American Airlines Is The Worst Legacy Carrier With Their Recent Changes
American Airlines you did it, you really did it! You just completed the race to the bottom of legacy domestic airline carriers. Spirit and Frontier have nothing on you! At least they don’t hide behind the full service airline moniker, they wear who they are proudly on their chest as a badge of honor. You on the other hand, you slither and slink your way to the bottom of the pile on the sly. You do it under the cover of darkness, behind closed doors.
The crazy thing is that I am not even talking about your rude employees, or your uncomfortable seats. We aren’t even getting into the fact that you have basic economy solely so you can charge more for main cabin and dilute frequent flyer status. Nope, none of that. How about the fact that you still refuse to give full service on your flights? Not that either. The devaluations in your program right and left, or how about you blocking partner bookings with your “web specials”? No, no these are games your comrades play as well. What I am talking about is you changing your terms in the last few weeks that is basically a big middle finger to your customers.
American Airlines’ Changes to Conditions of Carriage
Here are the main changes that I am talking about.
- American Airlines says it is not responsible if a flight is delayed or canceled. “If we or our airline partner fails to operate or delays your arrival more than 4 hours, our sole obligation is to refund the remaining ticket value and any optional fees according to our involuntary refunds policy.”
- When a delay or cancellation causes a missed connection, American Airlines will “rebook you on the next American Airlines or American partner flight with available seats.” This is a big change from the previous wording that said any “next flight with available seats.” In practice, AA has been doing this for a long time now. So this just makes it official. It also noted that you need “written authorization from American Airlines,” to book your own arrangements. Otherwise you’ll be “responsible to pay for your hotel, meals and other expenses.”
Why This Is Unacceptable – Flight Delay / Cancellation
This is essentially how low cost carriers operate. They say that if your flight is delayed or canceled we will rebook you on the next flight that WE have available. Most full service carriers will be willing to book you on another airline if something goes wrong. They do that in an attempt to get you to where you need to go in a timely manner.
This practice is called an interline agreement. It is where airlines will work together to get you where you need to go. American Airlines would help Delta get a stranded passenger to their destination and then Delta would return the favor later, all for a fee of course. American is trying to avoid that cost it appears, and are saying that we will put you on an American flight and that is all. That is the same way Frontier and Spirit operate. This may not be a big deal if it is an early morning flight on a route with multiple flights a day. If it is an afternoon flight with a once per day route you could be in trouble. That is a 24 wait at least, and could be more if the flights the next day or two etc. are sold out.
So what happens when this occurs and you can’t wait the day or two? You get the pleasure of paying a last minute ticket on another airline and American Airlines will refund you the remaining portion of your flight. Not even the full cost of the flight, but just for the unflown portion, unbelievable.
And this is even if it is American Airlines’ fault for the delay. They messed up? Guess what, you get to pay more!
American Airlines’ policy also says if you spend any money while stranded, without prior written approval, you get stuck with the bill. Get stranded and rush to book a hotel before they sell out? You better get a good rate because that one is on you.
The Government Has Failed Us
Other countries have written rules for their airlines and customer protections. If they fail to get you where you need to go they end up paying for it. They will pay for your hotel room, rebook you and give you monetary compensation. It is all written into the law so everyone knows exactly what they are going to get. Europe has the EU261 law and Canada has something similar but not as good.
We, as Americans, we have nothing. We get whatever they feel like giving us. And it will vary widely by airline, even by flight within the airline. Sometimes it comes down to the mood the agent you deal with is in. That makes an extremely stressful situation even more stressful.
This is still the case even though the airlines got billions of dollars in bailouts just last year. That money came from us, their customers. So what do they do? Turn around and bite the hand that feeds them.
When the airlines had their hand out the government had the leverage. They should have required some new regulations on airline passenger rights. That was the time to get it through. We give you money, you give our constituents some protections. Seems like the most government thing ever right?
I am not normally for more regulation but this is something that needs to be done. What other industry can they screw over customers so blatantly, not perform their duty, and then have the customer pay for their mistake? The airlines all work together, fall in line or get left behind, so there is no avoiding the conglomerate monopoly. You can fly someone else but they often play the same games. It just isn’t right.
American Airlines Is The Worst – Final Thoughts
This of course could all be written into the terms and just not enforced. Maybe they will only put it into action for very specific instances. I kind of doubt that. I really believe American is done booking you on other airlines and will make you wait till they can accommodate you on an American Airlines flight. They will basically tell you to pound sand if you rebook on another airline. If it is a flight full of people they may throw some vouchers your way to avoid the PR nightmare. But, if you are one of the few stragglers missing the connection … good luck. We might want to start booking some back up flights on carriers we can cancel when flying American. Hello Southwest!
I am going to treat American Airlines as Spirit Airlines going forward. I’ll book it if it is the best price AND it is a non stop flight. If there are any connections / layovers I will be looking elsewhere. American Airlines miles are best used for partner flights anyway ;).
Let me know your thoughts on these changes below.