Why American Airlines Can Screw Up & I’ll Still Fly With Them

Have you ever heard the phrase “lesser of two evils”? Picking the best of the worst? For me, that’s what it comes down to when choosing any US Carrier. Delta? United? American? They’re all bad, But here’s why American Airlines can screw up big time, and I’ll still fly with them.

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Let us start with an anecdote. This past winter, my family and I flew AA from IAD-CLT-SXM and back (Washington Dulles-Charlotte-Sint Maarten). On the return flight, our connection in Charlotte was a tight one to begin with, and the delay taxiing to our gate did not help the situation. Now remember, upon re-admission to the United States, we had to go through customs there in Charlotte, claim our bags, re-check our bags, and after all that, we were able to move forward to our gates.

When I say our connection was tight, I mean it was something like 20 minutes. Unfortunately, that whole process took 21 minutes. After re-checking my bag, I made a mad sprint to my gate, in hopes that I could catch it before it closed.

I didn’t.

Of course this was the one time a flight boarded on time! Note: The flight from SXM-CLT and CLT-IAD were both operated by AA, not by two separate companies. I was one minute late, and they refused to open the door for us. I could see the plane, I could see the jet bridge still attached to the plane, and I could see people still walking around. Nonetheless, they were unable to open the doors for us because “once it’s shut, it’s shut.” I’m still suspicious about that policy, but whatever.

Furthermore, after begging and pleading with the desk tenant, it seemed as if she was beginning to get snarky with us, as if she was glad we missed our flight! She was laughing and telling us to go bug the customer service table. Once we realized it was pointless, we were focussed on getting on the next flight. Luckily, we did, but not without letting American Airlines know our feelings.

If a company was truly concerned about customer service, they would have compensated some how. I believe we should have at least be granted admittance into their lounge. But, this was not so. We were pushed to the side as if our experience didn’t matter.

So why will I still fly with them?

As I said earlier, American Airlines is the lesser of two evils. Although I’ve had a bad customer service experience with AA, I’ve had many more with United, specifically with their stewardesses.

However, as exemplified by their promptness leaving Charlotte, American Airlines rarely has delays (outside of weather caused ones). AA is efficient, where as United is consistently delayed for either mechanical or staff related issues. I mentioned in another post why I fly with United and the SkyTeam, but in reality, both alliances are great in terms of coverage.

My numerous poor experiences with United causes me to overlook this one bad one with American Airlines. I’m definitely considering switching alliances.

Have you had any really bad experiences with either of these airlines? Comment them below; or better yet, write a post about it and tag me in it!

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4 thoughts on “Why American Airlines Can Screw Up & I’ll Still Fly With Them

  1. We landed a benny on one of AA’s international flights back in early May, one I’m sure the airline never meant to happen. At Heathrow (yes, Heathrow, honestly) we entered an almost empty terminal and walked up immediately to all the places we had to go to check-in. That was after the coach that transported us directly from our hotel to the airport had disgorged the other dozen passengers at our first terminal stop–where a lot of passengers appeared to be queuing up on the sidewalk. When it came time to load the gate opened and we walked on to the plane without missing a step. Aboard, we found that our plane was less than half-full. Once in the air, the flight attendant told us to take whatever vacant seat(s) we wanted for the rest of the trip. What an unexpected pleasure for us and the crew–but not, I suspect, for AA’s bean counters.

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  2. I’d choose American over United any day but Alaska Airlines has given me a tolerable experience almost 100% of the time. I live near their hub though so you may not be able to functionally use them, depending on which state/region you live in.

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