American Airlines finds a new way to shaft passengers

Just a hunch, but has anyone checked to make sure that those IRS guys aren’t actually working at American Airlines? American’s newest, brilliant-est idea is to give priority boarding to passengers who don’t have bags for the overhead compartment.

While in theory it’s one small thing, it’s the totality of the F-U coming from the airlines, every freaking day, that bugs me. It’s as if someone keeps setting an egg timer, and every time it goes off they’re required to come up with a new way to kick the majority of their passengers, especially the 99% who fly in coach.

How long until the airlines start charging us for carry-ons? Oh, and you know THAT day is coming.

US airlines have always been stingy. I remember flying abroad for the first time, on a foreign carrier, and marveling at the fact that they had free alcohol in coach. And once I hit adulthood, marveling even more at the fact that they even serve aperitifs and after-dinner drinks, to everyone. On US carriers, your aperitif is a coke. And if you’re really nice, they’ll give you the whole can.

I’ve never been so rudely treated as I have been on US air carriers.

Old time flight attendants via Shutterstock

Old time flight attendants via Shutterstock

I remember flying to Mexico on a business trip on United once. The turbulence was the worst I’d ever experienced. People were doing their crosses, me included, it was so bad. Not a peep from the cockpit other than a simply warning at the very beginning of the flight that there might be turbulence. We literally thought the plan was going to crash, and the crew didn’t say boo to reassure us. Then once we landed, they still didn’t say anything. I asked the flight attendant why they didn’t come on and say something, and she got snippy. Then the captain got snippy. When I asked for their names, they replied, “you tell us your name.” Rudest flight crew of my life.

Then there was the other time I was flying back from Europe on some US carrier, and the flight attendant simply didn’t like Italians. A whole brigade of Italians were flying from southern Italy to the US, didn’t speak a lick of English, and the flight attendant couldn’t be bothered with them. She treated them exactly the way you’d expect a caricature of an ugly American to treat them – with disdain because they couldn’t speak Goddamn English (mind you, they had Italian flight attendants on the flight who were perfectly fluent in the language – she didn’t bother asking them for help). So the flight attendant just made faces at the Italians every time they asked for something, and then wouldn’t get them what they asked for. She was so rude, I finally intervened and embarrassed the hell out of her in front of our side of the plane. The other flight attendants came up to me later and told me she was a problem.

I avoid US carriers like the plague. Sadly, at home we don’t have much of a choice. But internationally, forget it. There’s a sense of entitlement I get from far too many US flight attendants. Mostly United, in my experience. But when you fly internationally, they all seem to have it. I’ve done service jobs, a lot of them actually, and I’ve been known to have a combattive personality – but I’ve never been a jerk while working for someone else in a service job. It’s just not allowed. But if you’re a US air carrier, it is.

And now with the “everyone is a possible terrorist” mindset that’s overtaken air travel, you can’t even stand up to their rudeness, lest you be accused of flying-while-Muslim.

So it’s no wonder that American Airlines has now come up with yet another way to slap their passengers in the face. It’s all part of the larger arrogance that US air carriers suffer from. You far too often feel like you’re somehow inconveniencing them by arriving for your flight.

And while they’re not all bad – I tend to fly American from DC to Chicago, and I do get nice flight attendants, mixed in with the surly ones – there’s something wrong with the larger culture at US air carriers. They hate their customers, and they don’t seem to like their jobs.  And it shows.


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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