I've been writing about other peoples' experience with service failures lately, so it's time to post one of my own. I was flying back from Chicago yesterday after a business meeting. I got to the airport early, at 5:30pm, and noticed there was a flight to Raleigh-Durham that was boarding. I went to the counter at the gate and asked if I could step on the flight. The attendant snapped at me, "I'll have to check." She checked, and said "Yes, you can. It will be $50." Fifty dollars to step on a plane that was boarding, and I'd paid full fare for my ticket! Apparently the attendant was simply checking to see if I was a Platinum/Gold/Rewards blah blah member who merited some small free service. I said no thanks, and walked away.
My own flight was at 7:30pm, and after the obligatory delays, the attendant announced that the flight was ready to board. And, he added, they were looking for three people to step off the flight because they were overbooked. They were offering $300 to anyone who would agree to re-book the next day!
If they had allowed me to move to an earlier flight they would have had an extra seat. American Airline was willing to forego $300 to not allow me to move from the later flight to an earlier flight, and they earned a dissatisfied customer in the process. As a final, perfect note to their general incompetence, the attendant announced, "the bathroom on the plane is out of order, so customers are urged to use the airport facilities before they board."
And the management of AA probably doesn't understand why they're getting beat to death by Southwest Airlines and its culture of customer service.