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Friday, April 11, 2008

ON NOTICE: American Airlines

You know, I don't even have any flights booked with American Airlines right now.  Still, I've been quietly FUMING over the American Airlines Controversy that's going on. 

I HATE AMERICAN AIRLINES.  If I never flew with them again, I'd be a happy person.  Dave and I took them to Brussels and home from London in late 2005, and we had to deal with a lack of legroom, rude flight attendants (I had misplaced my pen and couldn't fill out the customs documents, and the flight attendants acted like I was asking her to hand over her first born), and a lack of a decent entertainment system compared to other international flights I've taken.  Todd and I flew American to Miami for our cruise in 2006, and then again to Bonaire and Little Cayman in 2007. 

The last straw was coming home from Little Cayman in July, when our 3 hour layover turned into a 25 hour layover.  Our first flight was canceled because of "weather," even though other American Airlines flights were still taking off and the thunderstorms that had kept our flight from Cayman from landing for 45 minutes had blown out.  You see, if the flight is canceled for weather, American is not obligated to reimburse you or even pay for your hotel room.  The flight was nearly empty - there were only a handful of us scheduled to be on the flight, and weather seemed like an awfully nice excuse to cancel the flight.  And no, before you guess that it was due to weather somewhere else, the weather-related reason was specifically said to be the thunderstorms in the MIAMI area, where it was now clear (not to mention that the flight was canceled 2 hours before we were supposed to take off, even though that 2 hours would have been plenty of time to wait for any lingering storms to clear).  And like I said, other flights, and other AMERICAN AIRLINES flights were taking off.  We were smarter for our November 2007 trip to Little Cayman.  We flew with US Airways through Charlotte - both a better airline and a better airport.

It comes to no surprise to me that American is not necessarily issuing refunds to passengers through this mess.  They need to fess up and take a lot of responsibility for this, get their planes back in order as fast as possible, and be a little bit nicer to their passengers.  I realize that I can't hope for them to fail, as they are a huge airline and failure by them would ruin my ability to get to Bonaire next time around (this fall?? who knows), as well as to many other Caribbean destinations.  Certainly, though, other airlines are managing to stay afloat without such devastating results from their inspections.  Yes, many have canceled flights (including my beloved Southwest), but not to this extent.  Not 50+% of their schedule for DAYS.

Sure, passengers can reschedule, but when they're canceling flights day after day, when??  People have non-refundable hotels and tours and cruises and things.  People have re-arranged their schedules, wasted vacation days, arranged for care of their children and pets, paid to park their cars places.  AA didn't reimburse me for the extra vacation day I had to use when I was delayed in Miami, they didn't care that our car was in the garage at the airport for another day. Thankfully, The bug wasn't at a kennel.  And what about people who were going on important business trips, or for family functions - weddings, funerals?  What a mess, and sloppy maintenance is responsible.

Of course, I'm glad that nothing horrible happened as a result of these poorly maintained planes flying.  I think grounding them was the right thing to do. Next time, though, just maintain the damn planes!!!!

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