Topic of the Week: Would You Fly American?


It’s been well-publicized that American’s operational performance has tanked ever since it started imposing new contract terms of the pilots. The pilots really blew it by rejecting the last, much better offer. But management is playing with fire by imposing some of the terms it has decided to impose. Regardless of who is at fault here, American’s on time performance is not good right now. Are you actively booking away from American? Or does this not phase you?

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69 comments on “Topic of the Week: Would You Fly American?

  1. The situation is not encouraging me to fly AA. I flew them for the first time this month, and was not particularly impressed with the mainline product, and if you add in that there is a 50/50 chance of being on-time, I’d likely choose another carrier. I want a happy conclusion for AA’s pilots and employees, but more importantly I want a happy conclusion to my flights…

  2. Definitely doing everything I can to avoid them. Two trips in the past 3 weeks from LGA to ORD. Of the four segments, not one was less than 30 minutes late, and 3 of the 4 had “maintenance issues” that were miraculously solved within 20 minutes. I know LGA isn’t an on-time star, but it all just seems suspect.

  3. Got some great deals on the DCA to MIA and beyond route recently, racked up enough points + multipliers + other promotions to snag 2 RT tickets BWI-ORD-CDG, stowage class, not even personal entertainment. One World partners for trans-Atlantic are lacking: BA=massive fees, Iberia=same cabin, Finnair=always sold out. No plans to stick with AA, waiting to see what comes of merger talks.

  4. I have had luck the few times I have flown American this year. I was on them last month LAS-ORD-CMH, and it was nearly flawless. However, a family member has recently been burned on a BOS-ORD cancellation. They suggested that she fly BOS-ORD via either MIA or DFW if she wanted to get home on the same day…ended up getting BOS-DFW-MLI (MLI is closer to home for her than ORD, originally did ORD for a direct flight, so they were accoomdating by letting her switch airports after she incurred an unwanted connection, at least).

    After this experience, my wife and I were stuck with booking holiday flights between the Cleveland area and NW IL. We went with DTW-MLI, as the driving was about the same as if we did CLE-MDW/ORD…to avoid United and American. Southwest was an option, but we opted in favor of Delta because…

    Is it possible that I have seen the light as a Delta loyalist? With all of United’s merger performance issues and now this with AA, is Delta the way to go now? Oh, if only my SkyMiles would get me further!

  5. I wouldn’t fly them right now, and after reading yesterday about the two F/A’s that got in a fight on the plane which had to return to the gate so the pilot could eject them which caused a 4 hour delay while looking for another pair of F/A’s, no part of AA is safe to trust.

  6. I find this a bit — amusing isn’t the right word, and neither is ironic. When UA/CO went blooey earlier this year after the reservations system changeover, so many Mileage Plus members took advantage of AAdantage’s status match offer that it had to be suspended. And now just months later, AA is having issues and people are starting to say they won’t fly this carrier. Is the lesson here that all the majors are just one big mess?

  7. I wouldn’t fly American before this happened. They left me stranded over and over again when AirTran or Southwest would get me back home to D/FW.

    So..nothing has changed from my perspective.

  8. Continuing to book my employees on AA when travel schedule makes sense and on other airlines when it does not. Current labor woes don’t phase my bookings unless a particular route gets impacted regularly. If employee travel is to an important meeting, however, I book them on our corporate (very light) aircraft.

  9. Nope. Their pilots are calling a sick out or something of that nature. And I hear talks of a strike being voted upon. They are doing nothing but speeding up the doom of AA and a merger with US.

  10. Flown AA three trips in three weeks. No problems to report. Only “issue” to report was we were thirty minutes early to gate last night. Gate was occupied, sat for 20 mins in the alley. Had a nice view of a pair of Europe bound 777’s backing out to entertain me. Still inside the terminal 10 minutes ahead of scheduled arrival.

    By the way, I always take a moment on the way out to thank the crew and gently remind them that I could not do my job without them. I don’t know that it helps, but can’t hurt to remind them that other peoples’ livelihood depends on the crew showing up for work. And, I always get a thank you and a smile in return…

    1. Sorry about the mess right now, you’re right to note that the flight attendants want to get you to your gate and get on with the rest of their flight day. We do appreciate thanks and I like to be courteous as much as possible, but if you think a hrmp! will get you a drink quicker, think again.

      So to our friendly million-miler, good for you and I truly hope to have the pleasure of having you on my flights so I can show you that we (meaning the general flight attendant corps) do thank you for doing business with us, despite that management may be making some bad choices right now.

  11. Meh, even I got stuck in St. Thomas courtesy of a mechanical issue two weeks ago (not everyday one of your OWN concierges gets stuck, huh?). I was taken aback as I had just hopped on the ferry to St. Thomas when our alerts started coming in, so I was steamed that I could have stayed in a rum-coma state on the beach for a few hours.

    The staff in STT were anything but cordial & helpful, including refusing to rebook me on another airline (was told it was due to late inbound equipment, even though our originator plane was on a mechanical delay in MIA). Ended up finding my own way back via Cape Air to San Juan then JetBlue. The AAgents told me I had to take this flight despite getting in 4 hours later and wouldn’t even give me a food voucher or day pass to the AAdmirals club (my 75 minute connection was now 4 hours, I even asked if I could abandon my trip in MIA and drive to Orlando). The AA Twitter folks saved face and delivered much MUCH better abilities than the agents in St. Thomas. AA Twitter also processed the refunds for my ticket and seat fees.

    I’ll fly AA again, but it may be AAwhile since Alaska is the only airline in town where I live.

  12. From a safety perspective, I would not hesitate booking AA in the least. The FAA is crawling all over the operation right now…that is the impetus behind many (not all) of the mx write ups.

  13. I am not happy about what is going on with American, but I just booked flights to LAX using our miles. Wonder how long those will last…and how long our delays might be by November.

  14. Just did and everything was on time. We fly again next week and three times next month plus MCO in November and YYC in December. If fewer people show up my name will move up on the upgrade list, but I really do not expect long time AA loyalists to change at all. It may not always be “something special in the air”, but its still a lot better than most of the others. I can’t wait for the 777s to come on line.

        1. The APA has done a decent job of publicly putting out information has says not to do slow downs or call in sick. This is the total opposite of what the USAPA pilots did last summer. Unless there is some back room notes being sent out, AA has nothing.

  15. AA Plat, last flew AA 9/10; looking back, pre-boarded DFW, flight crew send us back to the gate “maintenance problem” that was never explained; low & behold we left about 25 mins. late…sounds like a pattern. Did Delta GOLD status match earlier this year, getting used to them having their act together compared to AA. pondering for ’13 where to re-up upper tier FF, leaning heavily to DL. i flew US F a few months back, so AA/US based on that not so exicting.

  16. I wont be booking AA anytime soon. I actually want to get to my destination on time (or close to it.). Passive aggressive behavior by pilots is not ok.. passengers lose.

  17. My observation/opinion on this disasterous ploy by the pilots of AA is that they are biting the hand that feeds it. In order to make a point and punish AA they may very well destroy their livelihood and those of others as well as the airline. They seem to be putting all their eggs in one basket. Forcing a merger with US AIR. Personally, as a consumer, I in not in favor of AA merging with any airline, unless it was a choice of closing or not. The grass always looks greener on the other side. Should the pilots force a merger my wish would be that they get what they deserve.

    Most airlines have already been down this road of BK (reorganization) due to bad management, lack of liquidity to ride out fuel increases, economic disaster or other reasons. AA should not be singled out or punished for having to “follow the leader” in order to survive. It is unfair of the pilots to drag all the other employees of that airline down with them. I bet most of the other employees would face financial disaster if AA folded or even merged. Lay offs, relocation for those that survive, fights to keep senority or job title (positions).

    My vote goes against the undermining actions of the pilots. In the end, they may find themselves with much more time at home “to recover” from their illness!

  18. I agree not booking AA until this mess is over.. and it appears
    things will only be getting worse in the short run. 2 co-workers were delayed
    on AA this week one flight canceled and the other one
    delayed 2 hours for “repairs”…. Anyone hear that Flight attendant
    making a big stink over the PA this week… was on National news
    the Pilot had to return to gate and requested a new flight crew…
    250 Pilots picketing at O’Hare yesterday as I walked to another airline.

  19. Book away from these guys. There’s no reason you want to get involved with AMR’s messy (and getting messier) situation. This is a great example of why competition is so important.

    1. I couldn’t agree with you more. This is why it is sooo important to maintain competition. With less airlines any work around to any airline problem (labor dispute, computer glitch, FAA grounding, etc.) would be non-existant or much more difficult.

  20. First off, I call fertilizer on the pilots unions’ denials of a slowdown. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck…However, all this is going to do is get a whole bunch of egg on the pilots’ faces. In the process of saying “eff you” to AMR management, they inconvenience and hack off customers in the process – because hey, the only thing that’s important is getting their pound of flesh. One of the many reasons I despise Big Labor.

    As for will I avoid AA – I live in Dallas, so it’s not like I have much of a choice, unless I want to stop somewhere. My luck with WN in the on-time department has been far more abysmal than AA over the last couple of years, so it’s not like taking a 1-stop on WN is going to save any time over a delayed non-stop on AA. I’ll just have to take my chances.

    1. Even though I disagree wil MM regarding organized labor, I do agree that the AA pilots and their union are giving organized labor a bad name. In my opinion PUBLICLY told the pilots that their “Wild Cat” strike would not be supported in any way by the union this action would stop immediately. Even the threat of Federal action might correct the current bad and shameful situation. The leader or leaders of this pilot action should be on top of the lay off list.

  21. I flew California ? new york three times in the past three weeks and on the whole the situation was in fact quite normal with arrivals either on time or ahead of schedule. As it happens, one of the JFK-LAX legs was indeed cancelled for ?maintenance? issues about two hours before departure and while on the way to the airport I received the call. On that same call I was quickly rebooked out of LGA thru ORD and still made it to LAX in time for my connection to STS.

    I?ve been a loyal AA flyer since 2005. I have consistently found the AA staff both on the ground and in the air (albeit seemingly, yet understandably, more harried these days) to be helpful and genuine. Their product, while perhaps unsustainable in this day and age, is still far superior to the current competition. While I am prepared to pay more up front as opposed to being charged for each ?service? ?alas, I understand that?s not in keeping with current commercial aviation business models. It will be sad when the last full service US airline is reorganized into yet another bland and homogenized grey (not silver) airline. So in response to this post, no ? I am not avoiding AA by any means but quite the opposite –enjoying it at each opportunity before it slips away into memory as I am left to desperately avoid some center seat on an a321 transcon coming your way soon.

    Vive la RésistAAnce!

  22. Just flew AA this past week. One hour late going ORD to LAx due to maintence. Return OK but next flight LAX to ORD #1470 (9-21) was 7 hours late.

  23. It sounds like both sides are at fault. But the pilot’s actions are just hurting them and their employer in the long run. It’s sad, really. I don’t fly American much. I usually end up on Delta (old Northwest) or US Airways, my “home town” airline. I find it interesting that as bad a the US Airways bashers say things are, it never seemed to get thie bad there. I must say that, outside of the rash of maintenance issues at Charlotte, most US Airways people have been very professional, and their operaring results seem to show it.

  24. I actually ended up having my BA ORD-LHR flight changed to an AA flight because the BA flight was so late. We even landed a bit early. Service was perfunctory at best; the crew seemed distracted and apparently the tea pot had been switched for coffee (never a good idea on a flight to the UK!), and but this is my first TATL flight on AA in Y so perhaps that’s par for the course.

  25. Flew JFK-LHR this week. AA pilot “discovered” three (!!) maintenance issues on the minute we were due to depart. Four hour delay. When we arrived in Heathrow I counted about 50-80 re-issued boarding passes for rebooked connections. unfortunately my connection was on a different tickets (surely not the only one) and had to bite a couple of hundred dollars in re-booking fees. Hey, whatever it takes for AA pilots to get more money. To their credit, AA credited my account with 5k AA miles automatically and sent a separate apology email to elites explaining the disgusting pilot action.

    1. im not AA; your one sided perspective is pretty ignorant.

      at least it sounds like you wont make the mistake again of booking a connection flight on a different ticket.

  26. A friend of mine was flying back from Dallas on Friday but didn’t get into Maryland/DC until early morning Saturday due to a variety of “maintenance” issues. I wasn’t there but it sounded like some kind of pilot thing going on.

    If I have a choice I sure would avoid them. Things can go wrong under the best circumstances so why multiple the chances and go with an airline/union that is intentionally creating issues.

    1. It is painful to see a group of employees, in any industry, destroyng a company from within. They do not seem to care they are also sel-destructing and it will cost the jobs of thousands on good AA employees as well as add many bad memories to loyal AA customers.

      The longer this persists the more I hope the individuals who are creating this mess pay BIG TIME for the damage they are causing. The union claims it has “nothing” to do with this, if true, the culprits should NOT expect any protection from the union when their number comes up! Can’t wait for justice in this matter.

      1. It is not clear whether this is happening or not. It would certainly be a problem if true.

        However, having seen how some other managements use industrial disputation to hide management blunders, maybe there are other factors at work here to contribute to poor on-time performance.

        1. I’m afraid that, in this case, it is no coincidence that the massive pilot induced delays and cancellations are ocurring at this time. I would like to see the union PUBLICLY declare that the pilots who are deliberately taking this “wild cat” action should NOT expect any assistance in defending their actions and job if AA moves on removing them from further employment. These jokers care not that they are taking other AA employees down the drain with them. Selfish, to say the least!

  27. I used to fly them regularly when I lived near St. Louis and they still had a mini-hub there. Eventually I shifted over to Northwest and others and haven’t really looked back. I’d probably avoid them until this mess is settled.

    I don’t book an airline ticket with the expectation they’ll get me there eventually, I book because they’ll get me there pretty close to schedule. Sure, some things come up and you take it, but this is completely different.

    I give the union credit for drawing attention to the issue, but they’re playing a dangerous game that could cost them their jobs.

  28. I fly AA the most. Flight on Saturday was on time, good service in F, as it typically is. Next flight in a week.

  29. I would fly none of those carriers like American, Delta and Southwest(SovietWest). All of the American Carriers are worthless and suck. I know what is right for them CLOSURE. The have forgotten that there are other forms of transportation. I dont need to fly to Frankfurt to go to LAX. These guys are morons

  30. someday AA management will understand that airlines most important employee are the pilots…..without a pilot the plane never flies….the plane can fly without management, without FA, without mechanic…airlines were invented, and made by pilots. the reason AA reliability is down is not because pilots are calling in sick…it is because they simply are NOT DOING every body elses job…( we make hundreds of calls everyday pointing out mistakes eg= plane improperly fueled, cargo improperly loaded, FA missing, paperwork missing… this simply shows how critical it is that we correct everyone elses job…and if we don’t the airline comes to a grinding slowdown. simply put pilots can make or break an airline…by throwing out their contract/work rules the only one that loses is mgmt….in europe, asia, latin A. when an airline goes chapter 11, the judge fires all the top management pushing in new blood to heal the sick airline…unfortunately in the USA chapter 11 is an excuse to cut wages, leases, and get golden parachutes-bonuses for bean counters/mgmt. chapter 11 has no shame here…it has become a fad/in thing to do…

    1. All but the smallest of an air carriers airplanes can’t legally carry passengers without flight attendants. There must be at least one FA per 50 passengers. I’ve flown a 12 seat plane (Shorts 330?) without an FA, but that was long ago and there was no cockpit door, only a cockpit curtain!

    2. Unfortunately, Mr. Powers, your analogy of super-pilots “inventing” airlines has actually been tried many times over the years. Minimum mechanical staff, little or no administrative management or FA’s. The junk pile of history is filled with their names, not to mention the bodies of their passengers.

      Today, air accidents are at a historic minimum. This did not happen by accident. It was learned by experience that to fly an airline it takes a team to make it successful. No cowboys. If one important member of the team decides to destroy the company that maintains that team – EVERYONE loses. Customers, airline and ALL employees.

      Finally, you really did not mention that AA is the last of the legacy airlines to file BK. You make it sound like they invented it. I do not disagree that AA management is dismal and continues to make mistakes. But that is life in the fast lane. I cannot think of one company that hasn’t made mistakes, even the most successful. Do not take this comment as making excuses for AA bad management. Just my opinion.

  31. So Dan, why not fire everybody and just have pilots only staff the airline? This would work out very well since no one but pilots are important. And there will be more money left to pay you all since only pilots will be working. I’m sure all will be perfect.

  32. I’ve told my corporate travel agent to put AA on my no-fly list. I have (now) 3 airlines that I won’t use based on past issues. However, 2 of the 3 I didn’t experience the issue myself but heard of it (Jet Blue winter strandings, fighting flight attendants on AA).
    I’ve also informed US Airways (who I fly most) to please DON’ T MERGE WITH AA.

  33. No changes for me, still flying an all AA schedule. They’ll get this thing sorted out soon enough with an injunction if need be. Happily, none of the pilots on my recent flights have been among the minority of pilots participating in the work slowdown. The only delays have been real, verifiable, weather delays.

    1. The longer the pilots continue their efforts to cripple or break AA the more I urge AA to take immediate action, either legal or through their HR Department, to stop this “wild cat” (? ) action by several disgruntled pilots. If they don’t like AA policy let them apply at US Air or any other airline that will have them. Let them see if “The Grass is Alwayys Greener…..”! Do not let them destroy the employent of thousands of other AA employees!!!

      1. While I agree that should not be performing a work slowdown, it is just not that easy to go apply at another airline. You would start at the bottom as an FO and make a lot less money. Not to mention, I don’t think US Airways is hiring.

        1. The news in this morning paper says that the union is denying any increase in cancellations, etc. This puts a different light on the matter and now it appears that either the union is involved or condones this work stoppage. Therefore, they are an organization that should be disbanded and given a hefty fine – at a minimum. It appears that there is a core of about 200 pilots that have instigated this financial and business disaster for AA. These pilots should be given “EXTENDED LEAVE” with no pay or summarily dismissed. Let them try and find a job with this blot on their resume.

          I say again, this action by the union and pilots is indefensible. They are willing to destroy an airline, sending thousands into the streets seeking employment, since they do not like the new contract forced on them. Although I do not agree entirely what AA has done (similar to other airlines which went through BK already) this do not authorize them to burn the house down as revenge. AA needs to act IMMEDIATELY to end this mutiny. I, for one, am disappointed that AA has not acted already.

          AA management must act decisively NOW to save the airline. Do what needs to be done to end this picture of the tail wagging the dog. Your loyal customers deserve better effort from AA management to rid yourselves of these cowboys and normalize operations without the malcontents. Consumers cannot plan trips wondering if their flight will depart or not!

          1. Actions like this gave us the 40 hour work week, overtime, and health insurance.

            From my understanding the pilots are working to rule. Writing up every problem when they find it, not when they’re done for the day if the issue is minor as is the norm. They’re not going above and beyond what is required of them, helping other employees prevent off problems, or flying any longer.

            I think you’re giving AA’s management a pass Mike. It would’ve been acceptable for them to implement the last offer they made to the pilots, which the membership voted down. Instead they implemented the first offer to the pilots. In the non-latin terms, this is a huge f*ck you from management to the employees.

            Any management team that treats any employee, let alone key employees this way doesn’t deserve their job. This management team should be shown the door, and I’m quite sure they’ll have trouble finding work anywhere. Perhaps their local McDonald’s will hire them?

  34. Nick, Thank you for your thoughts. You have some excellent points which I tend to agree with. Organized labor has given us a Middle Class the world has envied for decades. It has given us a living wage and up ’till now, good benefits. Corporate management – accross the board – has been trying to take back as much as it can since the days of Reagan. AND, they have been overall successful. I have already stated that I do not agree with the way AA handled this negotiation. I also, in all fairness, think the pilots have been too inflexible on their side – unrealistic. This is my opinion.

    We have been in a world wide Depression for about 5 years now. Economically, most businesses are really hurting and struggling to keep afloat. Airlines are fighting a two front war, as they must also battle the fluctuations of the price of fuel. That price is influenced by speculation, the economy, wars and politics. No one can really plan to far ahead regarding the price of fuel.

    Having said the above, I feel that the reaction by a core of certain AA employees (pilots) to destroy an airline to win an argument/negotiation is unforgivable. They are willing to throw thousands – WORLD WIDE – out of work and sacrifice their own livlihood on a gamble that it would force the airline to either relent or merge.

    Based on my thinking and opinion, I must remain fixed on my opinion that AA must take some action to end this work sabatage. Yes, you can say they are working to the rule, but that argument has cost other unions millions of dollars in fines in our courts. Simply put, the judge found those type of arguments B.S. I have to believe your comments are tongue in cheek, as it is blatantly obvious that this deliberate work slow down and stoppage is significantly higher than normal. I believe ANY court will also see it that way. The union AND the guilty pilots MUST pay the price for the financial and business harm they are inflicting on a struggling airline and loyal customers, which, at the end of the day, even the pilots must thank for putting the bread on their table!

  35. I’m pretty sure people have been bailing. I don’t often fly AA, but it’s my standard choice for flying from BOS to LHR for work (where I have various Fly America Act and related policies to abide by)

    So my flight earlier this week? Usually the BOS-LHR red-eye (Flight 124 for those that are curious) isn’t completely full. But this time it was damn near empty (I counted 51 pax, although I may have missed one or two in the heads). Result was my getting bumped to business class, but after dinner I actually walked back to coach, found an empty row, put up the armrests, and went to sleep.

    So in addition to their other problems, they appear to be having load managment issues…

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