Dear American Airlines: Thanks For Stinking

To Whom It May Concern:

I have never taken extreme measures to solve problems such as this, but I feel that I must notify you of the worst flying experience I have ever had.

I am a student from Brazil living in United States. I bought my tickets to visit my family about a month ago. I was supposed to leave on June 12th and stay in Brazil for 15 days. I drove to the airport from where I am staying in Illinois almost 3 hours away. I arrived at the St. Louis Lambert International Airport several hours before my flight, checked my bags, went thru security, confirmed my gate and seat and waited at the gate for over an hour. I sat patiently waiting for my flight to start boarding to be announced when I realized the flight was already half an hour late. I asked the woman at the desk when my flight would start boarding and she told that the flight I was waiting for had already left. When I asked her how it could have left without me I was told that the gate had been changed at the last moment and that I must not have heard the announcement. This situation is not specific to only me because I am not the only person who missed this particular flight due to the gate change and poor announcement that was made. I also felt that there was nothing wrong with my flight because there were a lot of people in the gate the whole time I was waiting there so I assumed we were all waiting for the same flight. Long story short I missed my flight and when I asked what could be done to rectify this situation, I was treated with no compassion of my situation by not only customer service but also the supervisor over 45 minutes to be found. I was then informed I would have to spend an additional 450 dollars (to a college student a fortune) and take the flight a day later. I then had to call the person who had drove me to the airport to have him turn around and make the 2

hour drive back to the airport, take me home (another 2

hours) and make the same trip again less than 9 hours later.

My trip home went as planned. When it came to the day I was supposed to come back the United States I arrived at the airport in Brazil with plenty of time to spare because I did not want what happened to me in St Louis to happen again. Before I checked my bags I had them wrapped in protective plastic at the airport to protect my bags and belongings on the long travel home. I boarded the airplane on time from my departing city and I was relieved that everything was going smoothly. We then landed in Sao Paulo and I had a brief lay over before getting on the flight that would take us to the United States. I took my seat and waited for the flight to leave and then the announcement came over the loud speaker in the airplane that we were having engine trouble and they were waiting to get it fixed. Three hours later the engines were fixed but all the passengers that were in economic class would be without video, music from the armrest or reading lights. Now on a short flight this would be extremely annoying but on an 11 hour flight not only is it not acceptable but also completely intolerable. We arrived in Dallas 3 hours late and consequently I missed my connecting flight that would take me on the last part of my trip back to St. Louis. I was put on standby for the next flight that would take me to St Louis with no guarantee that I would be put on the next flight if it was full. I have been doing some reading and rule 240 on American Airlines it states that American Airlines defines a schedule irregularity as:

    A delay in the departure or arrival of an American Airlines flight that results in a misconnection, or A flight cancellation or omission of a scheduled stop, or any other delay or interruption of an American Airlines flight, or A substitution of equipment to a different class of service, or A schedule change that requires you to be rerouted.

    If your flight is delayed, cancelled or you miss a connecting American Airlines flight, due to a schedule irregularity

    1.American Airlines must confirm you on their next flight (on which space is available) at no additional cost.

    2.If there is an alternate American Airlines flight that will arrive at your destination earlier than the alternate you have been offered, you have the right to be confirmed on this American Airlines flight at no additional cost, even if first class space is all that is available.

    3.If the alternate American Airlines flight is not acceptable to you, you have the right to be confirmed on the flight of a different airline at no additional cost.

    4.If there is an alternate “different airline” flight that will arrive at your destination earlier than any alternate flight you have been offered, you have the right to be confirmed on this flight at no additional cost, even if first class space is all that is available.

    5.If no alternate flight (on American Airlines or a “different airline”) is acceptable to you, American Airlines must refund your money – even if you have a non-refundable ticket.

Not one of these options was available to me. What was available to me was a standby ticket with no certainty that I would be on the next flight. I feel my passenger rights have been grossly violated because there were several flights that would have left sooner than the one I was placed on standby on. I arrived in St Louis after 12 pm when my flight was scheduled to arrive at 935 am. The person that came to pick me drove again drove 2

hours to pick me up to sit and wait for me for over 3 hours by the time I exited the plane. Thank god this journey was finally over right? Wrong! My bags were lost during the flight and I was told I had to walk from baggage claim M2 to M4 then back to M2 Then back to M4 where the man told me he couldn’t help me and If I felt like I could sift thru the 500 or so bags that were just unloaded due to all the delays that they have been having over the last couple days. I did this for 2 hours because all my belongings are in these bags including my soap, tooth brush, all my clothes including all forms of undergarments, prescribed medication that is to be taken daily, and several other daily necessities. My bags were nowhere to be found and I was finally routed to the lost baggage department where the line was over 25 people long. A service agent came out to tell the line that there would be a very long wait and gave us all pamphlets that explained how to file a lost bag claim. I followed the details of this pamphlet to the letter and was assured my bags would be there the next day and if not then I would be eligible for a small compensation in order to by toiletries and underwear etc. etc. The next day after I placed the lost bag claim I called the number that is listed on the lost baggage pamphlet and I spoke to a woman that had to be the most disgruntled employee I have ever encountered. She spoke over me when I asked about my bags and when I was confused by her response she yelled at me insulted my English which is not my mother language but as you can tell from my letter is far from a problem. I then asked her what her name was and she refused to give it to me and finally she gave me a name which later I found out was phony. I asked to speak to her supervisor and I was put on hold for over 30 minutes. At this point I thought she had just put me on hold and did not plan to transfer me at all but to her credit she transferred me to woman who announced herself as a supervisor. I am still skeptical that it was indeed a supervisor and not just the person sitting next to her, in cahoots with the rude woman, in order to not get in trouble for her rude behavior. I was informed that my bags were found and although entering my tracer number on showed they were shipped and would arrive that same day, this was in fact not the case. The woman explained to me she knows that the information on the website says that my bags should arrive today but they will not come until tomorrow. “This is the complete opposite of what it says on the website”, I say. Again she says she knows what it says on the website but my bags will come the following day VIA FedEx. I asked what I am supposed to do about having no undergarments, clothes and the rest of my things and she says that this is not her problem once the bags have been found and no compensation monetary or otherwise is required at this point. To this I am appalled and when I explained that I have been wearing the same underwear she again reassures me that this is absolutely my problem and if I would like I can write a letter to customer relations. The next day I wait around for FedEx to arrive. They arrived at 1pm. What a relief right? Wrong! To my surprise the protective wrapping was no longer on my bags and they were filthy. “Ok I can clean off the dirt” I thought, and when I went to unzip my luggage I realized that the locks had been broken off of my bags. I kept my fingers crossed that nothing had been stolen and attempted to unzip my bags, at which time both zippers handles on both bags came off into my hand broken. I figured something had to be missing if the situation that had started 15 days ago was to continue in the manner it had been going but to my amazement all my things were there and unbroken.

I know I am not unique to situations like this. Some people will keep their mouth shut and usually I am one of these people. I feel violated, taken advantage of and left with only one choice which is a letter that I have no guarantee will be read and not just rerouted to the problem customer file to never be looked at again. To assure myself that have done all that is possible to have my letter read by all powers that be, I will be forwarding this to as many executive email addresses that I can find. This will be a painstaking task but at this point I have been thru so much frustration that a little more at this point is nothing compared to what I have already been thru. In the end I would like to believe that American Airlines will in some way make well, the bad feeling that I am left with as a result of my traveling with them. We will see.


Wow, that’s an absolutely abysmal experience. Juliana cc’d us on her executive email carpet bomb to American Airlines, along with,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, We hope she sees some deserved results.

Executive Email Carpet Bombs are when you figure out the company email address format, get a list of top-tier executives, and combine the two to make a big email blast to the honchos. They say crap rolls downhill, so start at the top so it has the most potential energy!

RELATED: Don’t Fly Without A Copy Of Rule 240
How To Launch An Executive Email Carpet Bomb
(Photo: JohnKit)


Edit Your Comment

  1. jodles says:

    wow, it sounds like you had a horrible time. your letter is well-worded and reasonably polite. i hope you get through to the thick heads at the top and get some compensation!

  2. MikeB says:

    Horrible, but one thing to remember, the broken locks are par for the course. Coming back to the US from another country you can pretty much expect that customs will be searching your bag and will break the locks if they have to do so. Outside of that, AA did a piss poor job and needs to cough up something.

  3. ptkdude says:

    And here I thought they were something special in the air. Good thing I don’t live in one of their hub cities

  4. ColoradoShark says:

    And everyone, please remember never to check any medication you need to take. Depending on your condition, a bad experience with baggage can turn into a hospital stay or worse.

    Note: I’m not picking on the letter writer. You should expect to have your stuff returned to you promptly, but it is your life.

  5. not_seth_brundle says:

    Ugh, what a nightmare. I hope at least your time in Brazil was enjoyable.

    While most of this was unavoidable, gates change frequently and AA boarding passes have the boarding time printed on them. If the time for boarding arrives and there is no plane at the gate or no boarding, it doesn’t hurt to check one of the monitors to verify that the gate hasn’t changed.

  6. letoofdune says:

    I’ve boarded flights at the last minute because of gate changes and poor announcements.

    The real pisser was a Continental flights I almost missed out of Houston because they’d changed the gate, but not changed the electronic sign by the old gate. So I sit there, still says my destination city, and all of a sudden, it’s getting to be take-off time, and nothing else.


    Sorry about the bad flight, though. I’ve (luckily) never had a complete travel nightmare, but I’ve come close.

    Knock on wood.

  7. jillian says:

    I feel terrible saying this – but even as a kid, I learned to always pack toiletries, underwear and medication in my carry-on. Maybe the author didn’t have the past experience flying with parents that resulted in that lecture. Also, I’m one of those extremely paranoid people who, if the plane doesn’t start boarding on time, starts asking questions. And finally, I totally bet the reason AA violated the luggage is because it was wrapped in plastic and coming from a country that Americans associate with illicit drugs, prescription or otherwise. It was probably inspected to be sure that the plastic wasn’t there to deter the drug-sniffing dogs at customs, and that’s why it was delayed.

    The big one here is that AA violated Rule 240, because the author should have been on the next plane to St Louis from Dallas, which is about every ten minutes on some airline or other. American should have found another flight faster. But three hours is NOT that bad. I got stuck at YVR (Vancouver) waiting for a flight home to LA for FOUR hours once.

    I think the problem here is more that there isn’t an instruction manual for less common sense aspects of flying, like “Be paranoid about your gate changing without hearing an announcement,” and “Don’t wrap your bags in plastic or the customs agents will think you’re smuggling a parrot” Or something.

  8. bombaxstar says:

    That`s absolutely terrible. =[

    It`s odd though, I`ve flown to/out of Lambert many times (every time I`ve flown, actually, since I live in Southern IL) and they always seem to page people who are missing from a boarding flight. Bad luck I guess?

  9. Onouris says:

    The first time I flew to America was the best four weeks of my life, not because of the America bit, but that’s another story.

    I flew American Airlines and I loved it. I missed a connection on the way back, but after asking around I was told what to do etc, and I got on the phone to get my ticket changed to fly on the next most convenient flight for me. This one instead of flying directly from Chicago to Manchester was from Chicago to London to Manchester. I didn’t mind one bit because it was free of charge and for the extra 30 minutes or so of getting from London to Manchester, I got a better plane from America, and I absolutely hate that flight.

    I got back and my bags weren’t in the right place (because of the missed connection). Sure, I was annoyed about that, but they took down my address and details of my bags (although i’d already done this when sorting out the new flight) and I figured I could make do for now without my bags.

    Much to my surprise my bags turned up within a few hours of me getting home.

    I wouldn’t trust baggage handlers as far as I could throw them and I despise the general lack of due care with bags, like it’s hard to just place things instead of throwing them, but I knew I shouldn’t put locks on my bags since I was 19 and travelling alone, so no doubt would be subject to a ‘random’ test. When I opened one of my cases it had been looked through with a note saying that they’d done it inside. If it hadn’t been for the note, I honestly wouldn’t have noticed they’d done it.

  10. philipbarrett says:

    From an AA Platinum flyer: When American is on form it’s a good airline, when off form they stink badly. Highly Inconsistent should be their motto.

    A good rule of thumb when calling them is, if you don’t like the first answer, hang up & call back, you’ll get as different one!

  11. I really can’t find any sympathy for this person’s luggage-related woes – coming back from South America with bags (1) not only wrapped in plastic, but (2) carrying non-TSA approved locks?

    Everytime I’ve flown in the past five years, I’ve seen sign after sign at check in advising me that bags, if locked, should have a TSA-approved lock. If not, the nonstandard locks WILL be cut off.

    Wrapping the bags in plastic? Are you kidding? Luggage is supposed to get dinged up and dirty. Buy black TravelPro bags and get over it – mine has held up for over ten years and probably a hundred rides in the cargo hold now with no significant damage.

    Luggage is inspected these days. Be prepared for it. Never check baggage with essentials (your prescriptions and toiletries). The tougher you make it for TSA to get into your bags, the harder they have to try to get into the bag. Use common sense.

    That being said, American seems to have once again proved their relative disdain for travelers.

  12. bosston says:

    I got back from Charlotte, NC traveling Northwest and the trip back to Minnesota was smooth. Leaving however was a pain in the butt. First plane I got on had engine trouble. We got kicked off that one then second plane had brake trouble got kicked off that one there was 12:30 pm advisory and there wasn’t a 3rd plane.

    I waited at the gate and the customer service perso n said there was one more flight and got on that one down to Charlotte. Northwest had over 1,000 cancellations between June 21-29. Most due to pilots working over 90 hours per month which was the real reason behind my delays down to Charlotte.

  13. e-gadgetjunkie says:

    I love in St. Louis, so I always fly out of Lambert. My father also takes many business trips and I have had to pick him up several times. Lambert is poorly designed, to say the least. It seems like monitors with flight information are impossible to find and the announcements are garbled and difficult to hear. I hate flying out of Lambert. Things have gotten much worse since it lost hub status a few years ago. I always feel like I’m wandering through a deserted city there.

  14. William C Bonner says:

    I was glad to see someone else who was not sympathetic about the baggage issues.

    Since domestic baggage has to be searchable these days, and there are large signs talking about it at every TSA checkpoint, There’s no excuse for being upset when your bags are opened by force when you lock and wrap them.

    Years ago, I liked the idea of wrapping the bags, and it was available for a fee in many airports. Mainly I liked it because I’ve seen bags sitting in the rain outside my plane before. With the current security situations, I’d just not expect it to be useful anymore.

  15. Meat_Shield says:

    Hope springs eternal, so I will wait to see what kind of reponse he gets from AA. When will these people learn that you can’t crap all over the customers.

  16. Dustbunny says:

    But looking on the bright side, at least there wasn’t a river of poop flowing down the aisles of the plane!

  17. tempfoot says:

    Live and Learn.

    My problem with the email campaign is that the writer seems to think that this is an unusual happening.

    What really happened? You went on a trip, missed your gate change, had delays and lost luggage. Welcome to air travel.

    If I’d had such an experience when I was a college student, I’m sure I would have been aghast as well. As a seasoned (and jaded) frequent business traveler, at least you have gained a lot of experience hitting a bunch of low points all at once. Don’t expect anything different in the future and you’ll be well prepared.

    Others have pointed out that your luggage will be mauled by TSA or their minions. Gates change a lot and your best bet is to always know what time it is and make sure your iPod is only in one ear so you can hear announcements. Delays, missed connections and the like are par for the course. Never put anything you really need in a checked bag. If you rely on others for airport transportation at either end you risk greatly inconveniencing them.

    Just to round out the lesson – weather anywhere in the system can mess you up. Announcements regarding delays are seldom accurate and sometimes border on outright lies. Carry your roll-aboard on – it’s almost impossible to drag it down that tiny aisle.

    Most important lesson of all is to keep your head. While it’s important to know airline policies, quoting them to a harried gate agent is likely to get you an eye-roll and a brush-off. Telling an employee that their web system doesn’t match what they are telling you will get the same. I’ve been delayed in more cities and circumstances than I can remember. Try a smile, patience and maybe a joke and 90% of the time they will take care of you as well as they can. The other 10% take solace that everyone else on your flight is going through exactly the same thing.

  18. lihtox says:

    The security consciousness at airports these days certainly does not extend to luggage security. How many opportunities do thieves have to steal luggage: at the baggage claim, at the security checkpoint (you’re delayed at the scanner, and someone picks up your bag), from the overhead bins, or while the bag is in the possession of baggage handlers. We can’t even lock the bags anymore. With all of that, it’s a wonder that more bags aren’t stolen (instead of just lost).

    I was thinking today, during my own painful experience with American, that few industries display their incompetence so brashly as the airline industry.

  19. valthun says:

    I don’t honestly see the need to pack toiletries in a carry-on, A) they are cheap and almost every convenience store has them. B) Target has an isle of 99 cent toiletries, they can last a week or two, use those and keep your good stuff at home.

    I absolutely agree with keeping the medications available in your carry-on and not packing them though. That can turn a bad day worse.

    Wrapping the luggage and not using TSA approved locks was bad too. I use a single lock on the main compartment then mini zip-ties on the secondary compartments, with extra zip-ties and a knife in the main compartment. I have never had a zip-tie opened yet. They are cheap and your luggage won’t get ruined since it only takes a knife or scissors to open.

    But I do feel AA screwed up with the initial flight, as well as the connecting flight. As for in-flight entertainment. If you really need music and movies bring your own, the movies and music choices are generally crap anyway. I have flown with portable music since my first discman, and now carry so many electronic devices the airport security has to run the bag through the x-ray at least twice.

  20. usamaah says:

    Whether or not toiletries are cheap is not the issue here. The service was poor and rule 240 was not followed. (I’m assuming from her story that she was in fact eligible for the conditions of that rule, it seems to be the case). I’m glad that you received all your items, intact. I hope that some good comes out of your experience, not only for yourself but for all future passengers.

  21. IRSistherootofallevil says:

    FILE A CHARGEBACK!!!!! Let’s see what happens when visa/Mastercard/AmEx/Discover takes the money out of AA’s account.

  22. Trai_Dep says:

    Definately consider a charge back.

    Julianna, if you’re reading this, I apologize on behalf of America. Really, we can do better, and so should AA.

    If at all possible, next flight, fly foreign airliners when possible. US airliners have clearly handed over the customer service mantle to, well, anyone besides themselves.

    Funny, we used to be the top educational and one of the top tourist destinations in the world. Now? Not so much. Can anyone blame them?

    Billions lost because of a crazed, incompetent and rude TSA and equally incompetent air carrier fleet (except, somewhat, JetBlue or SWA).

  23. ThyGuy says:

    Um, doing a charge back isn’t such a great idea. Although the service was crappy, you received the services. Doing a charge back could result in “Theft of services” charges, which is a felony.

  24. Michael says:

    This is horrible of me, but am I the only one who noticed that this female Brazillian student was able to get a male friend to drive her to the airport, then back, then to the airport again in a 24 hour time period? That’s 10 hours of driving. I wonder if Juliana’s friend would have done that for her if she were a man…

  25. ReaderRob says:


    So that’s pretty well everything bad that can happen on a flight.

    I sure hope AA stands up and does right. If not, I hope this makes the news.

  26. JustAGuy2 says:

    Well, this sounds unpleasant, but (other than the behavior of the baggage agent), I don’t see exactly what AA did that was so egregious. The poster missed the gate change announcement, which is really his fault (when it’s 10 minutes before departure, and they haven’t started boarding or announced that the flight is delayed, a reasonable person would go up and ask). Mechanical problems do happen, so the lack of IFE on the way back is a nuisance, but not a catastrophe (better than cancelling the flight) – poster is probably due a few thousand miles in compensation for that. Luggage locks being broken is par for the course, that’s TSA, AA has nothing to do with it. Finally, in terms of the missed connection, did the poster do anything other than sit there quietly? He was put on the next AA flight that had space – wouldn’t really be fair to push a passenger off that flight to make room, would it? Did the poster ask about other options? I doubt there were any, though, since Dallas and St. Louis are hubs for AA – I doubt anyone else flies nonstop between them. Can’t excuse the luggage rudeness, but overall, this is a bad air travel story, and the poster is due probably 5k miles or a $100 voucher, but that’s about it.

  27. JustAGuy2 says:


    How was rule 240 not followed? Sounds like AA put her on the next flight to St. Louis that had room, which they were obliged to do. Nobody else flies DFW-STL nonstop, so they couldn’t put her on another carrier.

  28. zibby says:

    Ya snooze ya lose.

  29. Asvetic says:

    I say BOYCOTT the airlines! The current state of airline travel is completely unacceptable. If any other business treated their customers like sh!t on a regular basis, we’d boycott the crap out of them.

    As long as we’re continuing to accept it, they’ll continue to give it.

    Airline travel isn’t about comfort, safety and style anymore, but apparently people don’t mind being treated like a common criminal every time they have to fly somewhere.

  30. Xerloq says:


    I don’t think rule 240 applies here. A gate change is not an interruption in service. From what is posted, it looks like the flight left on time, just from another gate. This is why I always check in at the gate just to make sure everything is kosher. Still, it is suspicious that multiple people missed the flight because of the announcement. My last experience with American, coincidentally, was on my way to Brazil. I remember the gate agent for another American flight paging passengers by name – they held the flight for them.

    É chato, o que aconteceu, mas a gente vai fazer o que? (Pardon my Portuguese). I hope you get something out of this, but I wouldn’t count on it.

  31. JustAGuy2 says:


    I think the poster was referring to Rule 240 in regard to her trip back, with the blown connection in Dallas. Certainly, no way to claim that it applies to the flight she missed from St. Louis on the outbound.

  32. TWinter says:

    I’m sorry that Juliana had such a bad time, but this story really doesn’t seem all that bad to me. I fly to Europe starting from a non-hub airport two or three times a year and I’ve had at least five or six experiences in the last decade that involved multiple mishaps along the way. Delayed planes, missed connections, and lost luggage are unfortunately to be expected when you have a complex, multi-flight, international trip. You can avoid some of this by being really careful about what you buy (e.g. 40 min. is not enough time to make an international to domestic connection at O’Hare, so don’t book flights that include that sort of crap) and being aggressive about making your connections.

    The plastic wrap, non-TSA locks, medicines and all underwear in the luggage are just inexperienced flying mistakes, not AA’s fault.

  33. acambras says:

    Three hours later the engines were fixed but all the passengers that were in economic class would be without video, music from the armrest or reading lights. Now on a short flight this would be extremely annoying but on an 11 hour flight not only is it not acceptable but also completely intolerable.

    Um, no. COMPLETELY INTOLERABLE is an 11-hour flight with no lavatories, no potable water, no food, no working engines, and/or a person with drug-resistant TB sitting next to you. This was annoying and inconvenient, but not completely intolerable. Hyperbolize much?

    Also, I don’t understand why people who have obviously flown before continue to do stupid stuff like put prescription medication (which has to be taken daily) in their checked baggage.

    I hate to victim-blame, but those are two things I noticed right away when I read that story.

  34. CB-Photography says:

    Letters like this one aren’t likely to be taken too seriously by the airlines, because they mix valid complaints with invalid ones.

    There’s no doubt that AA was rude, unorganized and unhelpful. However, once the letter-writer complains about how long the drive was to the airport, AA reps will start to tune out. Why is it their fault that you live 3 hours away from the airport? Should your compensation be greater than someone who lives 10 minutes away? Why is it AA’s fault you ignored the TSA regulations on locks and plastic shrinkwrap?

    If you are going to write a letter of complaint, be concise, be specific and focus on the events that were the airline’s fault. A long, rambling sob story HURTS your chances of receiving compensation, not helps it. The few times I’ve done it (always to Delta, since they seem to suck the worst), I’ve kept it to less than a page and described the one or two events that were most egregious. I’ve received some sort of compensation every time.

  35. Kbomb says:

    I have to agree with others that while the situation sucks, AA’s behavior is not necessarily outrageously eggregious. As already said, boarding times are printed on the passes, TSA has recomonded locks, and its common practice to put people on standby for their next flight. I mean, when all is said and done you arrived 3 hours later than you thought you would. In today’s airline industry thats not bad considering stories of people stranded on the tarmac for 9 hours.

    And also agree with the advice that if you’re writing a complaint letter keep it concise and point out exactly what the Airline did wrong. They’re not interested in your friend who had to drive you 2.5hours twice.

  36. frogpelt says:

    This letter makes me never want to fly again. On any airline.


    Dude, come off your high horse.

    Did you read the whole letter or just the part about the 3 hour delay? Everything that happened on this trip was wrong and it was due to the incompetence of AmericanAirlines employees.

  37. FatLynn says:

    Is the initial problem (missing the gate change) an AA problem, or a Lambert Airport problem? If the speakers for announcements, departure screens, and things of that sort are sub-par, is that the airlines fault? This is not rhetorical, I am seriously wondering who pays for those types of things.

  38. mermaidshoes says:

    i had a similarly terrible experience with american airlines. a departure delayed by 4 hours caused me to miss a connecting flight (i had initially been worried about what i was going to do on my 4 hour layover–thanks for taking care of that problem for me, american!). on the plane, they announced that a customer service representative would meet us at the gate to assist us in figuring out what to do about missed connections. of course, no one was there. when i finally found an american representative about 10 minutes later, she encouraged me to run to my gate to see if i could still get on the flight (it was pretty close, time-wise, and woudl have worked out if the second flight had been delayed at all). since we were at LAX, “running” to my gate involved taking about 2 different shuttles (which of course were the slowest shuttles ever, driven by jaded dudes accustomed to seeing frantic people miss planes all day long) and arriving at the gate after the plane had left. since my second flight wasn’t on american, the other airline wouldn’t let me on their next flight (leaving in about 30 minutes) because my missing the earlier departure was american’s fault, not theirs. i wish i’d have known that, according to american,

    “4.If there is an alternate “different airline” flight that will arrive at your destination earlier than any alternate flight you have been offered, you have the right to be confirmed on this flight at no additional cost, even if first class space is all that is available.”

    because i would have pressed the issue a lot more. of course, there wasn’t an american representative at the other airline’s gate to consult with on the issue–i had to shuttle back to the original american gate, where someone told me to go to the ticket counter, where i was told to go to another customer service counter, and so on and so forth. that second flight was long gone by the time i found someone to help me. long story short, i ended up staying overnight in los angeles and taking a different flight the next day. american paid for it all, but they were extremely rude and unhelpful throughout, and i was very upset about spending a third of my three-day vacation in the wrong city (not to mention arriving in the correct city about 2 hours before my friend’s wedding, instead of 18-ish hours as planned). i never wrote in to complain because i was just too frustrated at the time and wouldn’t have been able to write anything but a nasty, expletive-filled diatribe.

    that said, i’m flying american again in three weeks because they were the cheapest option. thankfully, it’s a nonstop flight this time, and i know to expect a 4-hour delay…

  39. lihtox says:

    I would say that the scenario described here was bad, but not *uncharacteristically* bad. An experienced traveller would have avoided most of these problems by a) watching for gate changes, b) not locking the suitcase, c) putting some essentials in a carry-on bag, d) bringing their own entertainment, and so forth.

    On the other hand, this letter, written from an outsider’s perspective, illustrates just how messed up the airline industry is, and how much crap we put up with. We just roll our eyes and say “Well, what can you expect?” Well, maybe we should expect better.

    One of these days, the airline industry will grow out of its infancy and become a functional one. That hasn’t happened yet.

  40. RandomHookup says:

    I once missed a flight because of something similar. I checked in stand-by for a not-oversold flight. I sat patiently at the gate waiting, because I know they do the stand-by stuff last. Then the plane was gone and they told me I had to inform not lonly the people at the front counter I wanted to go stand-by on the flight (which I had done), but also the people at the gate.

    I missed a job interview because of this, though the company ended up in deep trouble and I probably would have been laid off anyway.

  41. Large says:

    I think Julianna is misreading rule 240. Rule 240 means that in the event of delays the affected passenger will be placed on the next available flight. A space available ticket is for all intents and purposes a standby ticket. The only distinction is that you are automatically placed at the top of the standby list. Beyond that, how is that people still haven’t learned to place important items (keys, medication, etc) in carry-on luggage?

  42. HonestAbe1 says:

    I think its is unfortunate that most of the comments left about juliana’s problem are against the consumer rather than for. Since when is it ok for a consumer reguarldess of any situation to receive service that is subpar to what is garanteed and paid for upfront. Im guesssing here but a roundtrip ticket to brazil is around 1300 to 1600 dollars. That is not chump change to most people and especially to a student. Missing her first flight due to a gate change i can agree and im sure she would agree was partially her fault for not paying attention to detail. Yes she should have paid some more attention to the monitors and announcements but these things happen. Where has the compassion gone not only from AA but from some of the posters here that are faulting her for just wanting to go home to visit her family and having a terrible flight and wanting to do something about it. I read someones comment a few posts up that said the person that drove her was male and he wondered if the brazilian person that missed the flight was a male would he have done the same thing. To him i say SHAME ON YOU. This is exactly the problem with people today. I read the letter and thought “what a nice friend” or “maybe this was her boyfriend” and even “thank god she had someone she could depend on being from another country and not having any family to help her”. It does not state if her locks were TSA approved but whos to say they werent. Ok her locks got broken off but so did the zippers. I guess thats ok to because she is from brazil and as a poster stated brazil is well none for drugs. How about she wanted to keep her bags that she paid for in good condition so she wrapped them in plastic. And she locked her bags not because she wanted to keep security out but she wanted to keep her belongings in. She paid for a service, the service included music on the flight, video, reading lights and her making it to the destination on time with her and her bags. This is what was paid for, not what was recieved. The world has become so jaded that someone who is guilty of only wanting to see her family is expected to pay almost 2000 dollars after the penealty fee AND EXPECT BAD SERVICE from the airline “because thats just the way it is these days”. Would any of you fell the same way if you bought a car for 2000 dollars and turned out to the opposite of everything that was told to you it would be?nAnd to take it one step further speaking as an American that travels all over the world, we are one of the only countries that find it ok to treat people in this type of manner. The passion and compassion is missing in people now adays and it is disheartening to say the least.

  43. a_m_m_b says:

    @HonestAbe1: very well said. too many commenters here on consumerist have become blame the victimist of late.

  44. Michael says:

    @HonestAbe1: tl;dr

  45. aggressiveapathy says:

    I have been a baggage handler for AA for over thirty years and in that whole time I saw one thief and he was fired for stealing. Sorry about how you were treated but there are some issues with upper management getting grande bonuses while the rank and file employees gave up billions in pay,and bennies. Certainly not the consumers fault for surly angry service. Again, I am sorry.

  46. p12 says:

    I was in the city of cedar rapids iowa and the bus never showed up to take me to chicago..I then took another bus,cause it looked like the correct bus,but it dropped me off in cleveland!My suitcase was smashed by the driver. My friend drove from chicago to cleveland to pick me up,and got a speeding ticket! I think the bus company should give me $20,00 and pay for my friends ticket. Oh,by the way,my bus ticket was $15.

  47. hardcle says:

    Aren’t people who check in, but don’t board a flight supposed to raise all kinds of security red flags? It seems like it would be awfully easy to get something nasty onto a plane that way.

  48. Brenda59 says:

    OMG what a horrid experience! I’m sorry you had to go through all that headache. If I may, I’d like to recommend my favorite travel tip. I use Global Bag Tags and love them.

  49. timkline says:

    Here’s an idea: pay close attention to any gate changes for your flight at the airport. Should help.

  50. sydnsally says:

    The service that my wife & I received from American Airlines reminds me of the service that my grandfather’s cow received from the neighbor’s bull, but she probably enjoyed it more ! Because of personnel shortage due to CUTBACKS, we were stranded at DFW for 2 nights, costing us $300. in hotel costs, and $80 in taxi fares. and they blamed it on the weather, so they would not reimburse usd. “An act of God” they called it!

  51. sydnsally says:

    Does anybody have an address that I can write to A/A? I want to write as letter, but I do not know where to send it ????????????????????????????????


  52. sydnsally says:


    American Airlines
    P.O. Box 619612MD2400
    SFW Airport TX 75261-9612



  53. jbtampa says:

    My wife has worked for TWA/AA since 1970 in various front-line airport agent positions. So I hear it all. Plus, I’ve traveled alot on TWA/AA. Sat on snowy tarmacs for hours only to return to the gate….been there, seen that, you name it, and it’s true—don’t check any baggage, at all, period. We go around the world on a roll-aboard, you can too. Get to the gate at least an hour early, two international. Remain alert. Print a boarding pass at home and skip the ticket counter. Keep it simple, arrive early. Trust me, my wife, sweet and smiling, gets beat up by passengers every single day. And almost every single time, the screaming passenger thinks they are entitled to something. and all that said……sshhh… AA does not give a rat’s ass..

  54. jharbinal says:

    My horrible AA experience. To recap, I was scheduled
    to travel from Las Vegas to Huntsville, Al on June 6th returning from a business
    trip. My original flights were American 1856 connecting to 1902 in DFW. Flight
    1856 was delayed from the original departure of 11:05A until after 2:00P on June
    6th resulting in not only myself in missing my connection but approximately 37 others
    from my company returning back home. We were told that since there were so many
    of us that they would hold the flight to Huntsville for us but once I reached DFW,
    I found that the flight had departed. Once my now 3 hour late flight (1856) reached
    DFW, the plane had to sit on the tarmac for another 30-40 minutes waiting on a gate
    further delaying my travel. I tried to call the American 800 number while sitting
    on board the plane to inquire about my contingency plans but the agent was not at
    all helpful, could not find any activity about the delays and alternative options
    and just told me to check inside the airport when I got off the plane. She also
    asked why I did not get off the plane and I tried on several occasions to explain
    that I could not due to us being stuck on the tarmac awaiting a gate. The flight
    attendants announced that a representative would meet the flight and assist passengers
    with missed connections; however, the said representative was too busy giving out
    gate and times to other people and “passed the buck” by sending me out to the ticket
    counter, past security. Out of six AA personnel in LAS and DFW, I finally found
    only one that was able to help. I find it unacceptable that there were no service
    desks airside to assist with a problem like this. Overall, on the last three American
    travel experiences, I have received extremely poor service. In April, I was caught
    in the wiring inspection fiasco resulting in not only a cancelled flight, but also
    delays upon delays. I missed being at the hospital in Chicago during my daughters
    surgery due to this problem. On Thursday May 29th, I experienced a delay by American
    from DFW to LAS (flight 1887) arriving late and now this latest. In my book, three
    strikes and you are out. Your announcements always say “We appreciate your business”,
    but I find this an oxymoron. I have heard an old saying that if you don’t take
    care of your customer, someone else will, and that is very true. I finally arrived
    home at around 11:40 June 7th, some 16 hours later than my original itinerary.
    I missed two doses of medication that was in my checked luggage and I was not feeling
    well. I thought there was a rule that if you arrived 4 hours or more later than
    your scheduled arrival, that the airline was responsible for paying you for your
    ticket price as well as other compensation. I do expect some generous compensation
    for my problems on this, my third trip with American. In addition, I expect a reply
    to this communication. On a positive note, of which there are very few in this
    communication, I do want to praise DFW employee Alan Basinger for being the only
    person out of many in LAS and DFW that could and did assist me with alternative
    plans. But this was after being shuttled from place to place and having a very
    BAD taste in my mouth from the poor service I had received prior to the assistance
    provided by Mr. Basinger. All of your staff could take lessons in customer service
    from this gentleman.

    I have already filed a complaint with the Department of Transportation’s Aviation
    Consumer Protection Division.

  55. wisestone says:

    American Airlines has reached a new low ebb in its inhuman and pathetic customer service. My wife who is pregnant was traveling from Chicago to Washington DC last week. After a long day of business meetings, she requested that she be allowed to pre-board to settle in. The agent at the airport rudely brushed her aside and told her to get back to her group. She politely asked if they would be willing to make an exception as she was very exhausted, the agent again rudely told her to step aside. When she suggested that she plans to complain to the customer relations, the agent arrogantly told her to to use the web to go ahead and complain. Shame om American Airlines for treating its cutsomers in this manner. As a matter of fact I challenge the American management to aplogize in public if they have any guts and self respect and take stringent action against the employee. Shame on American Airlines.