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American Airlines...Better represented by the British.
Member Name: Dexter01
Advantages: Smooth flying, pretty good food compared to flight standards. the Brits put in a good performance.
Disadvantages: American customer service at it's finest.
A few months back, the wife booked us a trip to New York, flying with American Airlines. Never flown with them before and no idea if they were any good, I checked Dooyoo for reviews of them. It was not good reading. I never found a good one about them and was so worried about flying with them, that we tried to change companies to BA, but would have lost a fair amount of money.
So, with great trepidation, we made our to Terminal 3 of Heathrow to begin our adventure with American Airlines. On first impressions, with check in, it was pretty good. Asked the usual questions, there was no queue and we were all checked in in 5 minutes.
Then came the plane side of the journey. I am no expert in planes, so have no idea how old it was. It had wings and engines, managed to get in the air and back down again. That is good enough for me. The inside however, was a pleasant surprise. From the reviews I had read, I was expecting the old style of screens above seats and having no choice of what to watch. Luckily for us, screens were on the back of all seats and there was a good amount to choose from. The only downside to this, and it is being really picky, was that you couldn't just play something, it was on a rolling tape and you had to get lucky to pick something that was starting with a few minutes of you wanting it to. The flight out was exceptionally smooth, as was the landing. I cannot fault anything about the journey out. Even the food was pretty edible, it was airplane food, but better than most I have had before.
The journey back however, is a different story. We arrived at JFK and instead of going to queue for face to face check in, we were told to go to self service as they had no staff at the other one. No great deal, go to a screen, swipe your passport and print off your boarding pass. Very, very simple, so simple, I helped a Japanese chap with his check in. After getting your pass, you then move across to check in you baggage. You have already told the self service check in how many bags you have, so this should be a simple process as well. From looking, the staff don't even put your bags on the conveyor belt, so what could go wrong you ask.
There were 3 queue's, one rather large, one not to shabby, and one that had very few people on. We joined this one and got to within one customer away from seeing the lady checking in. It had taken 5 minutes, we are thinking why doesn't anyone like AA and then it happens. The lady serves someone, looks at the people in front of us and says she is closing. I look behind and there is around 20 people in the queue behind me now, both other queue's have many more, it has got pretty busy. The person in front asks if someone is replacing her, to which the lady said she doesn't know and will tell her supervisor and walks off.
Immediately to the right of the queue we are in, there are 2 members of staff looking at a computer screen, attempting to check someone in. There was not any customer there though, so we were not sure. One of the staff was typing and the other staring at the screen. Common sense would kick in here, surely. No. A third staff member joins these 2, then a 4th. The person in front asks them to check people in, but no, staring at one person type into a computer is far more important.
This goes on for 25 minutes, which has then left the queue's absolutely massive, as everyone is self checking in, due to no staff at the other end. Then a new lady appears and it appears we are going to have evrything all completed, so we can move into departures. We get to her and you know, we have been waiting for 25 minutes and you would think maybe an apology would be nice. I would even settle for a simple Hello. You guessed it, nothing. She said the wifes name for her to put the bag on the scales, then simple pointed at the conveyor belt and I got the same treatment. It was a joke.
The ride back on the plane was the same as the way out, smooth, no real complaints. The only thing that did bother me was that it was the same entertainment we had seen on the way out. You can't really call that a complaint though.
It was a good journey, marred by the events in trying to return home. I found it amazing that the British side of things was pretty perfect, yet the American side was dreadful. From the journey out, I would have flown with them again. From the journey back, I am not even going to recommend them.
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