The Top Three Things American Airlines Needs to Fix

Even though this will be my last year as an Executive Platinum, I still tend to fly with American Airlines more often than not.  They’ve made somewhere around 84 a ton of changes to their soft and hard products over the years which have generally made things worse for the majority of their passengers.  This post isn’t about those changes.  It’s about stuff that sucks and they need to fix.

So, based on an extremely scientific survey process of spending somewhere around 14 minutes thinking about what bugs me, may I present to you (in order) the top 3 things American Airlines needs to fix.

3. The App (which I generally love, btw)

American’s app is great at a few things: airport maps, upgrade lists, and standby lists.  What it’s not great at, though, is booking tickets and picking seats.  You cannot book a ticket through the app, instead you’re sent to the mobile website, which isn’t the best.  Same for seats.  Oftentimes you can change seats in the app but with regularity I’m sent to a mobile site to change my seat (usually on international flights).  While these things aren’t the worst things ever, fixing them would go a long way towards making American’s app among the best.

2. Legacy US Airways A320 jets

[see? I don’t even have a stock image of one of these they’re so awful]

The legacy-US Airways A320 jets are an embarrassment to modern aviation.  They are old, decrepid, extremely safe (not trying to imply they’re not), and are miserable for the customer.

Stepping aboard one of these gross jets will introduce you to some pretty significant disappointment.  Namely, that there are no power outlets nor screens in the seats.  Yes that first part is correct, no seat power on these awful jets.  In 2017.  American needs so replace or upgrade these jets quickly.

(yes I’m a little biased here, I fly out of DFW most of the time, and many flights are now operated by these gross jets)

1. Inconsistent Boarding Times

This is my main annoyance.  On a domestic flight they will typically list the boarding time as 30 minutes before departure, but with astonishing regularity I will leave the Admiral’s Club and get to the gate at exactly 30 minutes before departure time only to find out that boarding commenced a while ago and we’re now on Group 5, leaving little to no overhead bin space near my seat.

I have plenty of friends who fly American as well and this is unfortunately extremely common these days, and nobody is happy about it.

I get it, some of these seem petty, but…

I get the changes that airlines feel like they can get away with have to make in order to stay competitive, but the one thing they should always make sure they do is keep their promises.  Even something as small as the boarding time thing can start your flight off with an annoying experience, which really degrades the customer experience before the flight even starts.  These stupid little things are indeed stupid little things but they add up quickly amidst the rest of the benefit changes that American has shoved down our throats.

It’d be easy to focus on unachievable things like rolling back the AAdvantage changes, or really anything that Scott Kirby approved, but these things are little in scope and should be doable.  Gestures like that will go a long way of engendering customer loyalty and making the flight experience more predictable.


Enough of my opinions though, what do you think American should fix?  Tell me in the comments below!


  1. Fire Doug Parker.

  2. The boarding time issue is probably the most annoying issue and easiest to fix that affects everyone, from Ma & Pa Kettle, to Road Warrior Traveling Salesman. My personal issue, after that, is the lack of consistency in the upgrade process, for those of us with status or upgrade instruments. I’ve been fortunate enough to travel on other airlines, and be upgraded, and it’s so much more seamless, and doesn’t require a physical presence at the gate. It seems exceptionally odd that the largest airline in the world can’t make this work.

  3. Another thing they have to fix is updating the correct seat assignment when they switch metal from the original flight and then switch it back to the original metal. There has been several times that they Did not allow us to get a new boarding pass At the airport since we were not on the new seating assignment. Ex: checked in and printing my boarding pass 24 hours prior to departure, then on the 20th hour they switch metal and then within a few hours later, they switch it back to the original metal without assigning us back our original seats (no more seat assigned) only to find out at counter that the flight is sold out and can’t assign a seat since none is available. It’s happened 4 times in last few months already and once again for my flight on Saturday. I am glad I caught it early so let’s see how they handle it ahead of time.

  4. You missed the disgusting onboard catering. The app is good for nothing.. have you seen the UA/DL app for standby and upgrade lists? They actually give you good information.

  5. I agree that the 319 and 320 fleets aren’t good. I just wish we could keep the MD 80s.
    As a person who flies a lot of AA short haul flights I don’t see many early boardings. In fact I wish they would board early at times or at least set the boarding earlier. For example if it’s a flight where they know the plane will be there the night before or way ahead of time. Go ahead and set the boarding at 45 minutes prior and let elites and first board more leasurely. That would allow time for the pre departure beverages and give a sense of calm to the process instead of just opening up the cattle pen.



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