American Airlines

Allow me this indulgence to discuss something that falls under ‘personal gripe.’

Three weeks ago, I had to fly to New York to visit 60 Minutes at their CBS headquarters. I hadn’t flown American Airlines in a while, so I decided to try them out.

I was shocked at how much has changed in the few years that I’ve been flying nothing but JetBlue and Southwest. I suppose this is a symptom with all major airlines, but I found the condition of the plane appalling.

Above the row to my left, reading lights flickered on and off during the entire flight – obviously a symptom of loose wiring which made me concerned during the whole flight about what other wiring might also be loose.

A cargo door wouldn’t close shut, and we were kept locked up on the plane for about an hour or so, as mechanics tried to fix the problem. This was on top of the plane already having arrived late. And during the whole time that we were stuck on the plane, they didn’t even offer us water. This was a real inconvenience, considering it was lunch time, many of us were thirsty and hungry. Their compensation for the delayed flight? Free earphones, which they usually charge $2 for (which used to be free).

The crew told us that the plane was not outfitted with the proper sized overhead cargo bins, so passengers didn’t have enough room for all their bags. We squeezed in as much as we could, but I had to travel the entire cross-country flight with my backpack squeezed in the legroom in front of me and my coat on my lap. This was especially uncomfortable, since the seats are so small and cramped together.

The VHS player they used to show us the pre-flight safety tape wouldn’t play, and a crew member had to come over repeatedly, and keep pressing buttons to make the machine work. An old VHS tape player? Really? This is what a major airline works with these days?

Half of the flight crew was very nice, but the other half was abrupt – often for no apparent reason.

And finally, I know we all have joked about airline food, but if you are going to charge customers for the food, shouldn’t the quality improve a little? Or, at the very least, should you not offer some selection? All I had to choose from was a disgusting sandwich that was slathered with mayo and milk products, which I couldn’t eat, or chips, or a bag of bad trail-mix – half of which was inedible. I went with the trail mix, and by the time I got to my destination in New York – I was starving, late, and exhausted.

What a horrible way to travel! Simply speaking as a customer, I see absolutely no reason to buy flights with American Airlines again. The airline industry is in trouble, indeed.

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