and the bad with the mergers. Believe it or not, many of us care about our profession and our work product. We try very hard to make our cabin a welcoming and warm environment for our customers. We care about our appearance, service standards and the rest of the cabin crew presenting themselves in the most professional way. There is something to be said about maturity, wisdom and setting a proper tone for the flight. We are very much concerned about the passenger’s experience.

    Unfortunately, we work for a management team that does not care about appearance, service delivery or professionalism. All they care about is closing the door on time and getting undeserved bonuses.

    We are now into our third uniform design after the first two failed with Twin Hill. The second one failed because it was toxic and caused irreparable harm to many employees. Who pays for these enormous failings? The customers, the front line employees and the shareholders are left holding the bag. It makes absolutely no sense that they have the same management team executing these present uniform contracts with the new vendors.

    Our catering program is abysmal. There is absolutely no quality control and it is a complete fail when the same management employees are on too friendly terms with the vendors and contractors. Nothing gets fixed and nothing gets resolved. The Flight Attendant group spends a great deal of their time pleading and begging with AA management to correct obvious mistakes. The company pays a fortune to catering vendors who do not deliver quality and always try to circumvent written specifications and standards. The only catering vendors that does their job and are extremely proud of their product seem to be the European and other foreign stations. A whole different work ethic.

    The stock has tanked and it is time for Parker and his team to leave. We need true leadership and it may be time to bring in experienced management from a European airline such as Lufthansa or Swiss to get us back to a respected, global carrier.

    Obviously, the current formula is not working. This management team is in over their heads and are hopelessly incompetent.

  58. @John, biggest downgrade to elite status has been the “gifting” of it willy nilly to seemingly anyone; these almost quarterly emails/offers where someone can fly 5 times and achieve Platinum Pro, while “loyal” AA flyers need to amass 75k miles plus $9k in spend.

    That is what got me to quit AA. Why should I be spending on a mediocre product just to chase status when I can fly a better quality product (JetBlue, Delta) and potentially have AA “gift” me even higher status next year as an attempt to win me back. Worth a shot, since platinum was getting me little to no added value at all.

  59. I have been 99% loyal to American and an Aadvantage member since the mid-80’s. I flew them because they flew where I wanted to go the easiest way. That simple. The Aadvantage program under DWI Dougie is in the toilet as far as I am concerned and miles I earn are useless to me unlike the decades before Dougie started earning millions by ruining it. I can never redeem them or use them for upgrades and thanks, but I don’t need any magazine subscription. Dump Dougie and get someone who can make AA rank with the best of the global airlines.

  60. I’m a CK with AA and I agree with everything you’ve said. AA under the thumb of Doug Parker will never be successful. He has no clue what to do with a legacy airline.

    In a perfect world, I’d love to see a guy like Gordon Bethune come back to the industry and give the seat a shot. He was brilliant in the CO days. Garnered a ton of employee goodwill and did things his way, which worked well for frequent fliers as well.

    I know, not going to happen, but it’s a nice thought.

  61. True story: Flying home from a honeymoon in St. Lucia via AA in paid first class. First class cabin was empty (only us). No PDB. In the air, after 30 minutes of flying, FA asked if we wanted a beverage. I asked for coffee. I was told the coffee maker was broken. I accepted a coke instead. 10 minutes later, I smelled coffee, looked over my shoulder, and saw it being served in coach. Meanwhile, the FA was sitting in bulkhead 1C, feet up, reading a book.

    Thats pretty bad. But worse, when I contacted AA, there was zero service recovery other than an email saying it would be escalated to the management team.

    If I have to fly to CLT or PHL, its a 50/50 I’ll take AA. Bad service can happen anywhere… but service recovery is also critical.

  62. The writing was on the wall the moment US Airways took the helm. Tom Horton was a phenomenal leader who led an airline that, remarkably, would have been profitable if not for bankruptcy expenses, which had the support of customers, was considered a leader in the industry, and was, thanks to him and his team, in the midst of a major rebranding with a focus on ease of use (which, in its stunted form [thanks to Doug Parker] persists today). Doug Parker should never have been allowed by the board to take control – but, he bamboozled the board – he conned the union – and swept control right from under the feet of Tom Horton’s administration. Worst decision the board could have ever made – allowing a merger (that Doug Parker said he would only have allowed if he was in control) to move forward. If the board knew what they were doing, they’d give the airline back to Tom – presuming the damage is recoverable.

  63. @Rob I definitely agree with your Market insight… Most of the times the blogger’s comments stating that the CEO or CFO of an airline knows the industry sounds funny..
    It looks that my granma’s analysis of tomatoes price rocket rise… But maybe he is also blogger at Bloomberg and we dont know

  64. American is the absolute worst. Haven’t flown them in many years. Had some racist things happen and have sworn them off since. I’m Asian too so can’t imagine what it’d be like for someone darker. Obviously not every employee is like that but it’s no surprise to me that the negative media attention i read about airlines most often come from AA.

    I will however, continue earning the hell out of their miles as I do LOVE flying premium class on Cathay, Etihad, and Qatar. 0 AA flights in 3 years, 320,000 AA miles in the pot.

  65. Horrible for sure. I’m just platinum but never getting status with them again. Just awful, their basic economy for DFW to London was charging $1700 for main cabin, a $1000 fare difference from basic economy. Found a different carrier.

    Apparently thats normal now

  66. We just had a flight from JFK to Boston canceled without any notice, employes at the counter just disappeared, no information at all. After about one hour they announced the new flight at Gate 1 completely on the other side of the terminal; we had to walk WITH BAGS for about a mile. Once there, nothing, after about another hour they opened the gate, BUT, it was for another flight to a different place.
    After about 4 hours we finally found out where the flight was leaving from. Tired, exhausted, and very very angry. We will never again fly American. A real pity for America.

  67. Generally speaking, among the big 3 it’s Delta > AA > United with service. I’ve had poor and terrific service from both delta and america both in coach and in biz/1st domestic. I don’t fly united often but I’ve never had terrific service, just poor and average. With AA, the old US Airway crews still seem to do a great job while the original AA crews do not, on average.

    Since I live in Charlotte, I’m generally stuck with American at any rate.

  68. I’m Exec Plat but won’t keep the status next year, mostly for the reasons you suggest. I have had some great experiences with AA employees, but unfortunately, too many terrible or indifferent ones. I think @Jax’s point deserves more attention. As well as the question that others have asked: what are Jet Blue and Delta doing that they seem to have happier employees? Why can’t/won’t AA do the same?

  69. I can’t tell you how much I agree with your sentiments. When I travel American, it’s always something. I get it – stuff happens, there are kinks in operations and so on, but they just don’t care. They aren’t customer centric, many times they’re flat out inhospitable, and if you share feedback, they could not care less. Unfortunately, I live in one of their hubs so I’m stuck with them most of the time because of cost. However, if I had the opportunity, I would not fly them. My most recent experience was a weather delay out of MCO with two gate agents. One gate agent announced a ground stop on account of storms and asked for everyone to take a seat and check back in for a set amount of time and moments later, a second agent agent started to announce boarding of passengers who needed special assistance … and they were at the same ticket counter!

  70. Its even spread to their regional partners. Flew YYZ DFW on E75 with Skywest crew. Not one smile from either F/A the whole flight and service was brusque. Flew HOU LGA with AS, again an E75 Skywest. What a difference: smiles, repeated passes through the cabin, beverage refills all on a slightly shorter flight.
    One truism I have learned over the years is that an organization takes on the characteristics of the CEO. Should you have an arrogant egomaniac with a clear disdain for his passengers then the rest of the staff think its OK to do the seam.
    When Bob Crandall was running AA it was really a premium experience for the customers. Wonder if he can be talked out of retirement?

  71. Ugh suddenly you just noticed it looks like rock bottom lol?
    Has AA hit Rock Bottom? No it could get substantially worse as conditions for travelers and front lines continue to deteriorate on and off the planes and agents lack empowerment except when customers are denied boarding/being bumped.
    The decline started as soon as Parker stepped into office and made everything from Food & beverage, award availability (saver) and customers service unacceptable
    Its become from inception US Airways 2 with an American logo with repainted planes
    Its incredibly disheartening sad and pathetic with American having the opportunity of a lifetime that it so deserved

    Parker may be the nicest man on earth but I’ll skip the drink and discuss business first
    Hes no better than a homeless a person who hasn’t been shown the way or influenced by mentors who could show him what running a world class airline brand is all about
    Where customers have a burning desire to do business with you and stay loyal
    Without a Gordon Bethune CEO type or other person with a vision focused on people/empowered agents ,service brand standard,culture and experience American will eventually be run into the ground

    They never listen to their customers and rarely respond that’s the first #1 problem disconnecting phones to customer relations.They have none!

  72. 15 years of EX Plat and moved to Alaska 2 years ago. Love the airline and staff, but they fly prop planes out of my airport, MFR, when EVERYONE else flies jets. Couldn’t take the noise, cramped, no first class any longer, so I’m on to Delta now. They are fabulous, although connections, for me, aren’t always that great. I fly paid first always, so I don’t need to be too aligned, but Delta seems to be where I go most flights. I will surely avoid AA’s MAX when flying my one flight every 18 months to maintain my 2 Million mile permanent platinum status, which does help me when I fly other One World companies. Race to bottom is the way Doug Parker has acted From America West, to US Air to AA. He runs his airline to please Wall Street not his customers. Over due time to go.

  73. Could not be happier I live on a Delta hub. It helps I am a Diamond Medallion but even if you have no status you are treated as a customer and they value your business. American sucks and I avoid flying them even if using miles.

  74. My recent 5 stopover domestic trip on Delta was $80 more in first class than AA in basic econ. Now it’s Delta domestic and Oneworld international. I also didn’t realize Delta has live TV which I appreciate for the news.

  75. I just flew LGA-RIC on AA in seat 1A (first, regional jet). It was my first AA flight in probably a decade (I live abroad and usually don’t have to continue my U.S. inbound journeys beyond the hub where I landed from abroad). I have to say that the flight was outstanding in every regard. A wonderful FA named LaTasha took care of us, and she gave such personal, yet down-to-earth service. She conversed with each and every one of us in F and ultimately got every single F passenger chatting away with both her and our fellow passengers. And there was a healthy dose of comedy with it all (Y must have thought we were having a private party and all knew each other in F with all the laughter).

    I flew Delta back to NYC to connect to my flight back abroad, also 1A, first, regional jet. The hard product was vastly inferior to AA’s. The FA was great, called me “Mr. Morris” etc., but it felt very impersonal and scripted compared to LaTasha on AA and the neither the FA nor fellow passengers certainly hadn’t connected on a personal level by the end of the flight.

  76. 7 million miler, Platinum for life, switched loyalty last year to Delta, now gold medallion. Delta culture is so much better than AA People seem to enjoy working there almost as much Jet Blue people do.

  77. I enjoy catching Lucky’s Blog. He spends the time in the air to get a feel of what’s happening in the frequent flyer world.

    Two immediate thoughts:
    1. As an Advantage member for 34 years and CK with over 50K EQD and 300K EQM YTD my inside assessment of the “State of the Union” at AA October 2018 is as Lucky writes about with many of same specifics I routinely experience. There has been a noticeable decline and deterioration in 2018. I went nine months thru my home airport TUL YTD without a “Thank you for your business” from one agent at ticket counter or gate.
    2. You can easily tell by the amount of and passion in the comments section of this topic covered by Lucky today that this is a visible and tangible fluid situation at AA.

  78. A lot of people speaking out about whats wrong BUT none know what to do to fix it!

    Its a real Shame American airlines WAS the greatest airline in the world.

    Till ALL of these AIRLINES board of directors hires a REAL Airline person some one WHO has lived and Breathed what it means to be an AIRLINE employee from birth! Some one who has Lived the experience since BIRTH and can represent ALL The airlines employees NO airline will ever survive!

    Dennis Barnett American airlines employee 482808

  79. I know I’m beating a dead horse hear, but when comparing the experience on Delta to American, its nights and day. I flew, for the first time, in Business Class on AA from DFW-MAD over the summer. The experience was alright, but after spending so much time reading articles about International Business class flights, I knew I had a “bad” AA crew. I recently flew in economy on Delta on a 3+ hour flight, and the experience was night and day. From check in, to getting on board, to inflight, every Delta employee was happy to be there, and was happy that I was there. I can’t say the same about the AA employees I came across, or come across when I fly AA.

  80. I flew 1st from Kona to LAX last month and was bullied by a witch of flight attendant who didn’t get off her ass for one hour into the flight. No service, no drink in 1st even at 60 mins into the flight. When coach was being served, I got up, went into the galley and asked for a glass of wine. From then on, she targeted me, taunted me, terrorized me. She would stop at my seat, stand over me, and say ‘you’ve got a problem with me, don’t you. Let’s have it out now’. I was so scared and shocked, all I could do was think to myself, how do I diffuse this situation? So, I said I’m sorry I upset you, to get her to go away, but she continued to bully me. I wrote extensive letters to numerous AA execs as well as the online complaint section, and was told that they contacted her. She lied to them, saying I was out of my seat demanding a drink during ascent (insane lie), and that I apologized to her for my behavior when leaving the plane (totally untrue). I wanted to punch her in the face, but I just calmly said goodbye as I left. So she lied to protect herself and the airline accepted her version over mine. I felt sick about this experience for days. How this can be tolerated by American is mind boggling. I work with the public, and I’m nice to everyone I interact with, even the ones I can’t stand, because it’s my job. As for the unfit bitch who harrassed me, what goes around, comes around, I hope. Doug, think how amazing your airline would be if you were the biggest AND the best. More money! Doesn’t that drive you?

  81. Glad its not just me. Flew AA into Charlotte last year to connect to Hilton Head. Had to sit on the tarmac for half an hour before we could taxi to the gate because apparently every plane in the fleet was sitting there ahead of us. Then they wouldn’t board the flight to Hilton Head until 2 people volunteered to take $100 vouchers and fly later because they overbooked. Acted like it was our fault. Who wants a voucher to get stranded somewhere else? Then on the return the tarmac was stacked up with planes again before we could get to our gate. I’m sure others have endured much worse, but Never Again will I fly AA.

  82. As a PHL based flyer, I have stuck with AA over the years, but two months ago I decided to switch to DL, utilizing a Medallion Challenge. I spend a lot more time in the air and in airports, always connecting through DTW, ATL or MSP, but I don’t care. The totality of the experience is that much better and worth every penny more I pay to fly DL.

  83. People like DP don’t quit, and they don’t give beans about any of these posts. It’s called EGO.

    The only way to get rid of them is firing by the Board, and it’s coming. Talking about number 30, the board does not mind 30″ pitch but they DO mind $ 30 stock.

    It’s going to happen. If they are smart, they will hire somebody who understands the positive side of good customer service but that is not guaranteed.

    Wait, hope and see…

  84. Some recent highlights:

    Int’l First class: boarded first and F/A yelled at whole first class cabin that it was very bad that we were let onto the plane because they were behind in getting the plane ready.

    Int’l business: no hello or greeting from F/A, first words were “you pre-ordered the steak. Do you still want that?”

    Domestic first: boarded and both F/As were on their phones without even looking up.

    It’s a complete joke. It has to be a lack of basic common sense. This is a service job.

    I hope they jack up EXP eqds to 15k this year so I finally decide to quit and make sensible decisions on airfare across all airlines.

  85. As long as you keep flying with them why should they make any changes? You can blog all day about how poor their service is and trust me Dpoug Parker already knows AA service sucks . But as long as you keep putting you butts in their seats senior management will continue their ways. So all you road warriors are you willing to walk away from AA? Cancel all your future flights and chose another carrier?

  86. And it’s not ONLY the 737 MAX…

    That ORD – PVG is closing while Emirates and Qatar fly three times daily via their hubs for less money and INFINITELY better service speaks for itself. High Five for the Gulf 3 !!! (well, now at least the Gulf 2…).

    And that this post by Lucky has attracted a RECORD NUMBER OF COMMENTS EVER
    (I believe) also says a lot.

    Those in favor of Mid-Terms for failed airline executives please honk !

  87. DITTO the above.
    5 years EXP. This year I credited my AA miles to BA now Gold a BA.
    Bought a trans Con AA first ticket. 4 years ago A good steak and 3 courses of good food. The last flight inedible pasta, the same stuff as business class. the exact same food. Also the entertainment was not working.
    The 737 Max first class seats were the last straw.
    And these guys are leading the charges against full service airlines from the Middle east!

  88. First thing I’d do if they made me czar is to ban cell phone use by FAs while on plane. Next, I’d find the money to fly each one on a top Asian airline to show them what customer service looks like (over in economy, back in biz–F for senior, supervising FAs).

  89. Frankly, non existent is a generous description. I am Lifetime Platinum and have flown AA premium cabin since the 80s. Even flying domestic MD-80 first used to be an experience I looked forward to. The only good thing about AA domestic first now is it isn’t coach.

    Here are the “highlights” of a recent paid first class flight from PHX to PDX:

    1) Despite ample time due to a delay, the flight attendants were too busy with their phones to offer even a water service (despite 100 plus degree temps).

    2) No use of last name, eye contact or even basic friendliness one might expect from the barista at a Starbucks drive through. Everything was a chore.

    3) They had never heard of my preordered meal and the FA actually rolled his eyes when I mentioned it.

    4) The warm nuts were served with the meal (more time for gossip when you get it all on one tray).

    5) No drink refills offered, you had to ask.

    6) The FAs actually talked about the destination being “BFE”. Loudly. With an attitude so provincial why get into the airline industry?

    I don’t invest in airlines stocks (neither did Robert Crandall) but will be pleased at the next downturn simply because they will lay off some of these appalling people, hopefully the CEO included but he has already cashed in tens of millions of his own shares and probably is looking forward to flying private himself.

  90. About 90% of my flying is long haul overseas to the Middle East. I tend to stick with One World (BA and AA) or Skyteam (Air France / Delta and Saudia)
    I am executive platinum on AA and Platinum for Life on Air France
    I have noticed that the Europe to USA legs on one World (usually BA tickets) that the American Flight are actually pretty good and the Flagship Lounge’s at Heathrow in particular is excellent.
    That being said, the hard product on Skyteam is better

    I did have a horrific experience with an American Flight Attendant (young chubby girl) from London to NYC about 15 months ago that kept me off American for almost 6 months.

    I do fly occasionally in American in the USA, always in First Class. I agree with Lucky’s observation that it is marginal at best. I have flown Delta in First within the US and again agree it is a better product domestically that American. I also think that Delta is better service on the transatlantic runs from Paris and Amsterdam to Boston. Perhaps it is due to the “Southern Culture” of service and politeness .. a quality absent in American.

    The above being said, I will continue to do long haul commercial as I am committed to this 300,000 mile per year commuting but my company is buying a share in mid size jet for USA domestic flights. I am switching my frequent flyer on One World from American Advantage to BA to see how that works.

    I agree with the commentaries above that Jet Blue is clearly the best US carrier for service.
    I can’t wait to try to Jet Blue premium service.

  91. Lets just say that most employees of American who commute to work choose to fly other airlines because they are treated with respect and dignity. If that doesn’t sound alarm bells im not sure what will.

    Employees are disgruntled not only because of a lack of vision, they consistently get shorted pay. I currently have 3 pay claims of missing moneys owed by company. Some in excess of $1K because of cancelled flights and pay protection. Which they have until December AKA 3 months to resolve.

    How can you expect a flight attendant to elevate when they are short changed by own company?

    Forget it, fly someone else, cause I sure am

  92. My experience might be a bit abnormal with OW Emerald status from CX that allows me access to the Flagship First checkin and Flagship lounges even when traveling domestically (I take domestic flights out of LAX and ORD quite often), but I have found these perks to be great and the reason why I prefer AA over UA and DL. The checkin agents in Flagship First are always very welcoming and pleasant. The last time I checked in at LAX, I was personally escorted to the front of the TSA pre-check line by an AA attendant who even carried my luggage! All of this on a discount economy ticket. Admittedly, the pleasantries diminish at the gate and onboard (except I have had pleasant experiences in J class long haul to/from Asia).
    With that said, I can see how even EXPs are becoming lesser fans of AA, but my recommendation for them is to start earning status on a different OW carrier so that you can get additional perks when flying AA domestically (above and beyond anything DL and UA offer). On the other hand don’t, I like having absolutely no line at the Flagship First checkin 😉

  93. Well… I’m the lucky one then. I’m a DL Diamond for years and pretty satisfied with my choice. Over the last 12 month I took some random flights with American sitting in main cabin extra (LAS-LAX, LAX-HNL, DEN-ORD) and the service was just great on every single flight. The flight attendants on my DEN-ORD leg a couple of weeks ago must’ve been the sweetest I’ve ever flown with (they were MIA based).

    In 2016 I did SFO-JFK, JFK-LAX in business and the service was quite good as well, not worse than DL. A bit earlier in 2014-2015, I used to take AA flights SNA-DFW-SNA quite often. Yes, on those flights I never had a great flight attendants (not terrible either, they just weren’t caring or friendly, or nice). So it must be also a base dependant with DFW FAs being the most hostile towards passengers.

  94. Doug Parker and his technocrat team think they understand finance and Wall Street. What they don’t seem to understand is that the financiers and bankers and fund managers and stock buying public see the inferior product American offers every time they ‘experience’ flying with AA.
    Legendary investor Peter Lynch said “buy what you know” – with AA stock trading near its low it seems Lynch is still right.

  95. Ever asked to use the forward Lav on an AA 787-9? I dared to do so on a recent domestic flight. The F/A looked at me as though I had asked for one of her kidneys, then proceeded to say flight deck crew were in there – they weren’t – the occupied signs were green and no trolleys were across the aisles.

    “Use the aft ones” she barked “I’m desperate” I replied but she continued to bark orders. After an age I asked to cut the line for the available aft lav. On returning to my seat I told the F/A and she had no interest that I nearly had an accident on her account. Not nice.

  96. Wow – the sheer number of comments here tells you all you need to know about how the customers feel! Great post Lucky, you hit the nail on the head.

  97. Wow – have never seen this many comments before. Clearly there’s something to this article, and AA can’t write this off as an anomaly. Surely a management shakeup isn’t too far around the corner!

  98. I think @Beverly Hills’s post is pretty telling.

    Senior flight attendants who are so disillusioned they don’t dare go above and beyond. They hide behind cold professionalism or kurt disdain for their coworkers.

    I think I speak for everyone when I say I’d rather have a bubbly newbie serving me water at 80% than a cold 10+ year veteran who thinks he or she is above a service job at 40%.

  99. What are your thoughts on United vs. Delta/American?

    Also, why would you rather grab a drink with Doug than Oscar or Ed?

  100. You made one point but missed the reason. Yes they got “early “ pay raise. What they didnt get was the raise negotiated ( raiseS , to maintain pay above the major competitors) , and they are proving that money isnt the only thing that drives “the culture”. I certainly understand that you, and many others ,have a bias towards * money is everything* but from some it is not. Throwing a small amount of money cannot fix bad management, just like pouring cement next to the hole wont fill the hole. Parker and his crew dont care about YOUR experience, they care about their wealth, and expect the employees to fill the gaps he creates when he cuts back more costs by removing more of what you need. Just like you expect stellar first class service when all that the company provides is discount airline amenities. Welcome to first class, would you like a paper cup of twobuckchuck or some off brand chinese wine flavored beverage? As someone commented earlier.. the flight attendants are being worked to exhaustion, harassed ( punitive new sick /attendence policies)by management and trying to put out the fires created by management. They are hiring new flight attendants, but they cant keep them , because even the “ bubbly newbies” can’t keep up the pace. Yes the service has gone to hell. But just look at where the company ‘s focus is : Its in the new , more spacious ,more luxurious headdquarters buildings. Yes new airplanes. But staffed with minimum crews. Schedules so tight , that when a commuter flight between LAX and SFO gets delayed, the DFW to Bejing flight feels it. I understand you dont see that because your focus is strictly on you. Why dont you try asking those employees just where the problem is ? They wont say “ not enough pay” they will tell you just following procedure as we are told to.

  101. Just flew the red eye from
    LA to Miami on American business class.
    The service was inferior, the flight attendants didn’t crack a smile and for most of the flight all they did was play games on their phones.
    Best flight ever…. Emirates from Sydney, Australia to Christchurch, NZ
    3 hours of impeccable service.

  102. When The new AA shows they care about their employees and their needs as the ones that deals with the craziness (airport wise) maybe things will get better . And passengers would have better experience when they choose AA.

  103. This sounds like the new Marriott after the SPG Merger. Marriott has zero customer satisfaction skills towards its SPG Legacy Elite members. They don’t care and many of us are moving on to other chains because of it. I still can’t even get a completed stay to post to my account in a timely fashion. One week later I need to call…wait on hold forever and fill out an online missing stay form that no one will ever respond to. The phone agent doesn’t have the power or authority to fix the obviously problem.

    As for American, I’m just a gold elite after years at exec plat.
    I’ve actually had excellent telephone service recently for changing an award booking twice due to an Alaska segment that kept getting rerouted. Agent went above and beyond to fix it and avoid any fees.

    I’ve had no trouble getting Econ extra or exit row at check in as a gold that’s really the best I can expect. I did get one FC upgrade this year but that’s pretty rare as only a gold. I don’t have any problem with that.

    I’m also an AA stock holder and I am very upset at the massive price drop but I’m more upset about the silence from American and Doug Parker. American should have already announced a stock buy back and issued a statement saying all the positives about the past and coming quarters. But instead, it’s like they don’t care about their stock holders who are also their customers.

    Time for a change at the top. No other way around it. Customer Service is a show stopper element with the stock price and stock value right there close by.
    If leadership doesn’t publicly care that the stock is down 50%then it’s time they move on.

  104. I fly AA out phoenix and Las often. I have not had a surly employee so far. They are all nice and pleasant. I have flown first and the service is good for such a short flight. Its not as good as Delta where one can get intoxicated on a flight from Detroit to Madison. However I have flown AA International with them and won’t again. The FA’s are surly and lazy and going through the motions. Combine that with the crap catering and its a long long flight

  105. can we see the problem here? needs to get intoxicated(1) on a short flight(2). no wonder they are surly having to deal with a drunk..

  106. Parker has transformed two once great airlines into the world’s largest version of America West. He is definitely no visionary, just an experienced crisis manager with no new tricks in his bag. He has now been able to obliterate two legacy airlines and became wealthy in the process.
    The Inflated ego and slash and burn management style, has t really paid off as the comment s suggesst. And increasing the pay for the employees isn’t the problem, it is nothing more than media subterfuge and deflection to make Parker look like a generous leader while he dismantles the airline. What is really going on at American aside from morphing into Spirit airlines?
    You didn’t get greeted when you boarded the aircraft? Probably because oo another technical glitch with the handheld that doubles as a POS device FAs as well as their Emergency Manual, when it isn’t locked up.

    The business traveler today wants cheapest airfare with preferential service and demands loyalty. I tend to agree, but somebody has to pay for it. So far that has only been the employees and the frequent travelers. The average traveler complains about just about everything after intentionally purchasing the “least expensive” fare, gets forgets that fact upon arriving at the airport. Spirit Airlines remains at full capacity.l for just that reason. AA prices their fares to be listed on top With the cheapest airfare.
    Delta met the challenge with a hybrid approach and has been extremely successful, due to the fact they listened to their frontline employees and had proactive and cooperative management team. American’s approach simply rehashes the old playbook from America West, but adds some additional perks for the elite travelers (such as flagship and intl service) while shoehorning as many people as they can in main cabin.
    One again, If the flights are full who cares?

    Doug’s departure is long overdue,
    But all his disciples he brought over from AWA , even if he does leave, any short of a massive regime change, don’t expect much to change at AA.

  107. I had a surprising experience as well when I was in first class flying from Argentina to DFW. I was in group 1 one of the first ones on the plane. I was in 7D and when I opened the bin above my seat that was labeled 7D there was a huge bag in there already. I asked around to everyone I saw whos bag is this? No one claimed it. I tried to get the attendants attention he ignored me even though I politely asked him by his name to help me when he wasnt helping on people to the plane. So I took out the bag and placed it around the corner in the attentant area waiting to ask whos this was and what we can do. When he saw me place this bag that turned out to be HIS BAG, he yelled at me in front of everyone saying that I shouldnt EVER touch someone elses bag and I should have just used another bin. I didnt want to get kicked off the plane so I didnt argue with him but I did ask him not to talk to me that way and that he purposely ignored me for 20 minutes when I asked him for help. He continued to say he could have me removed from the plane if I continued. WOW!! Since when did AA allow their attendants to yell at any customers because they are placing their bags in designated areas for their customers. This is making me rethink my loyalty to AA even though I made Exec platinum already next year.

  108. To be fair, all the airline CEO’s are sub par, regardless of airline. I am an avid flyer with AA and have always had great customer service. That being said, there is definitely a difference flying in the front of the plane to the back. Can their customer service be better, absolutely, but compared to other airlines, its in line with what I would expect.

  109. I’ve been a loyal AA customer since 1984! I’ve been executive platinum for almost a decade. However, I couldn’t agree more with your assessment. I used to get the impression that AA really appreciated its customers and made us feel wanted. Now it feels like they are doing us a favor by allowing us to fly with them. I recently had a nightmare experience in Philly where a flight scheduled for a 9:45 PM departure to Paris that was listed as on time, just up until departure. They then moved the departure to 11:00, then 12:00 then 1:00 AM then 2:00 AM. They finally fixed the mechanical issue and told us we were going to board, but then canceled the flight at 2:30 as the crew had timed out! They then said there were no hotels available and we were left on our own!

    On another international flight, two of the flight attendants sat in the middle service section talking quite loudly (basically gossip). It was quite annoying as I had to listen to them babbling on for literally hours. They just sat there and ignored the passengers. I just wondered who is running this place!

  110. It’s all the PO’d US and AA employees period! AWA was voted best place to work many years, the employees’s were engaging. Now fast forward to AA. They can’t accept the Corp atmosphere of open communication among st themselves or management. US was the worse take over the employees were ungrateful that a small airline (AWA) bailed them out of bankruptcy and saved their jobs! Now the old AA employee’s are just tired and have no loyalty. Time for a major shake up and kick unions way of doing business to the curb. Good luck as this will not be easy. Time for the old way of doing business to be gone!

  111. Very sad to agree. Talk about the worst attributes of Hughes, USAir, North Central, Ozark, and even the much-missed Piedmont (on a bad day). American was special. Now it’s a parlor game to see which dig against customers they will come up with next.

    For instance, I’m a frequent flyer, 2nd tier, more than 70k miles/ year and a good $15k to $20k consistently in fares. Have what was the highest-ranked AA/Citibank credit cards. Shortly after the merger, they gouged the frequent fliers with the Platinum card by opening another card with better benefits— but refused to transition us to the new card!

    When you reach a legacy American employee on the phone, you might be in luck. But they all hint it is not the same. I wd call it a catastrophic service collapse. Very disappointing.

    Thanks for the article.

  112. I recall a few years ago getting slightly “lost” while staying at the Four Season’s Hotel & Resort in British Columbia and ending up outside the staff entrance at the rear of the complex and having to ring the bell to alert someone to let me back into the building. As I entered the building through the staff entrance, I was immediately drawn to a sign which read, “When You Came To Work Today, Remember Our Guests Always Come First – If Not, Then You Should Not Be Reporting For Work”. This sign and what it meant has always stayed with me over the years and is perhaps where AA should begin – from the top of the ladder and working on down to the bottom.

  113. Fly AA in first class and I too think that they are in the lower rank for service. Not sure when the last time they offered drinks up front before the door was shut. Just talking about what they did during the weekend or resting for the little work they do during the flight. They finally now have a way to (maybe) rank the Exe. Pt. reservation people via a one question at the end of the phone call, had one agent wait 10 mins. for me to hangup and not do the survey, had to tell her to hang up and get back to work. Also, tried to use some of my million miles and the route on a normal non-stop flight made me criss-cross the United States and take 10 hours on a 2 hour flight non-stop. A couple of years ago they used to give good milage credits in the program and now they give a few miles unless you pay dearly! They push the credit card folder in your face on almost all of the flights and the interest rate is in the 25% to 27% area and I am sure AA gets a cut of this if a card holder does not pay off his monthly bill! As for the stockholders of a company making billions (yes billions) of dollars in profit, they get “jack nothing”. Were is all the profit going???
    I only fly AA due to my high milage and will stop once I use them up.

  114. Nothing in this article is inaccurate. AA is the best of the worst, but the focus on employees seems misplaced. The issue is really the ridiculous systems and processes that make travel intolerable. I am an EXP and fly out of SNA – flights are a premium and the schedule does not allow any room for error. Decisions to cancel flights and the type of equipment flown here is unacceptable. Upgrades are non-existent. Charging more than any surrounding LA metro airport and delivering a substandard experience will catch up to them – and finally reflected in the stock price. I have 4 systemwides that I cannot use because there is never any inventory. The customer service department has provided 0 support on valid complaints. But I blame policy and not employees. When your hands are tied and you are not empowered, it is frustrating for everyone.

  115. I’ve been a loyal AA customer since 1991, having flown over 5 million miles and achieving executive platinum status since the inception of the program and I can categorically say AA’s customer service is almost non-existent. I blame the culture of US Airways of profits over service. US Airways was the former Allegheny. For those who remember, it was so bad we used to call it “agony”.
    AAAdvantage keeps on giving premium passengers VIP/Anytime upgrade awards that, at least in my case, I can ver use because I always fly on first for domestic or business international and AA has eliminated international First Class Service, which was good, not great, buy at least it was an incentive to premium passengers. Long gone is the Special Services group that kept us informed when problems or delays happened and were ready to provide alternatives if delays were extreme. They created “concierge service” but there are no published rules on how to get it. It turns out that you can only get it if AA grants it to you, based on what, probably on how much money you spend. In any event the only perk is that you get to board ahead of everyone else a perk previously granted to ExecPlats and that is no any longer honored.
    And don’t get me started with the obnoxious advertising of their new Master Card. I swear that if I have to hear it one more time my head will explode. But it is not only the flying experience that has been deteriorated. Complaining or expressing a problem or any concerns dent to the AAAdvantage Customer Service either ignored and not replied to, or if you are lucky to receive a reply it is a system generated email where your issue is never addressed with truly condescending language.
    I overall, I am really disappointed with AA’s CS and after reaching the ExecPlat level this year I’ve been flying with other airlines which are far superior in all aspects and usually less expensive; Singapore Airlines comes to mind.

  116. There you go again, …American IS NOT A TRANSPORTATION COMPANY. They could care less whether you get where you are going anytime soon. If you do, that is great but it is simply not their focus. Their focus is selling you a ticket for a flight, any flight, at the highest possible price and with as many extras as they can possibly charge for before you decide you are better off just walking to your destination. Simply, they are a SALES AND MARKETING COMPANY. Anything that would cost them money is irrelevant to that model since transportation is a cost to them and a drain on the bottom line. I’m continually surprised when people say their is no customer service attitude at the airline…why would there be? They simply don’t believe it generates more revenue. Which do you think gets the CEO’s attention? 1) 250 people on the DFW-Paris flight running six hours late because AA didn’t have pilots, or crew, or gas, or maintenance, or a map or whatever, or 2) 250 people who couldn’t pay $300,000 for tickets from DFW to Paris for two hours while the web site was down? The company, once a great transportation company is now a floundering mess saved only by the few employees who actually do try to provide good service because they care about what they do…but they are getting harder to find.

  117. It is so sad to hear all these negative comment from a employee who gave a 100% to his role. I always tried to make a customer welcome at checkin or on board the aircraft before closing the aircraft door.But I must admit that customer service has gone down hill. While boarding a flight I was greeted by a female (CHUCKY look alike) who was so really rude to me and other passenger. I informed the purser on the flight of her attitude and that I was a employee of AA.
    CHUCKY came up and apologised…to late she should not have been dismissed years ago..
    While every airline has good and bad ground/aircrew there are still some that do care about customers but once again that is few and very far between.

    It is so sad to see AA going down market…..but I can see what all the comments are about and unfortunately it’s so true.



  118. Hi. I am a PHL AA ( LUS) Flight attendant and I apologize for the poor service you all are receiving. We have some amazing F/A’s and I hope that on your next flight those are the crewmembers you encounter.
    I do not know who is to blame for all the bad stuff, but what has frustrated us on the LUS side is so much of what we did or how we did it, is gone. The merger was handled with an “ adapt and go” program. Because there are fewer of us at LUS we had to adopt to the LAA way of doing things. Less people to teach a new way, less cost in teaching. We hear ALL the time “ well, that’s the way we’ve always done it”, that should be our slogan vs “ going for great”. I point this out because those of you who loved AA before the merger should still be loving it because not much has changed as a result of the merger, at least in the F/A category.
    The pay raise was great, but the significant rise in the cost of our healthcare was not. The 3% profit sharing is better than 0%, but no where close to what Delta gets, and yes, we compare ourselves to them as well.
    Delta is the gold standard, that is all.
    Our older planes, terrible entertainment system, shrinking leg room, all of that is embarrassing to your crew and obviously out of our control. What we can control is the smile and a thank you, hopefully we get better in that category, it is the least we can do.

  119. I’m AAdvantage Platinum for life. Jet Blue in now my primary carrier. With all the supposed advantages of being Platinum, Jet Blue is still a more comfortable and pleasant flight. Has American reached bottom yet? Each time I’ve thought that American has gotten as bad as it gets, they’ve amazed me with their ingenuity. There should be a #MeToo for airline passengers.

  120. Oh, and one more thing. I’m not saying crewmembers are not using their cellphones too much but our work tablets are Samsung Galaxy’s which as you know is a smartphone. They are always in our hands during boarding, they help us solve a variety of issues. So, sometimes what you see as our cellphones are actually our work tablets.

  121. Since you travel so much as a travel consultant maybe you should attempt to have a meeting with top management as culture starts with the top and tell them they got a problem they need to resolve. Nothing is more important than customer service and friendliness especially at the airport since most airports are a hassle today.

  122. I couldn’t agree more. Everything at American seems to have gone downhill.

    Most recently, I was floored by an outrageous $200 per person charge for changing a ticket over a month before scheduled departure – after they had arbitrarily changed the departure time which negatively affected our transportation to the airport.

    As an AAdvantage “Platinum” member with 27 year longevity, I expected some consideration, but was simply told that I should have paid more for my ticket to provide insurance.

  123. This article pretty much sums up why I quit flying American Airlines back in June 2018. I travel enough that it isn’t whether or not something goes wrong. It is more about WHEN something goes wrong, how does the airline handle it. However after just a few months of flying with American Airlines I noticed that things weren’t good even when nothing went wrong.

    The whole being ignored or made to feel like cattle was my experience. I’d get emails from American Airlines saying how they valued my business but the actual experience was the opposite.

    I stopped flying American Airlines. If they ask me what would bring me back I couldn’t be bothered helping them. Why should I? The airline I’m currently using treated me better when I had no status. They treat me REALLY well now that I have status with them. Why should I bother helping American Airlines?

    Bottom line, American Airlines is going to have to do a LOT to win me back.

  124. To Shanan Ericson: maybe you lack a little perspective. First of all your overhead bin is NOT “YOURS” they are shared space. everyone has a right to use whichever bin they can find.
    second. even though you might perceive the crew as less-than-human servants to your needs, they are required to put their bags in those very same overhead spaces as you real humans.. as i said, SHARED space. they do not have a designated place for their bags..third, and final.. just how would you react if some unknown person grabbed your bag out of the bin and moved it?
    yep, you guessed it, you too would throw a fit.. but I assume you feel crew are not worthy of that kind of respect.. they should just shut up and serve, right?

  125. Sad to hear AA is not the airline it used to be. I flew them many times, and enjoyed many flights with them when I lived in the NYC area.

    Now, it’s Delta for me for everything. I’m always impressed; whether it’s great service on the ground when their is a lengthy delay (what other airline offers free snacks/soda/water at the /gate area?) to all members of staff encountered offering great customer experience, what’s not to like?

  126. Here’s a hint.
    CEO and management runs airline like Regional airlines. Their competition is to be the best Regional airline with regional service. The largest LLC airline in the Continental USA.
    Disrupting signed contracts and disregarding signed agreements.
    Remember a CEO called Frank Lorenzo. CEO Parker has modeled his vision on the Lorenzo dogmatic belief system.
    He will continue his buy backs, tank the stock and leave with negotiated millions( because all BOD honor executives contracts)
    AAL will file BK and put it on labor to possible rebuild if the incompetence of management.
    Parker is laundering his debunked USAir stock. When this is complete, he will file BK( again under AAL logo) he did it 2X with USAir. This is why he kept the AAL logo. AAL has only filed 1time. In BK laws he has his 2nd go around.
    Walk away with millions and leave the employees holding the bag.
    AAL has not negotiated a contract since 1999.. They have used BK to mitigate and strip employees of earned wages.
    Look for another BK in 2019 possibly June.
    We are a regional airline disguising as a premier carrier.
    “The man behind the curtain”

  127. @Thomas James –

    Almost zero chance AAL goes bankrupt next year. Cash from Ops is ~$5b a year, including servicing their interest payment (Net Income of $1.5b+) and they could drastically scale back capex if they wanted. Only chance they go bankrupt is if their average rate drops like 20%+. That’s not an endorsement to buy their stock, however. Big difference between potential market drop and bankruptcy, though.

  128. Yes, employees have hit ROCK BOTTOM!!! The author of this article failed to mention that on October 1rst, the airline had its final stage in the merger. It has been absolute CHAOS for years as we have been merging employees from every department, mechanics, ticketing, pilots, etc. Yes, you are right, Mr. Author! Customer service is NOT a priority when bases are closing, contracts are being violated and employee’s lives are being disrupted.
    Oh yea! Side note: The “phones” that the FA’s are staring at are our HANDHELD DEVICES that tell us where your whiny ass sits so we can change your seat; what meals you ordered because God forbid you pack your own gluten-free, diabetic, vegetarian, Muslim meal; our announcements because you can’t seem to remember how to turn off your latest episode of Orange Is The New Black on your 20-inch laptop while people are climbing over you to get to their seat; and our departure info so we can close the door to the Slaveship Enterprise on time and not get a demerit from our company, putting us in Flight Attendant Time Out.
    Now, (takes deep breath, smiles and puts on Fake-flight attendant smile,) here are your pretzels, sit down and shut-up.

  129. @Jill-perfect summation of why Delta loves AA front line employees. Apparently you forgot you work in a service industry. Misplaced anger toward and mistreatment of customers who are the reason you have a job instead of focusing your anger at the cause of your unhappiness demonstrates a true lack of understanding of why you are where you are. Do you shop where the employees treat you poorly and ignore you? Neither do I. Keep rising!

  130. During the summer my sister (who never flies) booked a ticket from OMA-RNO. She has to drive 2.5 hours to get to the OMA airport. She was 30 minutes away, when she got a text that her flight had been cancelled. She called me and I tried to call AA to rebook her. They could not get her out of OMA until 2 days later… and they didn’t apologize for it or offer her compensation. She missed my mom’s 80th birthday spa day celebration. Then a week later when she tried to go home, she was held up in at the check in becsue they told her she was too late to check her bag, (she was there 60 minutes ahead of time) and then in TSA and got to the gate 10 minutes before departure, and the door was already closed and the AA employee told her too bad you should have been here on time. She was not the only one that was angry there were 10 other passengers who were locked out. She was rebooked for later in the day as a STANDBY passenger. We went to SWA and rebooked her to OMA and she got back to OMA and then had to drive her 2.5 hours to get home. I sent in the information via AA website to get her a refund for her ticket she didn’t use from RNO to OMA and as of today..October 20th she still has not heard from them. Need less to say she torn them up via facebook and twitter, etc. I hope people at American Understand, they service is horrible and our frequent flyer family has decided never to fly them again. If there stock goes to 10cents per share it would still be overvalued.

  131. I am DFW based and 3MM+ many year EXP. I fly paid premium cabin unless the fare differential is stupid. I moved my TATL flying to LH last year (made Senator) and after this atrocious year I am moving my domestic away as much as possible. I sincerely hope to not qualify for EXP in 19. LAAter.

  132. It’s time for Doug to go. As others have said, he and his minions are numbers guys. They will step over a dollar to save a penny. There is no vision. I am so tired of hearing about going for great and then running the airline like it is People Express from days of old. (no offense to PPE)

    I am a fa and I truly love my job. I somehow manage to give pretty darn good service with what we have. I came from the US Airways side and I looked forward to being a truly great airline….And then DP took the helm and I knew we were destined to be AWA all over again, cutting service and going ghetto. Don’t let many fool you. US Airways wasn’t the greatest, but DP took us from bad to worst. And now he is doing the same with AA.

    And then there is legacy AA. I learned a long time ago “that’s the way we’ve always done it” will do noting but place you to the bottom quickly. In other words, there is a lot of blame everywhere. But just like a coach is retained by the success of a team, the same can be said of a ceo. American is failing and our leader is more of a CFO and NOT a visionary CEO. If we aren’t winning the hearts and minds of the airline customer, it’s time for new leadership.

    I am appalled at the comments here from Jill Andreychak as she is a big reason I feel DP needs to go. There is no accountability for words and actions that would get one FIRED at any other company. Mouthing off with such negativity must STOP!! I don’t want my boss to be my friend. I want him or her to be someone who leads, someone I respect, someone I have a heathy fear of.

    Love or hate Bob Crandell and Stephen Wolf, they were great leaders. Both were hard asses, but when they were in your presence, you knew they were boss, respected them, and carried yourself with pride. And the airlines during their reigns reflected it.

    Until we get real leadership, American will continue to be an airline reality version of “Girls Gone Wild.”

  133. I am a LAA agent with 18 years in. I love my job and my company.. When I trained at Flagship in Dallas in 2000 I was taught first and foremost our customers safety, security and satisfaction are the top priorities. We as a company and the entire world has changed since then, most vividly illustrated by 9/11, bankruptcy, unions, fuel prices, etc. I still take great pride in my job and have confidence that some of the missteps we have taken are fixable. To find the balance between AA ala Crandall and the “new” AA ala Parker which is a little rough around the edges but profitable is a work in progress. It may not be readily apparent to our valued passengers but we really do care and want you to be happy.

  134. Seems to me that what’s missing here is a real conversation on the lack of competition. When we saw fuel prices at their lowest levels recently, we also viewed airline price increases. Southwest is no longer the “low price leader”. They have more efficient airplanes flying today. Maximized earnings from own credit cards and baggage fees. The only real difference is the lack of competing airlines: AirTran, Continental, USAir… the list goes on. DoT would help competition by inviting more airlines into US system, re-assigning gates at the major hubs. Most airlines lease planes so barriers to entry aren’t that many….

    American, Delta and United will get better only when they have a competing reason to do so.

  135. Well said…..I left because of all the extra work and less ground crew to do it…..

    LOOK after your EMPLOYEES, and the EMPLOYEES will look after the CUSTOMERS…….

  136. 1 free piece of checked luggage is granted to those with American Advantage gold status. I renewed my AA Credit Card since it too entitled me to a free checked bag. Thought it would come in handle after a major conference presentation where I had a need to check 2 pieces of luggage. Instead, AA wanted to charge me for the 2nd bag. Why bother to pay $95 for the AA CitiCard if it did not grant that 2nd free bag check for gold / ruby million milers who can check one free bag anyway? Point of comparison – – Southwest allowed me to check 2 free on outbound and I’m not even “A” list for them. This should not be the American Way. Perhaps there should be an AA support group to keep their loyal passengers from relapsing to other airlines.

  137. I am based in STL and flew TWA exclusively for 15+ years. They were an exceptional airline. When AA bought TWA, they at least transferred over my lifetime miles (1.6M). It took about 2 years for all of the former TWA people to leave through attrition. After that, service started going down hill. I logged about 175K miles during those first 2 years and only 75K since. I am around 150K miles short of 2M and lifetime Platinum on AA. I only fly AA if I have no other options. I am sure I am not alone. I see a lot of the people that used to be on TWA flights on Southwest now. To me, United customer service is even worse than AA. I have flown them about 10 times and never ever will fly them again. Very thankful that SWA made STL a hub. They truly understand customer service.

  138. I am a 30 year Flight Attendant with AA. I have gone through 3 mergers now….Piedmont, US Airways and now American Airlines. Yes, we were given pay raises but the company took so much more away from us. We are human beings, not robots. Long days and short nights. Trips that leave us exhausted with little sleep. A new sick policy that is the worst I have ever seen. 10 points in one year and you are terminated…it all depends on how long you are out. Forget it if you have cancer or any other life threating disease or have to care for your children if they are sick. I have never seen so many F/A’s on FMLA. Doug Parker needs to go OR start taking care of his work group. We were supposed to take the BEST of both US Airways and American to make this a better company….Doug Parker you have chosen to take the worst possible route as far your employees go. I hope you enjoy all the money you made off your stock options and kudos that were given to you. Your employees are NOT HAPPY! Like I said we are human beings, not robots.

  139. I am a relative newbee to AA. I have only been EP for 4 years. Last year I was so annoyed at the changes in the AAdvantage program that I switched to United and was 1K last year. Because of my travel this year I was forced to used AA most of the time so EP again. Just the difference in 4 years is completely noticeable – I almost have to laugh at the contempt that AA employees have.

    Somehow the idea that the individual passenger mattered has been lost – no one passenger matters – we are all lumped into a group. In my business I make sure each customer is happy and I retain and all my customer this way. It takes no more effort to be personal!

  140. Please do not lump all AA customer service agents together. I work hard…and I’m not the only one…to assist members after their flights. We take calls nonstop, back to back, and often are cursed and/or yelled at by elite and non elite members. We are single parents, college students, and others trying to make a decent living being decent people. We are genuinely sorry when you had a delay, didn’t get the meal you wanted, or experienced bad service. And we are the lowest paid AA employees. Please treat us as you want to be treated. The majority of us are trying to do the same.

  141. I had been turned off of AA for almost a decade but recently took a first class flight made us of four segments. While I expected a decent flight this was not the case. My AA experience was very bargain basement. Honestly I didn’t think they could sink lower but they have.

    This followed a coach flight on COPA and I was so pleased at the friendly staff, the non nickel and dime approach and the overall service that I was encouraged to turn my travel needs to South American carriers. COOAs coach service was better than AA first class by far. The only difference was I didn’t get early boarding.

    After being a very frequent flyer I have decided to fly AA only as a last resort. I should mention that on an upcoming trip the same seats on the same plane on the same dates cost USD $11,000 more when booked as marketed by AA versus when booked as marketed by the South American carrier (they code share). I know where I prefer to spend my money, do you?

  142. Hi guys my name is Ben. All I know how to write is that service is shitty, Doug Parker lost a bet on a stock price (big!) and that I think AA needs new leadership.

  143. I called AA to talk about a ticket, the representative ask my for my ticket locater number which I didn’t have on hand, I offer my credit card number in order to help her look up the ticket, and to my surprise she puts me on hold where I hasd to wait for 38 minutes. I was appalled at the behavior of that rep. There are several other bad experiences I had with AA and would not fly on their airline ever again.

  144. I was American Airlines Concierge Key for three years.
    Today I submitted the status match for Delta! It’s time.
    Service terrible – endless delays, and service terrible.

  145. I will no longer fly AA. I prefer to fly Delta. Delta has better service
    great customer service. Agent at DL always smiling and thank you for your business. AA has a long way to catch up to Delta.

  146. I will agree with many of the comments on here that American Airlines stands to be able to grow their customer service platform. I don’t think it’s the end for American and hopefully the record numbers that they see defecting to Delta will spark a fire for them to be able to increase market share by getting some of those loyal customers back.

    I have been loyal to Delta now for 20 years and I try not to fly anybody but them however there are times when I have to fly American and I can say that their service even in coach is horrendous. United is no better.

    I think these Airlines were thinking in ways that they can cut costs to increase shareholder value. What they need to focus on his customer service to increase shareholder value.

  147. It continues…
    American Airlines is offering me no compensation whatsoever for my short travel day from San Jose to Tucson being turned into an all day waiting frustration.
    I’m in Phoenix now and they won’t get me a rental car…. forcing me into a 5 hour wait instead of a 2 hour drive.
    Not even a day pas for their club.
    American is blowing it.

  148. Tough to hold them responsible when it is weather, and it is WEATHER. The entire system is a mess today and it’s not just AA.
    Good luck getting Delta to give you any compensation either.

  149. I’ve been flying AA for a long time and their service the last year or so has been in noticeable decline, while their prices (once the best around) seem to be headed in the other direction. This year they have been horrendous. My sister had a day delay in February. In April my return flight got me home 15 hours late and cost me an extra day of vacation. And last month I basically had to cancel my Memorial Day weekend plans because of their flight delays. I logged a complaint online and am still waiting for the 5-day response 3 weeks later. This year well over 50% of my flights on AA have been delayed. I’ve got one more ticket booked in a couple of weeks, and after that I plan to cash in my miles and find another carrier.

  150. Long, but worth the read:
    We arrived at LAX on Saturday, June 15th for American Airlines flight 2044 (LAX > Charlotte > Tallahasse). The flight was scheduled to depart at 08:36, so we arrived at the airport at 06:00. Our intent was to check in, then eat breakfast at the airport. Upon arrival at the check-in counter, we were informed out flight had been canceled. This was the first notice of cancellation we received. We were directed to another counter for rebooking.
    There were approximately 100 people already in line, seven service windows, but only one agent handling customers. When we got in line, the single agent was working with a group of 15 people. It took 1.5 hours for the agent to process this one group. By the time we got to an agent (the previous agent left after serving the one group), we had been in line over two hours.
    During our 2-hour+ wait, I went to the American Airlines wheelchair station and requested a wheelchair for my wife. She had injured her leg prior to boarding our flight from Australia to LAX, so she was requiring a wheelchair on subsequent flights. I was denied a wheelchair – according to the American Airline wheelchair personnel, you have to have a boarding pass to use a wheelchair. I explained that our flight had been canceled, we were in line to get rebooked, and would then have boarding passes. The American Airline wheelchair personnel didn’t care. She said my wife could “sit in the window and wait.” Bear in mind, this is not a chair in front of the window – this is the hard, cold marble ledge of the window she was directing my wife to sit in.
    Once at the ticketing window, we were not given a reason for the cancellation. We were, however, told we had been rescheduled on the flight that left at 01:00 – eight hours earlier. I’m not sure how we were supposed to make that flight, since we had received no notice of cancellation or rebooking. After much creativity, the agent booked us on a flight that would take us LAX > New Orleans > Dallas/Fort Worth > Tallahassee. We had just enough time to get a wheelchair (we had boarding passes) and make it to the gate to board. No breakfast…
    While still on the ground, I posted our wheelchair experience on Twitter with the hashtag #americanairsucks. I had a response within minutes. I gave them our flight record locator, my cell number, and email address. They told me our original flight had been cancelled for “maintenance”. My response: “Wow. You mean to tell me AA sold tickets for an advertised flight, then took it out of service for maintenance? Great planning!” They had no response to that, but did assure me they would speak with the LAX wheelchair team. They also said they would look into all the circumstance of the trip, once it was complete, and someone would be in touch.
    Once the flight was in the air, the flight attendant announced her apology that the flight did not have its usual offering of food. This wasn’t ideal, since we lost our window for breakfast due to the cancellation and rebooking ordeal. Plan B was to eat lunch in New Orleans.
    The flight encountered bad weather on approach to New Orleans, so we were put in a holding pattern. This lasted long enough for the plane to run low on fuel and divert to Baton Rouge for refueling. We sat on the Baton Rouge tarmac for two hours. Again, the flight had no food. While on the tarmac, and American Airlines Team Envoy entered to discuss passengers disembarking in Baton Rouge. We were told there was the possibility of getting my wife and me from Baton Rouge to Tallahassee, but she would need to speak with her manager. She was never able to contact her manager – she phoned and left messages, but they never called back. The other American Airline employees on the plane were not surprised. The jet door was shut, and American Airlines lost the opportunity to make a bad situation better. Once fueled and the weather passed, the pilot announced we would depart has soon as the paperwork was completed. This took another half-hour. In the meantime, a United Airline flight had been diverted for the same reason and sat on the tarmac beside us. They departed Baton Rouge one hour before us – United must be better at paperwork. Finally, on the New Orleans.
    The delay into New Orleans caused us to miss the connection to DFW. By now, we have realized we’re not making it to home to Tallahassee this day. I asked if AA would provide a voucher for a hotel. The ticketing agent said no – company policy is to not give vouchers when the delay is weather related. I tried to explain the only reason we were on that plane is because AA had cancelled our original flight. I realize the weather clause is a legal loophole, but the right thing to do, taking everything into consideration, would be to issue a voucher. Not only the agent dig in and not listen to reason, she became rude and dismissive to my wife. I asked to speak with a manager. While waiting for the manager, I was to able acquire two sandwiches and bags of chips – first food since the previous evening. Another agent arrived – a supervisor. All managers had gone home for the day. I explained the situation and inquired about a room voucher. At first, he attempted to toe the company line, but once he listened and realized all the pieces that led to our ordeal, he had a change of heart. The plan was for us to go on to DFW. He entered the details of our experience (thus far) into our flight record and instructed me to find the AA CSM (Customer Service Manager) in DFW. He assured one would still be there, since DFW is a hub. After he had documented our details, I asked if AA had a training program for associates that instructed them in customer service. He said AA does and all employees go through the training. I shared our experience with the previous ticketing agent and suggested they be sent for more training. I reminded him each associate represents AA, and the previous agent had not represented AA well. He assured me he would let a manager know the following morning. We finally got out of New Orleans.
    Upon arrival at DFW, we found the AA CSM desk. CSM Timothy pulled up our flight record, read the comments from the supervisor in New Orleans, and promptly issued a room voucher and $24 for meals. We asked about our luggage. We were told our luggage was in Dallas, but we couldn’t have it. We were assured it would be in Tallahassee when we arrived. We checked into the hotel at 11:00 PM – 15 hours since we walked into LAX and only half way home to Tallahassee.
    Our Sunday morning flight out DFW was at 10:37 AM. We awake at 07:00 AM – plenty time to have breakfast and get to the airport. I check online and see the flight has been cancelled. Again, no notice. I call AA customer service, and they tell me the flight was cancelled due to weather. I take a picture out the hotel window (within eyesight of the airport) – clear skies. I check the weather forecast – partly cloudy all day. Again, they had rebooked us on another flight, but it was scheduled to depart 45 minutes after we found out about the (second) cancellation. This is when we realized AA was not going to get us home that day. (We were supposed to be home at 7:35 PM Saturday June 15, and it’s now 08:00 AM Sunday June 16.)
    We made other arrangements (all of which could have been accomplished by AA) and walked through our home’s front door at 9:00 PM Sunday night (39 hours after we first walked into LAX).
    From what I could tell online, none of the Sunday DFW flights AA tried to put us ever left that day. Had we stayed with AA, we would have been stuck in Dallas, again. And, being since it be classified as “weather related”, we would have been left to fend for ourselves.
    Once we got home, I used AA’s baggage tracking tool on their website. I found our luggage – it was in Panama City, FL. It was tagged for Tallahassee, not Panama City. It was scanned out of DFW at 2:66 PM on Sat., June 15th and scanned into Panama City at 6:17 PM Sat. June 15th. This information was on the AA website. Two things very wrong; 1) At no time were we ticketed for Panama City, and 2) we were told Saturday night our luggage was in DFW (but weren’t allowed to have it). Truth is, at the time I asked about it, our luggage was already in Panama City. I got up Monday morning, after two very long days of inefficient travel, and drove to Panama City to retrieve our luggage. The person in Panama City that gave me my luggage shared a “funny story” – when he saw our bag was tagged for Tallahassee, he got ready to send it on. But, his manager told him to hang on to it to see if we would come get it. The suitcase got there on Saturday, and they kept it all day Sunday to see if I would come get it. Our phone number is on the tag, but no one called. I drove four hours Monday to get our luggage.
    I do want to point out the AA people that were actually helpful during this ordeal: Alberto (ticket agent in LAX), the supervisor in New Orleans (I did not get his name, but I believe it is the document he created in our flight record), and Timothy (CSM in DFW).
    Other than those three, AA could not have handled this any poorer – poor maintenance planning, total lack of effective communication, lack of concern for customer welfare by denying my wife a wheelchair and directing her to go sit in a window, total lack of empathy (it was as if all this was common to them), more concerned about following policy than doing what’s right (just because it’s legal doesn’t make it ethical or right), not being truthful about the status of our luggage, and waiting for us to come get our luggage (rather than send it to its final, paid destination).
    One should “never say never”, but there will have to be insurmountable extenuating circumstances before we will ever set foot on another AA flight.
    What can AA do to make amends?
    • A formal, written apology to my wife
    • Financial reimbursement for the DFW > TLH leg of the flight we did not use
    • Financial reimbursement for the alternate arrangements we made that allowed us to be home Sunday
    • Financial reimbursement for having to drive to Panama City to retrieve our luggage

  151. You all need to understand that American Airlines no longer exists. It’s US Air with the American name on it. Doug Parker has never run a No.1 Airline and never will. US Air was never rated in the top five airlines. Now that they’ve taken over AA they don’t understand why they’re No.7 or No.8. They thought the name would put them in the top five. They couldn’t wait to be American Airlines but they run the company like they always did at US Air. Instead of looking to see how American did it they’ve done away with most AA procedures and are doing it the US Air way.
    Don’t blame the unions this time. It’s purely poor and incompetent management. Most AA management is gone. Even in lower management AA employees feel they have a target on their back. While American was never perfect it was always better than US Air in Customer Service and had a better Aircraft Maintenance Program. That is all gone now.
    After the merger they should have continued as US Air and let AA die with its dignity

  152. Sitting in the airport in Sarasota FL as I write this…saved up AA frequent flyer miles to fly to a friend’s wedding. We’ve flown with points from other airline’s mileage clubs and it never seemed any different than flying as a paid passenger. Shocked about all the AA restrictions …we don’t even get a CARRY ON!?!? “One personal item that fits under the seat is allowed. No overhead bin storage is allowed”. “Basic economy customers who bring more than an under seat item to the gate incur the regular checked baggage charge plus a $25 gate service charge…“ It’s kind of tough to pack for a wedding with a bag that fits under the seat!?!. “Boarding passes will reflect last boarding group” and “seat assignments automatically assigned at check-in” did not seat my husband and I together. Asked gate attendant and was told there was nothing that could be done to seat us together because it was “basic economy.“ Wow. Just makes me SAD to be treated so badly. Rename this program TFFLC – treat frequent flyers like crap.

  153. Wow what privilège. One day I hope this writer will get over themselves (and their imperialistic ways) to realize what damage they are impacting on regions with their curious travels. Not one mention of the damage that tourism does.

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