American Airlines still bites

By | August 14, 2007

A little over a month ago, I posted a letter I sent to American Airlines about a bad experience my family had on an international flight.  I’ve received the following woefully inadequate response:

August 2, 2007

Dear Mr. Kamens:

We don’t simply want to provide transportation — we also want to make your trip with us comfortable and pleasant. So, after reading your letter about your family’s recent travel experience, I can understand why you are disappointed. I am truly sorry you were not happy with the food choices, entertainment, seating and legroom.

The items of food we selected to offer our customers were carefully chosen from popular brand-name snacks. Again, we are sorry you were dissatisfied. We will closely monitor customer reaction to the food for purchase products currently available and your candid feedback will be used as a part of that continued assessment.

Our goal with the new inflight food service program is about providing our customers with the option to purchase freshly prepared items (on Hawaii and transcontinental

flights) or quality snacks (on shorter domestic flights), at a reasonable price to “tide them over” during their travels — if they so choose.

Further, we encourage every employee to provide friendly, courteous service. However, flight attendants have an especially crucial role in achieving that goal because they spend more time with you than any of our other employees.

There are times, though, when other duties keep them very busy, especially during boarding. For example, it is an FAA regulation that certain exits must be guarded while customers board and attendants may be unable to offer assistance to customers if to do so would mean leaving their assigned stations.

While this particular trip was unfavorable, your comments help us to see ourselves through our customers’ eyes and regret you preferred other carriers. We are grateful that you took the time to write to us — it gives us the opportunity to improve. We hope you will continue being our customers; it would be a privilege to welcome your family aboard again soon.

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 AA.com at http://www.aa.com/customerrelations.

Sincerely,

[name omitted]
Customer Relations
American Airlines

I can’t say I’m terribly surprised that they had nothing to say about their legroom and entertainment.  I mean, what could they say?  “You’re right, our legroom and entertainment do suck compared to everybody else’s.  Tough!”  But the way they addressed my complaints about the food service and (lack of) helpfulness of the flight attendants was completely unacceptable.

Their comments about allowing passengers to purchase food during the flight shows that they simply didn’t take the time to understand my complaint.  I wasn’t on a flight where this was offered as an option.  I was on an international flight, where the food was provided at no charge, and my complaint was about the fact that there was neither enough Kosher food (since the second food service did not include a Kosher option) nor enough food in general (since the second food service was merely a snack, not a full meal, and one full meal in eight hours isn’t enough food for anyone, whether they keep Kosher or not).

Rather than acknowledging that the flight attendants should have helped my wife, they made excuses, claiming that they were “very busy” with “other duties.”  Well, yes, I know they were very busy, because American doesn’t put enough flight attendants on their planes, but helping passengers buckle in their small children is in fact one of the “duties” flight attendants have.

They had a chance to respond constructively to my feedback, and they blew it.  My family will not be flying American again if we can help it.

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