American Airlines Loves You

We love getting tips about nice things happening to good people. No, really. We do. American Airlines misplaced the flight crew for one of our readers’ flights, delaying he and his wife for a really, really long time at O’Hare. Then the magic happened. Without complaining, or contacting American Airlines in any way, Larry got the following email.

American Airlines writes:

    Dear Mr. [Awesome Consumerist Reader Named Larry]:

    We know how important it is for our customers to rely on the on-time departures and arrivals of our flights. However, there is nothing more frustrating than learning your flight has been delayed – or even canceled – while attempting to get to your destination as planned. Therefore, we hope you will accept our apology for the disruption of your travel plans on December 30.

    Although our schedules cannot be guaranteed due to the many variables associated with the operation of an airline, we want to show our concern for your disappointment. As a sincere gesture of goodwill and to encourage you to continue traveling with us, I have added 7,000 Customer Service Bonus miles to your AAdvantage

    account. You can view this activity soon via our web site at

    While the safety of our passengers and crew members will always take priority over on-time departures and arrivals, we hope that you will give us another opportunity to serve you when your plans call for travel by air. It would be a pleasure to welcome you aboard American Airlines.

    This is an “outgoing only” email address. If you ‘reply’ to this message by simply selecting the reply button, we will not receive your additional comments. Please assist us in providing you with a timely response to any feedback you have for us by always sending us your email messages via at


    B. J. Russell
    Customer Relations
    American Airlines

Larry writes:

    My wife & I visited my parents in the West Palm Beach area over the holidays. On the way back, we were scheduled to fly from the West Palm airport to O’Hare, then on to LAX. The flight to O’Hare was delayed by about 15 minutes, and when we landed in Chicago, there were only about 20 minutes left to board our flight to LAX.

    As soon as we got off the plane, we started hustling to our gate. Upon double-checking the gate number, we saw that our flight was delayed by about 45 minutes. This was not too bad…time for a bathroom break and a breather.

    We made our way over to the proper gate and noticed that the flight was now delayed for a few hours. Rather than getting in to LAX at 8:45 PM, we were now scheduled to get in around 1:00 AM. We knew there was bad weather across the plains states, so that might have been it, but almost every other westbound flight from LAX was leaving on time. AA representatives has no response. At first they said it was weather, then they said they didn’t know why the delay. Eventually, it came out that there was no available flight crew (!) for our flight, nor the one following it. They had to wait for one to come in that had enough rest. You’d think they would have planned this better.

    Surprisingly, in this morning’s e-mail, I received the attached letter from AA. Please note that I had not yet called them to complain about the delay and the fact that nothing was offered to the passengers (meal vouchers, other flights, etc.). Kudos to AA for being proactive.


Good job, American Airlines. Way to be on top of things. You made a customer so happy he wrote us about it. Keep this up and soon you’ll be L.L. Bean. Then again, it does occur to us that American might have only apologized to frequent fliers. Hmmm. Maybe we’re jaded.—MEGHANN MARCO


Edit Your Comment

  1. That’s pretty great. I wonder if/how they compensated people who aren’t in American’s frequent flier program.

  2. robrob says:

    they probably don’t really care that much about you if you arent enrolled in AAdvantage, as most occasional recreational flyers are “bottom dwellers” who go with whatever lowest fare they can find online.

  3. DougDascenzo says:

    I’ve had a similar experience with American, and have also received extra miles by calling them to complain about bad situations.

    They’ll never automatically compensate you with miles for delays related to bad weather or Air Traffic Control situations. They only do it when it’s really their fault (which I guess makes sense).

    But, if you have a particularly horrible time due to some maintenance/flight crew/plan condition issues, call them up and they’ll almost always throw a few thousand miles or a few upgrades your way.

  4. DougDascenzo says:

    *plane not plan

  5. isadora says:

    Actually, I recently had a positive experience with American, too!

    My flight to London was delayed by five hours due to bad weather (causing me to miss three connecting flights to Scotland) and just a few days after I got home my week-long trip, I received a letter with a discount code offering me $50 off my next flight.

    I certainly don’t qualify as a true frequent flier (though I do have an AAAdvantage membership card) but this gesture won the company big points in my house!

    Especially since we’d been on the short end of British Airways’ customer stick for the second leg of the trip. They had exceptional food but their customer service people at Heathrow were terrible and could not have been less accomodating in our quest to get on the last connecting flight of the day.

  6. Lasertag says:


    I will have to disagree with the positive outlook on AA, because I will never be flying with them again for reasons stemming from the flight mentioned in THIS article above.

    I can say, with utmost certainty, that AA did nothing for the people on this flight who weren’t in their frequent flyer program. I was on that flight, I was delayed those hours, and I haven’t heard anything from AA like this guy has.

    I can prove it too. The flight number wasn’t mentioned above (321 H) and they didn’t mention that they moved us from our gate to the back of the airport, next to a creepy never-used food court.

    At first the blamed weather in Phoenix, which was hard to believe because what kind of weather besides “hot and easy to fly planes in” is there in Phoenix? Then they admitted it was because they didn’t have anyone to work on the plane.

    After that I was stuck in line in front of this OBSCENE woman who wouldn’t stop talking about:
    a. how hot she believed herself to be
    b. how much she loved failing people in the class that she taught.

    Imagine, if you will, Anna Nicole Smith, with a huge nose and a louder voice. That’s the creepy teacher.

    Anyway: the wait was bad, the chick in line was bad, and then the seat wouldn’t stop leaning back for no reason when I was finally on the plane. Which sucks for the lady behind me, because it seemed like I was playing “WAMMO! THERE GOES YOUR DRINK AND LAPTOP!” when I was actually just trying to get some rest before New Years Eve.

    Thanks a lot American. I’m glad you were nice to the guy and his wife who deal with you more than I ever will.

    (sorry for the anger, but it’s hard to be pissed about a flight, and then read an article on consumerist about a guy who’s had his anger softened.)

  7. testkahuna says:

    Had a similar thing happen to me on a Delta flight. Waiting on the ground for a while due to Wx hold. Weather got better, we took off. Couple weeks later, I got a letter from some tool at Delta apologizing and giving me 100 Delta Dollars (which never got used). I’d been on flights that were sitting on the ground much longer or I’d sit in the terminal for a week (read 3 or more hours) and got nothing – go figure. And yes, I’m gold medallion, not that that would have anything to do with it… I kid, I kid.

  8. thatabbygirl says:

    Lasertag, seems that you could copy the email from AA and send it to them asking why you received no compensation. I’m not clear from your comment whether you’re an AAdvantage member or not, but if you’re not, it seems worth asking how other non-AAdvantage members will be compensated for the problems on that flight.

    I mean, given that you have the time to write that long comment, you could send a quick email.. :)

  9. acambras says:

    Yeah, although LaserTag may want to focus less on the Anna Nicole wannabe in line behind him. Sure, she was annoying, but exactly what are the airlines supposed to do about that?

    Choose your battles.

  10. DutchFlat says:

    United did the same thing to me last summer; cancelled flight, etc. Not only no compensation, but lost my luggage, and essentialy told me to go fuck myself. Hurray for United!

  11. mechugena says:

    Hey all – this is Larry – the guy who got the letter.

    Anyways, in response to Lasertag, there were two LA flights that were delayed that evening. Yours and mine – Flight #873. If I recall correctly, yours was only delayed by a little more than an hour, whereas 873 was delayed for over 3 hours. In addition, what does it matter where the gate is located? It’s an airport…planes need to take off from somewhere. And if the food court isn’t used as much (which, btw, it was fairly busy while I was waiting), what does that have to do with anything?

    I also agree with Acambras above…you could have easily chosen to ignore the woman in line.

    Granted, I didn’t get money or food from AA (even though i usually bring my own food), I did receive some level of unprompted customer satisfaction as an AAdvantage member. Since you are not a member, they did not automatically acknowledge the incident to you. Perhaps a nicely worded letter or phone call to customer service will accomplish a lot more than saying “I’m not a member, but he is and he got something I didn’t because I’m not a member”.

  12. NastyGash says:

    After a I took a BA flight from London to Nairobi with unscheduled stops in Milano and Roma and a 24-hour late arrival (mechanical problems), I received an appropriately British obsequious (but not too) letter of apology and a free return ticket to anywhere in BA’s network. I chose the farthest destination I could find and did a two-week holiday, transportation compliments of BA. Since the delay didn’t cause me any hardship, I thought it was well worth the free ticket!

    Yea BA!

  13. Trackback says:

    I have now enabled anonymous posts. I was so busy with everything that I didn’t have the time to explore how to turn on anonymous postings.