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Is It Still Safe to Fly American Airlines?

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All week long, we have kept you up to date on the latest developments with American Airlines. From ongoing labor disputes to increasingly embarrassing maintenance snafus,  it has been a public relations nightmare for the airline.

But what about the passengers? Not only are there daily reports of delayed flights and maintenance disasters, but the airline is still in Chapter 11 bankruptcy and trying to secure a consensual agreement between management and its pilots. It’s easy to see how customer confidence is being shaken. Peter Greenberg notes:

“There has been a growing the fear factor attached to American. In a world where perception kills reality, the subtext here among many fliers is….if the seats aren’t properly fastened…what about the wings? However, it is important to realize that an overwhelming number of these flight delays and cancellations do
NOT represent a safety issue. It is a convenience issue.”

And, what traveler wants to sign up for what’s likely to be a very inconvenient travel experience? Looking at recent flight trends, it seems that a number of business travelers, for whom schedule and frequency is essential, have booked away from American Airlines. But there has been less erosion in passenger numbers for leisure travelers, most of whom fly on advance purchase, discount and heavily restricted nonrefundable tickets.

If you are flying American Airlines next week, take some comfort in knowing that the Allied Pilots Association, the union that represents 10,000 American pilots, is back at the negotiating table and the union has instructed its pilots not to call in sick or delay flights. In addition, American claims that all the loose seats have been fixed as of Saturday (October 6).

Peter expects the airline to get back to normal, or close to it soon. Further, the airline is working hard to keep their international flights and marquee flights –like the transcons from LAX to JFK — operating and on time.

If you do find yourself on a canceled or delayed flight, you will not be without support. The airline says it will issue refunds if you cancel after a two hour delay. It has also waived standby fees. This new policy, however is not permanent.

Peter’s advice is to keep your reservation and fly American. In fact, you might even want to be on the lookout for fare sales. Going into the second week of October, the airlines has not offered any unusually significant deals, but those offers might soon be on the table.

For more American Airlines’ labor trouble and bankruptcy proceedings, check out:

By Lily J. Kosner for PeterGreenberg.com

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