AN OPEN LETTER TO AMERICAN AIRLINES

Dear American “Airlines,”

So that you may not duck this formal complaint with the cheap excuse that it is profane and uncivil I will endeavor to keep my swearing to a minimum. I suspect, however, that I will be as successful as your airline is at getting flights off the ground on time. What say we forgive one another in advance for coming up short?

Simply put, American Airlines, you are a very bad airline. The following tale of woe is true in every detail, as I am certain that other customers who have been bent over and cornholed by your sad excuse for a going transportation concern will be able to attest. Through repeated mergers and acquisitions you have managed the incredible feat of becoming the world’s largest airline while retaining all of the charm, efficiency, and customer service of the third largest taxi company in Lagos. Future generations will look back on this accomplishment with awe and wonder.

On Thursday, June 19 my flight out of Peoria, IL (where hopes and dreams go to die) was canceled for “weather.” I was helpfully rebooked on a flight Friday, June 20. As this cut into an already brief vacation to Mexico, the ticket agent was kind enough to offer me the opportunity to fly out of Bloomington, IL, located 45 minutes away, on the same day. Thus I drove at breakneck speed to Bloomington to make the outbound flight. Figuring that a canceled outbound flight would be lonely if not paired with a canceled return flight, I arrived at O’Hare to find my 9:05 flight to Peoria on Monday, June 23 was also canceled. For “weather.” Suspiciously, the 9:05 flight was canceled before 7 PM yet a separate flight to nearby Bloomington on which your agents refused to book me took off (after sundry delays) at 9:15. If the 9:05 flight could not fly through the “weather”, I can only assume that the 9:15 flight was torn asunder with the loss of all on board since PIA and BMI are merely 30 miles apart.

Realizing that a gaggle of upset customers was waiting at the gate to be accommodated, the AA gate agent helpfully walked away. Like, she just left. This employee – let's call her Eva Braun, to choose a random name – did not return for a full hour, time that I strongly suspect* she used to fortify herself with prescription cough syrup and Jeppson’s Malort.** Upon her return I waited a considerable amount of time to advance in this line at a pace best described as that of a pre-holiday queue outside the last open butcher shop in Riga, Latvia prior to the fall of Communism. When my turn came, Eva informed me that she was “busy” and I should, I quote directly, “go find someone else to help (me).” As a different flight was preparing to depart from this gate, my issue was “not (her) problem.”

American Airlines, I could get better customer service from the Kansas City Mafia. That’s not even one of the good ones.

After trying several people in AA uniforms standing behind desks at AA gates, I finally found a young lady who was able to reschedule me for a flight on Tuesday, June 24. As this strands me overnight in Chicago, I asked which hotel I would be boarded in for the evening. She informed me that I could get a “discounted rate” at area hotels but that I would bear the cost of the room. Confused, I asked slowly if I heard correctly – my hearing has been a bit out of whack since I stood too close to a loudspeaker at a Motorhead show in 1996. She replied, with no small amount of embarrassment, that since the cancellation was due to “weather” and thus "beyond the control of the airline," I would not be compensated with a hotel. Or even a lousy meal voucher. Given that AA cannot seem to control its own scheduled flights it comes as no surprise that the company has not yet mastered control of the weather.

At this point I would like to reiterate that you, American Airlines, are a very shitty airline and I wonder if perhaps you would not be better suited in another line of business. I’d have had better luck getting home by slathering my naked, hirsute body with expired Soviet postage stamps and taking a running dive into a Post Office.

Here I lie on the linoleum of O’Hare Terminal 3, pondering how a company that only does one thing could be so terrible at the thing. In the future it is my fervent hope that AA is purchased by a company that is competent at what it does – say, the makers of Jimmy Dean’s breakfast meat cylinders – and this will instill some managerial and organizational competence in your alleged airline. Their product may be a horror unequaled in the Western world, but at least they don’t fuck up the one thing they do. And I am fairly confident that Jimmy Dean’s would not make me sleep on an airport floor or make me buy my own shitty airport dinner.

In closing, American Airlines is a ball-gargling clusterfuck of an airline. How your one-lung shitshow manages to limp from quarter to quarter in solvency is a mystery. I lie here certain that your long term plan to fly the idea of customer service into the ground at high speed has been foretold by prophecy and cannot be stopped.

You are worse than Delta. How is that even possible. Don't worry though, they plan to one-up you by instituting a new policy under which one passenger on each flight is chosen at random and shot.

In spite,
Ed

*Libelous, likely untrue
**Look it up

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64 Responses to “AN OPEN LETTER TO AMERICAN AIRLINES”

  1. J. Dryden Says:

    This is the kind of post that devolves quickly into a "you think *that* was bad, lemme tell you about *my* nightmare experience with [airline]"–and I admit, that was my first instinct. But I won't do that, because, really, what good would that do? (Although, "worse than Delta" is one of those phrases that…just…you start questioning the meaning of words and the nature of reality when you hear shit like that.)

    I also won't be the guy who pipes in with "Wow, the last time I flew on American it was great"–because, while that may be true (it wasn't for me), it's also the equivalent of the lottery winner saying "Oh, that was your experience? Weird, mine was totally different!" And fuck that guy, am I right?

    So instead I'll just say this: Look, few companies can fuck their customers over with greater impunity than the airlines.

    And thus, few companies fuck their customers over with greater impunity than the airlines.

    Because, what're you gonna do? Not fly? Good luck getting to anyplace worth visiting!

  2. Nick Says:

    Lost it at "That's not even one of the good ones."

    Fine form, Ed.

  3. Nunya Says:

    Airlines are so ubiquitously fucked up that I have given up complaining and have been reduced to singing the praises of whatever flight did not force me to fellate a ruminent of any kind.

    That being said, Cathay Pacific treats their passengers well… like 1999 well!

  4. Kevin Says:

    Hell, some years ago I and my brother were scheduled to fly from Las Vegas to San Jose on Southwest, and our flight was delayed so long that three other flights to San Jose actually left the airport, without any of the people scheduled for the earlier flight being let on them. We arrived in San Jose five hours after we were supposed to, on a flight that was supposed to take an hour.

    In short, airlines suck donkey balls.

  5. Xynzee Says:

    QANTAS! Let me present to you an airline that was once the standard to which other airlines measured themselves. Until it was sold by the Hawke (Keating) govt, because you know governments cannot successfully run an airline and ensure safety standards. Unlike privatised companies who are so much more concerned about well maintained planes and customer satisfaction.

    Now the vision for QANTAS is to effectively sell the premier flagship off to whomever, and then focus on Jet Star—a cut rate budget airline that aspires to enable its passengers to tell the worst travel stories.

  6. arjun Says:

    Obviously, someone should collect these stories for a book, maybe called "Fun and Frustration in Airline Travel." I know i could contribute enough for a chapter on the TSA (Touch that Sexy A$$) alone.

  7. RosiesDad Says:

    I live outside Philly which is a big US Airways hub. US Airways is a consistently awful carrier and has improved not at all since their merger with American. It is now a better option, if I need to fly to Ft. Lauderdale (where I have family), to fly Delta with a layover at Hartsfield than it is to try to fly US Airways direct. At least they have good food options in the airport in Atlanta.

    Where is high speed rail when you need it? I would so rather take a train…

  8. Arslan Says:

    Wow, this ties in with what we were were all discussing yesterday.

  9. Rothbard Scissorbill Says:

    Excellent rant. My worst experiences
    with airline travel were not as bad as
    what you had to deal with, & even so,
    I have given up flying commercially.
    It would be pleasant to imagine one of
    the executives of this concern being
    tied to a chair & forced to listen to this
    post being read aloud. But that won't
    eventuate, I guess.

  10. Middle Seaman Says:

    Eva Braun? the Lagos insult may mistakenly be against a lovely small town by this name in southern Portugal. The taxis there are lovely.

    Service in general in slowly approach a Central American level. United, which I fly a lot with, isn't any better. The worse was a 6am cancelled from Newark to DC flight after an 11 hours flight from the Middle East. "Take the train to DC; we will reimburse you." 6 months later I am still wait for my $200.

    Verizon, electric company, court records, flex fund managing, my dean, health insurance company, etc. All these shaft you every opportunity they get.

  11. c u n d gulag Says:

    AA charged me over $1,000 to fly back from Hawaii where I was vacationing when my aunt – my Godmother – died, back in 1995.

    I had to be punished, you see, because I was supposed to be out there from another week or so, and that's why the original tickets were so deeply discounted.

    They assured me that what I was paying was their discounted rate when a death in the family occurs.
    Assholes.

  12. democommie Says:

    I once flew out of Boston on a BEAUTIFUL CLEAR BLUE SKY WINTER DAY (it was delayed 90 minutes due to weather) landed in "wintry mix* to find that my connecting flight *(leaving at 4:00PM–on time) had "Slipped the surly bonds," etc, in a near whiteout.

    I then waited till about 2:00 AM and boarded SIX different flights before finally taking off IN THE SAME HORRIFIC FUCKING WEATHER as that which I had arrived in.

    Years later a friend who worked for United told me that the problem wasn't equipment it was personnel. Each of those aircrews were going to be forced to fly away from their "domicile" and spend a few hours in Omaha, while their plane took a nap and got hosed down in Omaha. So, my best guess is that the pilot of those first five planes said, "You can make me taxi out and de-ice but when my watch says, "X:xx" we'll be back on the jetway because I CANNOT take off after my max time (although going over the limit in the air is apparently A-OK with the FAA) in the cockpit is reached.

    Airline Kabuki. When my friend explained this to me he painted the eyeshades in accounting as the high priests in that sort of drama. I had a hard time believing that any company could be that arrogant and disrespectful to paying customers–until I remembered it was an airline.

    I remember when I kvetched to someone who worked for one of the major carriers that Southwest flew people faster (not airspeed, timeliness) and cheaper with less bullshit.

    He said:

    "Well, they're not safe; they don't FEED you a nutritious and delicious civilian MRE on every segment over 4 hours AND their pilots look like they just graduated from some community college flight training school instead of the guys WE use who are all grizzled vets of the Lafayette Escadrille**. They also had superior baggage loss and damage policies***.

    Now that the airlines have all gone to "Do not feed the animals" and charging a fee for any luggage larger than a wallet with a single condom in it (unless it's a "Frequent getting fucked over by us Flyer" with a carry-on the size of a steamer trunk) and pretty much dispensing with even the pretense of giving a shit about customer service it's nice to see that their prices have come down while the %age of on-time arrivals and departures is about the same as Ivory bath soaps oft stated 99&44/100ths % pure.

    * The "Santorum" of precipitation

    ** I may have veered off the flightplan that I mapped, there.

    ***Those amateurs at SWA were NEVER able to lose one of my bags or run it over with one of those ramp Zambonis****.

    ****Is the plural of that eponymous piece of hockey arena surface prepping equipment simple "Zambonis" or is it "Zambonies"? Any votes for Zambonae?

  13. Dave Dell Says:

    I'll drive anywhere in the continental U.S. or Canada before I'll fly there. Retirement is good for avoiding airline travel.

    My work life experience is that about 90% plus of air travel in and out of Reagan in D.C. is on time and well managed. Don't want to risk the wrath of some Senator/Congressman or rich people's lobbyist. Other airports? Not so much.

  14. Skipper Says:

    Helpful hint: if your flight is delayed/cancelled, avoid the lines. Call the airline 800 number and have an agent there rebook you. Much faster and more efficient.

  15. Graham Says:

    I rarely fly, and haven't since 1999 I think.

    Consequently the next time I fly, the ingeniously packaged and hidden food will intrigue and delight me exactly as does the ingeniously packaged and hidden food intrigue and delight the Chimpanzees in a zoo .

    Xynzee, I flew Ansett from Perth to Melbourne shortly before they went bust. The meal was a 50g packet of potato chips literally tossed at me by the hostess.

    On the other hand in the 1970's I used to fly Ansett from Perth to Mt Newman, a trip of just over an hour: in the brief time the plane was level they managed to serve the ingenious (etc) breakfast, before landing almost immediately.

    Like the chimp I am, I quite enjoyed myself.

  16. Bob Says:

    I had a similar AA experience last time I flew. Stuck in an airport overnight and AA doesn't care at all. They don't even pretend to care with a free meal or credit towards your next flight. The "discounted" hotel rate they offered us was $99 a night in a hotel you wouldn't wish on your worst enemy.

  17. Chicagojon Says:

    I can't find where I read it this week but someone/somewhere claimed that United States airlines are now the most profitable airlines in the world.

    Looks like capitalism succeeded once again. Maximized profits, complete and utter shit service – especially for the lowly peons.

    Best of all, this isn't anywhere near the bottom yet. Since airlines profitability is still considered mediocre for investment relative to other industries like oil, gas, weaponizing humanity, snake oil, etc. the airlines are only getting started in finding ways to target profit over people.

  18. jeneria Says:

    I can only add this: I was flying to Phoenix out of Milwaukee with a connection at O'Hare. They canceled the flight from MKE to ORD with no explanation (I can only assume gremlins) and offered to bus us to O'Hare which would have ensured that most of us would have missed our connecting flights (on a good day it's a 2 hour drive to Chicago, on a bad day. . . .). Most jumped at the chance to bus it, but those of us who hung around irritating them were rebooked on later flights out of MKE. Instead of a connection at O'Hare, I had a connection in Houston. I still have NO IDEA what happened.

  19. geoff Says:

    I believe Arslan has hit the nail on the head. This is just crapification in action. The last time I flew anywhere it took me twelve hours for a trip I could have driven in nine. I can't really see any reason to ever get on a plane unless you're going intercontinental.

    Anybody here remember air travel before deregulation (roughly 1979)?

  20. quixote Says:

    For some reason this makes me think of my first airplane flight. It was back in the Paleolithic on an airline then called BOAC. I was nine, and in those days the airlines would do special things for kids like give them little well-made metal pins with wings. (Good for customer loyalty! Look it up. That was a thing, once upon a time.) We got three course meals on china. On the way back we ran into Hurricane Donna. The flight had to divert to Newfoundland and took 24 hours from London to get there. Luckily, in the high and far off times, they carried lots of extra fuel. I had the time of my life.

    These days? Not so much.

  21. Andrew Says:

    I mainly fly Southwest and couldn't be happier with them. The one time they screwed the pooch royally and I was five hours late to my destination (all while being paid by my employer for every hour I spent in the airport), they coughed up $250 in travel vouchers without even being asked. Since I was flying on business and charging my employer the full cost of the ticket, that was exactly the same as $250 cash as far as I was concerned.

  22. Sarah Says:

    See, this is the reason I don't fly unless someone is dead or dying, or there is an ocean in the way (and on that last, I'd vacation within driving distance anyway). It's a shame we can't bring Amtrak back from the brink.

  23. Khaled Says:

    My wife flies for work about twice a month. What you just described, Ed, is pretty much routine these days. She has similar stories about every other time she flies. And of course no one cares, unless you're in a big airport, you don't exactly have a lot of choices. The FTC, once upon a time, looked out for "monopolistic" businesses and had power to prevent that from happening. However, under a previous presidential administration (I'll let everyone guess) the FTC instead turned into looking for "efficiency" instead- basically, merge two companies, fire the little people, and decrease competition- all in the name of "bringing more service to the customer".
    The "invisible hand of the market" doesn't work very well in industries with huge start-up costs- ie, none of us could go to a bank and ask for several billion dollars in loans to start up our own airline without being escorted from the property. Think the local taco truck sucks and you think you can do better? You can open your own taco truck. Since the FTC has decided that it's goal is to reward monopolies, we can be assured of more craptastic service in the future.
    Again, why can't we have trains??

  24. Whatver Says:

    Most people despise Malort, but for some reason I have a tolerance to it. I assume it is what Liquid Paper tastes like, but I don't want to confirm that.

  25. Jacquie Says:

    @democommie "Zambonii"?

  26. cromartie Says:

    Service this poor, which is endemic to virtually every airline, is why consolidation and the continued allowance of mergers in this industry is a bad idea. The airline industry needs competition, and continued consolidation doesn't help.

    Also, drop the bullshit about 'weather', American Airlines, no one believes you and it isn't the truth anyway.

  27. Rosalux Says:

    I'm sorry but none of this compares to the greatest cultural vandalism committed in our time, which is United's appropriate of Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue. If you appreciate the history of American music, hell, if you like music or nice sounding things at all, it's sheer auditory torture every time you step on to a United plane. Before you take off they subject you to a good 15 minutes of one of the greatest works of American music sliced, diced, mutilated and gang-banged into a shapeless mishmash of corporate Muzak. My soul hurts every time I have to fly United. It's unpardonable, cruel, barbaric and the whole corporate team at United should suffer for it. A whole generations of Americans should be revering Gershwin and now, when they hear his greatest work, they only think of a jingle for a crappy airline. It's too late for this generation. But perhaps, just perhaps, if they stopped now, Gershwin would be saved for a future, unborn generation.

  28. smr Says:

    Well, don't we deserve this? Just like we deserve shitty goods sold at the absolute lowest price by Wal*Mart. Americans have repeatedly proven that we'll always, always, always, vote for the lowest possible price, fuck quality of service, fuck quality of materials, parts or build… as cheap as possible, and if it breaks I'll just buy another. Same shit with the airlines.

  29. Rosalux Says:

    I will say that JetBlue is not bad, as far as airlines go in this country. I always choose JetBlue if I have the choice. And their terminal at JFK is pretty luxurious.

  30. Arslan Says:

    @smr- But airlines don't give us the low prices. Just the opposite. You pay more for less.

  31. Robert Says:

    The part of all this that truly distresses me is that the people who make the decisions and the people who take the abuse are entirely different groups. The woman at the podium? She's probably gotten more shit than a PortaPotty at a Gathering of the Juggalos. The men who decide that air travel should be a deleted scene from "Brazil"? They are as insulated from the consequences of their decisions as Dick Cheney.

    If I had to choose between working for an airline in customer service or being a telemarketer, well, let's say it would be tough.

  32. Chicagojon Says:

    @geoff re: why fly when you can drive Google "US highway deaths"

    @smr: but…"USA, USA, USA. We're #1"

    and to all: As a Chicagoan I apologize for O'Hare. It has the slowest international customs of any airport (or sea/border customs for that matter) I've ever been to, the baggage claim is slow and crappy, & it's consistently terrible in on-time ratings.

    Of course, a large part of that is the f'd up crisscrossing runways that should have been redone 20 years ago into parallel runways, but we can't have infrastructure improvements. This is the U-S-of-Motherf'ing-A.

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  34. fernando_g Says:

    -Now that the airlines have all gone to "Do not feed the animals" and charging a fee for any luggage larger than a wallet with a single condom in it-

    Hilarious, simply hilarious.

    I read the other day, that the standard wide bodied transcontinental seating of 3-5-3 seats, is seriously being considered to become 4-4-4.

  35. fernando_g Says:

    After I had submitted my post, I noticed my typo error.
    It would be 4-5-4 seating.

  36. smr Says:

    Arslan: That's emphatically not true. For all the shittiness of it, air travel has never been cheaper in the history of commercial flight.

    http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2013/02/how-airline-ticket-prices-fell-50-in-30-years-and-why-nobody-noticed/273506/

  37. Ursula Says:

    For my money, I'd bet that there just weren't enough people booked for either Peoria flight and "weather" was a defensible reason to cancel the flight that would not have brought them any profit.

    Fear of this exact situation is why I never fly to the airport closest (but still a 45 minute drive away) to my parents' house – CWA in Mosinee, WI – when I visit home. I will gladly rent a car and drive the 4-5 hours from the Twin Cities, Milwaukee, or Chicago just to get the hell out of the airport, with my stuff, as fast as possible.

  38. artlife Says:

    fly virgin america or virgin atlantic wherever possible

  39. Dick Nixon Says:

    Flew Eastern (#1 to the sun) to Tampa from the frozen north in the awful winter of '78–

    Mimosa cocktails, coffee, croissants and a half grapefruit served on and with actual tablewear. Ample seats, and of course, smoking. Refills encouraged on mimosas and coffee.

    It was the worst winter of my life and the flight amenities went a long way to save my sanity. This will never be seen again.

  40. Sarah Says:

    Well, don't we deserve this? Just like we deserve shitty goods sold at the absolute lowest price by Wal*Mart. Americans have repeatedly proven that we'll always, always, always, vote for the lowest possible price, fuck quality of service, fuck quality of materials, parts or build… as cheap as possible, and if it breaks I'll just buy another. Same shit with the airlines.

    Well, those of us who voted for it certainly deserve it (and that includes me on at least one level; hi, my name is Sarah and I once bought into libertarian ideology and voted Republican a few times). The thing is that this is harming everyone, including people who never voted for it, as well as those who believed it because we didn't know any better and have since come to our senses.

  41. Xynzee Says:

    @Robert: I feel you on that.
    In fact I believe that some companies are so sadistic that they purposely design their customer service policies to ensure that customers will abuse their staff.

    There should be a change to corporations laws where once a week senior management and the board of directors are put in stocks. Then customers are allowed to walk up to them and punch them hard in the face. Then we'll see how quickly things change.

  42. sookabilly Says:

    I've given up working in the US, which should be my best, or close to my best market. Why? Because I refuse to fly south of the border (I'm a Canuck). Now Air Canada is no screaming hell, but at least we have Westjet trying to do things right.

    I frequently fly across the Pacific and throughout East Asia, and the difference in customer service between Asia and America is astounding. A sentence I never thought I would write is that China Eastern Airlines beats US airlines hands down for customer service.

  43. GoBlue72 Says:

    There's half a bottle of Jeppson's Malort siting in my liquour cabinet. It mocks me from time to time on those rare occasions I am in the mood for distilled sock.

  44. Anonymouse Says:

    As Dick Nixon pointed out, there was a time when flying on an airplane wasn't sheer torture. I'm old enough to remember those times, and as a military brat, I spent a good portion of my life flying from one base to another (then I went to college and … inexplicably joined the military … leading to more flying around). I also remember when D.C.'s public transportation was (mostly) clean, on time, and not an exercise in frustration to simply use. Then came the Reagan years, and it's been a downhill slide since.

  45. buckyblue Says:

    Still better than Spirit Air.

  46. Jamie Says:

    A very shitty ariline indeed. Same thing happened to me on the same day, as I attempted to leave Miami. they geve me this "distressed passenger" chit for an allegedly reduced hotel room, 20 mailes away. After waiting for that hotel's van for 30 mins, I asked around and found out that a hotel .5 mi away was cheaper than the one AA directed me to. Also, they crapped out on me on a flight last June, at great inconvenience.

  47. Major Kong Says:

    My wife really wanted to go out to California for vacation this year.

    My solution was to put her on Southwest while I drove from Columbus to Indy and rode the jumpseat on one of our planes out to Oakland.

    Partly because I'm too cheap to buy an airline ticket for myself but also because I get a nonstop on a wide-body jet instead of two hops on a narrow-body. Plus I'm with the freight and I know the freight will get there.

    You see, we generally don't cancel for weather. Hurricane Katrina hit Memphis during our afternoon arrivals and did we divert the fleet? Noooooooo.

    We like to joke:

    "Hey did you check the weather?"
    "Why? We're going anyway!"

  48. anotherbozo Says:

    American was my first commercial flight, NYC to LA, ca. 1965, and it was excellent. Needless to say, Deregulation.

    After being punished by so many other companies, I checked and found Virgin had the highest customer ratings. It had flights for the same route, so I booked us this past January. A nationwide snowstorm delayed our flight back, but Virgin alerted me via email, allowed us to re-book, also via email, and were able to leave the next day on schedule. CTTOI, Virgin didn't pay for an extra night in the hotel, or meals either, but I don't believe in Santa Claus. It was enough to get out of there without hassle or insult.

    Also recommend Berlin Air. And Dubai Airlines. To find a decent company, you have to think outside the (American-owned) box.

  49. democommie Says:

    "Also recommend Berlin Air. And Dubai Airlines. To find a decent company, you have to think outside the (American-owned) box.Also recommend Berlin Air. And Dubai Airlines. To find a decent company, you have to think outside the (American-owned) box."

    Please let me know when they offer a non-stop from Albany or Rochester, NY to Omaha, NE. {;>)

  50. Major Kong Says:

    I've had decent service on KLM, Lufthansa, Turkish Airlines, Air France and even Malev (Hungarian national airline).

    I've been told that Emirates and Cathay Pacific have very good service but I haven't flown either one.

  51. skwerlhugger Says:

    If your flight was delayed due to "weather", your letter should best be directed to "God". Why the fuck do people think airlines control the weather? They have very specific regulations about when they can and cannot fly; it is often not a choice, and when they do, they can't do whatever and go wherever the fuck they want. Admittedly they cancel quicker than they used to, because of all the whiners complaining when airlines delayed flights rather than risk turning you into little pieces of meat scattered over several miles. Airlines serving shithole midwest towns have shitty performance records because that's where the shitty weather is. For a guy who spends his spare time complaining about what assholes his students are, you are surprisingly oblivious to the circumstances of a poorly-paid employee faced with hundreds of utterly clueless, whiny and self-centered jackasses.

  52. Andrew Says:

    @skwerlhugger: If the airline wasn't lying about weather being the cause of the cancellation, you would be absolutely right.

  53. Hamer Says:

    As a wise Peoria traveler, that flight has a 50% cancel rate or late. I have learned never to book it . http://flightaware.com/live/flight/ENY3037/history/20140626/0205Z/KORD/KPIA

  54. Andrew Says:

    Cancellation and lateness are not the same thing. If it's cancelled 10% of the time, I'm unlikely to book it. If it's late half the time, and it's my last leg home, I'll probably not care that much.

    Maybe I'm spoiled because I live an hour by public transit from a global hub airport, but if I lived in Peoria, I might consider driving the 2.5 hours to Chicago or St. Louis to avoid this sort of problem. Or maybe I wouldn't.

  55. Sharkbabe Says:

    The more our idiotic world breaks down the nicer it is to stay home.

    What a fucking slog travel has turned into! Not worth it anymore. And overrated to begin with.

  56. LG Says:

    The airlines are full of crap about the weather. Often the problem is not the weather where you are or where you are going or anywhere in between, but rather weather in some unrelated place that has kept some essential crew person from getting to your flight or gets them there after they are no longer safe to perform their job.

  57. Arslan Says:

    I liked Turkish Airlines though the price I paid for my trip between Istanbul and Tirana was rather high. Aeroflot is also quite good, in contrast to its earlier reputation.

  58. Sarah Says:

    @skwerlhugger: If the airline wasn't lying about weather being the cause of the cancellation, you would be absolutely right.

    They actually have a very good incentive to lie about cancelling for weather. Weather is considered an act of God and not the airline's fault, and thus the airline can't possibly be considered to be required to compensate the passengers for inconvenience. They are required to compensate for those things which are their fault, such as overbooking and finding that all their listed passengers have checked in and shown up at the gate.

    I had to fly to Fargo ND on very short notice a few years ago when my grandmother developed a kidney infection and was dying. My original itinerary was JAX to ATL to ORD to FAR (hey, it was nearly $1K and that was the cheap ticket). When I got to the gate in Atlanta I was informed that the flight was overbooked and would I mind giving up my seat for a later flight and $400 in travel vouchers. Because that day happened to be my birthday (yeah, I know), and because I relieved some of the gate agent's burden with my worship at the church of onebag.com (that is to say, I don't check bags if I can help it), she threw in a $15 food voucher so I could buy lunch. I was stuck in Atlanta for seven hours and didn't get to Fargo until past 9pm. I found out later that my original flight from Chicago to Fargo was cancelled for weather. So I not only had $400 in travel vouchers which I used to fly to Boston the following year for my sister's commencement from Boston University, I avoided getting stuck in Chicago overnight with the requisite hassle which that would have brought. My grandmother died about 24 hours after I got into Fargo.

  59. Barry Says:

    Zynzee: "In fact I believe that some companies are so sadistic that they purposely design their customer service policies to ensure that customers will abuse their staff. "

    The airlines have had multiple (and deliberate) bankruptcies to break pensions and reduce benefits. They've had multiple merges with layoffs and reduced benefits. They overbook passengers, and let the staff deal with it, which in many cases might mean having to tell the passenger that they're f*cked, and won't even get a hotel or food voucher.

    And that's on top of the inescapable stress of working in a system where bad weather 2,000 miles away can ripple through your workplace for a couple of days.

    It's amazing that the staff deal with it as well as they do.

  60. Andrew Says:

    Whenever I've volunteered to be bumped, I received several hundred dollars of airline scrip. Since I fly frequently, airline scrip is equivalent to cash for me. Thus it's a simple matter to deduct the cost of a hotel and use the resulting figure in my mental calculations of whether or not the offer is worth it.

  61. Xynzee Says:

    @Barry: I wasn't limiting my scope to just the airlines. Telcos anyone? Any company that use those stupid voice select things. Where the person on the other end has so few work choices that they find themselves in a call centre, and they have to stick to a script of such absurdity that even Monty Python cannot match. All of which has the customer ready to crawl through the phone line to inflict great harm on the unfortunate person on the other end.

    If you have good sense, you can stop yourself from metting out untold abuse upon someone who's in just as crappy a situation as you are, and has to stick to the script written by the sadists they work for. While abusing the person may make you feel better, it hasn't solved the problem and you've only succeeded in making someone feel shitty for wanting to have a job that pays.

  62. Sarah Says:

    If you have good sense, you can stop yourself from metting out untold abuse upon someone who's in just as crappy a situation as you are, and has to stick to the script written by the sadists they work for. While abusing the person may make you feel better, it hasn't solved the problem and you've only succeeded in making someone feel shitty for wanting to have a job that pays.

    Ayuh. I should mention in that story above, that I was very nice and sugary sweet to that gate agent in Atlanta. Flies, honey, vinegar, et al.

  63. Marc Says:

    The weather isn't the fault of the airlines. But pretending that there will be no weather problems anywhere is very much a choice that they don't have to make. You can know, with high confidence, that your system is vulnerable to weather delays. You can have extra crews ready and extra planes ready so that bad weather in Chicago doesn't cascade to delays in Denver. They've just decided that it's cheaper to strand people than to have spare capacity in the system.

  64. Kaleberg Says:

    Thirty miles can make a real difference in weather. Aircraft flying ETOPS 150 across the North Atlantic have only two engines. If one goes out, the other is only considered "good" for 150 minutes, then it really should land since it is going to be roaring through fuel with just one engine at relatively low altitude. Every flight plan had to have an ETOPS emergency airport and an alternate. There aren't a lot of airports in the North Atlantic except for one at Reykjavik and one at Keflavik. They are 30 miles apart, and while Iceland gets its share of crappy North Atlantic weather, these two airports never both get socked in at the same time.
    On the other hand, it might have been crew scheduling, and I wouldn't bitch about it all that much. While autopilots are just fine and dandy, you really don't want your crew borderline exhausted while they are flying you around. Air crews are subject to all kinds of complicated rules about continuous work hours, minimal rest hours and so on. This usually means eight hour nights in crappy motels, quick breakfasts and a lot of time on shuttle buses. It isn't glamorous. Still, eight hours in a crappy motel beats flying 12 hours straight.

    These rules date back to the golden age of rail, so don't count on high speed trains never having problems like this. Personally I loathe air travel, but in some ways it is magical. You go through security and enter the maw of the system and then get puked up fourteen hours later halfway around the world.

    P.S. Where does Southwest get its on-time reputation? I've never been less than 30 minutes late, and usually wind up waiting several hours for my delayed flight. On the plus side, I had a great talk with a former safe cracker who was now a security expert.