Often times when we are looking for hotels to stay at and for which flights to book we tend to look at the cheapest and most convenient options out there.
However, often times saving costs and going the cheap way is not always the best way…as I recently learned with my nightmare with one of the worst airlines in the world, American Airlines.
Having to fly from New York City to St. Louis for the summer, I looked at all flights and chose to book the cheapest flight from La Guardia airport non stop to St. Louis. Turns out it was on AA, which I did not mind too much even though they did cancel my flight last summer from St. Louis to JFK, but the thing is I’m a AAdvantage member, so I didnt mind trying to earn more miles.
The nightmare began when my flight to St. Louis was already delayed due to the late arrival of the flight coming into NYC from St. Louis. My flight was due to leave at 12:05pm, but it was rescheduled for 12:50pm. By 12:40 we were all boarded and ready to depart, until the captain came on and announced that the maintenance crew needed to check something. Then he came on and said the break fluid or something needed to be drained or something of the sort to do with the breaks, and that it would take around 30 minutes, if it were to take longer he would let us deplane. Sure enough 30 minutes later the captain told us it was going to take another 45 minutes so we were let off the plane.
After only around 15-20 minutes in the boarding area, we reboarded the plane, doors closed and we pushed back and began to taxi, one would have hoped that this would be the one and only time we left the gate, but no. As we taxied to the runway our plane made a U-Turn and the pilot came on to update us saying the part was not fully fixed so we were returning to the gate to get it checked.
At the gate we were told that maintenance decided to ground the old MD-80 aircraft, so we deplaned once again and waited in the boarding area for our new plane, which thankfully was sitting in the hanger next door, to come to the rescue. After a while we boarded the new plane, taxied to the runway and as I waited to hear the familiar noise of the engine accelerate, I saw the plane roll down the runway but at a very slow speed, before I knew it we were turning away from the runway and what i began to fear which was “Oh no we are going back to the gate,” became true.
At the gate the flustered captain told us that the company stopped the takeoff becuase our suitcases did not get on the plane and a supervisor was to board and talk. One would think that AA has enough experience to understand that when you change planes you need to also transfer the suitcases not just the passengers and crew! DUH! The supervisor did not do much except to say the usual of what a supervisor would say in this situation. A few angered passengers got off, who could blame them. And while we waited in anger in the cheap seats the first class passengers were getting nice drinks.
Finally after 5+ hours of going back and forth between runway, taxiway and the gate, we finally made it to the runway and took off to St. Louis. original arrival time: 1:45pm, actual arrival time: 6:50PM, the 4PM AA flight from La Guardia to St. Louis arrived before us.
Moral of the story? Sometimes its ok to spend a few more bucks for not only quality, but simply safety, efficiency, on time-ness, and just to keep the joy in your travels.
It could have been much worse, but my thought was that it could happen less if AA just decided to spend money on replacing these aging MD-80 aircraft. I still have my return flight to NYC, which I really hope wont be cancelled or delayed, but still I think I will try Delta, or even better Southwest next time, even if with Southwest I need to transit.
Just another part of the joys of flying with US carriers I guess,
But in the end, I arrived in St. Louis in one piece and am currently having a great time at Washington University in St. Louis!