If you’ve ever asked me about air travel, you know I’m not a fan of the legacy carriers (United, US Air, American, etc.) as I’ve routinely experienced poor service and quality from them in my business travels. However, a recent experience with American Airlines has me eating a little bit of crow. I am impressed enough with the
service care we received to share this story with you.
The Gentleman and I spent the last two weeks visiting family and friends in North and South Carolina. We celebrated a wedding, drove about 1000 miles in 3 different cars to beds in five different cities, reunited, ate too much, slept too little and generally had exhausting fun. When we woke up on our last mainland day at 4:15 a.m. we planned to sleep on planes for several hours and then, after a smooth noontime landing in Honolulu, collect our cat from the kennel and rest all afternoon.
This is not how things played out. Instead…
…Our originally booked United Airlines flight out of Charlotte was delayed 3 hours meaning we’d miss our connection in Houston.
…We were re-booked on a pair of American Airlines flights connecting in Dallas
…Twenty minutes into our new AA flight, we learned a passenger on board was seriously ill.
…Five minutes later, our pilot announced we’d be making an emergency landing at the Atlanta airport to offload the sick passenger to paramedics.
…After wishing the ill passenger good health and good luck, and after taxiing for about 20 minutes, we began speeding down the runway for takeoff.
…Just before we reached takeoff speed, the pilot hit the brakes. We taxied back to another gate.
…We learned that we had a major electrical malfunction that would take an hour and half to fix. The pilot of was apologetic, honest, and efficient at working for a solution to the problem.
…We were deplaned and spent half an hour or so working with extremely nice and capable agents to re-book(again) and secured a third pair of flights connecting through Dallas. We were also provided with meal vouchers so I had breakfast courtesy American Airlines.
…Our new pair of flights pretty much guaranteed our bags wouldn’t arrive in Honolulu with us.
…Gate agents in Dallas assured us that our bags would be on the next possible flight to Honolulu.
… Our flight crew on the Dallas-to-Honolulu leg of the trip were super nice, provided special treats to active-duty military members and even knew how to spell the state fish of Hawaii. No easy feat, that.
Seventeen ridiculous hours later, we landed in Honolulu (about 5 hours after our original arrival time). Upon checking in with the baggage agent we learned that American Airlines had called ahead and provided an update on the luggage. It was delivered to our home, intact and unharmed the very next day.
Based on all prior experiences with air travel disruptions, I’d expect to still be stuck in a Texas airport while our bags landed safely in Istanbul. I’d expect to have been yelled at, insulted, lied to and ignored by customer service agents multiple times during the chaos. I’d expect to never see at least one of our suitcases again and to then have to argue about the value of its contents in order to be reimbursed.
I’d expect the usual crappy service America expects from legacy carriers.
Instead, American Airlines did the very best anyone could do with a series of crappy situations, got us home on the same day (pretty tough considering the distance we had to travel) and managed to treat us with respect, kindness and care the whole way.
During our last flight, I remembered an AA commercial from the 1980s. The jingle lyrics were “We’re American Airlines, something special in the air!”
American Airlines, y’all really were pretty special on this trip. Consider me a reformed legacy carrier hater…at least when it comes to you.