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AA And Other U.S. Domestic Experiences

Sat Jan 20, 2007 12:20 pm

Here's the original thread starter by Astrojet707 :

Before I begin let me preface my post by saying I am expressing my disappointment with AA. The post 9-11 environment and the US economy have taken their toll on most US legacies and AA is no exception.These are my thoughts and comments based on my experiences. I am sure they ring true for many folks flying other airlines too. Please jump in with your comments and experiences. Let me say at the outset, I understand all carriers are doing what they have to do to survive. That said...

1) AA seems to be getting worse and worse with each passing flight.
2) I had a EXP agent hang up on me during a recent storm because there were passengers in more trouble than me. OK? I was trying to get on another DFW-ORD flight as my original flight ws canceled.
3) AA used to operate all their DFW-ORD-DFW flights in and out of Terminal A. For about the last 30-45 days their 610am and 705am depart terminal D, but all flights return to A. Major pain in the ass(I KNOW ABOUT SKYLINK) when you have checked bags on a short trip and you depart out of D and the 805pm return to DFW arrives at A at 1030pm.
4) Flew DFW-IAH on 1/15/2007...boarded on time inspite of weather. However we did take a delay(I am repeating what the cockpit announced). When we were all buttoned up the Captain said, well we are not delayed because of the weather, at departure time the bags had not been off-loaded yet(flight originated in MCO). I understand rampers have been seriously hurt over the last three first. We sat at the gate from 805am until 920am.
One of the cockpit members got off and brought Starbucks for the crew. Not once during that time did any FA ask folks if they wanted something to drink. Was it the end of the world? NO...just poor customer service. During the 75 minute delay they remained in the galley chatting drinking their coffee.
5) IAH-DFW on 1/16/2007-mechnical problems and weather. The incoming flight had to be checked out by IAH mechanics and there were cabin compression problems-resolved in about 20 minutes. Can happen anytime.
6) DFW-ORD-CLE on 1/17/2007. AA2324 from DFW-ORD at 705am. Copilot showed up at 715am and the pilot showed up at 740am. So if I can get my ass from North Dallas/Plano in snow for a 705am departure why can't the crew? Before I get flamed, I know shit happens, but it is your responsibility to leave enough time even in bad weather. Then we had wait 35 minutes for a mechanic to remove the engine covers and sign off?..My dad worked fleet service in BOS for 30 years, I know the drill. The captain stated that "the mechanics said they would get to it when they get to it". Would'nt it have been better to say we are working on it as quickly as possible. Gordon B. needs to kick the shit out of two cents. So after waiting to get de-iced we took off at 950am and arrived at ORD at 1135am. Misconnected to CLE. Not once did the pilot apologize for being late...the circumstances are irrelevant...the apology would have gone a long way.
7) Meal changes-breakfast to ORD was a full meal, now it is a snack. Am I gonna starve to death? No. Is it the end of the world? No. But at what point does the quality fall off so much that nothing at all would be better. Whether I am in F or Y I bring my own food and beverages. Would AA save money by say offering breakfast ffods of some kind from a basket and save on the catering of trays, linen and the food itself? And wouldn't the service actually be better offering breakfast bars, bagels, muffins and nix the plates, and cutlery? I did notice the DFW-SEA flight at D29 was breakfast not breakfast snack. So customers flying bewteen 2 AA hubs connecting to international flights wouldn't appreciate a full breakfast like the folks going to Seattle. We all know no one flies for the food, but for continuity reasons for premium passengers purchasing F and J tickets why not? I know many of the seats are upgrades.

Enough of AA...
8) I hope DL stands alone and can sustain themselves financially. I would hate to see DL dragged down to the level of US and NW. NW and US are both jokes. Recently flew DL, SAT-ATL-MCO-ATL-DFW...excellent in F and Y.
Great new FA uniforms, updated and refreshed cabins, free snacks. I wish they never pulled out of DFW. Go Gettem' DL!
9) I hope we see a CO-UA merger.
10) I have always enjoyed flying TZ. Any thoughts on why their expansion attemps failed?

I guess that's it. My next trip to CDG is AF via IAH not AA and DL to LGW via ATL. and I am an AA EXP with 8 one-way upgrade certs. I FEEL AA tells me they care and want my business, but we all know actions speak louder than words. Their behavior tells a very different story.


Now my experience :

I just joined just because of this thread.

I've had nasty experiences flying AA out of LAX over the past 12 months to international destinations. It seems that AA can't check in international passengers in less than 2 hours in LAX, regardless if departing during the day or night.

Last flight was especially bad, as everyone in line in front of me and behind me missed their flights due to the slooooow check in. The atmosphere got to the point were passengers started clapping their hands as if in a concert. Imagine 2-300 people in line clapping their hands in unison in protest.

What made matters worse is the attitude of the staff who basically could care less and blamed it on the high number of passengers.

Oh, OK - now it the passengers' fault.

My response to that and people around me nodded in agreement was that if a company is willing to sell that many seats, then they have to staff and provide service accordingly - otherwise don't sell so many tickets.

What really got people boiling after those comments was the very visible fact that over half of the check in positions were empty. Clearly an under staffing situation.

To add further fuel to the fire were comments like, you should have seen the line if that'll make us fell lucky.

Well that was just my flight out in December. My flights out in the summer and last thanksgiving were little better. Missed my flights out on those occasions as well.

And oh yeah, since I was on standby then for the replacement flight, the agent refused to through check the luggage on Emirates for my connection in JFK. So I had to get the bag myself and re-check it in JFK. Well, the bag never came in JFK and AA was asked by the EK stations in JFK and HAM to send the bag to EK in JFK so they could get it to me - that's how I traveled anyhow (JFK/HAM). I think the bag came down later as it was in JFK when I got to HAM.

I warned EK on both ends that AA probably wouldn't listen and do God knows what, and to please insist on following through. Well I was right and AA sent the bag to LHR where it wound up among the 10,000 stacked suitcases that were stranded due to fog in LHR. What is AA thinking? Or rather, why don't they think?

I'm not surprised why certain airlines are BK or near it. They just don't have the light bulbs o where other airlines do.

My experience have not varies much over the past months and this stands in stark contrast to CO. I went to Brazil with CO from LAX and the check in took about 5 minutes at the kiosk. Apparently AA check-in kiosks don't have the capability to check international passengers and passports - unlike CO kiosks.

Since I required a VISA to enter Brazil, once everything was set, in the end the kiosk asks to call over an agent to check that I have VISA. They do and the agent punches in a code and we're all set. Now why can't AA think of that?

Instead they send all international pax to a long line that gets even longer as people start missing their flights and connections and have to be rebooked - which takes even longer per pax........

Does this have anything to do with their decision not to hedge their fuel costs sufficiently? To me it all represents the level of intelligence at AA and I won't be surprised to see them file chapter 11 after all at some point.

EK service is excellent and the 10 across on the 773ER is barely noticeable in that the aisles are narrower. But their ICE IFE is awesome! THey do offer good legroom and the seats recline farther than normal. So I prefer that.

To be fair on the return flight from JFK/LAX on UA, their premium coast to coast service - nobody was even offered a cup of water the whole flight. I rang my bell and asked for something to drink and the F/A groaned, especially when she came back and more people around me also asked for something to drink.

Service on international airlines are at such a higher level over US based legacy airlines it's not even funny. It's also telling that it SEEMS that the better the service the more profitable the airline.

There, got it off my chest somewhat.

Here's what I think what got U.S. domestic Airlines to where they are today :

Quoting Phxtravelboy (Reply 85):
Price, price, price, price is ALL that matters. Get used to it.

To a small degree, I agree with you say. However, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to devise a check in procedure that takes less than 2hours on a regular basis for INTERNATIONAL flights. I don't care how old or new the airlines is - it's just not excusable period. Neither is the attitude of those employees when confronted with the inadequacies of that. Makes it even worse.

Or getting your luggage delivered with you and not sent to a fogged in airport instead (my bags were sent to LHR in December when all hell broker loose and didn't get my bag for 3 days).

It's all just indicative on how inspired and motivated the employees are and the intelligence of management - or lack of the above attributes. This has nothing to do with legacy, old, new, domestic, international, etc....just plain common sense. It's not difficult. THat's why it's hard to understand and so sad.

If you think of it, after deregulation, the legacies had a huge advantage over any new entrants. They were flush with cash and were profitable and could buy the best equipment and had the technical know how to operate them.

There is no excuse for the management egos chasing market share and each other rather than profitability. It's one thing to be profitable under regulation and another when there is no regulation. Kind of like taking a communist manager who has always been told what to do and transplanting him on Wall Street from one day to the next.

He'll sink and that's what happened to the legacies. It didn't help that recently they made a huge blunder by failing to hedge for fuel expenses when oil was at $23 or less. They bet the companies that they could speculate they oil market. The legacies really stand alone in this as even international airlines regularly hedge fuel, not just newer LCCs. It's basic business. Regardless of what anyone says oil prices are going to do in the future, you can't bet the company on market speculation. There is too much responsibility and consequences to do that, but that's what they did.

My point is that its clear that the legacies have nobody but themselves to blame for the poor service and bad financial results (BK) - not some external circumstance. Perhaps this bad management originates from the mindset of times when things were regulated, I don't know. But whatever the reasons, it is the decision of management that has brought the legacies to where they are today.

Let me give you but one of many examples that I'm aware of. When I was working at DL in a different life, DL leased a few MD-11s which had 10 across seating, so tiny seats. What did they do with it? They used it on their premium service to of all places Japan.

Now there is not a more finicky consumer than the Japanese. It's like how can you sabotage your reputation right out of the box? When we spoke to the folks in Atlanta about it, their attitude was not to worry, they new what they were doing........there are many stories like this to show the absolute ignorance of management.

Then you hear the stories of AA chasing everyone down for market share after deregulation starting with Braniff. Just had to go after Braniff to run them out of town. So they did. How much did that cost them running them down?

Microsoft is successful in part because Gates said it's very harmful to make business moves in order to harm your competitor rather than concentrating on your business and profitability - common business sense and it shows. unfortunately this common sense has been lacking in legacy airline top management for a long time and in some places still today. It's obvious that while improved, they're still behind the power curve.

Now AA and others say they're concerned with profitability rather than market share - good for them - but they're still missing other basics like how to treat your employees to be productive and staff them accordingly and use intelligent ideas even long after other airlines have already implemented them.

International check-in kiosks in LAX anyone? It's not that hard you know. Then again, maybe it is. This is just symbolic to me about the quality of management. But that's just me.

I'm saying all this because all I read is excuse after excuse rather than pinpoint the cause where it really is.

And here's the final newsflash, SW started service in 1971 during the period of regulation as well, so they're a legacy carrier. The smart thrive and the rest ask for government hand outs and can't take the blame for their decisions but blame someone else instead.

I think this topic deserves discussion, but I'm new so if it is somehow against policy to discuss this, I apologize.
Topic Author
Posts: 1195
Joined: Thu Jan 18, 2007 9:08 am

RE: AA And Other U.S. Domestic Experiences

Sat Jan 20, 2007 12:23 pm

how does an airlines motivate employees and keep them happy? That's one of the keys to a successful airlines in addition to making sound business decisions.

Like Bethune said, when he was a Navy aircraft mechanic, he knew darn well that he could fix an aircraft much faster when he felt like than when he didn't.
Posts: 5135
Joined: Wed Mar 01, 2000 11:10 am

RE: AA And Other U.S. Domestic Experiences

Sat Jan 20, 2007 2:16 pm

Quoting Tommytoyz (Thread starter):
this stands in stark contrast to CO

Well, I WAS going to tell you to just fly CO, but I see you've already figured that out for yourself.
Home being DFW airport, Continental is rather inconvenient for me... I am forced to connect in Houston. But- I do it anyway. I vote with my dollars, and I vote Continental's service is better.

Wow, you've made quite a rant here, and you lose focus toward the end. And I would criticize your statement that the BK of the carriers is due to their own mistakes and not external circumstances. HAVE you any concept of how much Sept 12-14 cost airlines? NOT operating any flights whatsoever is a very expensive proposition.
Now, I agree that most of the legacies are HORRIBLY managed (DL's revolving CEO door comes to mind, and AArpey's bonus and junk does, too). But, let's be careful when we say it's all their fault.

To sum up my thoughts on what all you've said:
Yes, legacy carriers in this country tend to suck. Fly CO, or YX, or one of the LOCO guys, where you actually pay for what you receive- little.

You do also have to remember that fares are incredibly low now. Granted, they've gone up in months past. But still.

I dunno, I think you're basically accurate, just got a little carried away.
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Joined: Wed May 23, 2001 10:43 am

RE: AA And Other U.S. Domestic Experiences

Sat Jan 20, 2007 3:02 pm

Quoting AA737-823 (Reply 2):
. HAVE you any concept of how much Sept 12-14 cost airlines?

Would it be fair to say too, that US (though in bad shape before) took a very hard hit on those days, with they Shuttle flights between LGA/DCA/BOS, the very area in which the attacks occurred.
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