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American Airlines Hates Its Customers!

Posted by on April 19, 2010

I really wasn’t going to write this post but on the advice of some colleagues and friends in the industry, I decided to go ahead and share my experiences with American Airlines.  Here’s my story:

Last week I booked a last minute ticket to Hawaii; the flight departed Thursday and I booked it Wednesday evening.  It was just one of those spur of the moment things that I decided to do.  I was scheduled to be in Hawaii Thursday evening and return to San Francisco on Monday morning.  I had a stressful week and was really looking forward to finishing up some things in Hawaii and relaxing (as conferences and speaking gigs were coming up).  Here was my schedule:

  • Leave SFO on Thursday and fly to LAX on American Airlines
  • Catch connecting LAX flight to Maui on Thursday evening (left just over an hour after the previous flight was supposed to land) on Continental
  • Depart Maui on flight to LAX on Continental (overnight on Monday/Tuesday)
  • Catch connecting flight from LAX to SFO on United and arrive Tuesday morning.

My flight on Thursday from SFO to LAX was delayed for an hour and 15 minutes.  Once I found out about the delay, I went to the ticket counter and told a lady there that I had a connecting flight on Continental that I might miss and asked her what I should do.  Her response (and I kid you not) was, “I have no idea.”  I asked her if there were any other flights they could put me on because if I was going to miss my connecting flight (and I was only going to be in Hawaii for a few days), then I would have rather just canceled everything and not have left San Francisco to begin with.  The lady at the counter said, “fly to LA and then we can help you from there.”  Granted, I’m not the smartest man on the planet but as I sat there trying to work through her logic, I couldn’t help but go cross-eyed.  Someone from American Airlines told me I should fly to LA 400 miles away to get help for a problem that I was having in San Francisco.  I told the lady that I didn’t want to fly to LA in case I got stuck there without a flight going anywhere.  Again her response was that she can’t help me and that there is nothing she can do.  I had no choice but to board the flight hoping that I would arrive just in time for my connecting flight.  Before I go on, take a break, play with a Rubik’s cube or read something intelligent because the stupidity only gets worse from this point.

I boarded the flight and we were ready to go but then we had another 15 min delay because a crew member had a problem with his headset (at this point most people on board were quite irritated).  I was most likely going to miss my connecting flight on Continental.  I asked the stewardess on American Airlines if I could be the first to leave so that I can run to try to catch my other flight.  Her response was that I could leave AFTER the first class passengers left.  My response was, “but the first class passengers aren’t late for a connecting flight.”  She turned her back and walked away.  When we landed in LAX, the first class passengers (most of them) stepped aside and let me get off the plane first since they heard that the stewardess wouldn’t let me off (yes, even the mighty first class passengers thought this was absurd).  I asked the stewardess where I should go for the connecting flight.  She had no idea and said I should check the screens when I got off the plane.  I asked if someone at Continental had been notified that the American flight was delayed and she said she had no idea.

We landed.  I ran to the Continental gate and my flight was gone.  I went back to the American Airlines gate and they re-booked me for a flight the following morning and gave me a voucher for a hotel and a whopping total of $25 that I could use to cover dinner AND breakfast the next day and that could only be used in that terminal (are you kidding me?).  The next day I arrive at the airport and go eat at Chili’s-to-go (it was either that or Burger King since you can’t use the voucher in any other terminal).  I then went over to a News Stand to pick up a few protein bars (I’m a bit of a health nut), and sadly the vouchers couldn’t be used for those protein bars, but I was told I could use them at Starbucks.  So I headed over to Starbucks and waited in line for around 15-20 minutes.  I figured I could at least get some fruit and some almonds/cashews/other snacks for the road.  I waited in line and when I get to the front the lady tells me that the American Airlines vouchers don’t cover anything that I picked up; only pastries and tea/coffee.  By this point I was already livid so I purchased my tea and gave the remaining balance to other people in line.  Starbucks was right next to the gate that I was supposed to be at and I saw a large group waiting around so I figured that boarding hadn’t started yet.  I go to the gate and instead of a flight to Hawaii I see a flight to DC…a bit confused I ask the lady at the gate where my flight went.  Apparently the gate was changed and everyone on my flight already boarded, I was the last person on board and almost missed the flight again.

Needless to say I made it to Hawaii and had a good time (missing a night there already), that is , until I went back to the airport to try to fly home…

I get to the airport and go to Continental (which is the airline I was supposed to take to get from Maui to LAX, and then I would United Airlines back to SFO).  I try to check in and am told that I am no longer in their system.  Interesting.  I go American Airlines and I am no longer in their system either.  Finally I go to United and they tell me I’m not in their system either.  So here I am with a fully purchased flight to get back home (in just over an hour) and none of the airlines have me on record.  By this point I’m seriously losing my mind.  After explaining my situation to all three carriers they all start blaming each other and passing me around.  My flight was leaving in under an hour by this point so I went to all three airline counters, grabbed someone from each airline (since they kept blaming each other and passing me around) and brought them physically together to ask one simple question, “WTF is going on and how do I get home?”  The manager at American Airlines said there is nothing she can do and turned her back and walked away.  Apparently United had control of my ticket somehow, so I went to their counter.  The man at the counter said he would try to help me, he disappeared for 20 minutes and came back and said all he could do is put me on standby with Continental because all the United flights were full.  I asked what would happen if that didn’t work. I was told that I would then need to spend my own money on another flight and hotel (to fly the next day).  Keep in mind that I already paid for all my flights to get to Hawaii and back home to SF.  Now I was being told to buy ANOTHER flight and get ANOTHER hotel on my own dime.  I thought I was in the twilight zone.

Meanwhile, Lorry Thomas (not sure on spelling) from Continental was paying attention to everything that was going on (I was updating her).  After being shunned by American and a failed attempt to get United to help, I turned to Continental Airlines.  I approached the counter and literally said, “Hi Lorry, I’m fucked.”  Lorry and Robert Pierce (the supervisor from Continental) tried for 20 minutes to do absolutely everything they could and finally after a few phone calls and throwing around some ideas, they said they were going to “force me on their flight” (apparently they had some way of making it work) so that I could get home.  Continental was oversold, yet somehow they were able to get me on their flight and into a seat.  The problem was that I had around 20 minutes to go through security and run across the airport (literally) to get to my gate.  Robert escorted me to security and I sprinted for dear life to make it to the gate.  I got there pouring in sweat in my slacks and dress shirt (I was going straight into a conference when I landed in SFO) and stressed out of my mind.  Just as I got there I hear my name on one of the employee’s headset with Robert’s voice that says, “we have Jacob Morgan sprinting to the gate, he’s on his way, please try to help him when he gets there.”  The employee responds with, “yep, Jacob just made it.”  Robert responds with, “wow, that’s record time.”  After running across the airport with my luggage I finally made it and Continental got me to LAX where I was able to take my connecting flight on United to SFO (I can’t remember the last time I was so stressed out. I’m usually very calm but was on the verge of missing my flight, conference, and business meetings).

I spoke with both representatives from Continental and United, both of them told me that since my American Airlines flight was late and that my itinerary was changed, that all resulting flights were canceled.  American Airlines (from what I was told) was supposed to fix the problem by either re-booking me or doing something to fix the situation.  My vacation turned into an extremely stressful event for me and my entire trip to Hawaii was ruined.  Instead of coming home relaxed, I came home under more stress than I had been under in a long time.

To make matters worse I was on Twitter the whole time pleading with any airline to help me (especially American) and received no response (until recently).  American Airlines never even said “sorry” up until I received a DM from them on Twitter which said “sorry for the negative experience.”  To which I replied, “a negative experience is when you order a steak well done the comes rare, what you guys put me through was hell.”  I was promised a resolution but up to this point I was promised someone will contact me but have heard nothing yet.

I am now using this example in several of my presentations on Social CRM (I’m not going to explain all of that here, but it is very applicable and timely).  I am going to avoid flying American Airlines whenever possible, and encourage everyone that reads this to never fly American Airlines again.  I have tweeted and updated my Facebook status during the course of the ordeal talking about the disaster and how much I hate American Airlines. What’s funny is that I have had several people respond to me on Twitter and Facebook telling me about their awful experiences as well.

Continental stepped up and made sure that I got home.  They fixed a problem that they didn’t cause and for that I thank them and will try to fly them when I can.  Still no resolution from anyone American Airlines; the most I got from them where a few tweets saying that they will look into it, ya I won’t hold my breath.

Something is clearly broken in this system which has truly left me feeling that…

American Airlines Hates Its Customers

Google, “American Airlines sucks” to see some of the horror stories.  Also try searching for that phrase in Facebook as groups have already been created.  Have an American Airlines horror story you want to share?  What do you think of what happened to me?  Anyone in the airline industry have some perspective on this?  Please leave your thoughts below.

  • Hey Jacob,

    this sounded really like a trip through hell… It's “amazing” to me how some companies treat their customers in days of total transparancy and instant communication… they might think that these things have no impact, but they have – not from today to tomorrow, but over time… and then they'll be wondering “What have we done wrong?” … 😉

    Thanks for sharing and good flights in the future! 🙂


    • You're welcome, I still wish I hadn't gone through that hell and am still waiting for American to respond…one day

      • Viv

        Hi Jacob,
        I’ve been a flight attendant for 27 years at American Airlines. For yearsssss I would get goose bumps and teary eyed when our commercials would come on tv. Well not anymore! I’m personally sorry for your nightmare experience. However unfortunately not surprised at all. These occurrences go on everyday, everywhere all day long. AA cares about one thing……and that’s making enough money so the top tiered management gets a bonus every April. American can’t stand their front line employees, how can they expect their employees to care about our customers? It keeps deteriorating every year. To prove my point take a look at Southwest Airlines, they are paid well and treated with respect. They all LOVE their company and frankly I’m jealous. When I see a commercial or a reference to my company AA, I tend to roll my eyes and shake my head. I never take my resentment out on my passengers, just can’t stand American Airlines! Sorry again for your horrible experience, I do have a feeling those AA employes you came in contact with hate AA too.
        AA FA

  • Fantastic Story. Similar to the United Breaks Guitars thing as it will undoubtedly hurt their bottom line at a time when they don't need it.

    • I'm not sure how much it will hurt their overall bottom line but hopefully it will bring some attention to the fact that they treat their customers like dirt.

  • Been there with Delta

    At this rate we won't be able to fly any airline…I wish we had someone step up and realize that there was a great opportunity here to create something new, with customer service built it!

    Sorry about your nightmare…wish I thought this would all get better, but it seems to be getting worse! 🙁

  • Dude I hear you, but you must not fly very much. This is NOTHNG compared to other airline horror stories!

    Remember… “Time to spare, fly by air.”

    • I fly 1-2x a month and usually have pretty good experiences, but then again, I usually don't fly american!

  • callmeJosh

    I feel ya! On my honeymoon, bought new luggage, went to bahamas..on way back, they tore it open and lost all my new lacoste polo shirts out of the front zipper pocket..their answer at customer service in the airport? You can call a 1-800 # to report the tear but they won't do anything because it's ripped at the seam of the pocket…so my wife's bra is hangin out and all my polo shirts are gone and myluggage is ruined but they'll do nothing because they ripped it on a seam and company policy states they don't cover that..Was supposed to have a manager call me back..they never did..Followed up a couple times w/ the promise someone would call me back..then gave up..I'd second this title post title..It was like I was an inconvenience to them..

  • Sorry to hear about your negative experience. I think we've all had our share of negative airline experiences (mine being between Midwest Airlines, Airport Security and TSA when I had items stolen from inside my luggage).

    In this situation with three airlines involved, tight transfer times and flight delays, the likelihood that something bad was going to happen was pretty high. I try to stick with one airline per trip for this very reason. This doesn't guarantee they will fix the problem, but at least they tend to be a bit more cooperative.

    Unfortunately, the travel system that powers the 30,000 commercial flights in the US every day is pretty fragile and it's going to take millions and millions of dollars to fix in a time when most of them are hurting for profitability.

    While people have their own issues with Southwest, they've been profitable for the last 37 years and their flights are consistently sold out (which creates a separate set of issues).

    Hopefully we'll see someone emerge from the negative press around air travel to become a leader in customer satisfaction.

  • jesshutch

    This is why i wish virgin america flew every place.. They have great planes great fares and just an overall customer centric focus. Any airline that treats their customers in this way should be shut down. Imagine if they treat their customers this way how they treat their employees thus causing airline safety? Maybe?

    • agreed, i have always had a great experience on virgin america, great airline.

  • Nova

    So you booked the cheapest fare on 3 different airlines and are somehow surprised when they can't accommodate you on the flights you want. It wasn't American's responsibility to notify Continental when your flight was delayed. The only times I have heard of an airline holding a flight because of connections is when there are more than 25% of the seats on the departing flight on the arriving flight. An airline will not delay an aircraft if there is only one or two people for the connecting flight. EVER.

    American while not without their problems are probably unreasonably being blamed here. Is there some blame with a flight attendant allowing you to get off first? Possibly, but those First Class passengers pay significantly more per mile than you do. Again, it's a matter of the most loyal and paying customers getting preferential treatment. United, Continental, and American all do it.

    Lets look at Continental as well. They are the carrier that deleted you from the system since you did not make your LAX>Kahului (OGG) flight. They don't assume you made the flight on another carrier. When you checked in at OGG again, you weren't in there since the original itinerary was canceled. When you had American rebook you on the flight the next day, this was a new itinerary. This would explain the lack of you being in United's system as well, since most flights are code-shared through their Star Alliance partnership.

    Regarding the voucher problem, that's a problem with the companies running the concessions at the terminal, not American. Yes they should cover more than just the basics, but your anger at American there is unfounded.

    The problem with a gate change is normal. Just because your ticket says check in at a certain gate, ALWAYS check to see if the flight has changed gates. This is fairly common as flights get delayed, aircraft changes, etc.

    You say that your vacation was ruined, but before you say you had a good time and already miss Hawaii. If your vacation was ruined, you would not have had a good time. A ruined vacation would be a typhoon or losing/having your luggage destroyed.

    Understand that I'm empathic to your problems, but these are by and large self-created. Booking a single ticket with a single carrier eliminates these issues. Also having status on any of the airlines would go a long way with this. For example, I fly United exclusively from IAD (Dulles). I did approx 55k miles last year on them and hold Premier Executive Status (their 2nd from bottom status), and when my flights are delayed, I have a number on the back of my membership card that gets be higher priority on the customer service line. I get a human and can get rebooked on flights in under 15 minutes. I can check in at their Premier status lines and typically get a real United ticket agent that I can get things rebooked prior to check in. I also do not get bumped from flights unless a 1k or Global Services person is ahead of me on standby. It pays you back to hold loyalty to one line. In this case, United flies direct from SFO to LAX to Kahului (OGG). That would have been one ticket through the entire system, and no worrying about missing flights.

    • conniechan8

      Most people are not in your fortunate shoes to have priority treatment. If so, then you would be in the same boat as Jacob, and how would you feel about that? Should we all then live by the tenet, caveat emptor? Sounds like an awful way to live as a consumer.

      Perhaps companies can step and appreciate the value of their every customer. A question that I have for you and everyone is, should the airline have canceled his return flight? They cannot presume that he didn't make an alternate from LAX – OGG? As for his return from OGG – LAX, he paid for the ticket and the airline should not cancel any paid reservation until the flight has departed. It's his seat, even if it sits empty.

    • 1) it wasn't the cheapest, it was the most convenient.
      2) you assume that loyalty and willing to spend more are the same thing. I am a loyal Virgin American flyer and don't necessarily pay to fly first class. Does that make me less loyal?
      3) preferential treatment is fine during flight, but accommodating someone who needs to make a connecting flight is more important, which is why the passengers let me through.
      4) continental deleted me because American never told them that I took a diff flight and made it to my destination (which they should have done according to both continental and united)
      5) I should have not been told to fly to LA to begin with, and could have just canceled everything
      6) re: voucher problem I don't know enough to say what the deal is but when American handed me the voucher they could have told me what I could use it for and what I can't use it for.
      7) when gates are changed passengers are notified, my gate was changed hours before the flight and I wasn't told
      8) yes I did have a good time while I was actually in Hawaii and yes I do miss Hawaii, what does that have to do with me having a miserable experience with American? I would have preferred a typhoon
      9) status works on airlines that can accommodate you, American wasn't my first choice, but I had no other alternative, not everyone has status and those that don't shouldnt be screwed. southwest notifies you when they have delays via phone calls and sms messages almost in real time.
      10) I fly around 1-2x a month and have never gone through anything like this

    • never again with AA

      Anyone who seriously believes the above response (that the consumer is wrong and has to put up with the B.S. that American pulls is either a moron or knows nothing about customer service standards that built this country. American should go bankrupt, and it will. They deserve it. I, too experienced their callousness when they canceled last night's flight from LAX to SFO and to this moment have not told us why. There were numerous other airlines going on that route, but AA told us to wait till morning or go rent a car and drive up the California Coast for 7 hours. We had children with a baby sitter who could not stay for the night. We flew with United and paid an extra $650 each. I will celebrate when AA goes under. I will celebrate.

    • Johnhatfield0777

      This still does not address the problem of not getting what you pay for.

    • Armando

      Nova: you sound like an employee posing as a customer. You don’t mention what company you work for, and don’t give any details. Shame on you.

  • Mike

    Sounds just like the American Airlines I know. Most recently I sat in a seat that was absolutely soakd in URINE. I wasnt in my seat 2 minutes before I jumped up and asked for help. A supervisor came on board as we were stil boarding and offered me this; “When you get to Orlando, tell the uniformed gate agent there and they will provide you with 'compennsation'”. RIDICULOUS – So sit there in my soaked pants and underwhere for 3 hours – give that bacteria some time to soak in. When I finally connected with someone at AA – after weeks of emailing them – They gave me 10k miles.

    W O R T H L E S S

    • Wow, I can't believe you had to go through that, sitting in urine…seriously? for 3 hours? I don't even know what to say to that, is that legal? That is a miserable experience!

    • I am now using this example in several of my presentations on Social CRM (I’m not going to explain all of that here, but it is very applicable and timely).  I am going to avoid flying American Airlines whenever possible, and encourage everyone that reads this to never fly American Airlines again. 

    •  I asked the stewardess where I should go for the connecting flight.  She had no idea and said I should check the screens when I got off the plane.  I asked if someone at Continental had been notified that the American flight was delayed and she said she had no idea.

  • I have learned one thing, don't take connecting flights from airlines that do not have code sharing ( I do not have deeper understandings of the Airlines industry, but from what I know, the ticketing mayhem you faced could be part of the issue with the ticketing backends (GDS or Global Distribution System, there are only four in the whole world:…). AA is on Worldspan, United is on Galileo, and that could have been a handicap for the agent who redid your ticketing (not sure if it is called rebooked, rescheduled, etc. which is another mystery only frequent fliers can unravel).

    • Johnhatfield0777

      How is the average consumer supossed to puzzle this out?

  • juansemoreno

    A great-but-stressfull story! But no doubt that they made a very bad deal when freakin' out a guy that RSS feeds hundreds around US and the World!

    I hope this attitude of sharing bad experiences become a widespread habit for customers around the globe! At least in my country there's still a lot of work to do with that, but examples (and some very powerful, as this) are starting to arise. And businesses (the most innovative and open-minded at least) are starting to take it as an opportuniy to take their service to higher levels.

    Greets from Santiago, Chile

    • I've always wanted to visit Chile! Glad you were able to read the story and thanks for stopping by to comment.

      • juansemoreno

        Yep, great place here! And there's plenty of choices when flying to here lol (tip: when flying to or around South America, don't think it twice and buy your tickets with Lan. Excelent service, nothing to complain about)

  • Greg

    This is a good debate about the limitations of Twitter. Your issue (misconnecting or cancellation), while certainly stressful for you, is probably experienced by hundreds or thousands of people each day on each airline. Tweeting for someone to “help you” during the situation is not a realistic way to get the situation resolved.

    As to why airlines don't deliver exceptional service, it is because passengers care about price above all else. I assume you booked the complicated itinerary because it was the cheapest option available for the time you wanted to depart, right?

    Will you book on American again? What if they are $50 cheaper than the other option? People complain about service, but book based on price.

    • After going through what I did I would gladly pay $100 more to NOT fly on American again. Im presenting on social CRM this week and one of things I'm going to address are service level agreements in the SCRM space, something which I believe is lacking and needs to be addressed.

    • 2020companiescincinnati

      Duh, but he paid for a flight from Maui and American canceled it. How is that a result of a good price?

    • Armando

      Greg, I don’t think American Airlines will be a good option, no matter what the price. Besides, they have hidden fees that go beyond the $50 you mentioned. I don’t know why airlines are allowed to lie to their customers on the ticket price.

  • Pingback: Disaster with American Airlines()

  • tony felt

    Wow. What a nightmare. Makes me want to keep my self on the ground. Just putting the word out there, if you’re ever in need of a yacht or boat shipper, look up Yacht Exports. They did a wonderful job with me. Hopefully next time, they will leave you in peace.

  • tony felt

    Wow. What a nightmare. Makes me want to keep my self on the ground. Just putting the word out there, if you’re ever in need of a yacht or boat shipper, look up Yacht Exports. They did a wonderful job with me. Hopefully next time, they will leave you in peace.

  • That was one horrible experience. AA staffs should be trained for customer service. Thank you for sharing this experience, you were one of the people who shared some horrible experience with that airline. Tsk, Tsk.

  • Pingback: It’s Time for Social Service Level Agreements()

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  • I'm sorry to hear about your experience, but I'm happy to read your page and see that you're making a difference : )

    I was so unhappy with my AA experience I decided to create a website and a YouTube video documenting how AA egregiously broke my bicycle, lied to me about it, and refused to compensate me for their blatant negligence:

    I felt that I needed to do something creative not only to let out all of my anger and extreme disappointment with how AA treated me, but to help others steer clear of the same fate.

    If AA plans to become a profitable company, that you, I, and others would be proud to fly with, big things have to change!

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  • LA

    I couldn't agree with you more. I was recently stranded in a foreign country thanks to American Airlines, who not only didn't offer compensation or even pay for accommodation, but neglected even to apologize. Unfortunately, I occasionally have to fly American for business, but I assure you that based on their customer service, or lack thereof, that whenever given the choice, will never fly with them voluntarily. In fact, I plan on going out of my way (literally, in the case of international travel and transfers) to NOT fly with them.

  • that reminds me on myself.. i had quite the same experience. Not with american but very similiar.. best Norbert

  • LN


  • Gib Shellenberger

    Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2011

    Customer Relations
    American Airlines
    PO Box 619612
    DFW Airport, TX 75261-9612

    Dear Customer Relations,

    My name is Charles G. Shellenberger. This morning, Tues., Feb. 22, I arrived approximately an hour and fifteen minutes prior to my scheduled flight (AA #450) from DFW to Minneapolis, departing at 10:35am. After 55 minutes standing in the security line (listening to everyone voicing their stress and frustrations as we watched—against all common sense—what was two lines become one), I headed for the gate: D27. Upon arriving at the gate, I found that the gate had been changed to C11. That’s a whole other terminal! I had heard no announcements nor had I been emailed (my preferred means of contact). There was no representative near security with this information, either.

    I, along with other passengers who’d been caught up in the absurd security line, requested the gate attendant to please inform the new gate that we would be running as fast as possible to the C terminal (via Skylink—the train that links different terminals). She assured me she’d let them know. She said, “you can make it, hurry!”

    I was accompanied by others who were running with me due to the security line being so long and understaffed. I also sent a text to a co-worker telling her to alert the gate agent at the new gate that a group of us were running to catch the plane.

    We arrived huffing and puffing to see gate C11 shut their door. We literally watched them shutting it as we were running up from a distance of some 30 yards. Did they see us running up? We had eye contact! They slammed the door in our faces. Even though we had requested the other gate agent to phone ahead, in addition to a co-worker also informing both gates we were running late due to a last minute gate change and under-staffed TSA. The time? Exactly 10:35am. They had not held the door even one second after scheduled departure.

    They were not only unapologetic but unaccommodating as well. The plane sat there for another five minutes minimum, as we watched, all of us fuming mad. It was as if they got some pleasure from their sadistic actions.

    They got me on another flight (two flights actually that would have me sitting in various airports throughout the day) but were not happy about it. They behaved as if we were burdens to their terrible, miserable lives.

    If I find later that they are witches, it would not surprise me in the least.

    I missed my presentation in Minneapolis, though I did go ahead and depart due to other meetings over the next day.

    Not only were we floored by American Airlines’ total lack of organization and unwillingness to even offer an apology, but the manner in which we were treated was so unprofessional that I, at least, can’t in good conscience ever fly with you again.

    There were no, “sir, I’m so sorry’s” or “let me make it up to you somehow’s.” Just two very intractable older ladies doing their jobs by the book.

    Perhaps the famous quote from Henry Ford, “It is not the employer who pays the wages, he only handles the money; It is the product that pays the wages” would be a good addition to the American Airlines credo.

    While Southwest Airlines makes the news, blogs, and Facebook profiles for their lauded commitment to service, American Airlines apparently, on a day-to-day basis, is waging a war against any positive talk value with their brazen air of contempt and indignation.

    The two American Airlines gate agents had no smiles, no passion, nothing to even possibly further the good faith of a company struggling to show a quarterly profit.

    I did my part by arriving with plenty of time to spare. I was looking forward to some breakfast and coffee, grabbing a magazine to read on the flight. But ended up stressed, flustered, annoyed, then angry beyond my wildest imagination—and all with no control over a situation that was 100% in others’ hands.

    I don’t see how American Airlines can write these sham letters in American Way magazine talking about going “over the top” (their reference to customer service in the recent issue) when there’s such a clear shrugging off of meager humanity.

    To treat passengers with such clear insignificance and disdain, “the customer” is nonexistent in the American Airlines code of ethics.

    And to think of the total amount of money this incident will cost American: it is so far beyond the cost of a ticket or, heaven forbid, a plane that arrives one minute late. Consider the people who missed the flight who tell this story—equating to what? 200 friends, relatives, co-workers, each.

    Those people relate this pathetic anecdote to their friends and family on Facebook, Twitter, etc.

    Do the math. I’ll be doing my part as well.


    Charles G. Shellenberger
    AAdvantage #925U6M0
    6443 Vickery Blvd.
    Dallas, TX 75214

    cc: Gerard J. Arpey, CEO, AMR; Craig S. Kreeger, Customer Experience; Travel Focus (Omnicom corporate travel)

  • Kml

    I am so happy I found this! I have just had the most horrible experience with American Airlines. Long story short — I flew from LAX to JFK on Friday night. I arrived and my luggage didn’t. It had never been tagged, so by Saturday morning it was discovered that it was with American Airlines, at LAX, the whole time. They said they’d send it Saturday (they didn’t). They said it would be delivered to my house Sunday night (it wasn’t). Finally got it Monday afternoon. And of the ten different people I dealt with, 8 of them could not have been more rude and unhelpful.
    But the worse part — all my jewelry had been stolen. Granted, I shouldn’t have packed it. But I did, and now it’s all gone. And guess what? American Airlines isn’t liable for jewelry!! If you go on their web site, you’ll find they’re not liable for just about everything — books, computer cords, “stones” — pretty much anything you can pack, they’re not liable for! It’s been an absolutely miserable experience and I will never fly them again.

  • Antonio

    American Airlines is the worst airline in the world and I hope they go broke!!!

  • WL

    I recently called American Airlines to make a change to my flight and after asking a few questions out of confusion, I was told to learn how to “use common sense.” Last year, I missed a flight and paid $50 to take a later flight that day, while waiting for my new ticket the sales attendant lectured me on “how to learn time management” at “my age” and gave me a ton of attitude.

  • Kelly

    I’m an American living in Australia for a year. We fly American, which partners with Qantas. That means flying Qantas between Oz and the US then connecting to American to get across the country.

    Took a trip back to the US and then tried to come back to Australia. Checked in at Dulles, no problems. Got to LAX and my boarding pass won’t work with Qantas. They tell me I’m not in the system even though I am clearly holding a valid boarding pass. Somewhere between Dulles and LAX American Airlines completely deleted me from their system. The gate agent spent the entire time they were boarding the flight (about 45 minutes) on the phone trying to figure out what had happened. As they were ready to close the door, Qantas managed to re-book me on the flight.

    Of course, this meant my seat assignment was ancient history. The only seat left in Coach was the seat NO ONE wants to be in (and it’s the last one they book) — an aisle seat with an obstructed foot well.

    I asked, since their partner — American — had clearly f**ked this up, could they upgrade me so I wouldn’t have to sit in the el-crappo seats. Of course not AND it’s a 14-hour flight…in a seat where I literally can only stretch out one leg and I get bumped by everyone and everything passing in the aisle (despite having chosen my seat weeks in advance).

    Did American respond to my complaints? Of course not. Did they take responsibility for their mistakes? No, and frankly it’s been years since I’ve seen or heard anyone there admit they made a mistake and take actions to fix it.

  • Kelly

    Booked a weekend trip to Chicago to run a 10K with a friend. The plan was to leave DCA on Saturday morning, run the race on Sunday morning and fly home Sunday night.

    Got the airport to discover they had cancelled the flight….and thoughtfully re-booked me on a flight Sunday morning. So I would just about have time to get from ORD into Chicago, have a late lunch, and turn around and go back to the airport. Um, yeah, no thanks.

    I don’t know why they cancelled the flight between Washington DC and Chicago, especially since the weather was fine in both cities and in between. But there are plenty of flights on American between the two cities so I asked at the gate to be re-booked into another Saturday flight.

    Nope, no can do. Sorry. Come back on Sunday.

    I explain why that’s completely pointless and offer to take a flight out of Dulles (about an hour away by shuttle bus) if they can book me on something in the afternoon.

    Nope, no can do. Sorry. Come back on Sunday.

    I re-explain, emphatically, why it’s utterly pointless for me to fly on Sunday morning since I’M FLYING BACK SUNDAY NIGHT. She looks at my itinerary (finally?) and agrees with me but, gosh, there’s nothing she can do. Would I like to cancel the flight altogether?

    No, I want American to fly me to Chicago on Saturday!! Just like I’d paid them to do. And then — I swear this isn’t a ploy but a response to the frustration — I start to cry.

    Well, darned if it doesn’t turn out that female ticket agents are as uncomfortable with a crying woman as your average man is. Within 5 minutes she had booked me on a convoluted route encompassing THREE airlines to get me to Chicago, on Saturday.

  • Anonymous

    American Airlines Hates us, but they don’t know we hate them too…

  • Fsugirl75

    Had a bad experience recently when I missed a connection. I understand that you cannot control the weather, but that is no excuse to treat customers poorly.

  • Fernanda Gamarski

    AA lost my carry-on bag that they forced me to check at the gate. It’s been 10 days it happened and still no sign of the bag. I’ve been calling everyday and all they say is they will keep looking for the bag. I asked what happens if it never gets found. Basically NOTHING happens. Mos of the valuable things I had in the bag are “not covered”. MY LOSS for traveling with them. 🙁

  • Keifer

    I’m sitting in an airport. American airlines cancelled my flight, still charged me bag fees, wouldn’t let me take my bags home because “it’s too much of a hassle for us to get your bags.” and now ive come back two days later to pick up my bags and lo and behold there is no employee working the American airlines desk. I’ve been here for over an hour and every other desk has 3, 4, or even 5 employees ready and waiting to help customers. The American airlines desk has a freaking sign that says they’ll be back in an hour.

  • Sherrye

    They hire narcissistic sociopaths for pilots as I know personally so I wouldn’t feel safe with someone like that flying my plane. Trust me, I definitely would think twice before aboarding one of their planes. I guarantee the pilot I know, in a desperate situation would save himself and not even worry if any passenger survived.

    • Sherrye

      This is only for American Eagle!

    • Sherrye

      The above post is only for American Eagle!

  • frau sal

    I HATE AMERICAN AIRLINES!! They lost my bag in December and they have been jerking me around ever since. Then a couple of weeks ago, an “investigator” called me interrogate me about my bag, and I could tell by his demeanor that he thought I was scamming them. The fact is they lost my bag, I have the claim tags and the paper trail to prove it, but of course I cannot prove the contents. They just decided that my claim was irrelevant. They didn’t even refund the lousy $60 they charged me for extra baggage!! Between the bag, the fees & the contents I am out a couple grand because of AA. I HATE AMERICAN AIRLINES!!

  • Armando

    I had a similar experience to yours (in that they just don’t care). I placed it in because as yours, is very long. I don’t get how they are getting out of bankruptcy, with the service and disgruntled employees they have.

  • Chuck

    Traveling with my family to Hawaii. American has an equipment change and decides to scatter us all over the plane. So the 8 year old is sitting by himself. It seems someone in this place would say “Hmm I wonder if any family members are traveling together maybe we should sit them together?” Their solution to me “Well ask around the plane and see if people will switch you seats. Aren’t they the people who assign the seats? Can’t they make the changes easier than me begging people. What a bunch of idiots. My prediction, they are out of business in five years be fore they can receive all their new equipment because they are missing one thing. . .good customer service.

  • sean

    I have flown American Airlines 2.8 million miles and am an exec. plat for many years. Airlines continues to decline at a rapid rate and no one (including airport staff, consumer relations, customer service, flight crew) seems to care……. I now have lost all trust in AA;s management and staff and am in communication with other airlines to switch my business. I am in conversations with several other frequent travelers that shear my opinion. After many years on flying on AA, I am traveling on other airlines and have found better customer service. I have grown to hate how I am treated at AA. I hope the airline gets taken over be another airline and things will improve. Until then, I will avoid AA at all cost………………..

  • Arthur


    I was flying from New York (La Guardia) to Detroit, as I
    walked in the plane I was asked to leave my carry-on luggage outside, once I
    got to my seat I noticed there was plenty of room to fit my bag and others, so
    I asked the flight attendant if I could do so, without acknowledging my
    presence he said no turning his head! I plead that there was room, and at this
    point he was so rude that the lady sitting by my side said looked at me with an
    embarrassment look. I felt so disrespected that I ironically replied “great
    customer service” from that point on he wanted to get me kicked out of the
    plane, he was clearly disturbed pointing his finger to my face and threatening me,
    and for my disbelief he managed to do so with the help of the manager (Luke
    Jad). The lady sitting by my side seeing the unjust manner I was being treated
    got up and tried to talk to the pilot of the aircraft, pointless. I never felt
    so disrespected in my life. If this wasn’t enough I left the plane with the AA manager
    threatening me, saying he would get me arrested (even though I did not break
    any law or flight regulation), fearing getting arrested and after the promised from
    the manager to put me in another company’s plane that same night plus refund I
    decided that the best thing to do was to step out of the plane. He did not keep
    any of his promises; he put me in another American Airlines (American eagle
    aircraft) the next morning against my will, and left alone at the gate without
    the problem being solved. Bottom line, I
    did nothing wrong, but because a flight attendant was having a bad day him and
    the American Airlines MOB were able to kick me out of the plane embarrassing me
    in front of everybody and treating me as nobody deserves to be treated. This
    just happened tonight I had to pay for a cab and for an extra night at a hotel
    without any help from AA, I am in the process to file a law suit against AA. If
    you or a friend ever had a problem like this with AA contact me at we have to put an end
    to this Dictatorship against the Customer.

  • DeeB

    We had the misfortune to ride the unfriendliest skies from Hawaii to Newark NJ (as if that change of scenery wasn’t bad enough) via DFW.

    As a starter, they are so cheap, they no longer give you a little folder for your itinerary and your baggage claim ticket (like every other airline does). OK whatever…

    The boarding process is unelieavably ridiculous and results in angry mobs degenerating into shouting matches between managers and customers with crying children who don’t understand AA’s policy of harassing their customers at every opportunity. Welcome to the Jungle.

    Then the overhead bins fill up, and the 50-100 people who can’t fit carry on baggage need to back out of the plane into the jetway to check their baggage like a parade of rejects (note the bags were checked for free this time – don’t get me started).

    The seats on this jalopy we were flying in were lumpy and seriously worn. The armrest was falling off. The bag the blanket came in was opened (used?? gross). Leg Room?? Fuggetaboutit. Entertainment systems? I don’t think so. This is AA.

    Then the plane sits on the tarmac for an extra hour because the aft coffee maker does not work (coffee maker – seriously). Then the tech enters the plane and fixes the coffee maker by presumably pulling a fuse that also powers the sound system for the movie player. So no movie on the 9 hour flight. Don’t wory, the children will be fine.

    But the AA commercials still work fine, so the attendants still try to sell earphones to the lucky passengers for $2 a pop before the customers realize about the movie sound system. What a bargain!!

    Of course there is no meal service on the 9.5 hour flight. But you can purchase a sandwich – if they have some left by the time they get to your aisle…which of course they did not. So we bought some super salty nut mixture and rationed it for the next 8 hours. We were also regaled to two drink services in this time. TWO!! We felt special!!

    Then about an hour into the flight, the oxygen masks pop out of the ceiling over two seats. The flight attendants can’t get them back into the ceiling, so they try to tape the panel shut with masking tape. This does not work. They try again with more masking tape. This also does not work (surprise). So the people have to fly the rest of the way with oxygen masks in their faces. Its not the attendants fault, they just work for a company that could use a little more oxygen (or less – depending on how you look at it).

    We changed airlines for a 20 minute flight with Hawiian Air from Honolulu to Maui and got a drink of delicious Hawiian juices to quench our thirst. What a pleasure.

    I’m not what would consider a frequent flier. I fly a couple of times a year with my family and I’m in my mid-forties.

    This was the worst experience I’ve ever had flying.

    Southwest should match AAs routes and finally put this clown company out of its misery.