A few years back, a friend and I went on a trip to Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Montevideo, Uruguay to see friends, get a taste of culture, and sample the cuisine. We mostly hung out in the Palermo district of Buenos Aires, in restaurants that locals only visit, sipping fine wines, nibbling on amazing food, and wandering from boutique to boutique finding interesting designer stores, jewelry ateliers, art galleries, and furniture stores. After a 3-day stay in BA, we took the high-speed ferry to Montevideo and spent some time with a friend who showed us around the city. Again, we discovered amazing wine, food, and architecture.

What an amazing trip! Unfortunately, it was tainted by our on-board American Airlines experience. It started with the greeting when we walked to our seats. First, we were “greeted” by elderly air hosts and hostesses who “looked unhealthy and not in the best physical shape.
There were no smiles or welcomes. It felt like walking into an old bar that smelled of urine, puke, and mothballs. Walking to my seat, I looked down and noticed that the floor covering was held together with duct tape! I considered turning around and getting off, but then just closed my eyes and sat. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t scared — especially knowing I’d be sitting in this flying weasel for 12 hours!

After takeoff, the flight attendant insisted on keeping the seat belt sign on for over 2 hours and didn’t offer us anything to drink — not even water! When dinner finally came, it was basically thrown in our laps without any drinks. When I asked the grumpy attendant if we could have a glass of red wine and a glass of water, she said, “We are out of both.” I asked if she had any white wine, and guess what? They were out of white wine, too! I really had to bite my tongue not to say anything nasty. But when the gentleman seated behind us asked for a glass of red wine, she paused, said, “I’ll be right back,” walked to the kitchen, and returned with a glass of red wine. I rang the bell and asked a different hostess if we could each have a glass of water and a glass of red wine. She went huffing and puffing to the galley and brought us one glass each!

What?!? On a 12 hour flight, you don’t stock the plane with water and drinks? Do you want your passengers to suffer from dehydration at 35,000 feet?! This happened not only on the way to Buenos Aires but also on the trip back to JFK. When we landed in JFK, my friend and I agreed: NO MORE AMERICAN AIRLINES! Sure enough, we haven’t flown this grumpy airline in over 5 years and we never will!!

The Fix: Clean your planes properly and stock them according to flight length. Get rid of any grumpy, old, overweight staff members who have no desire to help anyone on board. Make it mandatory that your staff stay fit so they can help passengers in emergency situations (some of these airline hostesses wouldn’t have fit through the emergency exits by the wing!). Train your staff to be attentive and to regularly walk up and down the aisle to make sure all passengers are comfortable (no matter what class they are seated in). Most of the flight crew sat in the galley, chatting and reading magazines (which I only know because I kept going back there for more water — which magically, suddenly, became available!).

What do you think?

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