In the true style of "The New American" I relate the following: Yesterday evening I was booked to fly form Baton Rouge to Dallas. The inbound aircraft was diverted to Lafayette due to weather. This happens of course in lower Louisiana in the summer. Delta had flights diverted to New Orleans and United had flights diverted as well. Delta and United however managed, after a reasonable delay, to recover their airplanes to Baton Rouge and to continue the flights although delayed. AAL however, and as usual, kept pushing back the estimated time for arrival/departure hour by hour. I have seen this AAL show many times since January and knew what it meant. Sure enough, the aircraft finally arrived--over three hours late. The passengers deplaned and we helpless Dallas-bound sheep stood about as usual and were then told--I repeat, as I had expected--that the crew had "just" timed out and that AAL was cancelling the flight. I had already made arrangements for backup as I had a pretty certain feeling that this was going to be the scheme. They wait until no more departures by any carrier are available then pull the rug out so they do not have to rebook you with another carrier and spend some of their rapacious bottom line. We had of course been told all along that the flight would not cancel--AAL personnel knowing full well for hours (I checked with a contact not in Baton Rouge late last night) that the flight crew had to get an exception even to fly from Lafayette to Baton Rouge. Speaking of the backup plan, I was told by THREE phone agents that my ticket, a complex multi-day (due to the cancellation that I originally only expected but that then materialized) , multi-segment one, had been re-issued. I did not believe them of course and got to the airport an hour earlier than needed. I was right. No re-issue until I personally took care of it...
THREE RULES TO FOLLLOW WHENEVER DEALING WITH AAL--
1. Nowadays one MUST sadly assume that ANY AAL employee with whom you are dealing is lying to you quite brazenly especially if the issue is cancellation, delay or a customer service problem. With that in mind,
2. NEVER break off eye contact with ANY AAL employee until you have in hand the boarding pass, itinerary, voucher or other document that you need to solve your problem. If you stand your ground and refuse to be placated they have no choice but to continue to deal with you--until you go away. INSIST on seeing a supervisor, that the employee make a call, whatever it takes but DO NOT let them fob you off with ANYTHING verbal. The chances approach 100% that anything verbal will be a deliberate whopper of a lie.
3. Remember, when dealing with AAL you are absolutely ON YOUR OWN. Do NOT expect any support of any kind whatever from ANY AAL employee. The ONLY way to get ANYTHING from AAL nowadays is to force them to confront and to take ownership of the issue at hand in a polite but bedrock-solid firm manner.
It is very sad that what was once a very good product has hit the drain like this, but it has. The above three rules are the ONLY way to deal effectively anymore with AAL and remember that this comes from a top tier customer with around 4 million miles in their system.