American Airlines facing several problems including recent loose aircraft seats
More than 500 commenters weighed in about American and other airlines
Some gripe about airlines and changes in industry, others defend American
Editor’s Note: This story is part of CNN’s series of stories looking at interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.
American Airlines is facing a possible perfect storm of Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings, terrible labor relations with its pilots, delayed and canceled flights, aircraft seats that won’t stay put and a growing number of reported flights diverted because of various problems midflight.
Travel agents and customers who book their own travel are starting to question whether they should fly the airline.
Who wants to fly American? More than 500 readers commented on CNN.com’s story asking that question, many lamenting what they see as the decline of a once-proud airline and others reporting that other U.S. airlines aren’t any better.
Comments have been edited for clarity and brevity.
Everyone has a bad airline story to share
“AA is my last option,” wrote Rick Ruiz. “Oldest jets in the fleet, every time I board one of their planes I feel like I just time traveled 20 to 30 years. Leg room is by far the worst of any carrier. Very expensive to fly them as well.”
“Absolutely horrible airline,” wrote a commenter using the name AKbearhugger. “The last time I flew with them, they destroyed my bag. Completely destroyed it. I went to the claims desk, and the “Customer Service” agent said it wasn’t covered. Let them go out of business.”
“I have over 10 million miles on American’s AAdvantage program – and I can tell you for certain their service has become a lot worse,” wrote DeeJ.
They’re not all on American
“My worse experience EVER was with Delta,” wrote wedn28. “They are the reason I do carry-on now. I’d take my chances with US Airways or AA if I have to, but try to use Jetblue.”
Goose69 prefers American to the competition: “Compared to most other US carriers, American was great. US Airways, Spirit, Delta and Continental are HORRIFYING experiences from start to finish. I’d take a loose seat rather then have to fly the competition. Come on American pilots, get back to work and be happy you are employed.”
Foreign airlines do it better
People who fly foreign airlines say the airline crews treat their customers better than their U.S. counterparts.
“Singapore Airlines played with our children and fed them so my wife and I could eat our meals,” wrote Scott603.
“They brought them toys once an hour and helped us get on/off the plane, on more than one trip,” he added. “Qatar brought my mother-in-law from the plane in JFK, through customs and immigration and right out to us, they are awesome!!”
Calling in replacements
The airline blames the increasing list of canceled and delayed flights on its pilots union, after the company persuaded a bankruptcy judge last month to throw out the pilots’ contract. The company says the pilots are calling in unnecessary repairs to slow down flights.
“The NFL was just fine with replacement referees, so sure let’s use replacement pilots and mechanics for American Airlines,” wrote OhRReally.
“Maybe those brilliant corporate leaders at American Airlines should embrace the NFL model for skilled-employee labor disputes: call in the replacements! Hey, it’s just a fully loaded 767!” wrote sju36.
“AA tried to renegotiate contracts prior to this but the pilots refused,” wrote casprd, in reponse to sju36’s comment. “Having worked there for a long time, I can say that the pilots hold the rest of the company hostage.
Perspective during tough times
Some folks seem to have a broader perspective: Expressing compassion for the airline and its employees and noting its importance to U.S. airline competition.
“Whether you wish to fly them or not, you don’t want them to go out of business or merge. Bad for the consumer!” wrote Jhaza2k. “They are definitely not worst airline though, just disgruntled employees at a trying time for this airline.”
“It’s so sad to see so many people making accusatory and nasty comments about AA employees when it’s clear that they know nothing about what’s really going on at the airline,” wrote cyansky.
“This past weekend, I was on two AA flights that were delayed; the first because the oxygen bottles that the pilots rely on in case of a decompression were found to be EMPTY and had to be replaced; the second because the altimeter was broken. (Kind of important stuff to fix before takeoff, I think.),” continued cyansky. “These flights were manned with a crew whose captain and two flight attendants all lost their homes to foreclosure within the same time frame that AA executives awarded themselves millions of dollars in bonuses.”
An apology from an employee
A couple of posters claiming to work for American tried to offer some perspective.
“I work for AA, on the ramp,” wrote bbrooks1963. “And I would like to tell all of you: Sorry! Some of us really do all we can to provide the best service this airline can provide. I’m one of those unfortunate ones that just might be out of a job soon, but I still and will till the end, do my job to the best of my ability and without fail.”
That comment got more than 100 “likes” from our readers.
Better airline food could help
“Things would turn around, if they served ‘special brownies’ … made by the California Pot Growers Association,” wrote Hermes96.
“The service would still stink, but you would not care anymore.”
What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments area of this story.