American Airlines shakes it up after a dire summer

From our US traveller extraordinaire: Tara T.

American Airlines has had a bad time this summer, and while it likes to blame its hideously outfitted 737MAX for delays and schedule changes, there have been some truly ludicrous examples.

This is just one that affected me directly and I’d been involved with since it was booked. It turns out virtually every passenger went through the same saga. Imagine this duplicated hundreds of times across the airline day in day out over the summer.

Flight booked from Philadelphia to San Francisco, 9am departure on an A321 for 18 September- booked in June. Return flight four days later booked for 8am from SFO.

These dates never changed, but the time of the flight was adjusted by three hours eventually on four different dates before departure. By the third time to American’s credit they phoned up offering alternatives.

Except they were utter nonsense.

Option one was Philadelphia-Atlanta-SFO with a total time of 11 hours. It’s 6 hours direct.

Option two Philadelphia – Dallas – Portland – San Francisco 13.5 hours plus a $25 refund.

Option three Philadelphia – Portland – Denver – SFO.

You get the point and oddly enough it was widely discussed by passengers queuing to board – not one took up the options for the tours of America by air!

The return flight was never subjected to alternate offers, but its departure time was brought forward to 6am, meaning a departure from home at 3.30am: just two days before the outbound flight.

And stoically we as American passengers just accept the system has us trapped – we just want to get from A to B and quietly but resentfully put up with what American – and others dish out.

Well it seems we as passengers, have not been so quiet after all. Surly crews driven to distraction by changes that affect them as much as passengers are pretty normal for AA – though frankly I think their domestic crews are way nicer than their international flights where rudeness is seen as a requirement in my observations, and which I avoid at all costs.

The cost of upsetting passengers – who appreciate options being made but laugh at the options offered – actually makes us less happy, not more. You have to wonder whose ideas these calls are? Why would anyone put themselves through two changes and potential delays on an airline known for them?

And so it seems the costs must have mounted and American has finally shaken up its entire customer management structure. The most senior has “decided to retire” – no doubt with a large pair of hands on her back and a box in hand as she’s directed to the door with a nice golden handshake on the way out.

A raft of organisational changes down the line and moved managers and brought hope to put things right in future months.

It was never just Americans dreadful MAX with its flying prison-plane interior that was the problem – it was the whole system. The MAX out of service just made things worse.

Tara T flies an average of three flights a week 52 weeks a year and half of those are on American Airlines – her job takes her all over the US and sometimes to Japan and Europe.