Category Archives: American Airlines

United Airlines SFO – Shanghai PVG bad experience

United Airlines

Yesterday I took for may be 10th time the United Airlines flight from SFO to Shanghai Pudong. The flight has been serviced via a very aging Boeing 747 which is was old a year ago already.

The flight yesterday was rather disappointing. Here is why I say that: – the seats on the plane were obviously tired and rather uncomfortable
– since the plane does not have in-seat entertainment screens, you would have to either watch the TVs that are for all to share or watch on your own phone or tablet – there are two problems with that approach

A) the audio jack on my seat was busted…so no way to watch the shared programs unless you want to make up your own stories as you watch the "silent" movie…

B) the WiFi service was very intermittent-I tried to watch Game of Thrones….but the games ended up very choppy ūüôā The streaming kept pausing and starting- until I finally gave up

So why are we being kidded that there is a "convenient" service to select your own entertainment …? Yes you can do that by downloading your own movies from Netflix or Amazon Prime Video

So, to top this I had also a mishap with the butter during the breakfast service As you probably know – the trays get served
Hot with some meal – as a result the butter in the small container had melted and when I tried to open it, the content – liquid butter – poured all over my shirt! I was pretty unhappy!

Now – why would you put the butter on a hot tray? How can you possibly use that butter?

All this point to is sloppy service – I do not see another explanation…

So bad service, no entertainment, great way to spend 13 hours on the plane….!

Oh, oh, and to top this our flight was delayed by 1 hour… the plane just came late into SFO so we left at 3pm rather than 1:30 pm and even though the pilot tried we were still late…. why a long haul flight had a plane that was late to come in for its flight is a mystery to me…. bad planning ?

Don't know, but the net result was frustrating experience

One of the flight attendants told me this plane was being decommissioned in one month – for sure that is a positive step. Hope the hot trays and melted butter goes away too ūüôā

By the way, I fly quite a bit on American as well – you can see my review of their business class to Europe, from a flight this summer…Hm…

American Airlines International Business Class – Disappointment

American Airlines International Business Class

Do you have any experience with American Airlines International Business Class?

I have been a loyal AA and OneWorld frequent flyer since 1998!  You can imagine the miles I have accumulated over that time.  Let me put it this way – I have been at Executive Platinum for the last 10 years or so, and have a life time Platinum due to the number of miles flown.

So, when my family decided to take a vacation to Europe this summer, I decided that we will fly on American  – of course – and use some of my system wide upgrades to have us in international business class across the Atlantic between the US and Heathrow.

All of us were excited…Lie-flat seats, Entertainment, Premium dining….!

This is what we expected:  

American Airlines International Business Class
This is what American Airlines advertises on their Web page

Well, turns out our experience was less than great.  On the flight to Heathrow, our meals were inedible!  I kid you not. I had a wedge salad and roast beer.   Please see the pictures below and you will know what I am about to say:

American Airlines Premium Dining International Business Class
Premium Dining? Really?
American Airlines Premium Dining International Business Class
Would you consider this Premium Dining..? I do not
American Airlines Premium Dining International Business Class
How does one cut this Wedge salad with a butter knife? I could not

The wedge salad was impassible to eat – it was a hunk of lettuce which I had to slide with a butter knife… .How?!?!  Others on the plane could not either….

Then, the main course – Beef sounds exciting — well, it was NOT!   It was shoe leather like, no taste, and please see the dish with sauce – it was spilled all over the place.

All in all – the dishes went back to where they came from.  I barely touched them…

The flight attendant noticed (I think others were in the same boat) – and asked me with an apology – “Should I bring you something else?”   I thanked her and did not take her up on the offer… I could not imagine the rest was any better.   

Our flight back from Heathrow, 9 days later, was not much better.  There was no wedge salad.. Thanks for small mercy!

The entertainment system was another story – on the flight from Heathrow to DFW, most of the business class passengers had the same experience – the system was not working properly… Oh, well – it is a premium experience ūüôā

Needless to say – American, your service has SLIPPED big time!  I would not call our experience – all of my family flew business – anything to write home about!

 

Air Travel – Not Great These Days

Air Travel 

Optical effect of high speedI believe over the last few years all of us, no matter whether frequent or leisure flyers have experienced progressive troubles with Air Travel.  Gone are the days (I think I never saw or experienced them) when traveling by plane was supposedly glamorous.  Today, while accessible to larger and larger percentage of the world’s population, flying has become tedious and borderline uncomfortable.

Personal experiences and those of others described in multiple articles are uncovering tons of issues that the traveling public experience while taking flights, especially in the US.  

Why is the number being so large these days?  What drives this apparent increase in frequency of occurrence?   

I do believe the issues have existed all along – but previously, the boiling point had not been reached.  Now we have tons of actions being taken by the airlines

  • Reducing seat pitch – i.e. the between seats distance.  American Airlines is reportedly cutting the space from a spot in the seat to the same spot on the seat in front of it (otherwise known as seat pitch) from 31-inches to 29-inches.    This is a big deal!  For most traveling people – this will hugely impact comfort — i.e. forget about comfort…Period!  (these changes are apparently only on American’s Boeing 737 – so most likely only on US flights – but still – you could be on a plane with that seat pitch across the continent – i.e. 5+ hours!  Ouch!   
  • Then you have United with multiple issues:  They completely misdirected a passenger – sending her to San Francisco instead of the ticketed – Paris – destination.   Beats me!  How can that happen – with all the security checking and intrusion in your time at the airport – to send a passenger on a completely wrong plane!  Incredible…
  • Ready for a fight?  Literally…!  As per American Airlines’ certain employees, that is how problems can be resolved!  In the case described in multiple articles and YouTube posted video, it is seen how aggressive some employees could be.  




The list can be continued, but I think at this point in time you get the picture.  There were certainly mess ups before.  I have encountered on multiple occasions when the airline personnel was not aware of their own airline rules and would hold on tight to their belief and be pretty snotty all the way up to the point in time where I would have a supervisor from the call-in center speak with a supervisor at the airport to correct things….!  This has happened to me (and I am a frequent flyer with multiple airlines) – American Airlines in Chicago – the situation was pretty tense – I decided to hold my ground and eventually had a supervisor from the exec platinum desk on the phone with a Chicago airport supervisor to correct the view of a gate agent!!!  So I can fully believe the situations we just read about and saw in publications – links above….

High-Above-AsiaWhat I am very curious about is why so fewer issues with air travel on Asian airlines.  I certainly fly frequently with Air China, JAL, China Southern, China Air (Taiwan), EVA and some times with Singapore Airlines and JET Air….Rarely had the experiences listed above.

Do you think there are similar issues there?  Comment on this article….

In the mean time, try to be patient and hopefully things will improve now that there is so much pressure on the airlines to get their customer service in order….Let’s hope!

 

Entertainment in the Air on Planes

Entertainment in the Air

I have often been surprised how restrictive the US air travel is when it comes to many aspects of the creature comforts up in the air.¬†¬† Let’s see – how do we compare flights in many countries of Asia and in the US?¬† Let’s list the services (besides getting from point A to point B) offered:

  • In-flight food:¬† On all US flights, food is unheard of – unless you are one of the few traveling in First / Business class of the plane.¬† At the same time, in China, and other Asia countries as well as in Europe, the crew serves warm food to everyone on the plane.¬† No matter wheter you are taking an in-country flight on Air China, or Shenzhen Airlines (to name a couple), you are going to get your boxed lunch consisting of a stir fry over rice.
  • Entertainment:¬† The intra-China flights or intra-India flights are usually operated with bare bones planes which do not have the right equipment to show much in the form of entertainment.¬† Having said that, it is likely to get entertainment if you happen to be on a newer plane…. Now lets compare that to te US – until recently, the usage of entertainment was fee only based –> now both American Airlines and Delta are starting to offer free entaiment following Delta’s first mover act.
  • Why is free entertainment important?¬† Here why:
    • Makes time go by faster
    • It creates a lot more relaxed crowd on the plane
    • It should help reduce the booz drinking on the flight
    • Finally, it will make for a much happier flyers and potentially return business for the airlines.
  • I would like to hear from the readers of this blog… Don’t hesitate – share your experiences and what you think makes sense on board an airship….
    • How would you like to pass your time?
    • Is getting food on-board the plane important to you?
    • What do you consider best in class services when traveling by plane?

Happy Travels

WLAN Costs on American Airlines -Surprises

WLAN Costs on American Airlines

I do not understand the pricing model for WLAN access American Airlines offers to its passengers… On a recent flight from Phoenix to Austin, American Eagle offered $23.95 WLAN access for….wait for it….yes, only less than 2 hour flight. ¬† The service offered by GoGo

American-Airlines-WiFI

Two weeks ago I flew Dallas (DFW) to Hong Kong also on American Airlines. ¬†This flight is close to 15-16 hours. I had WLAN coverage for most of the flight, at the cost of…wait for it…$19!

So, now comes the million dollar question – how does this make sense? ¬†I can see the 2-hour flight for a fee of $5….may be….BUT $23.95 makes no sense whatsoever!!!!

Comments?

Coming and Going – Air Travel in Images…

Air Travel in Images

Travel, whether on business or leisure, is something my family and I do a lot of. ¬†I have traveled over 2M miles on one of the major US carriers and then there are the numerous flights on a large number of other airlines – United, Eva, Air China, China Air, Korean, Air India, Thai, Malaysia Airlines, Dragon Air, China Eastern, China Southern, Hainan Airlines, Shenzhen Airlines, SAS, Norwegian, … the list can continue a bit longer.

Even after all this, I am always amazed at the beautiful views one can get while on the plane – views of the airports, other aircraft, the sky…

So, I decided to put together some of those views in a series of photo postings…Here we go with the first

JAL-at-Beijing-International Beijing-Airport

Over-Beijing  Over-Beijing-Polluted-Sky  Over-Beijing  High-Above-Asia

United-Leaving-Beijing AA-docked-in-DFW At Dallas DFW-Planes

 

American Airlines Boeing 787 Business Class Seats

American Airlines Boeing 787 business class brief review.  My wife flew to Beijing late last year Рand experienced the first of the American Boeing 787 aircraft which due to their high efficiency have been deployed on the long distance flights between Dallas and Beijing (as one example).  Her luck was good and she was able to get a system wide upgrade and had a great experience in the new business class on those planes.  All great with one BIG exception Рwhen she came back home she complained about have a pretty weird experience flying and noticing each movement of the person in front of her (sitting on another business class seat).

My experience was better РI was in seat 6L Рrear facing Рfirst row in the mini-cabin which meant that my seat was solo i.e. not attached to another.  As a result I had a much better in-flight experience, undisturbed by others.

Reading through flyertalk I noticed that many are complaining about the movement of the attached seats. ¬†To that effect, I think if you can you should avoid the middle seats in the minicabin and 1A & 2A and 3A & 4A, 1L &2L, 3L&4L… as those are likely to cause you the effect of the disturbing neighbor.

What else about the seats Рthey are narrow and shorter than the business class on the Boeing-777;   for a tall person 6ft and above Рthey will not allow you to truly be in a flat sleeping position.

The amenities were packaged in a Cole Han pouch which was weirdly made of of some artificial material (like PVC) – makes you wonder – why Cole Han then…? ¬†But I think this was a minor nit pick.

American Airlines B787 business class seat American Airlines Business Class American Airlines

Interesting new controls for the seat in business class. ¬†Made to look like an iPhone / Smart Phone. ¬†Not sure why, but ease of use wise – not a bad design…

 

 

 

 

 

The verdict Рit is up to you Рif you prefer the lower prices of the new B787 flights then you will need to compromise and enjoy the better entertainment and food on the flight.  Otherwise proactively seek out the B777 service.

 

Flight Frustrations on American Airlines

Flight Frustrations

Flight-SunsetSome flight frustrations are explained by bad weather or just purely unpredictable issues with planes or infrastructure. ¬†Some, though are of just pure human nature – and those frustrate me the most…Read further and you will understand.

Earlier this week I flew from Austin to San Jose via Phoenix. ¬†Over the last 1 year I have taken this set of flights / route many times. ¬†The reason I decided to post this is because it finally dawned on me that the issues that I have observed on several occasions with how arrivals in Phoenix are handled are not isolated ones….They happen too often and have implications on the travelers…

Flying to Phoenix, the American flight¬†had strong head winds. ¬†The captain informed us (the passengers) of that even before we left Austin. ¬†Due to the weather, we landed about 15-20 min late. ¬†My connecting flight to San Jose originally had about 40-min buffer, so I thought “still good as I will have time to my connecting flight…”

Well, we landed, the pilot taxied quickly towards the gate and then we stood still about 20 yards from the gate…! ¬†We had to wait to be marshaled in.

The gate was open – no plane

People with the right uniforms were walking around …and we just stood…

The time buffer till¬†my next flight was melting away…

When we finally started moving towards the gate, my next flight was boarding…(according to my helpful AA iPhone App)

Long story short I had to run across the airport, as of course, ¬†my connecting flight was at a gate quite a walk away – we landed at gate B17 (Phoenix Sky harbor) and were to take off from A24…. As a result I had a “nice” morning exercise and made it to the gate and boarded the plane with 9 minutes to spare to the time to push from the gate!

Now – why would it be the case with American to have the ground crew be so uncaring about the situation???

  1. surely they knew the plane was coming in late ( we knew we will be late based on the captain’s announcement the moment we left Austin)
  2. They saw the plane taxing to the gate once it landed…
  3. They must have known that there are people on board who are rushing to connecting flights…
  4. And on and on…

Only one way to explain this in my opinion – the ground crews operate at their own pace and don’t give much attention on the rest of the operation – and I am putting it in very moderated language – in other words they did not care…

Go figure … I hope one day they are seeing the same from the passenger view (if they travel)

American Airlines Flight Delays and Airport Strangeness

Flight delays

Last week Texas experienced bad weather which contributed to awful travel conditions for all airlines in the area.  As a a result, based on what I have read in various news articles, American Airlines alone ended up canceling around 2600 flights due to the bad weather in the Dallas and Chicago areas. As you can imagine, large number of passengers were affected by the weather conditions with some experiencing horrendous flight delays taking days to get to their final destination

My family and I were caught only to a small extent in this situation. ¬†We flew into Austin, TX on a flight from Miami FL. The plane actually landed in Austin on time (around 11:50pm) and this is where our ordeal started. ¬†Right after landing, the plane captain informed us that around 16-17 planes have been diverted from DFW to Austin due to the bad weather and as a result the queue for gates was extremely long – per the captain some planes were in a wait state for 5-6 hours…

The prospect of spending 5-6 hours in the plane was obviously extremely bad – so majority of the passengers started calling around notifying friends and relatives. ¬†At one point in time (may be an hour into the wait) some of us noticed that there were gates that had no planes on them….So the questions went to the captain via the flight attendants. ¬†Come to find out those gates were not American’s but Southwest. ¬† To our disappointment – the captain had to start negotiating for usage of those gates via American Airlines operations…

Eventually, about 2.5 hours into our wait we were notified that a gate is opening for us and by 3am (3 hours after landing) were disembarked the plane!!!

Later that day we learned that some passengers have had much worse experience Рnot being able to complete their journeys for 2-3 days following the weather flight disruptions.  Nevertheless, some big (in my opinion) questions remain:

  1. Given the congested status of the US air travel and the busy nature of most airports, why are the gates at airports assigned / purchased by the airlines in a static fashion and there is no provision for flexible use of the facility?
  2. Why is Austin airport incapable to react faster to bad weather conditions and bring more airport personnel to service the large volume of traffic in these extreme circumstances? ¬† The bad weather that had hit Dallas was well understood in Austin hours ahead of the time we landed – there was certainly plenty of time for the Austin airport operations team to notify and request help, additional ground crews…
  3. Who is really looking out for the well being of the air travel passengers?   Under what conditions is it acceptable to have passengers stranded on a plane for 3 plus hours with no food, etc..?

These are just some of the questions – but they generate many others that need to be addressed!

To give kudos to the crew of the Austin to Miami American Airlines flight in the evening of December 26th Рthey handled the bad situation well.  The flight attendants were very willing to listen to the complaints from the passengers on the plane, convey those to the captain, and offer drinks to the passengers in an effort to ease at least somewhat the bad situation.

If you have comments and want to amplify the issues above please use social media to do so…

WiFi on Commercial Flights

WiFiIt is amazing how connected out lives have become. The a large percent of the population around the world, being ‘on-line’ is the norm, family and friends schedules revolve around shared calendars, news get announced via short messages (SMS or social media), and on and on.

Take away that connectivity and many feel completely isolated.

WiFiTo the effect airports and many airlines have started to offer WiFi connectivity on flights across North America, Asia and Europe.  Here in this article we will focus on the airlines offering WiFi (free or for a fee) service:

 

Airline WiFi Being Offered Comments
American Airlines Yes-Gogo service $16 pass for 24-hours (you can use on any airline with goo service
Alaska Yes – Gogo Services $1.95 to $39.95 on board or via gogoair.com
Delta Yes – Gogo services similar to American and Alaska; Next year will start new service
JetBlue Yes – Free! The only US airline to offer free WiFi service (I think)
Southwest Yes $8 flat rate on all Boeing 737-800, 700; Service is VERY slow though
Japan Airlines JAL Yes – Satellite based GoGo Service The fees vary by route;

Being offered on both domestic and international routes

Norwegian Yes, Free! On all Boeing 737-800 aircraft
 Lufthansa  Yes  9-euro to 17-euro (for 24 hours)
British Airways Only 1 route London to New York only $14 to $25
Turkish Airlines Some On some B777-300ERs and gradually on A330-300
United Yes Boeing 747 and 757; Also Gogo service
Virgin America Yes – Continental only Gogo Service from $2 to $39.95
Air France Trials Working with Orange since Summer 2015 – limited trials;

Had offered couple of flights only previously

Air Canada Yes Uses Gogo service – leverage pass from Gogo

Overall, the WiFi service is still relatively spotty.  It was interesting to discover that new flights on AA Boeing 777-300ER / 77W have started to offer WiFi for about $19 for international flights.  So hopefully better services are still ahead of us.

WiFi