Does American Airlines Caare About its Customers?

This 27 yr old mother of two was booted of an AA flight for no apparent reason.
This 27 yr old mother of two was booted of an AA flight for no apparent reason.

Last week saw a widely reported and outrageous example of how flight attendants can boot anyone of a plane for any reason – or, more to the point, for no reason at all.

There have been many cases in the past where the circumstances surrounding a passenger being removed from a flight have been ambiguous and dubious, but this is the first time where the other passengers on the plane were so outraged at the egregious acts of the flight attendants (and the overpaid pansy passive enabling pilot of the plane) that they bravely risked their own ejection by loudly booing and calling out disparaging comments while a harmless woman was forced off the flight.

Of course, like all bullies, while the flight attendants were happy to pick on a single woman who had done nothing wrong, when confronted with an uprising by many passengers, the flight attendants didn’t also insist the other passengers be similarly offloaded.  So one inoffensive woman is booted off the flight, but a dozen or more passengers, booing and calling out negative comments – they get to stay on board.

You can read about it here, and of course, with omnipresent cameras, there’s a video of the event also in the article.  A follow up article is here.

As is inevitably the case in such shameful scenarios, what does the airline do in response?  As the first article reports, ‘an airline spokesperson said they are investigating the matter’.

With the sparrow like concentration spans of most media these days, that’s all they need to do – to play a delaying game for 24 hours, by which time, the matter is no longer headline news, and the airline has saved itself the need to take any formal public position on the matter.

But I’ve a longer attention span.  So I wrote to American Airlines’ Media Relations and on Wednesday 14th asked them


Could you please let me know the result of your investigation into this incident

Many thanks


I quickly received a response from Leslie Scott, the person apparently handling this matter

Hi David-

We’ve been in contact with the customer and have apologized for the incident.



This reply of course did not answer my question.  So I sent a second email

Thanks for the fast response.

May I ask what is happening to the crew members involved in this.  The captain?  The lead flight attendant?  The flight attendant?


This brought an even quicker – and briefer – reply

We don’t discuss internal personnel matters.



Well, it seemed to me that it would be possible to give at least some sort of answer to what their investigation found, even while avoiding ‘internal personnel matters’ (and why wouldn’t they discuss ‘internal personnel matters’ anyway?).  So I wrote my third email

Thanks for another fast, albeit rather terse, reply.

Three follow-ups :

Did your investigation confirm the validity of your crew’s decision to refuse travel to the passenger?

What advice do you have to passengers who might be similarly thrown off your flights in the future?

What steps have you taken to ensure this doesn’t happen again in the future?


Leslie’s reply, while lengthier, concluded with a refusal to actually answer anything at all about the incident.

Hi David –

Apologies if I sounded terse, that was not my intent.

As I mentioned before, we are in contact with the passenger and have apologized. We have addressed the issue with our team members to ensure we provide a consistent, quality travel experience for our customers in the future.

That’s all we’re going to say on this matter.



That seemed to be all I could get from them – total stonewalling and a refusal to comment at all.

But the story continued to grow last week, albeit with no-one in the media attempting to hold AA’s feet to the fire and encourage a substantive response.  So on Monday this week I wrote to Leslie again.

Hi, Leslie

It seems this story has grown/is growing in the media, and there is considerable public concern and curiosity about the matter.

Has American Airlines decided to make any further statement?

If not, may I ask why AA is refusing to explain the situation and alleviate the concern and ill-feeling it seems to have justified?  Doesn’t your silence amount to an admission of – if not guilt, at least embarrassment and a concession that there’s no way of defending what occurred, while simultaneously being unwilling to admit a mistake in public?

Many further thanks


Leslie’s reply to me was again prompt, and again very short.

Hi David –

You have our most updated statement on this matter.



Do you detect any contrition or any concern, or any suggestion of consequences to anyone involved?  Are AA reassuring us that such egregious acts won’t continue, unabated, into the future?

Or is their refusal to comment indicative of an unrepentant attitude that implies a continued tyranny of individual flight attendants, automatically and unquestioningly aided and abetted by the pilots, and the danger that we too might end up being forced off a flight for no reason at all.

Good and great companies and their leaders don’t hesitate to admit their mistakes.  They step up to the plate, apologize, accept and create consequences, and take measures to ensure that they learn from their mistakes and similar errors don’t occur in the future.

What is one forced to conclude about American Airlines?  Do they really ‘caare’?

10 thoughts on “Does American Airlines Caare About its Customers?”

  1. When I read the headline, before I read the content, I said “yes, they do care and here’s how.” (More on that in a second. And oddly, a seatmate and I, on a flight from DCA to CLT yesterday, had a discussion about the power of flight attendants and gate agents and my seatmate’s experience: On the day USAirways and AA become one officially, she (seatmate) said that the gate agent made ALL passengers w/ carry on rollerboards put them in the sizer and was refusing to allow any item that didn’t fit to be checked. Clearly a case of over zealous authority. My SM didn’t tweet it; I bet others did.

    Re caring: I have a(n increasingly worsening) mobility disability and have learned far more than I ever knew about what airports and airlines are required to do (ADA) v. what they do for customer service v. what their internal policies require and what they do. AA, at RNO and CMH, both neglected me .. one at the curb and another at the gate. I learned – after tweeting and having a lengthy conversation w/ a CS in TX – that internal policy is to check with any pax w/ a disability once/hour at the gate to see if they have any needs (restroom, food, etc.) v. not even making eye contact. I must be tagged in the system now .. two agents at DCA yesterday were incredibly nice and our flight attendants too.

    (Strong objection to your use of the word “pansy” .. c’mon .. that’s a pejorative too often associated with gay men and it was so unnecessary in what you wrote. You’re smarter better than that .. and esp. in a post about sensitivity to others. And please, no one, do the “pc” thing .. it’s not that.)

    1. to Joan Eisenstodt: I am so damn sick of people like you who insist on everything having to be politically correct.

      If David wants to use the word “pansy” to describe a person who deserves it, that’s his choice. The pilot deserves much stronger words.

      And it’s his newsletter, so get off his cloud, Ms. Eisenstodt with your silly sensibilities.

      1. Hi, Hugh

        I of course agree. Some people can find offense pretty much anywhere they seek it!

        I didn’t mean to suggest the pilot was homosexual, and surely Joan can understand that. I meant the pilot was weak, ineffectual, and totally not a leader, instead he figuratively shrunk back into his fancy uniform and allowed himself to be bullied by a flight attendant into agreeing to something that was offensively wrong and patently unfair.

        Pilots plead with us for respect, and love to bore us with exaggerated details of how they need and use consummate flying skill and deserve every penny of their exorbitant salaries, while being incapable of flying more than half a month for fear of losing all those professed skills. The reality is they’re little more than glorified bus or truck drivers, in slightly fancier uniforms, and with much higher wages and better working conditions and perks. In terms of skill sets and fine motor skills, bus and truck drivers are having to concentrate, all day every day, and for much longer hours, whereas pilots might spend five minutes per flight (when landing) if they choose to turn off the auto-pilot.

        I’ll give a pilot respect when he in turn gives me respect for being the passenger who pays his wages, and when he insists on fair treatment being given to me by the flight attendants on the plane. As Txrus says, currently we are viewed as nothing more than ‘self loading freight’ and an inconvenience.

  2. I wish you would provide the full job tiltle and email address of Leslie Scott.

    As a Canadian traveller I would like to write American Airlines and tell them that I will never fly with them — and ask what the result of their investigations is.

    I am not a lawyer, but it appeared to me that the young woman booted off the plane should sue the airline for failing to provide the flight travel that the young woman had purchased.

    Thanks for listening.

    1. Hi

      I probably shouldn’t give out Leslie’s email address, but here are some others for your use :

      Primary Contact
      Sean Bentel
      Vice President Customer and Relations
      4333 Amon Carter Blvd
      Fort Worth, TX 76155
      (817) 967-2116
      [email protected]

      Kerry Philipovitch
      Senior Vice President – Customer Experience
      [email protected]
      (817) 963-1234

      Secondary Contact
      Robert Isom
      Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer
      4333 Amon Carter Blvd
      Fort Worth, TX 76155
      (817) 963-1234
      [email protected]

      Suzanne Rubin
      President of American Airline Aadvantage Program and customer loyalty
      4333 Amon Carter Blvd
      Fort Worth, TX 76155
      (817) 963-1234
      [email protected]

      Chief Executive
      Doug Parker
      4333 Amon Carter Blvd
      Fort Worth, TX 76155
      (817) 963-1234
      [email protected]

      1. Trust me, my experience with AA was far worse than what that woman experienced. Way too long to go in to in depth BUT I did report it to the DOT. I was threatened, harassed, embarrassed and refused a Bailey’s for my coffee because they said I was behaving oddly, had liquor on my breath (at 7AM) and was disheveled (I’m way too vain to ever look disheveled)! Bottom line, my service animal got sick in First Class (we were seated the row behind) when I went to the restroom and instead of sitting quietly (as is usual) he came to find me because he was sick. The senior flight attendants were in the back of the plane and when they heard (via phone) they went utterly psycho! One began screaming, “You are traveling with an ESA, what drugs are you on. You can’t have your drink”. The other accused me of being drunk and said I was unfit and should have taken my service animal into the bathroom with me.

        Suffice it to say, these FAs are way out of control and have absolutely no right whatsoever working with the public. I didn’t get much better of a response than did the original poster of this thread. I am unfortunately stuck with American due to a very long credit history and miles but I am disgusted and their Corporate Office should have been kissing my feet. I only wish the NYTimes would pick up this story because during my last conversation with DOT, the American FAs shot themselves in the foot with a lie that I CAN prove to be completely fabricated. Bottom line, American doesn’t care as long as their FAs can lie enough to have the DOT not go after them. The good news IS that ALL of these complaints go into a system that is monitored by DOT. But figure this, if they’d do this to a disabled woman, do you really think they care about someone who isn’t?

  3. The short answer is ‘new’ American only cares to the extent of the $$ that can be extracted during any one transaction.

    Other than that, the answer is no. The pax are viewed as self-loading freight & so what if it gets bounced around, bumped around, or thrown off the plane completely. Someone asked last week whether it was US or AA that died on 10/17-it was AA, no question, that died a lengthy, needless, & painful death at the hands of Discount Dougie Parker.

  4. Whenever someone says “I will never fly American again”… there is another person who says “I will never fly Delta again”, and also the same about United and Southwest.

    Yes – there are only four! In a country the size of a continent with the largest flight volume of any country on earth.

    The idiots in government who approved all these mergers believed the airline tale that fewer airlines means better service, lower fares, more competition. How incompetent can anyone be?

    Not only did we get the opposite of what was promised, but as a bonus we got the arrogant flight crews, who can do anything they want, because they are being covered by their – yes – arrogant bosses.

  5. We had a very recent experience with AA officiousness. My husband and I, both first class passengers and OW Emeralds, were boarding with a very moderate amount of carry-on luggage. However, since the airport was horribly crowded, I had pulled my small handbag out of my larger carryon and neglected to put it back into my carryon, so I technically had three pieces of luggage going down the ramp. One of the gate agents yelled at me to come back up the ramp and put all my luggage together so that I had only two pieces. This was easily done, but when my husband remarked how silly it was, the gate agent threatened us that we could be criminally charged if we didn’t follow her instructions to the letter. She needed to “inspect” me before we went down the ramp again, after many of the coach passengers.

    Of course, on our return trip, I made sure to have my handbag out of my tote again, and no problem whatsoever. Hard to have any respect for these bozos and their “rules”. Customer service means nothing to some the AA employees.

    1. Calido thank you for your comment. You actually made me feel a little better! I too was flying First Class on a different trip and when they called to board I was in the restroom (yes, again). When I went around the line to go up front, the boarding agent carried on that I was cutting the line. I told her I was flying 1st Class and she said “Oooooooh weeeell aren’t you special”, in a very sarcastic voice. I then replied “Oh wow!” and she said, “Yes, woooow”. To Andreas, I never fly Delta but I do fly Virgin, Southwest and Jet Blue. Trust me when I tell you, it’s night and day. Those airlines actually treat you with GREAT respect and I travel very often!! Regardless, I worked in entertainment for 30 years. If I wouldn’t put up with a nasty Director or Actor, I sure as hell won’t take it from a piss ant glorified waitress with delusions of grandeur! Blame it on corporate because they ALLOW it!! Or as Corporate said to me, sorry, please fly with us again….we stand behind our FAs. Huh???

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