A piece on AA and the airlines

MissedApproach

Well-Known Member
Source
--------------------
American Airlines

Like Sinus Drainage, But With Wings

You've heard of air rage? I've got it. I'm building an invisible plastic chain-saw with a six-hundred horse motor to cut the wings off every airplane owned by American Airlines, before chopping the flight crews into runny gruel.

Friday morning, August first, San Francisco International. I showed up to catch a hop, AA 482, to Dallas-Fort Worth en route to Guadalajara. The line in front of the American ticketing was just flat huge. For an hour and twenty minutes by my watch people waited to check in. Yet between two thirds and three-quarters of the check-in desks were closed. American, presumably wanting to save a nickel, preferred that we stand there like cattle. We did.

The flight left way late. Why? American couldn't find a vital stewardess. Yes. Just misplaced her. Maybe they left her behind a seat cushion. Who knows? In any event, a whole plane-load of people with things to do had to wait, and wait, and wait.

Incompetent management. Airlines know they need stewardesses. Thing is, the airlines also know that the public will accept any degree of inconsideration, stupidity, and humiliation. Which is why we get them. We're patsies.

Next, clonking down the jetway, we picked up our Bistro Bags. You know, nasty little sandwich, nickel bag of chips, thingy of peeled dwarf carrots. They call them Bistro Bags because somebody in marketing figured it would make us think we were having a European Dining Experience instead of a sorry bag-lunch. We boarded. No one actually said "Moo."

The cabin crew were par: Not quite surly, but not under any constraint to be agreeable. The major US airlines barely tolerate customers. One suspects that they would be happier without them.

Off we took, finally, after the usual claptrap read from a card at high speed about how to fasten our seat belts and how the stews are there for our safety. Actually they're just waitresses. Hoping to sleep, I slid into the vague unpleasant torpor that flying has become. Normally people put themselves to sleep by counting sheep. On these aerial Greyhound buses I pretend that I have leprosy and count my fingers falling off.

American squeezes you relentlessly. To deaden the ambience I asked for a dismal little bottle of bad white wine. Five bucks. Decent airlines, meaning foreign ones, don't try to milk you for everything from beer to headphones.

Predictably, the waitress didn't have change for a twenty. Why not? It's a common bill. Maybe she didn't know she was going to need change when selling drinks. How could she? After all, she had only done it four times a day for ten years. Maybe the association just hadn't quite flowered in her neural thickets: "Urg…Sell things…need change…Ahhh!" I pictured an evolutionarily advanced monkey learning how to poke at a coconut with a stick and shrieking with delight when it fell. She said she would come back. But didn't.

Over an hour later we were preparing to land, and still no change. The stew was forward, gabbling with her accomplices. Was she going to remember or wasn't she? The odds looked bad. I politely asked a near-by crewmember, a blonde kid with bad teeth who looked to be maybe twenty-four, if he would check on it.

He crossed the line from barely civil to deliberately snotty. "Sirrrrr! We aren't going anywhere," followed by loud remarks, intended for me, to a passing stew: "He wants his change. Hey, the ATM's broken." Clever little wunx.

He knew he could get away with it. This is the operating principle of the domestic air-transport business: You can get away with it. Lousy food, late arrivals, missed connections, surliness, gouging. These engaging traits once characterized Aeroflot, but they've migrated.

The preponderance of power lies with the airlines, and they know it. Any remonstrance and they can make an air-rage beef out of it and you miss your next flight. They figure the public has no recourse.

Finally, DFW. I needed to make the connection because people were waiting for me in Guad. But with American, making a connection doesn't really help. My next flight, AA 1401, couldn't leave because they couldn't find the pilot. So help me. No pilot.

Why not? Was he hung over? Still drunk? Couldn't find the airport? Didn't feel like working? In a lineup at the local precinct? Who knows?

Perhaps American will think I'm being too demanding-another sorehead customer. Maybe they are right. Maybe it is unreasonable to expect airlines to provide certain things: ant farms, say, or the Bhagavad Gita in Swedish, or a Faberge egg, or a pilot. I mean, how could American predict that it might need a pilot?

We sat, and sweated, and sat. Finally they told us that they had found a pilot, but that he was on another airplane. How very useful.

Either they can't staff their aircraft, or just don't care. It doesn't have to be this way. Used to be, flying United out of Dulles to the Far East, I always actually flew All Nippon Airways, which code-shared with United. ANA amounted to a major upgrade. Seats were larger, the food was great, the flight attendants hadn't recently graduated from prison-matron school, and they didn't try to gouge you for after-dinner cordials or a stray brew.

Now, I know that American has not the slightest interest in me or anything I might possibly do. (Of course, they don't know about the invisible plastic chain saw.) I fly only six or eight times a year, only two of those being long hauls to Asia. Business fliers are presumably American's money. I don't count. I know it. Still, what I did was call Claudia at my travel agency and tell her never, ever to book me on American, and always to choose a non-US airline when prices were close.

Nonetheless I note with delight that United Airlines went bankrupt (it's as bad as American, except that it usually has pilots), and American teeters on the edge. I hope it drops. Companies that peddle a sorry product with wretched service and abrasive personnel desperately need extinction. I'll celebrate with ribs and beer.

Would you go to a restaurant that couldn't find its cook and waiters and got you your meal after leaving you in the parking lot for an hour and a half? Don't do it. Fly foreign carriers outside the US--they're better--and the econolines domestically when possible: JetBlue, AirTran, Southwest, Frontier. They're all good. If you subsidize lousy performance, you get more of it. If second-rate airlines go out of business, tough.

Splendid, in fact.
 

aloft

New Member
He doesn't know it, but what he's really complaining about is airline management, or the lack thereof. (And bitchy man-stewardesses, but I won't go there.)
 

ERAU_Intern

New Member
MissedApproach is right though. Service on MANY of the major carriers is REALLY lacking these days. I understand that they are pressed for money, but this is the time that AA and all the others need to be trying their hardest for customer satisfaction!
 

Joshua949

New Member
It's not every flight that something like that happens. It happens occasionally. 99.9 % of the time when I fly I will have a perfect flight except for that lousy .1% when I might have a cocky flight attendant. This happens with the major airlines. I remember when I flew US Airways & Continental a few times & this has happened. In fact, on one of those two airlines the plane we got on was crappy. Looked like somebody spit up & crapped & puffed smoke all over the walls. Didn't have the nicest smell either. AA is a large airline so expect this bad service thing to happen some point in time when you fly them or any other airline. I remember before Sept. 11th when i flew coach & we were given bistro bags, we actually had some very good food in it. But we had times when it wasnt so good. All the time when i flew first class on AA there was excellent food. Now days u are lucky if you can get Fisher chips onboard. (by the way...that brand sucks, they call what i got pretzels, but trust me, somebody sure dont know how to cook them)
 

Athena

New Member
Just to play the devil's advocate, does anyone think that air travel would increase if the treatment was more like in the early days of pax aviation?
 

mrivc211

Well-Known Member
I recently flew on American from SNA to LGA and back. The food did duck-I didn't expect much. I saw the FA's once or twice.
Some, not all, US airlines have been charging for alcohol and headphones long before these past few years.

I remember flying Delta I think it was out of Dallas Fort Worth in 1990 and the flight attendant trying to get $20 for 4 headphones out of my dad.

When I flew Virgin to London from LAX in Aug of 2001, the best service I've seen in a long time. They rank right up there with Emirates, Singapore airlines, and cathay.

TV/Playstation at every seat, great food, passing out alcohol thoughout the whole flight for free. We were in london in no time. In fact I just booked my flight to London for this summer last week, I had a choice of American for $488 RT, or Virgin for $571 RT and I bought Virgin's ticket.
On top of all that, I get a free upgrade to premium economy with my american express points.
 

BoeingDrew

Well-Known Member
[ QUOTE ]
My next flight, AA 1401, couldn't leave because they couldn't find the pilot. So help me. No pilot.

Why not? Was he hung over? Still drunk? Couldn't find the airport? Didn't feel like working? In a lineup at the local precinct? Who knows?

[/ QUOTE ]
Yet another example of how misinformed the publics perception of pilots is. It's quite sad really.
 

Kingairer

'Tiger Team' Member
Ignorant article. Its just easy now to bash on the classic majors. You can get poor service at any airline. You can get delays due to crews on any airline. He is talking about getting nickel and dimed for Headsets and food, but he probably got the airfare for $29.
 

Kristie

Mama Bear....
Staff member
I agree - especially when he doesn't even know their "flight attendants"... no longer "stewardesses"


Haha!
 

SierraPilot

New Member
Its amazing how many americans think just because they paid 200 for a RT ticket they are somehow entitled to first class service.. I have always believed you get what you pay for.. you want better service then stop complaining about expensive fares, lousy food, etc and buy that first class ticket.. its great to not have to stand in line


From a personal standpoint.. I dont like delays or bad service anymore then the next person.. but I can understand the frustration of getting delayed.. however I had a incident where my flight got delayed and I missed the last flight out of DFW and had to spend the night which in itself wasnt that bad.. but I didnt appreciate was that they had offered to put me up in the budget motel at a 35% discount.. which rubbed me the wrong way, so I ended up paying for the airport hotel.. which I might add was ALOT nicer.

Ryan
 

Joshua949

New Member
[ QUOTE ]
Its amazing how many americans think just because they paid 200 for a RT ticket they are somehow entitled to first class service.. I have always believed you get what you pay for.. you want better service then stop complaining about expensive fares, lousy food, etc and buy that first class ticket.. its great to not have to stand in line


From a personal standpoint.. I dont like delays or bad service anymore then the next person.. but I can understand the frustration of getting delayed.. however I had a incident where my flight got delayed and I missed the last flight out of DFW and had to spend the night which in itself wasnt that bad.. but I didnt appreciate was that they had offered to put me up in the budget motel at a 35% discount.. which rubbed me the wrong way, so I ended up paying for the airport hotel.. which I might add was ALOT nicer.

Ryan

[/ QUOTE ]

I agree with you all the way.
 

Sprint100

Well-Known Member
My man is wasting energy complaining, unless he is sending that letter to congress and posting it nationwide so consumers can get more money circulating in the aviation industry.
 

montana

New Member
[ QUOTE ]
Its amazing how many americans think just because they paid 200 for a RT ticket they are somehow entitled to first class service.. I have always believed you get what you pay for..
Ryan

[/ QUOTE ]

Yes, that is true, but no matter what you pay, you should expect to be treated humanely. My flying experiences with the airlines continue to grow more and more intolerable, and many people are experiencing the same things on a frequent basis. No one can convince me that you should have to pay extra just to be treated nicely. Seems to me that there needs to be a major 'changing of the guard' in the airline industry with wealth and power being transferred to people and companies who can do it better. Ya, it will take a while, but customers will eventually get fed up with all the crap one has to go through to fly and the market will then dictate that customers are to be treated. . . like customers.
 

montana

New Member
[ QUOTE ]
[ QUOTE ]
My next flight, AA 1401, couldn't leave because they couldn't find the pilot. So help me. No pilot.

Why not? Was he hung over? Still drunk? Couldn't find the airport? Didn't feel like working? In a lineup at the local precinct? Who knows?

[/ QUOTE ]
Yet another example of how misinformed the publics perception of pilots is. It's quite sad really.


[/ QUOTE ]

Does it really matter if the public is misinformed about pilots? From their perspective, they could really care less. All they know is that they paid a lot of money to go somewhere on a certain time schedule, and no one is there to take them where they need to go! I understand that was not the pilot's fault, just bad management, but he still has a right to be frustrated.
 

tonyw

Well-Known Member
Tell the little whining crybaby to shove it where the sun don't shine. You want free wine (although it sure seems like he's got plenty) and food? Well, then, kiss your $200 cross country fare goodbye.

You get what you pay for. You want Singapore or Emirates style service? Then be ready to pay their prices.

If you aren't willing to pay, then shut up!
 
Top