It’s Whine Wednesday and I want to bring up a matter that is one of my personal pet peeves when it comes to flying (especially in the U.S.) which is the poor handling of irregular operations such as long delays.
Last Saturday I flew from Los Angeles to Las Vegas on American Airlines, a ride that is 50 minutes at best which ended up with a 5:20h delay because of missing flight attendants.
The practice that airlines fly in their flight attendants from all over the country just to operate another flight to a third destination afterwards is something almost exclusive to the U.S. and created plenty of headache for passengers everyday.
Everything was ready to go but there was no cabin crew (four flight attendants) available. Pilots and plane were sitting idle for hours and American apparently doesn’t have replacement crews available at LAX (or anywhere?). It was really unbelievable as nobody seemed to know where these crew are and when they will show up.
To make matters worse they kept pushing the delay in one hour increments which made it impossible to get properly re-booked onto other airlines or even buy a completely new ticket myself since American doesn’t have an agreement with Delta Airlines anymore to interline passengers. My travel insurance would have paid for delays over 3 hours but by that time all options for the day were either gone or sold out.
Delay notifications arrived by the hour, in the end in 30 minute steps.
People had show tickets, evening plans and other obligations most of which were rendered worthless considering the arrival in Las Vegas at 11:25pm instead 6:10pm. People around the gate were very upset, at some point American had catering set up by the gate to aid the folks who had to wait there for all this time.
The staff upstairs at the Flagship First Class Lounge wasn’t of much help either. Someone asked for his flight to be re-booked to the following day so he could just go to a local hotel which the staff denied saying he’d have to pay a change fee for that since the flight wasn’t cancelled. Great service – NOT!
I ended up changing my British Airways Emerald number for my American Airlines one (just lifetime Gold but sufficient in this case) since seats became available in First Class and at least got an upgrade on the late flight.
The departure time on the boarding pass was eventually updated but delayed for another hour.
In the end American also forgot to cater the aircraft while it was sitting by the gate for all these hours which the pilot admitted via the PA. He was obviously embarrassed about the whole situation.
For a major carrier like American Airlines such a situation is a reflection of their insufficient operations and lack of accountability. How airlines can schedule cabin crew in a way that all of a sudden flights are on the brink or being cancelled or delayed for 5x the expected flight time without flight attendants is negligent at best.
The insufficient information and lack of re-booking options did the rest that passengers were completely p’d off as I’m sure most can understand. In the EU airlines would be required to pay 250 EUR cash to each passenger for such a delay. Here people probably won’t get anything though I have already lodged my complaint including sending them a receipt for my show tickets on Saturday.