My Travels with American Airlines/US Airways – Lessons in Incompetence

March 6, 2015

in Odds & Ends Stories

No one enjoys air travel these days, unless you’re a wide-eyed child still in awe of big shiny airplanes. For most 21st century adults, airplanes and airports are necessary evils. We learn to make the best of the situation at hand. Unless, of course, you’re flying American Airlines or US Airways. In that case, your travel experience becomes more of a living hell than a necessary evil. At least, such was my case when I recently traveled to and from Phoenix for business. And while I don’t think my travel woes to be the worst in recorded history, they are nonetheless a cautionary tale and the unfortunate chronicle of one airline’s lack of care, lack of leadership and unfailing incompetence.

It all started with the air travel from Huntsville to Phoenix. Due to delays that Monday at Dallas Fort Worth, I had to take a later flight to Phoenix than originally scheduled. No worries. There was a two and a half hours window between my arrival in DFW and departing flight. I landed uneventfully in Phoenix at 10:30pm, later than originally planned. But at least I got there. Next stop – baggage claim. I usually check my bag because my laptop is exceedingly heavy and I have never had problems with lost luggage. But then, I don’t fly American/US Airways that much.

This Monday, I watched the baggage carousel turn and turn. I waited and looked and nope, no bag. I looked around at the bags stacked against the wall. Nope – no bag. Now, next stop – American Airlines baggage service center. There were five people already queued. “Hmmm,” I thought, “this isn’t a good sign.” After 15 minutes of foot tapping, I finally reach the baggage service rep. She types up a report, lets me know they have no record of my bag being scanned in DFW, and hands me a piece of paper with a file number and phone number on it. She assures me they’ll be delivering the bag to my hotel “but probably not till tomorrow.” Okay, I sigh. Such is life.

Lost bags aren’t some unheard of occurrence. But what follows is certainly something new to me. The next day, while I sit in my meeting wearing the same clothes I flew in, I periodically check the status of my lost bag. The website US Airways provided doesn’t work (just gives me a “page not found error”). The phone number consists of an automated voice telling me that “we still can’t locate your bag.” Odd, isn’t it? I thought the service agent told me it was in Dallas. Is American’s automated system a pile of antiquated crap? Or maybe that’s the service agent? Since their baggage service number doesn’t provide you the option of talking to a real human being, I may never know.

At about noon on Tuesday I receive a mysterious phone call from Portland, Oregon. It’s a rep from Alaska Airlines. Her sweet, lilting voice informs me they have my bag in their baggage claim area. How, I wonder, did my black bag end up on Alaska Airlines in Portland? She asks me if I filed a claim because she doesn’t see anything in the system. I inform her that I reported it all to US Airways. “Oh,” the sweet lady sighs, “that explains it. We’ll have to take it to them and tell them to put in on a flight to Phoenix.”

I knew then that American/US Airways had a reputation throughout the industry for being incompetent. Alaska Jane certainly knew it. I tell myself never again to fly this airline. But I feel better knowing where my bag is and even better knowing it’s bound for my destination. I call the beloved baggage service number and still the robo-man insists “we still can’t locate your bag.” Well maybe, I think, US Airways doesn’t update their reporting system. After all, they can’t maintain their website. Since I am aware of the ongoing American/US Airways merger, I decide to back door these boobs and call American Airlines. At least with their baggage service phone number I eventually reach a live human being. Regrettably, the American Airlines rep can’t access US Airway’s baggage files, however she can transfer me to US Airways baggage claim. At last, a live human being. And this person sees my lost luggage claim in their system.

“We still don’t know where your bag is,” he tells me.

“Funny,” I tell him, “because I just got a call from Alaska Airlines saying it’s with them in Portland.”

“Oh,” US Airways rep wonders, “what are they doing with it?”

If I ever doubted this guy was a moron, that question pretty much erased it. “They brought it to US Airways and it’s headed back to Phoenix,” I explain, wondering why US Airways knows less about my bag than Alaska Jane.

“Did she tell you what flight it’s on?”

I couldn’t let the conversation continue without stating the obvious. “It seems odd and sad to me that a competing airline knows more about my baggage than the airline I flew with who lost it in the first place.”

“I know,” he sighs, “I’m very sorry about this. But if you could tell me the flight number, I can make sure our baggage people look for it in Phoenix.”

I tell US Airways jerk the flight number and when my bag is to arrive in Phoenix. Basically, I share the information I got from an Alaska Airlines rep in Portland, who was exceedingly more helpful, knowledgeable and genial than any person I’ve ever talked to at US Airways. US Airways Dick thanks me for the information because now, he assures me, they’ve got this. I imagine US Airways deployed all two of their baggage agents to scour US Airways flight 377 for my wayward bag. No, I know better. But since their baggage handlers are obviously incompetent and lazy, I trust that they won’t have the energy to put my bag anywhere but on the baggage claim conveyor directly in front of them.

A day later, two days after I filed my lost bag report and a day after Alaska Jane informed me on the whereabouts of my bag (and I spent a few hundred dollars on clothes at Nordstrom which I’m having US Airways reimburse), I finally get an email from US Airways baggage saying they’ve found my bag and will be delivering it shortly. That evening, my little black bag shows up at the hotel.

The hotel manager hands it to me and asks, “You flew in two days ago right?” I nod. “Which airline did you fly?”

“US Airways,” I groan while rolling my eyes.

“You know, that’s the fourth time this month with them. They seem to be having problems.”

So not only does the entire airline business know these people are incompetent, word has now spread throughout the entire hospitality industry. Soon, I’ll be expecting my local Chili’s to have a “US Airways Lost Luggage Days” promotion to capitalize on this burgeoning trend. I make a mental note not to check my bag going home and to never fly US Airways or American ever again.

My week in Phoenix was fine, but I was looking forward to getting home and sleeping in my own bed. At last Friday arrived and I headed out to Phoenix Sky Harbor airport to begin my journey back to Huntsville. In Sky Harbor, I hear grumblings of more delays and cancellations in Dallas. I check my flight statuses and am relieved to find that both legs of my trip are on schedule. We are delayed by 40 minutes leaving Phoenix, but I discover that my flight to Huntsville is being delayed by 30 minutes so I’ve got plenty of time to make my connection.

On the flight to DFW, I talk to passengers around me and learn that several of them have spent the whole day in airports. Some people coming from California groan about not being able to get out of LAX or Ontario. Others talk about delays just getting to Dallas. When we arrive at DFW (an airport I have discovered forms the basis of Dante’s Inferno), I see a couple of inches of snow on the ground and begin to fret. No one in the south handles snow well, but DFW appears to be particularly ill-equipped for anything resembling frozen water. As I make my way around DFW’s miles (yes miles) long Skylink system, I check the status of my Huntsville flight. Now it’s departing at 10pm, an hour after our original departure time. Okay, so it’s still on. No problem. I’ll get in late, but no big deal.

I arrive at my departing gate to find passengers crowding around charging stations, leaning against walls and slumped in chairs. There is no gate agent at our gate and yet it’s only an hour before our scheduled departure. I strike up a conversation with a gentleman next to me. He’s trying to get to Cincinnati, he tells me, and his original flight was cancelled. I wish him luck on the next one. I look up at the sign above our gate to learn that the Huntsville flight is now delayed to 10:40pm departure.

There is a woman with a toddler at the charging station. She looks overheated and tired, fanning herself. The toddler begins crying and screaming. After all, it’s 9:30pm. The woman has a cast on one foot. She roughly places the child in a stroller. “Please,” she cries out, “let’s get this flight going. I need to get out of here.”

The sign above our gate flashes to a new departure time of 11pm. Still no gate agent. I wondered then if this bird would ever fly. But surely, I tell myself, they would’ve canceled by now. Why would an airline possibly string us along only to cancel at midnight? At this point, the toddler begins wailing and his mother pacing frantically. A man comes up to the boy and starts to play with him. The woman calms down. Another man sitting at the charging station, who was in his twenties, gives his chair to the woman so she can rest her foot. Some older ladies offer to buy her some ice cream. I offer to push the child in the stroller or better yet make a bed for him with my clothes and jacket. The boy was obviously exhausted.

I feel somewhat better about human nature sitting in this airport. When everything goes to crap, sometimes we are at our best. I talk with the young mother and learn she is heading back to Huntsville for her grandmother’s funeral. She’s been in airports all day. I feel for her. I start talking with a crowd at the charging station. Several of the men were scheduled on earlier flights to Huntsville, flights that American cancelled. These men then hopped on a flight to Birmingham. Smart move, I think. Then they tell me their Birmingham saga.

“We had a mechanical issue on the plane so the flight was delayed about 3 hours,” one middle-aged gentleman with a deep southern accent explains. “So we went back and forth from the gate about four times. Then we get in line to deice. We were fifth in line for deicing when the pilot comes over the radio. ‘Sorry ladies and gentlemen but one of our crew members is about to time out and we’re going to have to head back to the gate.'” He tells me American provided some promise of a new crew but in the end the flight was canceled.

Ouch, I think. That’s a bad situation and I’ve never heard of a crew taking you back to the gate because they “timed out.” Isn’t that sort of predictable? How does a flight crew not understand the duration of a flight and their allowable flying time. One guy remarks, “Yeah. That’s second grade math.”

“Well,” I assure everyone, “this is the only flight to Huntsville. I’m sure they would’ve canceled by now if there was a crew issue.” Oh how naïve I was.

The sign above our gate flashes to a new departure time of 11:38pm. Fifteen minutes later, it flashes to a departure time of 12:01am. It’s sometime after 11pm, and by this time another passenger procured a cot for the toddler who is now sleeping peacefully with jackets draped over him. The young mother chats with me and seems at ease now that she no longer feels alone. I think that’s all she wanted – to not feel stranded and isolated without any hope of help or friendship.

It’s around midnight (when our flight departure time is pushed back to 1:00am) that we see three police officers zoom past us on Segways to stop at the adjacent gate. They look cocky and macho, except for the Segway. I joke to our group, “You just can’t be Billy Badass pulling up in a Segway. It’s way too metrosexual.” The cops head through Gate 39 and down its jetway. We start betting people to steal a Segway and make tracks through DFW. No one bites but it’s still a fun way to pass the time. At this point, all we have left is sarcasm.

A few moments pass and the cops come sauntering out of Gate 39 with a man in a wheelchair. Passengers begin to disembark, visibly angry and frustrated. “American’s not on their game today,” one man barks. “This airline is ridiculous,” one woman fumes. We glean what we can. It seems the indigent looking man in the wheelchair didn’t take his medication and was not, as Sergeant Segway described, “100%.” Maybe he’s not 100% because he’s been jerked around by a crappy airline all day? Granted I can’t speak for wild-eyed wheelchair guy, but I wasn’t exactly feeling 100% at midnight sitting in an airport terminal. The young mother (who I learn works for an airline) explains that if there is a problem with one passenger, they have to deplane everyone.

I began to talk with the charging station crowd again. I tell them what I learn of the medication. “So we are getting off the ground,” I remind them. “If anyone needs medication, take it now.”

“Yeah,” southern guy adds, “and if you have any medication, pass it around.” Everyone laughs. “Keep on the sunny side,” he adds with a smile.

I take solace in the fact that at least I’m flying with some nice people and we’re finding humor in our debacle. But then, sarcasm is all we have.

At around 1am, after they’ve pushed our departure time to 1:40am, an American/US Airways agent arrives at our gate to man the podium. We see a flight crew, brimming with blue and gold, standing to the side. The tale of the Birmingham flight lingers in the back of my mind, but it’s 1am. Surely by now American would know the logged time of the flight crew and would have canceled if there were any issues. Surely.

As passengers from the arriving flight stream out of the jetway, all of us Huntsville fliers clap. One arriving passenger drops his briefcase and high fives the young mother I befriended. One Huntsville passenger named Scott greets each passenger coming off the plane. “Welcome to Dallas,” he quips. Some arriving men and women smile and laugh. Some shake their head in exasperation. “I never thought we’d get here,” they say.

This plane was coming from Lubbock we learn and they were delayed and delayed. And when at last ready to depart, it turns out the refueling crew clocked out for the day. So these poor men and women waited for an hour on the tarmac until a new refueling crew could be called in to top off the gas tank. You would’ve thought that American could’ve refueled the plane when it was sitting idly at the gate. After all, with all the delays coming into Dallas, didn’t they have time to top off the tank? Okay, maybe I’m missing a key aspect of this story. Like the fact that the refueling crew was really hung over and needed to clock out with a plane sitting on the tarmac to be sure they didn’t miss the latest episode of Real Housewives of Dallas.

No matter. Our plane has arrived and we have a flight crew. Huntsville – here we come. After we all board the vessel and many of us gate check our bags (like I was gonna check my bag through baggage claim again – not a snowball’s chance), we sit quietly and placidly in the cramped, dimly lit aircraft. The pilot comes over the radio to announce our flight time and inform us that they have a paperwork issue to address, one that should only take about 5 minutes. Twenty minutes of door opening and closing ensues until, at last, the pilot tells us we will deice and then be on our way. He pulls away from the gate and announces over the speaker, “Ladies and gentlemen I have some bad news. One of our flight crew is about to time out and we will have to cancel this flight. I’m sorry for this inconvenience.”

The young mother at the back of the plane screams out and begins to sob. The gentleman next to me and I shake our heads in anger. How could they not know they were going to time out before we even boarded? Answer – they knew. Unless they were irretrievably stupid, they knew and still they boarded the plane and went through the “paperwork” façade. They pulled away from the gate to give us some false hope and make us think they really wanted to fly. They jerked us around for 5 hours just to cancel a flight at 2:30am.

I wondered if this flight crew was the same crew that worked the Birmingham flight. Maybe this is the no fly crew. I started to wonder if they were even licensed to fly at all. Maybe they were a local Dallas acting troupe American Airlines calls in to make people think they give a crap about getting planes in the air. “Just put the thing in reverse and then pull her back in. That’s all we need. We’ll tell them it’s a weather problem and you’ve logged too much time.”

The no fly flight crew avoided the scornful gazes of each passenger that deplaned. A handful of passengers and I waited on the jetway for our gate checked bags. It took a while because our flight had traveled so far in such a short amount of time. Eventually the crew ambled sheepishly by us, heads downcast to avoid any eye contact. As they walked by I quipped, “Were you not able to deduce the amount of time you worked before we boarded? Second grade math too complicated for you?” Another woman shouted, “Boo” as the still silent group walked away.

I’ve gotta say this was a first for me. I’ve not heard of passengers booing a flight crew before this moment. Granted, what we all really wanted to do is sodomize them with a Texas sized cowboy boot, but I think that’s considered a terroristic threat. And I didn’t want to deal with Sergeant Segway at 3am.

After the deplaning process, the rebooking begins. A line stacked up at Gate 37, all of us trying to figure out where we’d go next. The gate agent shouts, “Hey we’ve got two agents down here open.” I walk the direction he gestured to find one gate agent with a line of two people. It turns out there were supposed to be two more gate agents helping to rebook us but they decided to go on break. I think they had TiVo’d the same episode of Real Housewives of Dallas that had shutdown the Lubbock airport and couldn’t wait to watch it. Damn reality TV.

A Chinese student who speaks no English is at the front rebooking his flight. The gate agent hands him a boarding pass and two meal vouchers. Chinese guy steps aside, befuddled and confused. Next up is geriatric jerkwad, an obviously self-important ass who has no regard for anyone but himself. He takes up 5 minutes trying to understand where Terminal E is (I’ll give you a hint, it’s after D), while I use sign language to explain to Chinese guy the difference between a meal voucher and boarding pass.

“Vroom vroom,” I murmur while stretching my arms out in an airplane-like gesture reminiscent of Sesame Street. I point to the boarding pass. “And this is for meals,” I say pointing to the meal voucher. He still looks confused. I feed myself with an imaginary spoon. “Eat. Yum.” Do Chinese use the word “yum?” I don’t know but it seems like a universal word. Who’s going to fly all the way to the US and not at least understand the term “yum?” Obviously, this guy. After a couple more times of making like I’m eating a bowl of cereal, he nods and at least pretends to understand. It’d be really funny if the guy knew English well and just wanted to see how ridiculous I could act in public. Well Chinese guy, you didn’t even scratch the surface.

So at last it’s my turn. And by this time I am on the phone with Delta Airlines finding out if they can get me to Huntsville sometime before the next Ice Age. Delta I learn hasn’t canceled many (if any) flights at all and can get me directly to Huntsville Saturday night by way of Atlanta. Of course this one way ticket would set me back about $1000, but it’s 3am. I’m at Dallas Fort Worth Airport, the corner of hell and purgatory, and I haven’t slept in 20 hours. I’m tempted to go for it. But I hang up to see if American Airlines can do something other than jerk me around some more. This gate agent is actually helpful and gets me the last seat on a 6:25am to Nashville. Sure it’s 2 hours north of my home, but I reason that my husband will make the drive to get me home on Saturday. After all he’s my husband, not American Airlines. He cares.

Since it’s 3am and my flight leaves at 6:30, a hotel isn’t an option. I think about riding Skylink around DFW for a while just to see the sights at DFW. Then I remember it’s DFW. The sights are concrete, flat nothingness, pavement, dirt and buildings. So I just get off the River Styx tram at Terminal C. I couldn’t bear to spend another moment in Terminal E. As I hobble through Terminal C, which turns out to be colder and actually crappier than Terminal E, I see bodies slumped in chairs, covered with jackets and blankets. I see piles of blankets huddled under chairs, wedged into corners, and camped beside shoe shine stands. It looked like a homeless shelter or FEMA camp.

I feel chilled to the bone and look for a place to lie down or nap. My phone battery is dangerously low so I scope out an open receptacle and plug-in. I can’t sleep in the chair, can’t sleep on the cold, hard floor. I eye other passenger’s blankets and dream of ripping one off of them. My good feelings about human nature devolve into primal yearnings for thievery. I kick my bag around and mumble several profane words. I feel it’s occasionally good to scare other people with aggressive, if socially inappropriate, behavior. It makes them avoid you, and I at that moment didn’t want to be friendly. I wanted to be left the hell alone.

After strolling around and around, looking for a warm place to crash or a restaurant or bar to hole up in, I resign myself to the unfortunate reality that DFW Airport is a dead zone between the hours of 11pm and 5am. The rest of the time it’s just a hell hole. But at last I find a new and better place to charge my phone and lay down across three seats by wedging myself under armrests. For an hour I laid there, drifting in and out of sleep. When I grow tired of this position, I unplug my phone and move on. I’m a drifter in an airport, an aimless wanderer going from one hard, thinly cushioned seat to the next, hoping to find the one spot that feels right. It doesn’t happen.

I keep moving until I happen upon the charging station crowd from the canceled Huntsville flight. Ah… familiar faces. I set down my bags and learn of a Taco Bell that just opened. Scott tells me it’s only a couple blocks down. I’m not sure what blocks are in an airport. Neither is he, but I get it. It’s like we’ve supplanted our normal existence for this screwed up reality. I ask Scott to watch my stuff. He says, “Yeah no problem.” Sure this is against TSA regulations, but Scott and I have grown pretty tight over the past 7 hours. He’s no longer a random stranger. He’s some guy that got screwed over by the same airline as I and thinks American Airlines sucks. We’re like family.

At Taco Bell, I see the funny southern guy who kept staying on the “sunny side of life” earlier in the day. He looked less than sunny now, but kept telling everyone, “Use your American meal voucher. I don’t care if you get five tacos and throw them in the trash. Use up every bit of the airline’s money as you can.”

We were all headed for the same destination, the 625 flight to Nashville. After I get my steaming hot cup of coffee and chicken Gordita, I head back to Scott and my unattended baggage. True, I would trust Scott with anything at this point, but I didn’t want to saddle him with babysitting duty too long in case he had to use the restroom or something. Scott starts talking to me about the Birmingham trip again. He was on that ill-fated flight and is still pissed off about the crew time out. “Twice in one day,” he fumes. “Crews time out while we’re away from the gate twice. That’s not a weather issue. That’s an airline issue.” He’s right of course. All I can say is that I’m not flying American ever again. Scott agrees. We really are family.

As the rest of my Huntsville friends crowd around, we all wonder about the fate of our Nashville flight. Will it fly? Will I ever get out of DFW? We all joke about renting a van and driving in shifts back to Alabama. Crazy? Possibly. But nothing seems too crazy at this point.

Funny southern guy says, “It’s supposed to be bad here again today. If this flight doesn’t go, I don’t think we’ll make it out.”

We all talk about getting hotels, but a couple of people tell me they hear everything’s booked up near the airport and cabbies aren’t driving. “They will if you pay them enough,” I tell them. “And I’m here on business. I don’t care if it takes $500 to take me 30 miles to the nearest hotel, I’m not staying in this airport another day.” True, these would be tough charges to defend to my boss, but I’m pretty sure my reasoning capacity left the airport about 8 hours ago.

About an hour before our flight departs, gate agents and crew members arrive at Gate C10. We’re scheduled to arrive in Nashville at 8:00, so my husband texts me that he’s heading to the airport since it’ll take him 2 hours to get there. I tell him our flight looks good. We’ve got a fresh crew who, it turns out, needs to log time. They look like they actually want the plane to leave DFW. We’re the first American flight out and right by a deicing crew. I’m feeling optimistic.

Boarding is painless and timely. Maintenance inspections go easily but delay us about half an hour. No mysterious paperwork issues crop up. We finally go right to deicing which takes over half an hour to complete. A college kid behind me asks, “Is this what they do up north?”

I shake my head. “I’ve flown in and out of Chicago many times and it never took this long to deice.” But then I look and notice that the deicing crew are American Airlines employees. Okay, I reason, that explains the slow and inefficient process.

The man sitting next to me wakes up from napping, “We’re still in Dallas?” he wonders aloud.

“Yeah, I hope we get off,” I say.

“I’m not getting off this plane,” he says. “I don’t care where we go. I just want to get out of Dallas.” I agree. At that point, I would’ve tagged along with Chinese guy to Beijing just get the hell out of DFW.

Thanks be to God, a mere hour and a half after our scheduled departure, our plane is in the air. Everyone on board claps. When we land in Nashville, I learn that nearly every American flight that day is cancelled. We got out in the nick of time. My husband was at baggage claim, waiting patiently. And never have I been so happy to see Nashville.

So at last I made it out of Dallas. On the drive back home, my husband reminded me that for our upcoming vacation we’re flying American through DFW. I told him I need to renew my Vicodin prescription.

“But you don’t take Vicodin,” he added.

“I do now.”

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Robert J Zeigler March 7, 2015 at 3:43 pm

Your reflections of the Way Things Are are spot on; your writing is to be admired; your experiences are, unfortunately, all too real.

Well done.


WRT March 9, 2015 at 11:06 am

I’m sorry, but you make it out as if you know just about everything there is to know with regards to aviation and the legistics that go into flight planning and such. But if only you knew the half of it. When a major hub is crippled by westher it puts a huge burden on any airline, not just American. To someone who lives in north a few inches of snow isn’t a big deal, but to a southern state such as Texas it is a huge deal seeing they don’t have the equipment to deal with it. Your remarks on de-icing couldn’t be any more inaccurate, in fact, they made me laugh a little. And as unfortunate as it is, lost baggage is something with which every airline deals with…there is no airline that is perfect, especially when it comes to irregular operations. But when you have several hundred flights leaving one airport and then delays, cancellations and rebookings, it’s amazing that any bags get to their final destination. This is why you pack electronics and other essentials in a carry on.


Ron March 10, 2015 at 4:18 pm

So this is a reason for a crew not recognizing that they would time out, whether it be in mid-flight or before the flight ever leaves the ground???


Lucyfur September 21, 2016 at 9:20 pm

Agree with you Ron…. I was stuck in DFW once — and that was the last time I flew AA… they are arrogant and now they have US Air–well that probably doubles their idiocy.


RedHead0186 March 10, 2015 at 12:47 pm

"When everything goes to crap, sometimes we are at our best." Except for you, apparently, who felt the need to call people "boob," "dick," "jerk," "lazy," and "incompetent," likely among others that I stopped paying attention to. I stopped reading because your post just smacked of entitlement and was wayyyyy too long.

And the no-fly crew, the one that timed out? That happened to me, and it's not because "second grade math was too complicated for them." There's actually a small 'loophole' in the rules that states if they can get off the ground before a certain limit, they can get an extra 'buffer' for a short flight. I don't remember the exact numbers, but for example: if their limit is 12 hours of flying; if they can get off the ground before that 12 hours is up, they can go for another 2 hours, or something like that. But, if they can't take off before that 12-hour limit is up, they can't fly anymore (again, not saying those are the exact numbers, but that's the gist of it). When that happened to me the pilot was trying to get us off the ground before the limit, but we got stuck in a long line to take off and it didn't work. Your pilot was likely trying to do the exact same thing, get you all home, but got delayed and went past the limit so he had no choice but to turn around.


Guest March 13, 2015 at 7:12 am

Kudos to the pilots in those types of situations. But, isn't it incumbent on the airline management who schedules their flight crew resources to be aware of and react to these types of resources issues – especially with the knowledge of bad weather situations? I get that weather happens, but in this day and age they should have at least some warning that would allow them to adjust the scheduels (even bringing in on call resources) to get their flights off the ground. Even you allude to the fact that you know delays outside of a pilot's control happends. As airline management, they should be well aware as well.


RedHead0186 March 16, 2015 at 8:41 am

Absolutely, I agree that the airlines should have a better handle on schedules and should have been able to rearrange to get a "fresh" crew to take the flight. But I'm sure weather can play a big role in mucking things up as well. The airline should have been better prepared, I was merely pointing out that it wasn't the pilot/crew's fault in this case, and they actually were likely trying to make things right! 🙂


RJ March 16, 2015 at 5:34 am

My thoughts in this case are that airlines should be held much more accountable for things in their control. While weather is not in their control and nobody can reasonably expect a plane to fly in unsafe conditions things like having an adequate number of reserve pilots particularly at their premiere hub ie Dallas for American and reliable baggage handling ARE completely in the airlines control. And I don’t think the rationale that its a complex or hard task is acceptable. People now have to pay extra to check their luggage and luggage is supposed to be scanned and traceable at all points. Having a bag that is mia for any reason is completely the airline’s fault and not only an inconvenience to the traveler but a potential security risk. Bags are not supposed to fly without their owners hence if a bag is mia who knows what plane its on.


WRT March 16, 2015 at 7:23 am

There’s only so much an airline can do in terms of having reserve pilots on standby. What’s not to say that they had already burned through their reserves. Furthermore, if this was a commuter flight (not sure if it was) they are often operated by an entity completely separate from American so that would be even more out of their control. And, if that was the last flight of the night, to call in a reserve crew they would have essentially spent a crew on a single flight where as if it was a morning flight they could be used for several flights throughout the day. There is much more that goes into such decisions than most people have any idea of.

With regards to the luggage, I understand the frustration of missing luggage as I’ve worked in a baggage service office and have also been at the receiving end of my bags not making the flight. But unfortunately, baggage is something that is in the hands of humans. Now, I don’t know about you, but I’ve made mistakes, and I’m guessing you have too. Now, consider these people have probably worked a crazy long shift because of the bad weather and the delayed flights, they have been literally running between gates and terminals attempting to get the bags to the correct spot as someone gets rerouted, or switches airlines, or their flight cancels. It’s amazing to me that any bags get on the correct flight. Again, most travelers don’t think of all that goes into tasks that seem so simple such as transferring bags from one flight to another. And for the record, it’s no security risk. Once it has passed th sterile line it is “sterile” for the remainder of the time until it goes out of security.


guest123 March 17, 2015 at 4:58 pm

no wonder. only an insider can defend this sort of irresponsible behavior. you can make a thousand excuses. And not care about people who pay money which pays you your paycheck!
Kudos on the article, well written and well articulated. The problem is airlines feel that they are entitled to to do anything. Compare this with a consumer industry, say phones, you offer a bad products, you will not have a job anymore!


Lucyfur September 21, 2016 at 9:24 pm

You are so correct. Maybe it was the arrogance of the American Workers that caused their jobs to be outsourced to countries where people are beggng for jobs.
I've seen to many people bite the hand that fed them, and then starve as they were shocked by the way the hand treated them.


James March 16, 2015 at 7:48 am

Furthermore, if this was a commuter flight (not sure if it was) they are often operated by an entity completely separate from American so that would be even more out of their control

This is not an acceptable excuse. You put your company name on ticket, you take the money from the consumer, you should be responsible for the product.


David M June 3, 2015 at 5:23 pm

Rule #1; Never check your luggage in.
Advice #1 Get a smaller laptop.


Jeff January 1, 2016 at 12:53 am

I didn't read your post, but, I would like to share that the number to the AA Baggage Claim Office is 480-693-2929. I was told by American that there was NOT such a number and there is!!!


ernst March 18, 2016 at 2:02 am

I always preferred to fly American but that was 15 years ago before they made big cuts in service. US Airways was only a last choice and the experience was always regrettable. The merged airline is a last choice when I fly. It's amazing how a whole industry survives by screwing over its customers. I guess it's because we customers have little choice.


Mh4444 April 29, 2016 at 11:22 am

I am waiting on return flight to la from Miami on AA. Horrible!! On la to Miami flight we waited 7 hours for delayed flight, which first started as "30 minute delay". Now my flight home is delayed 30 minutes…uh oh. This is how it all starts. I am done with them. I want someone to sue them and discover their records because I think they flat out lie. Oversell flights then use delays to put passengers on other less full flights. Or something. I do NOT believe their 81% on time record. I call bullsh**!! They SUCK!!!


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