American Airlines is Dead to Me

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

So last night I boarded a plane in New Orleans heading back to Phoenix after the ALEC conference. The flight was delayed a bit by weather, and three of my former comrades from the Goldwater Institute were on the same flight. We had to change planes in Dallas to reach Phoenix, and knew that the connection would be tight.

As luck would have it, we arrived in Dallas a mere three gates away from the flight to Phoenix. The four of us arrived at the gate 10 minutes before the scheduled departure of the plane, only to learn that American Airlines had sold our seats out from under us. They had no other flight to put us on, nor did any other airline. Back in the day, an airline might use their advanced data base technology to hold a plane for a few minutes to get someone three gates down onto their flight, but American Airlines apparently prefers to simply sell your seat.

Instead of the flight home that we had purchased, we were given a night in a hotel and a flight out in the morning. In my case, this meant rescheduling a flight my wife and son had scheduled for Saturday morning at a nontrivial expense.  A person at the hotel told us that they hear this sort of story on a routine basis and sometimes get 50 stranded passengers a night.

Now at this point, many of you may be asking yourself “Self, why in the world would he put up an image of Airplane 2: The Sequel when the far superior Airplane was available?” Ah, well, glad you asked. I chose Airplane 2: The Sequel because this is in fact the second time in the last three years that American Airlines left me stranded in Dallas. On October 1, 2009 they left me stranded in Dallas and were not going to be able to get me to my destination in time for me to make a debate a couple of hours outside Atlanta after I had received assurances that they would be holding flights.

American Airlines won’t receive a third chance to strand me, and I was foolish to give them a second. Feel free to keep this in mind the next time you book a flight.


10 Responses to American Airlines is Dead to Me

  1. mfp47FP says:

    Complete B.S. You should post this on Yelp, Trip Advisor etc.

  2. Daniel Earley says:

    Given the high stakes for us school choice folk if we were to miss an important meeting, I quite appreciate this tip being posted here where I’ll find it. Thanks Matt.

  3. Aaatendant says:

    Good luck finding improvements in other airlines! I know of several carriers who treat their passengers like cattle on a good day. You have to come to expect these things with airline travel, but if you would like to use American as your scapegoat, go right ahead.

  4. Greg Forster says:

    Can we identify airlines that treat customers well? I’ve had good experiences with Southwestern and Midwest/Frontier.

    My hypothesis would be that the dinosaur carriers are generally worse than more recent entrants. Different corporate culture.

  5. matthewladner says:


    I have been flying Southwest for 20 years, and have never had them sell a seat out from under me. I am hardly scapegoating American Airlines- they are ones that have a 100% record of stranding me in Dallas in the past three years.

  6. Daniel Earley says:

    Southwest, Frontier, Delta — usually pretty good service in my experience. The only time I’ve ever been stranded from overbooking was returning from Italy on Alitalia. They put my wife and I in a hotel in Milan, refunded our 700 Euro in cash and flew us home for free. Getting an extra honeymoon day in Milan — even paid — well, we’ll probably be using Alitalia again in hopes of repeating such luck. 🙂

  7. JfC says:

    “Back in the day”? Do you realize there are many more people who would be inconvenienced if AA held the plane for connections? If seems that only a few people’s schedules were impacted versus everybody on the plane. Traveling is adventurous and umpredictable. It seems AA made the right choice.

    • ByronSchlomach says:

      Read the post again, JfC, we were there on time. There really wasn’t any need to delay anyone who originally had a ticket on that flight. Besides, it was the last flight of the night. We’re talking about, maybe, two extra minutes. Fact is, one of the ticket agents apologized to one of our number and said her supervisor never informed her of our impending arrival.

      When Southwest overbooks, they offer cash money in addition to free accommodations. Their errors cost them. AA tries to still make a net on the situation.

  8. Maximus says:

    How often do you fly?

  9. Matthew Ladner says:

    At least twice a month, sometimes more.

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