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So I’ve been very quiet on here lately, aside from all the comments on the last Thanksgiving post. And it just so happens something happened today that is relevant to that post.

But first, I never really explained what happened that fateful day/night. So get comfy, ’cause here it is:

After boarding the plane for a 4:00 departure, after we’re all sitting comfy on the 100% booked plane, the pilot comes on and tells us to get off. Not that rudely, but you know… There was an oil leak in an engine, so the plane was not fit to fly.

(I always get some amusement thinking that these kinds of problems only crop up between flights, that this oil leak, for instance, did not develop during the plane’s previous flight and it happened only while it was on the ground. Because, you see, the plane can’t fly with an oil leak. But I make no sense, so never mind.)

After deplaning, we were told another plane was wrangled into service for us, but we would not leave until 8:00. Then, quietly and without any verbal announcements, that time changed to 9:00.

I was not really hungry, but Marcy and I decided to eat to pass the time. Yes, we’re Americans. I went up to the gate agent and asked if they were giving out meal vouchers, which is common with such a long delay. Oops, I mean WAS common. “We’re not doing that since this flight was not scheduled for catering.” I simply smiled, shook my head, and did not tell the guy what I was thinking, which was, “But you never have catering anymore, so what does that matter? You don’t serve free food anymore! We have to pay for your crappy airline food now, and it’s only cold sandwiches! None of your flights are ‘catered,’ and therefore we get screwed out of a convenience once again because you’re all too greedy and stupid to…” And so on.

My burger at the restaurantesque establishment was terrible, but there was entertainment in the form of a tipsy woman on her cell phone calling everyone she knew to tell them about how she missed her plane in London. I caught her in a movie on my phone, so that’s another post for another time.

Our new plane finally arrived, after I got some good reading done on The DaVinci Code. At this point, an announcement happened: “Ladies and gentlemen, we don’t think a departure time of 9:00 is likely at this point, so we’re adjusting the departure time to 9:15.” Again, I launched into some vitriol, but this time out loud to my poor audience, Marcy. “Why don’t they just say 9:30? 10:00? We all know 9:15 is as unlikely as 9:00! Why lie? Just push the time to something more truthful!”

Thankfully, because passengers from the 4:00 who had connections had been shoved onto other flights, the new plane was not full. After boarding and settling, we sat and sat. We did not take off until 10:30. How these things happen is beyond me, but that’s how it goes. At this point, I simply did not care. I had a fun book, so I was fine.

Once up in the air, the trip was uneventful. Of course, they did not offer to feed us for free. We still had to pay $7.00 for a shrink wrapped wrap. I did not pay for said wrap, as I do not believe in it. The money the airlines save by not feeding us is not going to save them from bankruptcy. I’m sure they’ve been trying to figure out how to get rid of the food for decades, and 9/11 provided the perfect excuse. (I must bring up this old post, wherein United decided it’s more important to re-paint all their planes than provide either good customer service or decent benefits for their employees.)

Blah blah blah.

Cut to today, when the following arrived in my e-mail:

Dear Mr. Lekowicz:

It’s completely realistic for our most frequent travelers to put flight dependability at the top of their list of expectations from us. For that reason, we were disappointed to learn that flight 133 was delayed for so long on November 29. After our manager in New York apprised us of the details, we wanted to take the opportunity to apologize to you for the disruption of your travel plans to Los Angeles.

I realize that our expression of regret is of small consolation in light of the time you spent waiting in New York for your flight to depart. I hope you will accept the addition of 11,000 Customer Service Bonus miles to your AAdvantage(r) account as a more tangible apology. You should see this mileage adjustment in your account very soon. For your convenience, you can view your account via We appreciate your understanding during the delay of your flight and hope to have your continued business. We will do our best to provide a smooth trip the next time you fly with us. We’ll look forward to the opportunity.

I first have to say that I was bowled over. I have made it no secret that I think customer service is, on a whole, horrible. To wit: this and this. So when a company actually admits to making a mistake and takes steps on its own to make amends, is so shocking it’s sad. Sure, it’s a form letter, which implies that they send out this kind of apology a lot, but it does not diminish my surprise.

A couple things to note about the e-mail:

11,000 miles? Who came up with this strange number?

It’s very important to put the (R) representation of ® there because, you know, I could steal it for my very own!

I’m glad I got this e-mail, because I’ve generally liked American more than United. They have more leg room on their planes, the same kind United now charges extra for. Their seats are much more comfortable, unlike the horrible ones on United that force your head to jut out in front of your body at an unnatural angle. Those two items alone can make a 5-hour flight much more endurable.

Now, the fun will be where am I going with these miles? Before the trip, I had 19,000 miles. After this trip and its various bonuses and apologetical addenda, I have over 36,000. Suddenly, the inconvenience of JFK has melted away into possibilities! And I did have time to finish my book, too, so…

1 Comment

The Wren Forum » ∆ -23,462 Expounded Thusly:

[…] I did not proofread it, which I’m sure is an issue, but they’ll respond with the same bullshit every other company does. Which makes the apology from American Airlines I got after the Thanksgiving problem even more special. (And even more special because I just used those apology miles to book a flight to Austin for my friend Min’s wedding!) […]

Friday, January 20th, 2006 • 3:32pm • Permalink • This is a Pingback


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