Thursday, August 9, 2012

American Airlines: Avoid at all costs!

Last week, we finally travelled halfway across the globe from Karachi to Minneapolis. According to my travel agent, American Airlines only allows one checked bag per person. Extra checked bag is charged $50 per bag. On the American Airlines website, there was a clause which stated that any customers travelling to or from Asia are allowed two checked bags.
I contacted American Airlines on their Facebook page to clarify their terms. According to them, we were allowed two checked bags per person. Between the two of us, that meant four checked bags and two carry-ons. Since we were going for a long-term stay, we needed the most luggage space we could get. I asked them what to do if we were denied two checked bags at the airport. They said, just show a printout of our conversation and it should be good.
We showed up at 4 am for our flight at 5.45 am. With six bags in tow, when we approached the check-in counter, we were told there was only one checked bag per person allowed on American Airlines. I told them about my conversation with them but they wouldn't listen. They just printed out their own rules and showed me that it stated we were allowed one bag. After much haggling, I told them I would pay the $100 extra charge ($50 per bag) as I was told by my travel agent. Apparently, even that wasn't allowed. If we wanted to pay extra, we would have to pay roughly $160 per bag! This would amount to $320, for old clothes and underweight bags! I would rather buy new clothes for that much money. Finally, the only option left was to ditch the two bags!
I called my dad at 5 am to come back to airport to pick up the two extra bags. He's the only one I could count on who would get out of bed at 5 am and drive back to the airport after dropping me off an hour ago! In the meantime, we opened all six bags and repacked them so as to ditch unnecessary stuff and keep what we needed. We had to put on snow jackets on the plane to avoid taking up space in the bags! It was an ordeal I would never want to go through again!
With snow jackets on, two heavy carry-on bags, we ran through security, immigration and customs just to make it in time for boarding. Then going through stopovers at Dubai, London and Chicago with all of this was our own Olympic race!
The planes we travelled on were also of very poor quality. The first leg of the flight was via Emirates. From our previous travels, we have noticed that Emirates usually reserves its worst planes for the Karachi - Dubai flight. That didn't surprise us. Since it was a short flight, we were glad it went by quickly. The next flight to London was operated by British Airways. Theirs was the best plane we came across. Comfortable seating, plenty of inflight entertainment and good food. I got to sleep for the most part of this eight hour journey. We thought the next two flights would be similar. We were so wrong!
American Airlines flight from London to Chicago was eight hours long in a broken seat! There was no inseat console for entertainment and really bad food. Longest flight we had to encounter. Chicago to Minneapolis was even worse, but since it was only an hour's flight, we couldn't complain much. In both the American Airlines flights, they could not even fit our carry-on luggage and had to check it in.
Lesson learned from this journey: avoid American Airlines as much as possible. If I had known it would be this bad, I would have asked my travel agent for some other option!