American Airlines Flight 2408

I’m the guy in seat 9c. The guy who got to the airport early, followed all the rules, including boarding with my group, bring one piece of luggage, stow it over my seat, and wear your seat belt

Then why am I upset? I was unlucky enough to sit next to the guy who got here late, couldn’t find space over his head for his luggage, and refused to take it further to the back of the plane where there was space. Instead he insisted that he be allowed to place his bag in the overhead compartment in First Class. He was advised by the flight attendant that First Class was full and that he could not put his bag there as all passengers in that section were not boarded.

So what did he do? He threw a tantrum. It started out as just pouting which consisted of him standing up while the luggage was in his seat. It escalated to him huffing, asking me to excuse him…which I did, and him marching up to First Class repeatedly opening and slamming overhead bins while moving the First Class passengers luggage around until he got his to fit. He topped that off with the final slam and the brisk walk back to his seat. By this time he was visibly fuming.

To one of the flight attendant’s credit, who I saw look aghast as the tirade was ensuing, she walked back to row 9 and politely asked him if there was an issue and could she in any way help him with it. After a tense 30 seconds, he finally responded that there was no issue in a very low voice. As a follow up, she did inform him that should he decide to take that kind of aggression out on any part of the airplane again that there would be an issue and that she would promptly report it to the airline authorities. To be honest, as I was seated next to him I would give her a high mark on how she handled the situation.

But here is where the situation went wrong…

That flight attendant went back to the front of the plane and communicated with the rest of her peer group…both ground support and the other flight attendants. As I had the aisle seat, I watched all of this unfold.

The ground support personnel comes back down the aisle looks around and starts to get aggressive with me. As you can imagine, I was appalled. How dare she come and project her frustrations with me rather than say a word to the gentleman who causes all the huff in the first place. I have to be honest. I was ready to get off the plane and never, ever get on another American Airlines flight again in my life. And I plan to be living quite a while. But then I thought to myself, the pen is still mightier than the sword. I won’t fight, I won’t allow my mood to be changed, and I won’t disappoint my sister who is expecting me to visit. But what I will do is to tell my story to everyone in my network in the hopes that they won’t have to share a similar experience.

When I go to a restaurant, I go to eat good food, but I also care about the ambience. It matters to me where I eat, what I eat, when I eat, and how it is served, and with whom I eat.

When I buy a plane ticket, 99 percent of the time I buy American. I do that because I am platinum, I get priority treatment, most of the time I am TSA Pre-check, I get upgraded a fair amount of times, and I usually can get an aisle seat. Now truthfully, I am low maintenance. If you ask others that know me they will tell you that I believe in treating people very well…in my home and in public. If I fix your plate at dinner, I probably cooked it myself–with love and served it generously. I don’t always get that kind of treatment and I don’t expect it. That’s how I do it.

Now, there are many airlines to choose from. And I often have heard just that as part of American’s in-plane pre-recorded announcements. And to be honest, some are cheaper, much cheaper. But I don’t choose them. I make the choice to pay more because of the past experiences I have had that have satisfied me as a paying customer.

I have to say that I am disappointed. Flat out disappointed. Now is this going to ruin the rest of my trip or the rest of my life? No. But I tell you what it will do. It will make me think twice about making the American Airlines choice the next time I get ready to make a purchase. Honestly, I had already bought tickets for three future trips before I ever stepped foot on this plane.

What’s my final message to American? No competitor can erode your loyal customer base as effectively as you can. So by all means, uphold FAA regulations, adhere to company policy, keep us all safe, and get us to out next destination on time. And if that means that people are asked to leave the plane for demonstrating behaviors that are at odds with those objectives then I say so be it!

But for the vast majority of us who are just trying to get from point A to point B, treat us with the respect that we have come to expect on the airline that purports to be American. Live up to your name.

If you have had something similar happen to you share your story.

Author: Latane Brackett

A purpose driven, servant leader who has been blessed in more ways than can be counted. I have had the privilege to lead and to serve large teams, and my underlying belief is that all people deserve to be respected and treated with dignity. We are all without limits. We just need to live that way. There is no ceiling on how high you can soar.

One thought on “American Airlines Flight 2408”

  1. I wanted to share an update.

    I formally filed a complaint with American Airlines on yesterday and received a personal call on today. The representative was very respectful and wanted to hear first hand what happened. She expressed empathy and demonstrated a high level of emotional intelligence. Under the circumstances she did a very good job of protecting American Airlines’ brand by acknowledging my concerns, apologizing for the service disappointment, and thanking me for my loyalty. She accomplished this without bashing her colleagues.

    She listened to the voice of the customer and in doing so made it difficult for a competitor to capitalize on this shortfall.

    A lesson for us all: Everyone who works for your company represents your business. Customer service can be either a game changer or a deal breaker.

    Like

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