I have unintentionally caused some offence with one of my statement in this post. You will see this reflected in the comments. I have updated it in an attempt to better explain what I clearly messed up saying. I want to say on the outset that I am opposed to discrimination on any basis. I also unreservedly apologise to those people who were concerned I might be advocating age discrimination. My major feeling, which I have hopefully explained n a better way, is as a customer the attitude I have experienced from key personnel. Now read on and I hope you find the rest of the post interesting!
American Airlines are currently my least liked US airline. I dread flying with them normally. I continue to argue that it a toss up as to who is worse? American or United? I keep hoping my next flight with them will show some signs of improvement.
Booking- 6 out of 10
One of the annoying things about American is that they have removed the ability to make online bookings from any website but theirs. This makes it difficult to compare flights or have additional options, I can understand that it suits American but its not customer friendly. The American website itself is a little more complicated to navigate than I would like. Seat selection was straight forward.
Check in – 6 out of 10
Online check in required me to add all of my personal information. At the end of the process, the system advised me it could not check me in and I would need it to do it at the airport.
At JFK, a group of AA staff were animatedly chatting at the Check in desk . I was first in the Priority line but had to wait 3 or 4 minutes until I was noticed and called forward. She was very friendly and said to me as she laughed: “sorry about the union meeting“. I could not hear the details of the discussion but it was definitely very concerning for the group. I feel for AA staff. Whenever, I fly with them, they appear to be some of the most unhappy employees of any airline company. Check in, after that, was very fast. I received the seat I had chosen when I booked on-line which always pleases me. I was not offered directions to the lounge.
Lounge – 5 out of 10
The Admirals Club at JFK is big and the welcome was friendly. I was given a voucher for a free drink. (Being the USA, Tips are expected for a drink at a a bar). I had a shower which was very refreshing. Free food consists of apples, biscuits (cookies). All other food is to be paid for and its not that great. Wireless was free and easy to access.
The Boarding was very smooth. We got a warm welcome at the door. On board, things were a little more chaotic. The woman sitting next to me was clearly a little disappointed that I had arrived as she had spread her stuff across two seats! The plane was fairly full and there was a lot of luggage! One woman simply abandoned her roll on in the bulkhead row and went to her seat down the back of the plane. The flight attendants had to search the plane for the passenger and make her carry her bag down to her seat area. She was very reluctant to do this. I have never seen this before.
On Board- 6 out of 10
American has a dreadful economy layout on their 777s consisting of 2 seats/5 seats/2 seats. Others, I know, like it because most seats are only one seat away from the aisle. I just feel sorry for the people trapped in the middle seat. Seat pitch in the 190 Economy class seats is a surprisingly generous 32″. Width 18 or 18.5″. I was in seat 20A in the front bulkhead row so had more leg room but an obstructed window.
A tiny pillow and a small blanket with headset was included on each economy seat.
The 37 angled Business lie flat beds offer 57 to 60″ and 20″ width while First has 92″ pitch and 21″ width.
The flight attendants on this flight were actually very, very friendly and helpful. One of the FAs confided in me that the average length of service on the flight was 40 years because of the way crew bid for flights. One of my major concerns is that my experience as a customer of some entrenched AA employees has not been a great one. Many FAs have come across to me as tired, frustrated and negative. I understand that they have not had a good experience of AA management and have held fears for their wages, benefits and pensions for years. But the result on many flights I have been on has been a sense that the customer is resented. I mentioned to one once that I had retained my Platinum status for another year and he exploded: “I am sick of you platinums thinking that you own us“. I am not saying American needs to dump their staff when they reach 30 but I have concerns what message a negative long term workforce send to the public about the airline’s relevance, safety and contemporary-ness?
We had turbulence on the way out of JFK and it hung around with us for most of the flight. The seat belt sign did not go off for a very large component of the trip. My seat companion took her seat belt off fro most of the flight. Some people do not realise the impact a severe turbulence episode can have. Thankfully she didn’t fly out of her seat.
Entertainment 4 out of 10
American Airlines have an interactive entertainment system -of sorts. In theory I should be happy with it. However, the offerings are every sparse. The most extensive selection: Comedy had only one episode of eight different shows. The Action channel had only the first and second episode of Terra Nova. There were eight movies.
Safety Briefing 8 out of 10
The video showing the safety procedures was repeated twice and started a third time. Crew accompanied it for the first time.
Meals 3 out of 10
We were offered a drink followed by meal service. Choices were Tortellini or Chicken, I chose the Tortellini. The meal was was very salty. It was accompanied by dry bread roll, a salad which was almost entirely wilted brown lettuce and a little tomato, crackers, cheese and an okay caramel brownie. Meal service was interrupted by very sever turbulence. Meal service was discontinued. It resume after a short while.
For a $1400 airfare, a little more effort could be made. Have a look at Emirates? One of the things that impresses me about Emirates (my favourite airline in the world) is their amazing meals – both quality and quantity wise. Assuming the cost difference between a terrible meal delivered by American and a very good one delivered by Emirates is $15 – that would work out at around $3000 per flight. If they increased the fare by that $15 and wowed customers with the food, what would that do to their reputation? Surely that payoff would be worth it?
We had a very smooth landing almost half an hour early into a grey Buenos Aires. I was off the plane and into the terminal in a record time.
My rating: Overall 60% (3 out of 5)- my overall rating of American Airlines flights: 3.0 (based on 46 flights)
Skytrax Rating of American Airlines: 3 star
Positives: Safe arrival, early arrival, friendly staff,
Negatives: Meals, Lounge, Entertainment, Check in
Would I fly them again? Reluctantly
My last trip Report: April 24th, 2012 Virgin Australia A330 Per – Syd Business