Below is a letter I sent to American Airlines via their online form for some of the worst service I have ever witnessed, let alone experienced. I hope others continue to let them know why customers will pay extra for Virgin America whenever possible.
My wife and I flew on your airline on February 23, 2013 from New York to Cancun on flight 1671. When we arrived to the gate, I introduced myself and asked if there was any availability in business class for my pregnant wife. If there is anyone who deserves a bit of extra space, I would think it is a woman who is 7 months pregnant, right?
The gate attendant asked my name, pulled our reservation up on her computer, and then explained, “We do not give out business class seats.” I can understand that – no problem, but I was not even asked if I wanted to pay for an upgrade. Slightly taken aback, I returned to my seat, somewhat frustrated, but was quickly called back to the desk over the loudspeaker.
The attendant asked, “How many months did you say?” I confirmed that my wife was 7 months pregnant, and she proceeded to tell me that my wife would not be allowed to fly and that flying while pregnant was unsafe. Luckily, our obstetrician gave us a formal written note “just in case,” and my wife had looked up the formal policies by both the FAA and AA.com’s own website (see excerpts below).
Then another attendant named Jordan decided to chime in:
“Why on earth would take your wife on a vacation when she is 7 months pregnant? And to Mexico no less! That’s a terrible idea, what if something happens?! I mean, you can do whatever you want, but I’d never…” At which point she trailed off and I couldn’t make out what else she said. I certainly was not going to ask.
I get that someone has a different opinion, but how on earth is it your place to say that? I would not say that to a friend at a cocktail party, let alone a customer in an airport. I would also think that if caring for passengers was your job you would know the FAA guidelines.
Unfortunately, the story does not end there. As we boarded the plane, the flight attendant Jordan saw my wife and I approaching, and said, “I checked the airline policy, and you (to my wife) can still fly. It’s just not allowed within 30 days of your due date. But I would never do it. You know, I have a friend whose water broke the minute the plane took off because of the pressure! And another friend who started having contractions the plane hit cruising altitude. So you know…I would NEVER fly if I was in your condition.”
What should my wife and I have done at that point, turned around and deboarded? And then how would we get to Mexico to enjoy the hotel and vacation that we had already paid for? To us, especially to my wife, this was the worst part. You are not telling a fellow New Yorker who walks into a restaurant, “Don’t eat here – I just found a mouse in my hamburger.” To which the potential patron can judge for him or herself, turn around and choose any number of other restaurants within a short walk or cab ride away. We were getting on to a plane to take a trip to a destination that was already settled. After my wife had to hear these awful anecdotes from the flight attendant, she had to sit through the plane taking off, and then hitting cruising altitude, wondering if she might go into labor at any point in time. The additional worry added by the flight attendant was entirely inappropriate and unnecessarily stress-inducing.
Thank you American for making our decision to fly in the future that much easier as we will not be flying AA again, no matter how much cheaper your rates are.
——-UPDATE AS OF 3/15!——
Thank you everyone for all the support, glad I’m not the only one who’s had to endure such bad service. A few people have asked if American Airlines responded.
I have to say I wish their actual service was as good as their socail media service teams. After posting the article on Twitter @AmericanAir responded after less than 5 minutes:
We went back and forth, I gave them my ID number from the email I sent it via a DM (quickly unfollowed them) and then I even got a personal call from a very apologetic representitive.
They were nice, professional and just about everything their fly attendant was not, but thing is…does all of this really make me want to fly American ever again? Absolutely not. So with that, let me ask you a question, what would they have had to do for you to fly American again?
American Airlines Pregnancy Policies
Doctor’s letter required if traveling within four weeks of delivery date.
Travel within seven days before due date or after delivery requires doctor’s letter plus clearance by AA special-assistance coordinator.
Restrictions based on honor policy.
Doctor’s letter required if traveling within 30 days of due date, signed within 48 hours of travel.
Travel within ten days before due date or after delivery requires doctor’s letter plus clearance by AA special-assistance coordinator.
American Airlines Travel Information - FAQs
Number 14. Traveling While Pregnant
Q: What are the guidelines for traveling on American while pregnant?
A: A medical certificate is required if travel is within 4 weeks of the delivery date in a normal, uncomplicated pregnancy
For domestic flights under 5 hours, travel is not permitted within 7 days before and after the delivery date. If you should need to travel within 7 days before or after delivery, a medical certificate is required as well as clearance from our Special Assistance Coordinator.
For International travel or any flights over the water, travel is not advised within 30 days of the due date, unless the passenger is examined by an obstetrician within 48 hours of outbound departure and certified in writing as medically stable for flight. Travel within 10 days of the due date for International travel must have clearance from our Special Assistance Coordinators. Travel within 7 days after delivery requires clearance as well.
For more information, please contact a Special Assistance Coordinator through AA Reservations at 800-433-7300.