The last time Ennie and I flew on American we were flying back from Cleveland to Seattle. The entire trip was a clusterfuck that led to us sleeping at O’Hare in Chicago.

As I’m writing this on the flight back from buying a house in Nashville there’s yet another fail.

Last night I was checking into the flight online.

First off, the seats I picked when buying the tickets weren’t honored. Ennie and I were seated in random seats on both legs of the flight.

Second, when I chose to change seats and upgrade to seats where we’re sitting, you know, next to each other for a fee (which is still fucking infuriating) the choices didn’t even go through despite the fact that I picked seats and was willing to pay for it. But I got the boarding passes issue. (This would become important later)

Then, third, I went to try to change the seats again… picking the seats I wanted in the first place… I got charged around $127 and got new boarding passes. But the second leg of the flight from DFW to SEA didn’t get changed, only from BNA to DFW.

Ok, so then I called customer support… first agent had no clue what the hell was going on. The supervisor said I had to wait until 24 hours before the second leg’s scheduled start time to change. Of course the web site had no mention of this fact and proceeded to charge me the money. While on the line (before he explained the 24 hour thing) I tried again and this time I was charged $30-odd dollars and it of course didn’t go through. The supervisor then proceeded to explain that others have had this happen as well and there was nothing he could do at all.

I called up Amex and they were at least able to switch us to be one ahead of the other instead of just plain random. Yaay Amex!

By the time the 24 hours was up there were no seats that were next to each other any more.

Ok… so we get to the airport and everything is broken. This is not American’s fault. Some construction managed to sever the networking to the airport and killed basically everything. But we weren’t able to try to change anything. The flight was delayed due to the manual boarding process and by the time we got to DFW we didn’t have a chance to do anything as we were already boarding the flight to SEA.

At least we made the connection.

We get on the plane and take off…

And there are fucking empty seats all over. I would have paid to be in those. Instead, after taking off, I just moved over to the empty seat next to Ennie.

So, let’s recap:

  • Broken online check in that doesn’t follow through with selections
  • Broken seat change operations on the web site that offer no validation
  • Broken billing that charges for seat changes that aren’t allowed
  • Broken customer care that can’t fix problems
  • Broken software development practices that allow known bugs to ship
  • Broken system that doesn’t even know what seats are filled.

With so many simple systems and processes that are fundamentally broken, I simply lack faith in the airline as a whole.

What other corners are being cut?