Wednesday, October 3, 2012

open letter to the captain of american airlines flight 34, LAX to JFK, sep-27-2012

Warning: This post has nothing whatsoever to do with mid-century modern.

We were cautioned about potential flight delays due to malicious pilot mischief on our recent Thursday 8AM Sep-27-2012 American Airlines flight 34 from Los Angeles International (LAX) to John F. Kennedy (JFK). Apparently the AA pilots are a little miffed about the bankruptcy and subsequent court action in September. According to the Wall Street Journal on Sep-24-2012:
A U.S. bankruptcy judge this month granted the company's motion to abrogate its current pilots contract so the airline could impose terms the company said it needs to cut labor costs and increase productivity.

Abrogate means to "repeal or do away with." I looked it up.

Apparently the pilots have organized a work slowdown, calling in unnecessary maintenance items, causing delays and havoc with schedules and airport gates.
The union on Saturday said its members had run into "substantive maintenance-related issues" in the previous several days. "The list of unresolved maintenance issues grows every day…and we can't ignore serious maintenance issues that could easily turn into safety risks," said union President Keith Wilson. The union said it wasn't making "trivial maintenance requests" and listed issues such as fuel leaks, an engine-generator failure in flight, inoperative weather radar and a plane hit by lightning.   

Image courtesy of

Really? I beg to differ. Without going into the painstaking detail of our two and a half hour delay (okay maybe I will a little) suffice it to say:
  • After sitting for about an hour after boarding at 7:30AM for an 8AM fllight, the captain announced that it was delayed because he had requested maintenance and maintenance hadn't come.
  • He lounged around first class, chatting, with the cockpit door open. It was clear we weren't going anywhere anytime soon. Pretty soon a passenger approached him and you could tell it was not friendly.
  • We were all promptly deplaned (as our punishment).
  • I phoned into the AA Call Center and asked for another flight. I said there was a maintenance delay. She said, and I quote, "This is so embarrassing.
  • By 10AM AA boarded our plane again (we decided to wait it out).
  • The captain announced that the "loose door handle" had been repaired by maintenance.
  • At 10:30AM we took off for JFK.
  • The passengers around us (we were back in steerage), were primarily international, and they were in a panic due to all the missed connections to Europe.
  • After we arrived at our destination at 7:30 PM, two and a half hours late, the international passengers piled up in huge lines at the desk to get new flights.
We were super annoyed but alternatively relieved that our flight was not cancelled. But we were angry for all the passengers whose days were ruined and were now spending the night at JFK, having missed their flights to go home.

Image courtesy of

By Friday (the next day), at 10:54 AM, less than 24 hours later, we both had this email from AA:
You are a good customer and we let you down when we didn't get you to your destination as planned. We are so sorry! In appreciation of your understanding (and to help minimize any lingering frustration you may still have), we've credited your AAdvantage® account with 3000 bonus miles. Take a look at your account via in a couple of days, and the adjustment will be there.
Please continue flying with us. We are committed to providing our customers with the kind of outstanding service they expect, and deserve, from us. We hope to see you aboard American again soon. 
B. J. Russell
Customer Relations, American Airlines
AA Ref#1-688892448
We appreciate the effort from AA. Thanks for the 3,000 bonus miles (cash value $30). To be fair, on the AA website, they have a message:
If our recent operational challenges have impacted your trip, you can submit a request for compensation. In the Message box on the form, please tell us about the inconvenience.
Here are our thoughts about the captain:
  • What a perfect flight to mess with - 8AM LAX to JFK, sold out, with lots of international connections,
  • On a Thursday, nonetheless, end of week, business travelers going home,
  • And, then seemingly mock us, by announcing a "loose door handle."
We don't negotiate with terrorists. And neither should American Airlines. 

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  1. I don't blame them for being upset about a cut in pay, but they shouldn't take it out on the customers. Maybe they should be looking at the executives' salaries.

    1. Seriously. Or picketing. Or some other less hostile form of protest. Most of the travelers were mad at American Airlines which seems to be the pilots' intent. The pilots truly gain nothing by ruining American's tenuous hold on its marketshare.

  2. Great article. thank you so much for the airline and travel information..


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