American Airlines service has reached an all new level of low. This past week I have flown over 28,000 miles with American Airlines and I honestly was more impressed with my domestic service than my international service. On my four long haul flights, 1 segment made AA shine like a true international rock star, yet the three segments that followed had some of the worst service I’ve had to date while flying international business class. Continue to Read to see what business class service is like to and from Brazil.
To summarize my complaints, they were all cabin crew and service based. The planes I encountered were fantastic! The new reconfigured 772 are absolutely whimsical with a great hard product (seat, entertainment system, etc). The seat reminds me of a wider version of the 787 new business class seat, with the exact same configuration and features. I opted for the reverse facing seat on all segments and loved the feeling of taking off and landing. Even flying backwards allowed to pretend I was going back in time! It just made the entire experience more interesting! Yet, the praise for AA ends there.
American Airlines Rio to Miami:
The short 8 hour flight seemed more like a domestic flight then it did an international flight. The Flight attendants were very rushed to do everything and you could tell that they just didn’t care. If the plane wasn’t a wide body with announcements made in both English and Portuguese, I would have assumed I was just flying from Miami to LAX!
Dinner service was done at 500mph! No hot towel, no pre-dinner drink, no warm nuts. Just food, served fast like McDonalds! When dinner was served it was brought out express meal style, all in one serving for everyone in business class. I ordered the Seafood Brodetto and when I took my first it was ice cold! I asked the FA to rewarm my meal and about 15 minutes later he brought me back a hot plate with a meal that was still too cold to eat. Thankfully, while he was rewarming my dinner, I opted to eat the salad and appetizer item instead. The FA was nice enough to ask me if I wanted more bread, as I waited for my dinner, but I had not even touched the first two rolls that came with my plate because they too were cold. Unlike other international flight, no breadbasket was offered, but instead I was provided with two rolls pre-platted on my dinner tray.
After not eating most of my meal because of being cold, dishes were cleared and no dessert was offered. I flagged down a flight attendant and asked for a cheese plate for dessert as I was not feeling a sundae and the FA plopped down a plate still covered by the plastic wrap. The FA didn’t offer to refill my wine with my dessert or even during meal service. They just missed their mark in every possible way.
After my disappointing dinner I decided to sleep. On my trip from NYC to Brazil I was asked if I wanted to be woken up for breakfast, on this flight the FAs didn’t care to ask. I slept through breakfast. This was fine, but when I woke up, still over an hour before landing, breakfast service was completed and the snack bar was already cleaned up. I asked if I could have breakfast or something before landing, and I was denied because “we would be landing soon”. 64 minutes later our wheels touched down in Rio.
Needless to say, if I was a paying business class customer I would be finding a new airline to fly!
American Airlines Miami to Rio
Miami to Rio was much better than my flight to Miami the night before, but with the flight departing Miami just minutes after midnight you could tell the crew just wanted us to sleep and wanted to be done with us as quickly as possible. Service was again rushed with meals were served all at once instead of in courses. The meal choices were the same as my flight from New York just days earlier, so I opted to try something else this time. The pasta was better then what is served domestically, but not as good as food I’ve had on other airlines. For dessert I opted for ice cream but the ice cream suffered from freezer burn and instead of being a custom Sundae it was just heath bar ice cream. Very boring and a true disappointment from the sundae that is usually offered with selected toppings.
After dinner I cuddled up and slept for about 5.5 hours and I again slept through breakfast. About 45 minutes before landing when I woke up, I was disappointed to see my Bose headset had already been picked up. Service was unremarkable underwhelming, and before I fell asleep I started to wonder if the Flight attendants were even going to set up the self-serve bar, because about 3 hours into the flight, it was still left deserted! I never went back to check to see if they ever did set it up.
American Airlines Rio to New York
This flight was among the worst of my flights, and it had less to do with the product offering, but everything to do with the attitude of the flight attendants and how service was handled.
Before taking off, the FAs were busy in their own world chit chatting about their stay in Rio and what they did on their lay over. No on focused on servicing the cabin, but then again can you blame them? They are not paid until the cabin door is closed! Unlike other flights, Bose headsets were not offered and meal orders were not taken while on the ground, but instead service was delayed until we were about 45 minutes in flight. Bose headsets were offered at 10pm local time, 54 minutes after we were wheels up from Rio! A long wait for audio, especially when the video monitors work from the minute you board the plane! Word to the wise, bring your own device! Which is something sad to be said when flying business class!
When it was time to order our meals, my pre-selected meal was not on board. I had selected the seafood option days earlier, but for whatever reason it didn’t save. The FA reached my seat and we had an interesting exchange about my dinner option.
FA: Tonight for dinner we have beef, so you get the beef.
Me: I actually preordered the Seafood.
FA: I don’t have it, so you get beef.
Me: I don’t eat beef, so I will go without
FA: Oh, are you some type of vegetarian?
FA: Well you either get beef or pasta from economy
Me: I would rather not eat the food from economy as it’s not very good. But I checked and before takeoff and there were still 7 open unsold seats in Business (I had checked on expert flyer at 8:30pm , 30 minutes before departure and there was no one on the upgrade list per AA’s mobile app.), how do you only have beef with a cabin only 2/3 full?
FA: We have a lot of non-rev passengers tonight
Me: Interesting, so you are giving away first choices to employees flying for free instead of revenue passengers? That doesn’t seem fair to me.
FA: I DID NOT SAY THAT, YOU ARE ASSUMING!!! He then lowered his voice and put his face about 4 inches from mine and said, SO PASTA from economy or BEEF!
ME: No thanks, I’ll pass on dinner tonight. And I am not assuming, I know….
Although I wasn’t happy about the interaction, I find it a bit screwy that the non-revs are being offered meals before paying customers. After all, with a cabin that was only 2/3 full the likelihood of all meals being selected except for beef tells me one of two things. Either crews are saving meal options for themselves, and or non-revs are being offered meals before other passengers. Both are not a friendly policy for fliers! Especially paying passengers!
The FA continued to take meal orders and when he reached seat 1L (the seat directly behind me) they had a similar unpleasant interaction. The passenger wasn’t happy that his only option was beef. The conversation went back and forth for about a minute which I did not really listen to but finished with the FA saying to him, “Look you can either have the beef or pasta from economy, I have other things to do, so tell me what you want or you can go hungry!” the FA then walked away. The passenger in 1L had clearly overhead the conversation I had with the FA and shortly after the FA left his seat he got out of seat and approached me and started a conversation.
Passenger in 1L: “I don’t mean to bother you but do you think was he being funny”
Me: “No, I think he was being serious”
Passenger in 1L “I can’t believe his attitude.”
Same FA: “Sure the Seatbelt sign is on, get back in your Seat”
I climbed over my seat back and looked at him, “He was being an outright dick”
1L: I am going to talk with the Purser, he was absolutely rude to both of us!
About 5 minutes later the FA returned with frozen versions of the pasta from economy and asked us both if we would like to enjoy an economy class dinner! Ridiculous, rude or helpful? You decide.
The passenger in 1L spoke with the purser shortly after the incident. I stayed quiet. Her response, connect to AA.com and send in a complaint…..helpful? Not really!
Dinner service was served in the express fashion again. All at once and followed by dessert. The service wasn’t exciting but it is what seems typical for AA. Instead of breaking dinner into a multi course meal they throw it all at you at once. In addition, they use big bulky carts and unwrap the meals in front of passengers reminding everyone you’re eating a pre-cooked meal, instead of dining in a more elegant space. It reminds me of dinning in economy class. Maybe AA should learn from their counterparts at Cathay or even Delta!
The rest of the flight was uneventful. After the gentleman in 1L complained the FA seemed to change his attitude, and he quickly became more pleasant. But regardless, the slow service at the start of the flight and the FA’s attitude truly ruined this flight for both me and the gentleman in 1L.
Breakfast fruit was good to say the least!
Is this growing pains for the new AA due to the merger with US or is the New American we’ve been promised? Subpar service, attitudes, and non revs taking away from the flying experience for paying passengers? I guess overall I shouldn’t complain as I was flying on an economy class ticket with System Wide Upgrade applied. Yet, all I know is American has provided me with enough reason to say, if flying business class, DO NOT waste your money with AA. Nearly any other airline can offer a better experience!