American Airlines – Why can you be so good and so bad at the same time? Is this really so hard?

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Nice full flat seat AA!

Last month I had a fantastic time on the Norwegian Jade (review on the way) celebrating my wedding anniversary. This one was a milestone and I wanted everything perfect so I burned a ridiculous amount of AA points to get the perfect flights in business / 1st class.

Ouch. OK points vs dollars.

With Delta I always look to book Level 1 or 2 awards but with AA you have “saver” or 2x that (and more). I guess if you run the value per point it still worked about to a decent redemption but I am reaching here.

Not bad at all AA regional.

The problem with where I live in the Midwest is if I fly Delta out of SBN I have to, almost always, start with a CRJ200. This is NOT the way to start a special trip (really any trip but even more so when it matters). So my choices are often Chicago if I want a real jet to start my journey. But another choice is Grand Rapids or GRR for both Delta and American. I chose AA since I started the year with well over 1 million points I am trying to burn.

I am told the cold fish was outstanding

The AA regional partner offered us lunch on the way down to Dallas DFW and both choices were quite good and the service was attentive and nice. The next flight was even better from DFW to Miami MIA.

This was a great dinner choice – when loaded onboard that is. 🙁

You see I had booked this so we could enjoy dinner on an internationally configured flight (see opening shot) to Miami and I really wanted to enjoy the pre-order of meals that AA offers (Delta has promised this for almost 2 YEARS now but has yet to deliver). But the best laid plans did not go so well. I had ordered the fruit and cheese plate and we brought our own prosciutto to make it all perfect. But guess what, catering only loaded 1 fruit adn cheese plate not the 2 we ordered. Sigh.

Now here is where the AA crew was amazing. They already knew that this was a special trip for us and they were going to do whatever they could to fix the catering issue. The got from the back two cheese plates from what I am assuming was the buy onboard menu and made a second dinner the best they could for my wife and I. I was impressed – reAAlly impressed. But then we had to fly AA home.

All my warm and fuzzy feelings from my flights down quickly evaporated on my return flights home on AA. First off, the flight attendants had real attitude. The young male attendant even said to me about himself that he was, and I quote, “I am better than the old hags who normally work this flight“. Oh my. When it came to the meal choice and there was only one choice left when they got to me (I forgot to try to pre-order for the way home) they had only one choice and the FA scolded me for not pre-ordering. I did not tell him I tried on the last flight and only had a 50% success rate. The service did not get better but they did have time to interrupt my movie with a long AA credit card pitch you can enjoy above and to walk up and down the aisles, twice, trying to hand out application forms. Oh, and they also had them as we walked off the jet too! WoW.

Ouch. How hard was this dropped to do this?

Then to top it all off AA also dented one of our bags. Welcome home. Now we have to drive up to Kalamazoo or AZO (2.5 hours round trip) to drop off the bag to see if they can send it to Dallas and try to repair it. I even, foolishly, purchased AA insurance for these flights due to the importance of the trip and they told me to go pound sand about the bag – not a covered item.

Anyway, being a Delta frequent flyer I found it interesting just how amazing and just how bad AA could be on one round trip. I think I am just as happy to stick with Delta for the foreseeable future. – René



  1. As an AA loyalist now flying United more..just be happy you didn’t have to go through PHL and deal with the gate staff there. It would have made the return trip perfect.
    Looking forward to hearing about the cruise. I love cruising and mostly cruise MSC and Carnival so it’s fun to hear your reviews of Delta and NCL as brands I don’t frequent as much. Call it comparison shopping 🙂

  2. Nice report. As always the US airlines are consistently inconsistent.

    Looks like a very dent-able suitcase. Is it so expensive to be worth the long round trip drive? American and Delta are equally inconsistent. I have had good and bad service on both. I do not think I would ever go out of my way to fly a short domestic flight on a Int’l configured aircraft but I do miss living in Dallas and having easy access those.

    American destroys DL in First Class legroom. So for a day flight you will find their 737-800 (not the max) and most Airbus (non ex-US) at-least for now offering more than enough space for short 2-3 hour hops. On DL, First class is really Economy comfort with a little more width and real glasses. I think DL First class might have 2 inches of recline if that and very limited legroom. You should feel the difference on AA, but that was not mentioned in your review.

  3. What credit card did you use to pay your ticket’s taxes and fees? It may have baggage protection insurance, even for items not covered by the airline.

  4. @ptacha – Great point. I will check. Did not think damaged luggage would be included but you may be right.

  5. I’ve been a Medallion for 30+ years, since they bought Pan Am.
    You could earn elite status with 5 TATL segments in the calendar year.
    But periodically, I noticed the bowls getting smaller, plastic utilities, more tired cabin crew, etc, so I would give the competition a chance.

    And inevitably, just as you discovered, the competition was always racing faster to the bottom than Delta.

  6. I would agree with Ryan (above).

    I’ve had better luck with AA than DL, and with DL’s current FF program, lack of access to lounges without a same-day ticket, lack of access to international lounges, and “upgrading” to C+, and bad first class legroom, this lifetime Gold Medallion flyer prefers AA for the moment.

    But as the past decade has shown us, things could always change.

  7. I also got the Aviator card speel on a recent AA flight. I later asked the same FA about availability of low level award redemptions on AA and she was clueless. She just loved to sell credit cards…………… The funny thing was I was unable to finish my trip on a Delta Buddy Pass due to full flights and somehow found AA low level award availability from LAX to the Midwest. Sometimes you cannot live without the airlines and sometime you can not live with them!

  8. I know what you mean about onboard credit card spiels, but it is Ironic that a blogger is complaining (LOL). Nothing personal as you are very ethical about this. Get the AA Aviator MC (if you don’t have it) and in addition to the sign up bonus you will be rewarded with an additional 100,000+ AA miles because redemptions receive a 10% rebate.

    I agree with the other comments about AA and would add that I like its business-class seats better than DL. To burn your 1,000,000+ AA miles try some first-class trips on Cathay Pacific or Japan Airlines or even British Airways. Cheers!

  9. @John – My blog is free via ads. I pay for my AA tickets and get pitched? If the ticket was totally free I would be happy to listen.

  10. AA on it’s worst day is the same as UA, and since AA isn’t always off it’s game it’s superior to UA. DL has always been solid, I enjoy flying DL.

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