Critic / Op-ed / Products / Travel

American Airlines – The Saga Continues…

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said a thousand times – American Airlines has to be one of the worst companies in the world. If I didn’t have to fly with them, I wouldn’t.

My last experience has to have been one of my worst yet. I just got home a little while ago… 8 hours late.

The flight was supposed to leave New Orleans at 12:30pm and reach Miami by 3:45pm. As we were checking in, I realized it had been delayed until 12:52pm. No big deal… or so I thought.

But I’ll get to that a bit later. A few things happened at the check in counter that rubbed me the wrong way.

I was asked to open a case of gear so that they could check what sort of batteries it contained. We had three of the type that we’ve been traveling with for months (some of us for years). The lady at the counter told us that they had recently imposed a ban on having certain batteries in check in bags. She asked us to place them in our carry-ons bags. Despite not seeing the sense in that, we complied. I even had to take out some 9V batteries!

Once all that had been taken care of, the attendant apologetically reminded me that as an AA Gold Member, since the merger with US Airways, I am only allowed to check in one bag for free. Apparently there is more.

She was sweet and seemed to realize what a nonsensical company she worked for. Unfortunately, her colleague who kept butting in had no business being in customer service at all. And that’s the way it seems to go at American Airlines. Half of their employees are kind and understanding. The other half should be working in places that don’t require them to interact with others in any way.

We took our time getting to the gate for the delayed checkin time of 12:22pm. Only past 12:30pm had everyone cleared the plane we needed to get on. We didn’t take off until well after 1pm.

After a couple hours, we started flying around in circles near Ft. Myers, FL. Eventually the captain got on the intercom to explain that we were in a holding pattern because of bad weather in Miami. If we got to a point were fuel was low and we still couldn’t continue to our destination, we’d turn to Tampa to refuel and reassess.

As it turns out, there had been a tornado near the Miami airport, so there were a flurry of delays and cancellations that we had just got caught up in. I can’t help but think that if we hadn’t been delayed in the first place, we would have arrived on time. But unfortunately, that was not the case.

After flying in circles for an hour, the captain told us that we were actually going to have to go to Tampa. We landed there around 4:30pm… well after I was hoping to get home in South Beach.

The plane sat around on the Tampa tarmac for over an hour as we waited for a gate to refuel at. But clearly our plane didn’t seem to be a priority.

Since American Airlines doesn’t operate nearly as many flights in and out of Tampa than it’s competitors, we ended up waiting for a long time just to get some fuel. That happened a little after 6pm.

After kindly offering us some stale granola bars they let us off to get some food and stretch our legs. I happily obliged and got back on the plane in hopes that we’d be taking off soon. But we didn’t.

They kept lying to us and telling us that the Miami airport was closed. By blaming the weather, they tried to absolve themselves of any liability that many of us would have otherwise claimed. We knew that some planes were going in and out of Miami before us. Soon enough we were told that a flight from Tampa had been cleared to depart to Miami… but it wasn’t ours. We had to wait a bit longer.

Around 8:30pm we stared moving. When the plane tok off I breathed a sigh of relief. The flight took less than an hour and there was a muted cheer in the cabin when the plane finally landed in Miami.

For some stupid reason, I rushed out to the baggage claim area. By the time my bags actually arrived on the carousel, it was well past 10pm. Then I had to stand in a long line outside to get a cab.

The driver turned out to be Haitian, but he got mad at me because I mentioned the earthquake there. He believes it was not that simple and got very worked up…

Once again, I blame American Airlines. Hopefully it will get better, but it only seems to get worse. The merger isn’t helping things at all. Too bad United Airlines is even worse.

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