First-class is supposed to be bouncy castle of luxurious fantasies, not a desert of spiteful neglect, right? Wrong.
At least – not on American Airlines, if a recent open letter by James Asquith, the Guinness World Record holder for being the youngest male to visit all 196 countries, Holiday Swap CEO and a very frequent flyer is anything to go by.
Taking to Instagram earlier this week, James posted the following open letter to his followers, which he sent to American Airlines, after a highly unsatisfactory journey. The letter outlines his experience and encourages the carrier to dig into its coffers to provide a better experience for customers and staff, as well as donating to charity in penance for his shocking experience.
“Open Letter to American Airlines,” James captioned the post. “A light hearted touch but also an important message and problem to highlight – homelessness in the US and the huge numbers of people struggling to make ends meet. Are you going to do the right thing @doug_parker and @americanair? After nearly 160 flights in 12 months, I’ve seen how so many people in aviation have been negatively affected and 99.9% are amazing and would do anything to get back into the sky.”
“I’m always willing to think that some people have a bad day but this was not only the worst I’ve seen during covid, but probably ever, not just on a plane, but in a customer-facing role. Hope you enjoy the laugh but don’t overlook the message.”
The letter, James claims, was written, “moments after being whacked in the face by a piece of dangling object after walking out of the restroom on one of AA’s ratchet old 777-200 rust buckets.”
His main issues? “I imagine the soundtrack of tractors or combine harvesters would be very similar to that of this flight.”
He was also disappointed with the airline’s customer service, which he has previously enjoyed (in 2020 he wrote: “despite @americanair offering a product akin to 1995 economy in ‘First’, their crew were funny and kind as could possibly be”).
His latest trip was very different though. In fact James said the experience was “equivalent [to] serving me a coffee, throwing it in my face, getting the pilots to come out on the flight deck and take a massive steaming dump on my face, and then requesting payment for the privilege.”
“The next time I fly on AA (next week, unfortunately), would I get a more appropriate greeting this time? Perhaps someone could headbutt me and then spit in my eye – that way I would know for sure I’m flying AA rather than be ignored and treated like shit for 5 hours like on this flight.”
James finds it “unusual” the CEO is getting paid so much while “furloughing so many flight attendants who were living on food stamps.”
“My point here,” James concludes, “is that I don’t want any compensation, I would like you to donate the ticket cost that I paid to homeless shelters in Los Angeles where I am right now, and I will then also match the donation myself.”
“This could be a small chance for AA to not only do the right thing, but also gain some much needed positive PR.”
As James adds, “AA is seemingly currently rated the worst US airline, and Delta the ‘best worst’ which is indeed a sad state of affairs in US aviation.”
James argues this has come about after airline products have been “devalued for so many years where credit card loyalty is put above the care, need or want for paying passengers (particularly premium passengers in a laughably branded ‘first class’).”
“I would say thanks and get ignored. I would get ignored in general – as would the other passengers.”
“The crew dumped a plastic tray of nutrition in front of me and ran off to the galley – that’s when they spoke, loudly, to each other, but not to passengers. So loud in fact that it woke me up.”
“When I very politely requested that they were a little quieter, the response was: ‘can’t you just use the noise cancelling headphones.’”
“As a platinum elite wanker guy that flies a lot, this really was the worst I’ve seen during covid, after flying more than 270 airlines in my life.”
“How you can all justify someone paying cash for a ticket and not having things like lounge access and being given a cheese and cracker is shocking but now all airlines in the US drink the same coolaid. No one is challenging the dilution of quality.”
Various Instagram users appeared to back up James’ claims. Many comments along the lines of “well said” and “me too” could be seen in the comments.
“The language is somewhat gauche, but respect for the message,” another commented.
James wasn’t done there. He also put the issue in context as he sees it: “It’s a spiral no one seems to want to break, and AA introducing schemes such as project Oasis which is cramming even more seats onto aircraft is simply embarrassing. Very beautiful name though hides the fact it should really be called ‘Project – punch our passengers in the dick.’”
“Don’t even get me started on the nail polish/engine fluid sparkling ‘champagne’ that you serve – I’m not sure this is for human consumption, but great job with the deep cost cuts, I’m sure that’s why you get paid the big bucks, amigo.”
The upshot? James reckons staff get a tough time because of how airlines are run and because “frequent flyer elite wanker passengers” expect free upgrades because the company puts selling credit cards above the actual experience (making for a miserable experience for everyone).
Food for thought…