How American Airlines Is Trying to Screw You

Contrary to some travel writers saying now is the Golden Age of travel, I respectfully disagree with their sentiment. We are in the age of never-ending devaluations of airline frequent flyer programs, hotel award programs, credit card benefits, and more. This is simply a norm these days and we all have learned to live with it. With the introduction of Basic Economy (thanks, Delta), what used to be considered bare minimum is now premium. I have many thoughts on that as well, but that’s an article for another day.

In the negative landscape of air travel today, one has to wonder how low the airlines can go. Well, wonder no more, because I just found something that truly disgusted me while searching for OneWorld award availability on American Airlines’ website:

See how general boarding is listed under ‘Good value with benefits’? General boarding is not a benefit! This is how you know air travel has hit rock bottom historic low.

American has seen its fair share of problems lately, from the dispute with its mechanics union to its obsession to achieve on-time departures (d0) at all costs. These days, many people simply won’t touch American, and I’m no exception when I passed on the chance to fly international first class on AA to Hong Kong for only 61,000 miles. I’d rather use my AAdvantage miles for redemption with a OneWorld partner like Cathay Pacific or Japan Airlines. But this is one thing I am just not going to give AA a pass on, because it is an easily addressable issue as it’s only one line of text on its website.

Let’s for a second ignore the fact that this is a main cabin award ticket on Japan Airlines. I’m completely aware that this could be a topic of debate here: would basic economy not be considered part of general boarding; thus by the virtue of holding a standard main cabin ticket, one gets the ‘benefit’ of general boarding? I for one would argue that basic economy boarding is still part of general boarding, as evidenced by Air Canada”s boarding process:

One of the few benefits remaining of being an airline elite flyer or credit card holder is priority boarding, which allows you to breathe more recycled air earlier access to limited overhead bin space so you can stuff that oversized rollaboard that clearly does not belong in an overhead bin up there anyways because nobody forced you to pay to have it checked. And let’s not forget even when you are boarding Group 1, it doesn’t mean you actually get to board first:

Comedy skits aside, I did a similar award search for Cathay Pacific flights on the American Airlines website, and sure enough, according to AA, general boarding is listed as a benefit on CX flights too!

Oh how things have changed from the days when people traveling on economy award tickets issued by Alaska Airlines receive priority boarding benefit on flights operated by American.

When general boarding groups are already considered back of the pack, how in the world can American justify general boarding as a ‘benefit’? There is simply no excuse for this kind of deception and I hope nobody gets fooled by AA. Shame on you, American Airlines.