Today I have had the delight of venturing across the pond to see some friends in Mississippi. Landing in Chicago by way of Dublin, after two on time and acceptable flights on United and Ryanair (a report on those will appear at a later date) my journey to the South was rudely interrupted by American Airlines regional operation, and some comical IT.
This flight I booked as a standalone flight, using British Airways Avios points in what I would consider to be a pretty good deal. A little 50 seat CRJ pootles down from Chicago to Meridian, Mississippi, (MEI) stops for 20 minutes as a few people get off, and then it continues onto Hattiesburg/Laurel Airport (PIB)- a 69 mile flight according to GCMapper. I have no idea how precisely BA defines a segment for its pricing of AA awards, but in this case I was charged 7500 avios and $5.60, so I am glad that common sense has prevailed and the 69 mile flight under the same code isn’t charged a second 7500 avios. Given that cash prices on this route are almost always over $150 each way a very satisfactory redemption indeed.
However, the CRJ that I am meant to be on went tech yesterday in Montreal by the look of its history, and had to spend approx 24hrs on the ground there being fixed. Okay, happens, a plane breaks down and delays happen. That’s fine. AA’s response to this has just been a shambles though.
For a kickoff, the delay to the flights down to Mississippi tonight was not communicated in anything like a timely manner. By 10AM this morning they knew that the plane had missed its planned restart time and flight back to ORD to start its schedule for the day. Yet, it took til 2.30pm for this to be reflected in the reservations details. As such rather than seeing whilst on my United flight that I had a delay and being able to try and fix it, it was too late to do anything.
Next, and the real comedy, is the predicted new timings for the flights. As the screenshot shows, the AA app is confidently telling me that the plane which does continuing service from MEI to PIB will land in PIB around 15 minutes *before* it gets to MEI. And trying to get a sensible real ETA off AA on twitter has taken 10 messages and counting for them to even recognise what I’m asking for. Yikes.
Finally, I am being told that I am at risk of missing a connection! On a flight with continuing service! How is this even possible! It’s Not!
It is not so much a problem for me as someone who is a reasonably calm and experienced traveller so I am only inconvenienced in this by my lack of ability to tell my friend what time to get to the airport to pick me up… but if I was a once a year traveller? I would be concerned, ruining the travel experience more and would be seeking out agents, taking up their valuable time.. and all over an shambolic IT glitch. And that, is a nice summary of it. This entire experience just makes AA seem shambolic at running an airline. So in future, when I’m considering who to buy tickets from – in the back of my mind is the memory of AA being a shambles. Perhaps that is why their Revenues and Stock Price are doing badly…