Why I will NEVER Fly American Airlines Again (And Why You Maybe Shouldn’t Either)

10 Sep

 

The whole thing was bad from the get-go, but Skip down to “Flight” if you want to see the big reason why I’ll never fly AA again.

Date:

Summer 2016

Airline: 

American Airlines (Dallas to Seoul) 

 Pre-flight Interactions:

Sucked!  I booked my flight around March because my university reimburses it then. Between March and June, the flight had been changed twice.

The first time, the layover where I catch the international flight was shorted to 1 hour by AA. 0_0 Seriously, one hour? That’s not even according to America Airlines’ instructions!  Spent HOURS (as in more than 10) on the phone trying to contact them and get that figured out. 

For my flight to the States, I was supposed to fly from home to Hong Kong to Dallas to Saint Louis.  Cool.  But then I randomly get a call from China Southern – the flight to Hong Kong has been moved to the next day. Meaning that I would miss all connecting flights. So I call China Southern – can’t talk to them because I have to talk to Orbitz  since they hold the tickets. Call Orbitz, and I’m told to talk to American Airlines. Since they changed the ticket earlier, they now hold the ticket. Orbitz can’t do anything, AA has to make the fix. Call AA and I’m told they can’t do anything because Orbitz has locked the accounted. Go through hours and hours on the phone back and forth only for them to decide that China Southern is uncontactable and American Airlines agrees that the flight has to be fixed. They’ll get me to Hong Kong a day earlier, but I have to pay for the hotel for TWO days until my connecting flights. Uh. . . . No.  That’s not okay. I bought my tickets on time. Paid for my tickets. Have not changed my tickets. This is all on the airlines and it’s going to cost me food and drink in HONG KONG (expensive city!) for two days. Nope. Not okay. So here is AA’s response (one week before my flight). Well, how about this – we’ll refund your tickets, the money will get to you in about 4-6 weeks and you just buy new tickets. Uh WTH?!? I leave in two weeks. A) I won’t get the money in time. B) What kind of prices am I going to get two weeks ahead of time? Try to have a discussion – AA HUNG up on me before I could talk to them that time. Took SO MANY HOURS straightening the whole mess out.I had to fly out a day late and go through LAX instead.

Only good part – apparently AA pulled some strings because I was Pre-Checked through TSA out and back.

Baggage Allowance:

 

I took three suitcases, a carry-on suitcase, and my backpack.

I paid $100 dollars for my third suitcase. I got two 50lb suitcases for free.

My carry-on was light because of the third suitcase. I just had my camera, hard drive, and some extra clothes in it. No one weighed the carry-ons, but I made sure mine fit requirements in case.  Last year, Air China was weighing carry-ons so I like to be safe.

My backpack just had my laptop in it and fit under the chair.

Flight ~ Here’s the REALLY BAD PART

1. Our flight had a grand sum total of 8 movies on it. Several of which were R rated. None of which were for children. Not one cartoon, Disney film, etc. We had 38 cub scouts on the flight. 16 hours in the air. Only movie anywhere close to decent for them was “Captain America – Winter Soldier.” Imagine how well that went. 

2. In our row of 4, two of the entertainment machines were broken.

3. As we took off, one of the flight attendants start cussing and dropping the F-Bomb like it was nothing. Around 38 cub scouts. Of course, one of them later was asking me what F*** meant. Put me in the oh-so-fun position of having to say “Ask your parents. I don’t think they want you to know.”

4. Taking off, the overhead compartments started opening. No seriously, we’re going up and the doors started popping open – about 4 of them that I could see in our compartment. Straps and bags started falling, and customers had to unbuckle and try to close them while we’re still pointing upwards. The flight attendants did nothing. Ignored it. Not even an apology later.

5. WORST OF ALL – Two of the cub scouts, 8-9 years old Korean boys, sat next to me. Only one spoke English. Darling kids, were very quiet, well-behaved, and just played golf on the screen or watched Captain America (over and over again) the whole time. Spoke respectfully, and were generally amazing. Even gave me their “business cards” –😛 I loved them! Then this one flight attendant starts verbally and physically abusing the poor boy on the aisle seat for the WHOLE flight. When he asked for soda with his meal, like all the other kids, he was told “You will thank me later for this. I know these things. So no. You need to drink water. I might bring you a soda later.” Of course, she did not. He woke up maybe 1 minute after she passed our row during the meal. She was two rows in front of us. When he tried to politely get her attention – “You’ll just have to wait. That will teach you to learn to stay awake when you’re supposed to. You need to wake up when I come. You need to learn to wait your turn now” She wasn’t even going to bring him a meal! On a 16 hour flight! Later, he had his earphones in and was watching Captain America – she was behind him and started asking him a question about what drink he wanted. He didn’t immediately respond so she yelled and jabbed him. Started going on about “kids his age can’t hear a thing over the stupid things in their ears.” Told him he needed to pay attention to her when she talked to him. All of this in English – he didn’t understand a world and just started stuttering in Korean and looking to us for help. I tried to calm her down and ask him the question, and finally told her to just give us a minute. We had no way to even explain to him why she was yelling. It was scaring his friend and he kept asking me “Why is she so angry? What is wrong? We do not understand?” Throughout the flight, she shoved him several times telling him he was too far in the aisle “This is MY space. You have to stay out of MY space.” Later, she acted like she and I were commiserating – ”I just can’t believe them.” Rolling her eyes. I’m like – lady, I’m WAY more than half way to filing an official complaint on his behalf. The WHOLE flight was like this. It was so horrific, the poor kid next to him (and me) reached over wrapped his arms around him and pulled him into his lap holding him, patting his hair, and holding his hand out to protect him and pull him closer every time she came near. For about 12 hours of the flight he just held him and patted him and kept him as close to him and away from the aisle as possible. Seriously. . . a kid felt like he needed to shelter another kid from the woman. I did my best to help them. Gave him my soda, gave him the snacks from my food tray, got him food from my side of the aisle, let him and his friend sleep on my shoulder, woke them up whenever we saw her coming, and I tried answering for him as soon as she asked so she didn’t mess with him. But still. I’ve never wanted to report someone so badly in my life. They did NOTHING wrong, and certainly didn’t deserve that. What an impression to leave them with – such an exciting adventure, only to be ruined by her ugly behavior. No one deserves to be treated like that.

 

Luggage Retrieval:  SUCKED!

 AA was supposed to book my luggage clear to my end destination – I specifically asked when I was at the airport. Get to Korea and I’m told that no, they didn’t do that. Took 4 hours of running from desk to desk before AA finally fixed it. No apology, just a “well you have to tell us these things” and bad looks. Duh! I did ask! Then we had to lug around 6 suitcases and two backpacks, because we couldn’t check them in again until the next day due to the mix-up.

Overall Conclusions

 

Okay, I’d like to give the airline the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they really did just mess up the first ticket change. Would have been nice to have that fixed pretty fast, but hey. 

Didn’t appreciate the problems with the second ticket change. Really didn’t appreciate their refusal to even attempt to work with me. 

Did not approve of the fact that they totally screwed up my luggage.  I very specifically verified that it was all checked to my final destination, and the error was on their part. Had they been willing to quickly fix the issue – maybe volunteered to cover storage costs while I was in Korea – it would have been fine. Instead, despite Korean Air repeated asking them to work it out over the phone and rather than sending one of their people UP to the counter to fix the issue, they sent me on a wild goose chase all over hell’s-half-acre in ICN airport trying to get to them. Did not appreciate that at all.

Certainly did not enjoy the flight itself. If we can have the Melissa McCartney “Boss” movie, couldn’t we have had a child’s movie. It would have made so many customers a LOT happier if there was something to entertain the children.  

The food sucked – Korean Air and Air China both serve better food.

But worst of all was the attendants’ behavior. It wasn’t just one – there were several.  And of course a few were really nice, but they didn’t make any effort to help when the doors opened and suitcases could have hurt people.  They were really rude to the children and snippy about how some of them were GASP! sleeping on the floor! And then the cursing and rudeness to those two boys. I wanted to cry.  I wanted to hug them both, give them cookies, promise them adults are really a lot nicer than that, and cry.  I don’t know if it was racism or just a dislike of children, but it was a consistent feeling I got from several of the attendants. I did not appreciate it at all.  If it was my child, there would have been a show like no other.  If this is the kind of person AA hires for their Transpacific flights, then I really don’t want to contribute my money to a company like that. People, even those in economy class and the cheap tickets, deserve to be treated with normal human dignity. And that was not given to that little boy at all.  So, even if I have to pay extra – I’m flying Korean Air or Cathay Pacific from now on.  

 

**PS – it is worth noting that while American Airlines was horrific, Korean Air was AMAZING as usual. As soon as I knew there was a problem with my luggage, I ran to the Korean Air desks. They immediately directed me to a short line of 1 person and I was quickly helped. The girl spent 2 hours calling around trying to help me, and quickly got everything handled on their end. The only problem they had was with American Airlines’ side of things.  They were polite, lovely, kind, friendly, and efficient as always. My Korean Air flight the next morning was a DREAM.  The difference was pronounced.  And while I almost always go for the cheaper option in flights – this permanently made up my mind. Sometimes, a little customer service is actually worth the extra money.  Especially if children are involved.

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