Flight 371, Sunday night, hurricane Sandy lost in our contrails. I’m on the last flight out of LaGuardia and heading into Chicago, the last flight home before New York airports shut down and the city buttons up for the storm.
This will be my fifth flight on American Airlines in four days, starting in Chicago, passing through St. Louis, turning around in Dallas, going back through Chicago and then looping through New York La Guardia.
It’s been a quiet ride. On some flights I flew in coach, in some I flew in first. On the leg between Dallas and Chicago I was crammed into a window seat with a spacious and friendly neighbor. Right now, on 371, I’m choosing to skip the roast beef sandwich in lieu of some apple juice and cashews.
Life goes on for the frequent flier on American Airlines. There’s been a lot of negative focus on the airline over the last few weeks, from an issue with loose seats on several 757s to hysterical complaints from the New York Times. No doubt, American has to get their act together and service needs to improve. Pilots need to stop fussing over their contracts and the executives need to stop worrying about compensation and prepare their company for exit from bankruptcy.
By and large though, the furor over operations starts to fade after taking a few dozen flights. It’s true that there are still a few bad apples – one pilot on my trip sarcastically pointed out that “among other things, the APU in this MD-80 was out of service” – but the flight arrived on time. Most employees and passengers carry on in good will and the airplanes continue to fly.
You can expect the same on American for the next few months. Your chances of cancellation and strife from the bankruptcy naturally will go up slightly as the airline continues to reorganize and unions battle for posturing. Maybe 7 in 100 flights will be delayed instead of 5 in 100. But there will be no catastrophe. Your miles wont disappear. Pilots won’t sabotage planes. In a few months, the industry will settle and we’ll get back to complaining about the buttonhole in napkins and overhead bin space. And throughout that I’ll keep flying, American or United or Virgin or whoever gets me from point A to point B at a reasonable price. You should too.
[Photo Credit: Flickr user Fly For Fun]