Why I Haven't Flown American

If you know me, which most, if not all, of you don't, you know I have no reservations about admitting my general disdain for American Airlines. At 26, I haven't flown them in over a decade, and have actively paid more, and traveled at inconvenient times, in an effort to avoid American. Since I've last flown American, I've become a Delta loyalist, where I have status, dabbled in JetBlue, experienced (and survived) Southwest/Airtran, and enjoyed a laugh at the expense of United Airlines.

However, all that changes today, October 15, 2015. I recently won tickets to the Chicago Seminars on points and miles, thanks to the folks over at The Points Guy. Mike and I had been joking about attending this event for a number of months, so winning these tickets was a shock, but one that all but mandated we drop everything, change our schedules, and make the pilgrimage to Chicago for the event.

Sitting at my computer the night we got the news, my airfare search began as it always does, going to Delta, Hipmunk, and ITA Matrix. Having earned Silver on Delta so far this year, I was hoping to add another flight segment in my play for Gold. Alas, this was not to be in the cards. Delta's flights to Chicago were double and triple the price of other airlines, rendering the few MQMs for status I could earn all but worthless. I was left with only one option: flying American.

So, I did what any sensible man in my position would do: took a big sip of Jim Beam and booked the flight. Hell, I wasn't going to miss the Chicago Seminars!

While I'll do a follow-up on the flight itself, I guess it's only fair that I now tell you why I stopped flying American. Simply, they hit my three strikes rule:

  1. While traveling to meet my grandmother in Aruba, they didn't hold a connecting flight I needed to make. Granted, you can't rely on an airline to hold every connecting flight, no matter how many passengers may be connecting from one delayed inbound flight. However, I took this one personally, as it stranded my grandmother, alone, in a foreign territory, for several hours. What was more offensive was America's inability to assist with a reasonable rebooking, and the gate agent's general lack of care about the situation.
  2. They broke my golf clubs. If there's anything I learned from having my own business, it's that sh*t happens. You make mistakes. You break something. However, what separates the greats from the merely average is your ability to own your errors, and make amends. When they broke my golf clubS (capitalization intentional), not only did they not compensate me in any way, they refused to admit fault, blaming us (my father and I) for poorly packaging them for travel. Guys, they were in the typical golf bag you would buy at Sports Authority, DICK's, or any other physical retailer I could list here, but none of us go to because we all buy our goods on Amazon now.
  3. They lost my luggage, and gave me $25. This one need no further explanation. To the person walking around in my brown corduroy blazer, I hope you wear it well.

All of this was only made worse by American's generally poor customer service, both in-flight and otherwise. I've never been impressed by the friendliness or politeness of the flight crews, who seem to view their work as just that, work, and not creating a memorable moment or experience for passengers. That's why I fly Delta. It may be more money, it may be less convenient, but I'm paying for the experience.