Airline Reviews: American Airlines

16 Feb

I should have done this ages ago, but I kept finding other cool things to talk about.  So this is a tad late, but better late than never!  (And I’ll update it next time I have to fly with them).

Date:

2012

Airline: 

American Airlines (AA)–Domestic (2 flights).  

Plane:

Boeing 737

Pre-flight Interactions:

I ordered the tickets via Orbitz, so the process was fairly simple. My flight almost immediately appeared on the AA website as registered and confirmed.  The website is easy enough to use; I actually went ahead and registered a membership with the airline, which simplified things.  You have to keep either the “Record Number” or your AA number on hand if you want to look anything up though.  I did have to call them with questions, and I was less than pleased.   Although the questions were fairly simple (arrival times, baggage capacity), they redirected the calls several times and put me on hold repeatedly.  When I finally got someone, they were abrupt and short. Hung up  on me before I finished all my questions.  

Baggage Allowance:

The deal is that if you are flying internationally (and I was), all airlines must honor the baggage requirements/allowance of the airline with the longest flight (if tickets are all bought together–not separately). I flew AA across country and took Korean Air to Asia, allowing me to abide by Korean Air’s baggage allowance.  Still, the difference wouldn’t have been that significant.  

First/Business Class customers get 3 free checked bags all the time, but it differs for economy depending on your destination. You can find all the rules here, but generally you get a personal item (I always make it a backpack because it counts as a purse but is bigger), a carry-on, and 1-2 checked bags (flights to/from Brazil and Asia are 2; rest are generally 1).  This is pretty nice compared to other US airlines. 

Boarding:

Once again the flight attendants and staff were gruff and short with the customers.  They offered far too many sighs and rolling eyes.  They stalk the aisles snarling at people trying  to put stuff in the overhead, and pushing the customers out of their way.  You can’t ask questions or they act like it’s a huge burden. The first flight, they actually yelled at some people whose stuff wouldn’t fit.  I wasn’t much impressed either time.  No sense of customer service–it’s obviously a job they dislike.  

In Flight:

Still not terribly impressed with the service–it sucked both times.  The food was awful, the snacks were nuts and water.  The first time I had to ask for a water half-way through and was huffily/snottily told “We’re working on it, you’ll just have to wait!” It took nearly half-an-hour before I got anything. Kind of a problem when I was trying to take my medications.  Second flight a baby next to me started crying and the attendant ignored the mom when she asked for a blanket.  The baby had been asleep for forever before it actually showed up.  It was annoying because in the interim, we could see the flight attendants standing around drinking coffee and chatting.  The amenities on the plane aren’t very good either; I had to stick with my ipod. 

The flight itself sucked big time.  The plane was cramped, and we were all smashed against one another.  Plus, I understand that flights aren’t always smooth sailing, but both of these were heart-stoppingly scary. Once, the plane’s humming stopped and the plane actually fell quite a ways. Not like moving downwards deliberately, we literally came up out of our seats (with the belts on) and hit hard when it stopped.  Then pilot missed the landing twice and we had to circle around. Even when we made it, the landing was extremely bumpy. The guy next to me said he’s taken that flight dozens of times and it had never been that bad.  I could maybe have understood that, but they never reassured us or said anything about turbulence. A couple times the seat belt lights (which stayed on most of both trips) came on without warning or comment.  It was especially a problem after the whole plane dropping from the sky thing. I would have appreciated someone telling us that nothing was wrong with the plane.  I was late arriving both times.

Luggage Retrieval:  

This actually went pretty well. My luggage was where they said it was, and it was easy to grab and move.  Nothing was broken, and the cases came out of it okay. I have big suitcases that often end up on bottom, so it’s always a good thing when they survive the journey.

Overall Conclusions

This is definitely not my favorite airline to fly with.  The website/baggage allowance/other mechanics of the system were fine, but everything else was awful.  The flight attendants were rude at best, unkind and problematic at worst.  Their concept of customer service was non-existent, and it was obvious. The flights were too bumpy and nauseating–I’ve flown the same trip with other airlines and made it fine.  Overall, I was sick and unhappy when it was over and I would avoid them in the future.

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