American Apologizes for "Inconvenience" of Delays/Cancelations, Offers Refunds

A new update on the American Airlines website does not mention the words “trouble” or “problems” but it does cite “operational challenges” for the recent tsunami of delayed and canceled flights and duly apologizes to its passengers.

Listen as air travel analyst Rick Seaney talks about how his trip was almost wrecked – and how he salvaged it.

American’s Huge Spike in Delays/Cancelations

Airline Offers Apology to Angry Travelers

The airline is also is offering some tangible benefits, including refunds for long-delayed flights (and see more on these options below). The airline is clearly aware that some of its passengers are getting angry about the ‘inconveniences’ that are driven largely by unhappy pilots who’ve been calling in sick in increased numbers (according to the airline) as well as generating an more last-minute maintenance reports.

Some passengers have been quoted as saying they’re done with the airline, while former American CEO – the still legendary Robert Crandall – weighed in with this gloomy assessment: “Unfortunately, there is very little that any airline can do to prevent this,” said Crandall. “The pilots have great leverage and they know it. But given American’s already weakened competitive situation, a continuation of this behavior can cause terrible damage to the company.”

American Flight Attendants Spat Delays Plane

Advice for American Airlines Passengers

So far, air travel expert Rick Seaney is not among analysts recommending ‘booking away’ from American – despite his own experience of being on a delayed AA flight just yesterday – but he does offer this advice:

“If you are worried about a meeting in the next couple weeks that you absolutely cannot miss, understand the short-term ‘danger’ – the possibility of a delayed or canceled flight – and buy accordingly,” said Seaney. “For trips outside this window feel free to book; you might even be getting a better deal if American senses a drop-off as the airline’s system will release more of its cheaper seats. These delay/cancelation issues are likely to be resolved shortly since American and all airlines are well aware that they are only as good as their last flight.”

Seaney adds, anyone facing the immediate prospect of a delay or cancelation should get in touch with the airline at once; if you’re at the airport, get in line for a gate agent and get on the phone at the same time. The airline’s Twitter feed may be helpful as well.

What to Do if Your Flight is Delayed or Canceled

American Offers Refunds and More

Here’s are options currently being offered by American in an attempt to make life a little easier for its embattled passengers facing delays and/or canceled flights:

  • Receive a full refund if you decide not to travel
  • Re-accommodate on another carrier if available
  • Change flight plans at no charge.
  • Provide the ability to stand by for earlier domestic flights

The airline also says it is increasing its staffing, and for what it’s worth, they are also increasing the amount of food available on flights (but no word on whether you’ll have to pay for it or not).

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Published: September 21, 2012