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Yesterday wasn’t a great travel day for me. I was headed back to Chicago from a conference in Las Vegas and was booked on a United Airlines flight. It was supposed to depart at 6:34 PM and arrive at 11:59 PM. The inbound was delayed and the time kept rolling later and later. I was sitting in the United Club℠ around 3:00 PM and decided that the flight was getting too late. I looked at other options and found an American Airlines flight that was just a little delayed. I hopped on my company’s Concur and booked the flight.
Because I was close to departure time it would not let me choose seats or do much of anything. It randomly assigned me an awful seat and there was no way to change it. I decided to call AA and was told they could do nothing since the flight was under airport control. I waited in the lounge for a bit and walked over to the gate close to when it was supposed to depart.
This is what I found. No agent was working the desk. There were kiosks nearby, but they did not function. Even though I had a boarding pass (with a bad seat), the kiosk said that the reservation was invalid.
An agent arrived about 20 minutes before the flight was supposed to board. I waited a moment for her to put her things down before approaching the podium to ask for a seat change. She was unpleasant and not very helpful. Here is our interaction:
Me: “Hello. Would you be able to help me with a seat change? The kiosk and app are not working.”
Agent: “Nothing works. I have to log into five systems and they are not working.”
Me: “Okay. I’ll give you a moment.”
Agent: “It will be more than a minute. Nothing ever works. Give me your boarding pass.”
Me: “It’s on my phone. I can give you the confirmation number.”
Agent: “No. Stand here. I’ll do it.”
Me: “I booked a ticket in Economy as no First Class seats were for sale. If someone does not check in or make the flight, would I be able to buy the seat?”
Agent: “You are only Gold. That doesn’t get you anything. We have Executive Platinums that are much more important. They get the seat.”
Me: “I’m not asking for an upgrade and thank you for noting my loyalty to AA. I’d like to buy the seat. I want to buy up to First if I can.”
Agent: “You don’t fly us much. I can tell. We don’t do buy up here. It goes to my Executive Platinums.”
Me: “I find it funny AA would not want the revenue.”
Agent: “I’m busy. Here is your new seat.”
Me: “This seat is further back then the one I had before. I saw 8E is available in the bulkhead. I’d like that one.”
Agent: [big sigh] “Here you go, 8E.”
She then put the paper boarding pass on the counter and started typing something else.
Me: “Thank you.”
Agent: “Next time, choose your seat when booking or use the app.”
Me: [not wanting to discuss this further] “Thanks.”
The flight was uneventful. The bulkhead seat was a bit cramped. Wi-Fi worked well and the outlet was powered on the entire flight.
The flight attendants were friendly and came through quickly with a snack and beverage selection.
- American’s app is awful. I could not change a seat, see an upgrade list, or do much of anything.
- The kiosks at LAS were not functioning.
- This agent needs training and an attitude adjustment.
- I’d like to learn if she is right that AA does not upsell seats. This doesn’t seem accurate.
- AA’s Wi-Fi is fast and I had no hiccups with it.
- The seats in Economy were cramped. They did not have any monitors, but the outlets worked throughout the flight.
I’m happy to report that I landed around 11:00 PM and my original flight landed after 1:00 AM. An hour delay is not a big deal, but at the time of night it would not have been fun. The flight was uneventful and quick.
Anthony’s Take: Between the app, kiosk, and gate agent’s attitude, I was turned off to flying American. I have consistently not enjoyed flying American in the past. The flight was fine, service was fine, but the bad taste left on the ground will make me continue to avoid them. United and Delta’s apps are leagues better than what AA passes off as a functional app.
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