I’ve bitched about American Airlines before on my blog, and had issues with them that I didn’t bother to whine about publicly. Compared to other airlines I’ve flown (which is many), AA is the most frequently delayed and has the absolute worst customer service. I found another example of that today, but thankfully it didn’t happen to me – I only had the all too common annoyance of a middle aged guy who felt the need to take up half of my seat in addition to his.
I was about to board my flight from O’Hare to Seattle. My gate was in an oddly isolated corner of the airport, and was the only one boarding. As I was getting on, I heard a commotion to my left. An approximately four year old girl was wailing near a garbage can, little brother standing nearby, and her mother was in a yelling match with one of the AA employees at the desk.

I paused long enough to figure out what was going on. Mom was holding a plastic mesh container that once housed this little girl’s pet. Either a mouse, hamster, or gerbil – I couldn’t tell. I say once housed because the little brown rodent was now very dead, and Mom was lifting his limp body to throw him in the trash can. The AA employee was yelling that she couldn’t just throw the pet away, but Mom yelled back that she needed to make this flight, but AA wouldn’t allow her on the plane with a dead animal.

At that point I had to board. We ended up sitting in our seats for an extra 15 minutes or so – I wonder if debates about dead animal disposal were going on outside. But I never saw the mom and children get on the plane.

I can understand having regulations about not being able to just put dead animals wherever you want…but seriously, could they not have come up with a better solution? Were they hoping for a miracle and Fuzzy would spring back to life? Couldn’t they have turned a blind eye and claimed the pet died during the flight? Or offer to dispose of the pet themselves so the family could make their flight? Or attempt anything to make an already traumatizing experience for a four year old a little less traumatizing?

Boo hiss, American. I don’t know what happened to the family, but I hope they got home alright, with or without a proper burial for Fuzzy.

The cherry on top of my AA hatred was that Katie, the main organizer of Skepticon, also just found out that my flight from Missouri to Seattle got messed up. You remember – the one you guys helped fund so I could have a direct flight and arrive at a reasonable and safe hour? Yeah, they just changed it to include a three hour delay, so I’m not getting in until 1am, after the public transportation is closed. Which I could have done for $130 less.

I jokingly suggested that she should email AA insisting that they upgrade me to first class because her speaker is a Very Important Prima Donna who insisted on a direct flight and has angrily blogged about how terrible AA is in the past and would surely do it again. Then she actually did, because why not. At best I’m expecting a drink coupon. At worst they’ll stick me on the wing.