What Darren Smith Said

At Jonathan Turley’s blog, weekend contributors fill in the void on those off days. Darren Smith has done yeoman’s work there, and I’ve enjoyed and appreciated his contributions. ¬†For that reason, this short post is offered to direct your attention to what his wife suffered at the hands of American Airlines.

My wife attended a professional conference in the District of Columbia and afterward was scheduled the night before last to fly from Reagan International to Albany to visit family. I remained home during her travels.

She was to board an American Airlines direct-flight to Albany at 7:30 PM. Just before then, the desk announced a delay, which then turned to a cancellation. It seems the flight was short a crewperson who allegedly was to travel from Charlotte. The airline then announced the flight would be delayed until 11:30 but changed this to a cancellation. Several of the original passengers were allowed to rebook on another flight but by the time my wife arrived at the counter there were no seats available. The next flight would be in the morning.

Essentially, they told my wife she was on her own. This was after she informed them she did not live in DC.

Even among businesses that spend a fortune on television commercials to tell you how much they love you when they couldn’t care less if you lived or died, airlines are special. They have protections that insulate them from the usual rules of contract.

You pay them money, and they keep it. Whether they actually do what you’ve paid them to do is entirely up to them. Usually they do. Sometimes they don’t. Even then, what they consider performance isn’t what they claim to sell. They lie to you. If they get you from here to there, eventually, they consider that a job well done. You don’t? Did you forget they don’t care if you live or die? They do care that you pay, though.

Read Darren’s post. For him, American Airlines is dead. It deserves to be. But it’s not the only airline, or business, that deserves to be.

We shouldn’t have to put up with any of this.

12 thoughts on “What Darren Smith Said

  1. shenebraskan

    And Southwest throws Muslims off flights on any flimsy excuse. Last was saying “Inshalla” at the end of a phone call, which means if God is willing. I think God wants us to travel by car.

  2. B. McLeod

    American is the most awful of airlines. I believe they have actually developed stranding passengers into a special, extortionate, art, by which they not-so-subtly pressure passengers to “upgrade” in order to attain preference on the stand-by list. I will never fly with these jackals again.

    1. SHG Post author

      My son flew AA a few weeks back. After purchasing his ticket, he went to select a seat. There were no free seats, only premium seats. So as he was flying the next day, he picked seats and was separately charged for them. I had a chat with AA about it, but learned that the CSRs you need to speak with can only be reached by email. So I emailed. The reply was, “if you used the seats, you pay. If you didn’t want to pay extra, you could have shown up at the airport early and gotten a seat assignment.” Of course, it didn’t say anything about that on the website.

      It was a scam for $33 each way.

  3. losingtrader

    The failure of an an airline to pay for a hotel/expenses can easily be solved by paying for you ticket with a credit card that pays you for expenses related to delayed/ cancelled flights.
    Chase Sapphire Reserve: If your common carrier travel is delayed more than 6 hours or requires an overnight stay, you and your family are covered for unreimbursed expenses, such as meals and lodging, up to $500 per ticket.

    Citi Prestige pays for delays of more than 3 hours.

    A lot of other premium cards have trip delay insurance built -in.

    I realize the post was bitching about AA, but at least there’s a solution to the problem that’s really easy.

    1. Mike

      You’re assuming that everyone that flies has a 750+ credit score and better than middle class income to afford those premium cards.

  4. Mr. Median

    Please send your thank you notes to SCOTUS for interpreting the Airline Deregulation Act to preempt virtually all consumer lawsuits against airlines. SCOTUS immunized airlines from private lawsuits and airlines gratefully accepted their munificence. Now airlines do stuff that would get any other company sued … go figure.

  5. Jim Shepherd

    When a business callously screws you over, it is unforgettable and unforgivable. AA has been dead to me since April 1994, when they cancelled our connecting flight out of Chicago, which was bereavement travel after my father passed away unexpectedly. They knew our circumstances, yet refused to even try to put us on another carrier that would get us there sooner than 2-3 hours after our original ETA. The rep at the counter said to my wife “That’s not my problem.”
    I now live in a smaller city whose airport’s primary carrier is AA, and I will drive 160 miles to another airport to avoid ever giving AA my custom again.

    1. B. McLeod

      But then, their service is also so unreliable you can often drive hundreds of miles to a destination faster that American Airlines would ever get you there. Sometimes, you could make better time on horseback. I don’t understand how they still have any passengers.

      1. Patrick Maupin

        People like to gamble. Just look at Las Vegas.

        The worse the house odds, the better people feel about a win. “Hey, look, ma! We took off almost on time!”

        Don’t for a minute think AA doesn’t know what they’re doing, but if you avoid Vegas, feel free to avoid AA as well.

        You may think I’m kidding, but I’m not, so while you think I’m insane anyway, I’ll throw out a related observation: people like to wait in lines. I know a lot of people who assume that the food must be good if they have to wait for it, and will later tell everybody how good the food was, against all evidence imparted by the actual food.

        It drives me nucking futz. Now, there are some places I like to eat where the wait time sometimes exceeds an hour, but I don’t eat there at those times, because I don’t require the presence of a herd to validate my behavior.

  6. Alex Stalker

    Jetblue did this to me in 2003. Except my flight was scheduled for Saturday, and the next flight was Monday, so they told me “come back Monday. We don’t care what happens to you between now and then.”

    I haven’t flown them since.

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