American Airlines Had a Terrible PR Week

Given the fact that America’s faith in its airline companies is roughly equivalent to its faith in Congress, we feel like the big names should be doing everything in their power to remind customers how great they are.

This week, however, the opposite happened.

American Airlines suffered from flight cancellations, absentee pilots, planned layoffs for 11-14,000 workers, and an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal urging all readers to avoid the airline altogether. Wow, that last one was quite harsh. But we were even more disturbed by this story:

In short, a man (who happened to be a frequent business traveler and regular AA customer) bought tickets to Disney World for himself, his wife and his daughter. Four months after buying these tickets, his plans got complicated by the fact that American changed the flight plans for the return trip. Unfortunately, this meant placing all the paid passengers in arbitrary seating arrangements. As American set things up, the man’s daughter would be sitting on the other side of the plane.

Of course he couldn’t abide by that, and the American representative was happy to announce that there were indeed three consecutive seats available on the return flight. The problem? The flyer had to pay an additional fee of $60, because the seats were now considered “premium.” Of course, that wasn’t the case when the family bought their tickets. Customer service fail? Oh yes.

Consumer advocates paint unexpected fees like these as an inevitable side effect of an airline industry increasingly reliant on gimmicks like the aforementioned premium seating to make a profit. They recommend that fliers refuse to pay the fees, show up to board, and put up a fight. Doesn’t sound too appetizing to us, but it may well be the only way to go.

We think we can capture our sentiments in two lines:

Dear American Airlines,

Have a terrible weekend. You deserve it.

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