Anxiety On Board: An American Airlines Review
Flying to and from London on American Airlines. What an experience.
My husband and I have been flying American Airlines for the past 6 years. We are reward members and often use the AAdvantage eShopping program whenever we have a chance. We had the chance to fly to and from London using American Airlines rather than an international airline. As a first (and second) experience flying internationally with American, I was hoping that it would be a comfortable and easy set of flights (considering we were in business class). I was extremely disappointed. Here’s what happened:
On the way out: Terrible!
The flight started out alright. A lot of the flight attendants stopped by and talked about my daughter sitting in my lap, going on about how cute and happy she is. Everything changed once my meal was served. I didn’t like my appetizers, so I only had two or three bites. Of course this made it look like I wasn’t finished so nobody came to take my plates and present my entree. As one of the flight attendants passed, I let her know that I was finished with “these” (pointing to my appetizers) and that she could take them away when she had a moment. She happily took them. A few minutes later, a different flight attendant came over, stopped at my seat, gave me a look of disgust and just stood there in silence for about 30 seconds. Finally she threw her arms out and said quite sternly, “what happened?” I was so confused so I responded with, “I don’t know.” I was frantically glancing around trying to figure out why she was so upset. The rest of the conversation went as follows:
Flight Attendant: Where is your tray?
Me: Oh, the other flight attendant took it.
Flight Attendant: You don’t want your entree?
Me: Oh, yes I do want my entree.
Flight Attendant: Then why did she take your tray?
Me: I don’t know.
Flight attendant leaves angrily. A loud, unintelligible conversation began behind the galley curtain. After about 2 minutes, the flight attendant who took my tray comes back and places my tray with my entree back on my table. With a dirty look and low, condescending tone: “So you do want your entree.”
For the rest of the flight (another 8-ish hours) I didn’t want to ask for anything. What a burden I was to these business class flight attendants. If this was what I was experiencing in business, what were the patrons in economy experiencing?
On the way back: Please stop yelling at me
Both my husband and I were yelled at twice by the same attendant throughout the flight. Again, we are in business class. We are adults. You don’t need to yell at me like a child. You can speak to me like a normal human being. To be fair, the first time my husband was yelled at, he had undone his seatbelt a bit early after take off (though we were almost completely leveled out by that time, and he did it for a quick collaboration with me about the baby sleeping in my lap). Either way, a simple, sir please fasten your seatbelt would have sufficed. Yelling was unnecessary. She yelled at me about holding my daughter when the seatbelt sign was fastened (which, while I didn’t have her clung to my chest, she was somewhat nestled between my arms and legs as we were reading a book and looking out the window. The same attendant also told me off for waiting for the restroom. She told me to go to a different one down the hall (I had been waiting for less than a minute). I explained that the other one had been occupied for a few minutes. She then proceeded to tell me that I need to go down the aisle and across to the one on the other side of the galley (also occupied). In the end I went to the one she originally told me to go to and it turns out it wasn’t occupied, the flight attendants just forgot to unlock it after take-off.
Honestly, both of these experiences caused me so much anxiety. To be demeaned and treated like a child was unnecessary. I didn’t want to talk to anyone or ask for anything, nothing that would cause me to have to talk to the flight attendants. Flight attendants often have to deal with a lot of patrons who can be rude or condescending, but as someone who always tries to be nice, says please and thank you, and goes out of their way to follow the rules, I felt like I was mistreated. I don’t appreciate another person amping up my anxiety just because they are in a mood from dealing with other fliers.
On the way out: Horrendous!
We were not offered drinks before take-off (which isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker but it’s nice when they offer in business class. I could have used a water as I was a bit dehydrated from my flight the previous day.) The menu after take-off was as follows:
Small Plate: Hickory Smoked Rainbow Carrots (goat cheese, sunflower seeds, and dill buttermilk dressing)
Salad: Southwest Wedge Salad (with chipotle cilantro dressing, roasted corn, black beans, and cotija cheese)
Main Plate: Surf and Turf (tenderloin, grilled shrimp, piri piri sauce, and brussel sprout succotash)
First things first, they shut the lights off in the plane before our food came. So I could barely see what I was doing. Second, the food was horrible (the only good thing I got was the bread). The flavor and texture of everything made it all completely inedible. The carrots were so hard I could barely make it through one. I left the others on the plate. The tenderloin was chewy and tasteless. Honestly, I’ve never had an airline meal this bad. It makes me understand the “what’s the deal with airline food” joke. Of course after dealing with the horrendous service there was no way I was asking for some pretzels or snack food. So I just went hungry and thirsty for the rest of the flight.
On the way back: Edible.
We were offered drinks before the flight took off (yay!). The options were champagne, orange juice, or water. I opted for a glass of champagne (because I was hydrated well enough this time). It was a nice start to the flight.
The menu after take-off was as follows:
Small Plate: Rose Harissa Hummus (with potato kibbeh, kale tabbouleh, marinated aubergine, and sesame-honey feta)
Salad: Gem wedge salad (with feta, pomegranate, and raspberry vinaigrette)
Main Plate: Goat cheese stuffed gnocchi (with basil pesto, garden peas, romanesco, and artichokes)
Lights were on this time so I could actually see what I was eating! The hummus was okay: a bit tasteless but not bad. The gem wedge salad was probably my favorite thing out of both flights. The pomegranate made it stand out. As for the main plate, I only ate the gnocchi. The pesto was far too strong and the vegetables on it weren’t very tasty. But the gnocchi stuffed with goat cheese was good so I stuck to eating just those.
On the way out: Unsure about my seat
Sitting with the baby wanting to run around the “cubicle” floor makes me realize how much space there is. However, for some reason, my seat had less space than every other seat in business class. I don’t know if they just ran out of room when updating the airplane and modified the seat to fit. Whatever the reason, it was frustrating knowing that I wasn’t able to let my baby move around as much as she would in a different seat. Obviously, I had more room than I would have in Economy, so I’m grateful for the space that I got, it was just a bummer to see that it was less than she and I could have had.
On the way back: Spacious area
On the way back, my husband and I switched seats because mine was facing backward. With my motion sickness being as bad as it is, I didn’t want to chance it.
Spacing was the same in every seat (nice and spacious for my baby to move, climb, sit, lay; anything her little heart desired. The aisles between the seats were plenty big enough for me to get through with my baby attached to my chest without worrying about her kicking any of the seats on the way. (The aisles were also big enough for a couple in their 50s to be standing and making out loudly in front of my seat for most of the flight – with no complaint from the flight attendants). I may be bitter, but if you are going to tell us off, why don’t you tell them off as well? They are actually bothering other patrons.
I don’t know if bad press has caused the flight attendants to say, “forget it” and try to live up to the hype of their bad service, but never in my life have I ever felt like such a burden to anyone.
If I ever have a choice to fly American internationally again, I will not take it. I would rather spend more money to fly an international airline than pay less and deal with the American Airlines flight attendants. I felt so uncomfortable on both flights, mostly because of the flight attendants. And business class or not, I would rather be on an international flight feeling like I’m being cared for, than on American and dealing with nonsense from the flight attendants.