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International flight on American Airlines - many problems

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Our recent flight to Europe was the worst experience we've had with an airline in 10 years. After our flight was cancelled from JFK to Barcelona we were required to find our own replacement flight which lead to missing luggage, mine for 10 days, and our return flight to the United States was cancelled, which we didn't know until we arrived at Heathrow for our return. Our last flight arriving, was on British Airlines from London to Barcelona, so I understand they are responsible for our lost luggage, even though American Airlines was actually the airline holding our luggage at JFK. We called daily about my luggage and they finally admitted they didn't know where it was.

We've submitted a baggage claim to British Airlines, and just sent this letter to American Airlines. Compensation over these problems is very vague.

I'd love to know if anyone else has received any compensation for similar problems, or if there is more I can do to resolve this situation? I did save my clothing receipts for the items I bought while in Spain and France, since I had no luggage for 10 days. Why they cancelled our return flight we'll never know.



American Airlines – Office of the Chairman (Gerard Arpey)


This describes our recent international flight on American Airlines from Cincinnati to Barcelona and returning from London to Cincinnati. Quite simply, the overall customer experience was our worst in over 50 international flights using 7 or 8 different airlines the last ten years and I am sure you will agree it does not meet your own high standards.

My wife and I were taking our 11 year old granddaughter to Europe and our journey began on April 16 with the delay and then cancellation of our AA106 flight from JFK to BCN due to weather and lack of equipment from an inbound flight from Budapest that was diverted to Boston. At this point the travel nightmare began. Specifically,

Flight cancelled – On our own to rebook. Communication by the gate agents was poor at best. When the flight was finally cancelled, we were basically told we were on our own and needed to make our own rebooking arrangements and there was no clear communication about what we should do about our checked baggage. I was able to rebook to BCN via Heathrow on an 11:00PM flight but no one could answer my baggage question even though I spoke to several AA employees.

All bags missing. When we arrived in Barcelona, all three of our bags were missing (my bag, my wife’s bag and our 11 year old granddaughter’s bag). We immediately made a baggage claim. No one could tell us if we would be able to have any compensation while we waited for the bags to be found – it seemed people were deliberately vague.

Two bags delayed 36 hours. My bag and our granddaughter’s bag arrived 36 hours later. In the meantime we bought some items so we would have clothes for the first two days in Barcelona. The claim phone number could only tell us the bags were still at JFK.

Wife’s bag delayed 10 days. My wife’s bag did not arrive for 10 days. Again, no clear direction on what we should do, how much we should spend or what was happening. The bag came to us on our last day in Paris before we took the train to London.

Return ticket cancelled. While checking our bags in London for the return flight, there was a problem with our return ticket. It had somehow been cancelled in the confusion, so we spent 45 minutes trying to straighten that out.

Poor condition of cabin. Unhappy and mean flight attendants. During the return flight on May 1 from LHR to ORD, the seats and video screens on the plane were in bad condition. My wife’s seat leaned back but would not stay back and all three video screens had problems. Worst of all, the flight attendants seemed unhappy and chose to express that too us for no obvious reason. The best example was when my wife asked one of the attendants if our granddaughter’s tray was chicken or lasagna (it was hard for my wife to see) and he angrily responded “Does that look like lasagna to you!” This was only one of 3 or 4 angry comments by this attendant to us during the return flight in response to very polite, simple and normal questions. I was afraid our granddaughter would cry.

I’m sure you are always looking for ways to improve your airline, especially in this 30th anniversary year of the AAdvantage frequent flier program. We are looking for a concrete expression of compensation for these problems, such as vouchers, frequent flier mile deposits or Business Class upgrades on our next American Airlines international flight.


If you would like, I would be happy to talk with you over the phone about our experience as a constructive way to improve your overall customer experience. A copy of our itinerary is included in the attached word document. Thank you.

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