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Is AA the worst airline on the face of the planet?

Is AA the worst airline on the face of the planet?

Aug 25th, 2009, 08:01 PM
  #1  
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Is AA the worst airline on the face of the planet?

I know it may sound like an extreme question, but weighing into account the age of their fleet, the horrific condition of the interior of their planes, the substandard customer service, their sad on-time record and the general malaise one associates with AA lately, is there a worse legacy carrier out there (note: LLCs and discounters don't count)?

I recently had another nightmarish experience on-board an AA flight (after swearing I would never fly them again) and I can only liken the experience to flying in a winged cesspool.

Just wondering if it's only me or if AA has become the absolute bottom of the barrel US legacy carrier by a long mile?
filmwill is offline  
Aug 25th, 2009, 08:30 PM
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Hmm. Well, AA is our frequent flyer program and I have to say we have received good service from AA. We have, at times, traveled with regular pay tickets and at other times with frequent flyer freebees. We have traveled quite a lot in the last 15 years and have had good luck with AA. In fact, I remember one time when our 18 year old daughter was returning from Europe to the NW part of the US. Her ticket was a frequent flyer freebee. There was horrendous weather on the East coast, as well as the South. She was to fly into Boston, to Dallas and then on to Portland. The storm stranded her and many other travelers on the East Coast. Travelers were stranded in the East and the South. Airplane phone lines were jammed. After some determined effort I did reach an AA agent. First AA flight out with an open seat was in 3 days. But the kind agent took pity on my knewly "adult" daughter and found a flight on MidWest airlines which departed the next morning. No charge. And our daughter was home.
Perhaps we have just been lucky. I recall other times when agents spent considerable time with me on the phone finding frequent flyer tickets to Europe with little advance notice. Maybe I was just lucky, but I have to say we have been treated well by AA. Now, I do have a few less than glowing experiences on other airlines. . .
MartaD is offline  
Aug 25th, 2009, 09:07 PM
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I have also received good service from AA. In May, I booked an extremely good airfare from Houston to Frankfurt for a September departure. I phoned the next day to see about requesting an upgrade to Biz Class using miles and $$.

I was told that I had booked an O fare which was not upgradable, but the agent said she would see what she could do. In a few minutes she came back and said there wasn't any availability on the outbound flights but on the return flights we could pay $80 more for an upgradeable fare. Since I didn't want to pay $80 and then not get the upgrade, I questioned the logic of this. She said, I wouldn't ask you to do this if I couldn't confirm your upgrade right now.

I was flabbergasted but very grateful. Usually, you put your name on the wait list for an upgrade and maybe it comes thru a day or week before your departure. I've never had an upgrade confirmed months before departure! PLUS, she said normally, AA would charge $250 per person to change the booking code, but since I had just booked within the last 24 hrs she got the Supervisor to waive the extra charge.

I thought she did an excellent job of getting me what I wanted at the lowest possible cost to me. And she was extremely pleasant.
bettyk is offline  
Aug 25th, 2009, 09:25 PM
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No. Are posts like this useful? No.

Do you have any other airlines to compare them too?

Americans have voted. WE VOTED "WE WANT CHEAP" Cheap comes with "poor" service, crowded planes etc. Airlines are losing money. They can't cut "safety" so ....

AA was one of the airlines that TRIED to provide more. (Remember "More Room In Coach". Americans voted CHEAP and when racing to Delta, SW, USAir etc. They wouldn't pay the $10 extra for the "room" they claimed they wanted)

So...AA is my last choice, but they are far from the "worst" on the face of the planet. LOTS worse out there.
CarolA is offline  
Aug 25th, 2009, 09:42 PM
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Just wondering if it's only me or if AA has become the absolute bottom of the barrel US legacy carrier by a long mile?

IMO, it's only you.

But it's a free country. Don't fly 'em if you don't like 'em. Basic tenet of capitalism.
Gardyloo is online now  
Aug 25th, 2009, 10:49 PM
  #6  
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I won't. Thanks for the advice ...it was a simple question to get insight into others experiences with AA, framed by a rhetorical question. I didn't mean to offend people--but it's just an airline...not a human being.

Gard, as unique as it'd be if I was the ONLY person who thinks AA is one of the worst somehow I find it hard to believe that I am.

God knows they all are horrific in their own ways (with the exception of Virgin and JetBlue) but I find AA to be particularly bad.

Carol, you say potato...a quick check of some of the posts on other threads reveals fascinating insights into traveling with small cucumbers and latest on Michael Jackson painkillers...so I guess 'useful' is all in the eye of the beholder.
filmwill is offline  
Aug 25th, 2009, 11:47 PM
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It's not just you. I had a horrible experience with AA a couple of years ago - after flying them for many years. They used to be a much better airline (and their AAdvantage mileage program was once the best in the industry) but no longer. I'd say "I'll never fly AA again" except I realize many of the other "major" airlines have deteriorated in the last decade or two as well. I'd fly AA again I guess but not as my first few choices.

I've been flying Southwest almost exclusively for the last few years and have been very happy with them. But you can't fly Southwest overseas...
Andrew is online now  
Aug 26th, 2009, 03:47 AM
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I have to admit it; I enjoy reading the comments on www.airlinequality.com/Forum/am_aa.htm because the comments on American Airlines are so bad. Some of the comments like a small meal and a snack and $6 wine and beer on a 15-hour flight are just incredible.
wally34949 is offline  
Aug 26th, 2009, 05:37 AM
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AA has been the leader in charging passengers for what were part of the basic travel service like food or baggage.

Their fleet is getting very old (as are many of their cabin crew). AA maintenance is not that good (Remember their flight that crashed in Chicago with the cockpit view displayed on the cabin television? The flight crashed because they used a fork-lift truck was IMPROPERLY used to remove and install engines in to the aircraft)

Any employer can be judged by the way they treat their employees. Little wonder that their staff treat passengers the way they do.

AA also spearheaded the elimination of travel agent commissions, who often now charge clients for their services.

What other industry doesn't allow for a mark-up for the retailer.

Without a doubt AA is one of the worst, especially after you have been treated humanely by carriers from the Far East or the Middle East.
BuonMeThuot is offline  
Aug 26th, 2009, 07:19 AM
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No - they are not. They all stink, an it has been my experience that AA stinks less than some others (don't get me started on UA). Since the experience is mediocre at best on US legacy carriers, one or 2 bad experiences can easily push them over the ratings edge to intolerable. For me it was the UA Customer Nonservice person who insisted Wyoming was not part of the US and the Air Tran flight where there were people sitting in our seats - and we all had "valid" boarding passes.

Unfortunately, we are so accustomed to thinking if the plane does not crash, we do not sit on the tarmac forever, and it is reasonably on-time, we rate it as a good experience.
gail is offline  
Aug 26th, 2009, 08:52 AM
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You NEVER get a good movie if your on a MD-80 plane.
wally34949 is offline  
Aug 26th, 2009, 08:55 AM
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Is it true that AA was in the Nevada desert purchasing aircraft: 3 707's, 5 DC 9's, and 3 DC 8's?!
wally34949 is offline  
Aug 26th, 2009, 09:37 AM
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...but weighing into account the age of their fleet, the horrific condition of the interior of their planes, the substandard customer service, their sad on-time record and the general malaise one associates with AA lately, is there a worse legacy carrier out there (note: LLCs and discounters don't count)?

Why aren't you counting LCCs? Anyway...

Age of fleet: Old, but younger than NW; I'll be interested to see what NW's acquisition does to DL's average fleet age (actually I know the answer. I personally worked on some the DC-9s still flying for NW while I was in college, and I now receive SS.) AA has a lot of acquisitions pending for new equipment (737s and 787s included); let's check back in a year or two. AA just flew their last segs using A300s, so their retirement will help decrease the average age further.

Horrific interior conditions? Well it's a huge fleet, but I fly a lot, both domestically and internationally, and frankly I don't agree. I think they do a pretty fair job of keeping the interiors clean and functional, and the airline has an aggressive interior renovation program ongoing, especially with the 757 fleet.

Substandard customer service: Unlike many other legacies, when you phone AA you're talking to someone in the US, not Bangalore. Of course everyone has personal experience, but IMO the general (average) level of CA at AA is equal to or higher then most. FWIW this year's JD Power airline rankings placed AA ahead of Northwest, United and US Airways in terms of overall customer satisfaction. YMMV.

Sad on-time record. Not as sad as jetBlue's. Some months ahead of Delta and United, some months behind; but we're talking tenths of percentages. On-time performance throughout the industry has MUCH more to do with city pairs than with the operator. AA's DFW and ORD hubs are more prone to weather delays at some times of years than others' hubs. FWIW AA's cancellation rate is way lower than e.g. British Airways'.

General malaise: Boy, I don't see that at all, and I see a lot of AA stations every year. The last strike by AA employees was in 1997 and lasted 24 minutes.

Unlike every other US legacy carrier except Alaska, AA has not sought bankruptcy protection in order to pawn off debts and responsibilities on the US taxpayer. You want to see malaise? Go talk to any Northwest employee you can find.

Comparing AA or any US legacy against European, Middle Eastern or Asian carriers is absolutely a case of apples and Toyotas. London Airways (aka BA) has ONE hub, just like Air France, Emirates, Cathay Pacific, Singapore, KLM, blah blah. US legacies have several each, with domestic short- and long-haul route structures, as well as multiple foreign O/D points, and route systems that dwarf any of those other carriers'. It's an entirely different business model.

None of which matters a hoot if your mind is already made up or if you measure your favorite airline based on how long they leave the seatbelt light on (which usually has to do with flight level, forecast turbulence, and instructions from ATC, but who cares about pesky facts?)

But you pays your money and you takes your choice. Ain't America great?
Gardyloo is online now  
Aug 26th, 2009, 10:52 AM
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I couldn't have said it better Gardyloo

AAFrequentFlyer is offline  
Aug 26th, 2009, 11:17 AM
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Well, I don't think I would have used the word, "Ain't."
wally34949 is offline  
Aug 26th, 2009, 11:53 AM
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The interior of the plane I was on looked like it was decorated by a blind child--bad 70s patterns/carpeting, tray tables falling off and tape on my armrest.

I should clarify, when I said 'horrific' interiors--I meant just that. Never did I say 'unclean interiors' in my post. Personally, I wouldn't mind a little dust inside or a misplace in-flight magazine here or there if the plane itself didn't look like it had its last interior brush-up during the Nixon years. I'm sure AA is doing everything it can to upgrade their interiors (and their reputation)--when you're at rock bottom, you gotta do something.

I wish them the best of luck--if they can somehow manage to swing back from bowels of hell, I may consider flying them again.

Again, I'm not looking to get into a debate about WHY it is as horrible as it is (or how bad, for instance, NW is--they all are bad, I agree)--just wondering what others have experienced on AA specifically.
filmwill is offline  
Aug 26th, 2009, 12:10 PM
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Outstanding ground customer service, great FF program, wonderful, cheerful FAs (for the most part). Flew close to 1M actual BIS miles in the last 8-9 years and had 2 emergencies, smoke in the cabin after takeoff and aborted take off. Both times it was a non issue. Perhaps I'm lucky but after flying 1M miles and just having these 2 incidents, I'm very confident about their maintenance crews as well.

You wanted to know....
AAFrequentFlyer is offline  
Aug 26th, 2009, 12:39 PM
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Well, I don't think I would have used the word, "Ain't."

Huh. See, I assumed you were asleep during the junior high classes when apostrophes and contractions were covered.

You NEVER get a good movie if your on a MD-80 plane.
Gardyloo is online now  
Aug 26th, 2009, 12:58 PM
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I kind of like AA. Not as much as Continental, but that's just me.
SamH is offline  
Aug 26th, 2009, 01:32 PM
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AAFrequentFlyer: Outstanding ground customer service, great FF program

Glad you feel that way - I feel exactly the opposite. Terrible customer service is the biggest reason AA is no longer my preferred airline, and the diminished FF program is a big second.
Andrew is online now  

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