Kicked off American Airlines flight

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Apr 19, 2018
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#1
First time forum user here.... We had a recent incident with AA where we were kicked off a flight. Below is the email I sent them to complain already, which describes what happened. Basically our daughter got motion sickness on a previous long flight and we got her Dramamine during the layover. After boarding the next flight, one passenger grossly exaggerated what occurred and the flight crew was completely dismissive of us and ignored our attempt to explain what really happened. As noted in my email to them, they claimed it was for medical reasons, but had no problem putting us on the next flight an hour later with no medical checkup of any sort.

EMAIL TO AA:

Dear Mr. Bentel,
I am writing with absolute disgust with the way my family was treated this past Thursday, April 5, 2018. We were traveling from Providence, RI to Kahului, HI ( Record Locator ********).
During the second leg of our trip, from Charlotte to LA, our 9 year old daughter started getting motion sickness and used the “barf bag” provided by AA. To describe what happened as “vomit” would probably be an exaggeration, but she was feeling nauseous. During our layover in LA, we purchased Dramamine to help her feel better.
We spoke to AA gate staff before boarding the flight out of LA (flight # 205) and explained what our situation was. They understood and allowed us to board. While seated on the plane, our daughter again felt nauseous and as a precaution had a bag with her, but what resulted could be described as no more than spitting up. The woman in front of her, who could not have seen what was going on because we were behind her, was apparently very bothered by this and went to complain to the flight crew. We became aware of this when the gate staff got back on the plane and asked us what was going on. We again explained that she got motion sickness and there had been no health issues with her. The staff asked all of the surrounding passengers if they were concerned about our daughter and nobody was. The complaining woman was at the back of the plane at this point still. Staff suggested that we could sit in the back row of the plane if we wanted because it was open. Not wanting to cause a problem, we moved. When we got to the back of the plane, the flight attendant (I did not get her name) was completely dismissive of us and clearly annoyed that we had been sent back there. She suggested that maybe the child had the flu and I explained that there had been no symptoms of this, she got motion sickness and we got Dramamine to treat it. We were also asked about “projectile vomiting” which is apparently how the passenger described it. This was a completely inaccurate description of what happened. While I understand the unpleasantness of looking in a barf bag, we offered to show her that it was empty except for some spit and she refused. We were then told that we had to get off the plane. I was not happy about this obviously, but understanding the futility of arguing when this decision was made, we just got our bags and left. The frustrating part of all of this was that we used one of those bags that are there for that very reason. There was no projectile vomiting and when we offered to prove this, they refused to even listen to our side of this. We were kicked off of the plane solely because one woman complained.
When we got off the plane, the gate staff could not have been more apologetic. They were helpful from that point forward. They initially offered us an AA flight about 3 hours later but then found a flight on United (flight #454) that would get us to Kahului at 6:42pm instead of 5:13pm on our booked AA flight. We took that United flight to limit the delay on our vacation. During that flight our daughter did not get sick once as the Dramamine had kicked in. She has also been in perfect health since then.
I really have no explanation for why we were kicked off that flight. Presumably we were kicked off for health reasons. That of course does not make any sense because AA was willing to put us on another flight 3 hours later with no medical exam of any sort in between. We were eventually placed on the United flight again with no medical interventions. We explained the situation to United when we got to their gate and they were not concerned and were surprised, to put it mildly, about what AA did to us.
My oldest daughter was in tears when this first happened, thinking that we were not going to be able to go on vacation. I have had delayed flights, mechanical problems, even AA sending my baggage to the wrong country for 3 days, etc over the years and understand that’s the reality of air travel. I have never complained about these issues. However, this time, I have never felt so “wronged” as I did after this incident. This happened about 3 days ago and I still can’t get it off my mind. We eventually got to our destination about an hour and a half after the original flight but we are all very disappointed with how AA handled this. I have not posted / tweeted or otherwise commented about this to anyone. I was hoping to get some sort of response from AA regarding this first. We feel like we deserve some sort of compensation for this.
Thank you,​

EMAIL REPLY FROM AA:

Thank you for contacting American Airlines.
While Mr. Bentel is still with American Airlines, he is no longer in customer Relations. I have been asked to respond to your email
I'm sorry that you experienced anything less than fantastic service from our flight attendants. Our goal for every employee is to provide friendly, courteous service. Clearly we let you down.
We take these matters very seriously. One of my responsibilities is to take customer feedback such as yours and record it in our system. That information is then made available to all of our leaders and helps to drive change. By contacting us, you've given us the chance to improve -- thank you.
Furthermore, our employees strive to provide all of our customers with a safe and pleasant flying experience, and we try to ensure you are not subjected to uncomfortable situations by other passengers. However, as in any public gathering, there may be occasions when a conflict arises between people or when one individual's actions bother another. Since our crew members may not be witness to all the behaviors or actions of a particular passenger, there may be a limit to what they can do to improve behavior that is perceived as a nuisance. In the face of any serious disturbance, our crews are trained to diffuse potentially volatile situations so as to ensure the safety and well-being of all our customers and crew members.
I am truly sorry our inflight personnel were not more successful in ensuring your trip was pleasant and hassle-free.
In addition, one of the most difficult decisions our crews and airport supervisors must make is to refuse passage to one of our customers. Nevertheless, we do have that obligation and that authority when there are manifestations of behavior which could become troublesome during flight.
We have fully reviewed the decision not to let your family stay on board your flight 205. Our investigation has revealed that our personnel perceived certain aspects of your daughter's unknown health issue which could have made other customers uncomfortable on board the aircraft. Since her health issue could not be resolved prior to departure, it was for this reason that you all were not permitted to travel.
However, as a gesture of goodwill, I have added 7,500 bonus miles to each of your AAdvantage® accounts. This adjustment will be reflected in your account very soon.
While I know you didn't have the best experience with us recently, Mr. ****, I do hope you'll give us another try. We look forward to having you, and your family, onboard American Airlines for your return flights next week.

Sincerely,

Dave Gatlin
Customer Relations
American Airlines

(**END OF EMAIL FROM AA**)

I don't know if we should receive more from AA or not from this. Even if we aren't entitled to anything more, we are nowhere near satisfied with how this entire incident was handled by the flight crew. The gate staff was helpful with us. While I understand their ability to remove passengers, the situation that we were "accused" of was completely inaccurate and based on one person's inaccurate description. The staff made zero attempt to listen to what we explained. The 7,500 airmiles they gave each of us mean virtually nothing to me and would certainly not get me to even consider them for one second for our next flight. I was hoping to get thoughts regarding this and what, if anything we can do further about this. Thank you.
 

Neil Maley

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#2
I think you can blame another passenger for this. Someone made more of a stink about this than you might be aware of . Perhaps after you moved to the back of the plane, some of the other passengers opened their mouths and complained to the FA once you were out of ear shot.

The FA might not have had a choice to ask you to leave if more than one passenger complained. They had not way to know if your daughter had the flu or just air sickness and they risked other passengers becoming ill of it wasn’t air sickness. YOU might have known what it was but other passengers didn’t.

I think you should let it alone. It was nice of them to give you the miles but I honestly don’t see that what they did was wrong.

Thankfully the meds kicked in and the agents could see she was ok to get on another flight.

I would suggest you let it go and use it as a learning experience. What if the shoe were on the other foot and you had them worry about listening to the passenger behind you people possibly barging all was he way to your destination?

I am glad you got to Hawaii less than two hours after you were originally scheduled. And I’m sure your daughter was happy her stomach was settled by the time you boarded the new flight.
 
Sep 19, 2015
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I am sorry to hear what happened. I am really conflicted about this but basically agree with Neil to let it go and here are my reasons.

First of all I sympathize; I once was hit with food poisoning on a plane, transatlantic — but the plane had already taken off. I spent a great part of the flight in the bathroom. Even after the offending food was out I still felt queasy and dehydrated and had to keep running back to the bathroom. I suspect I would not have been allowed to board if the symptoms had started earlier. If the symptoms had started during boarding I would not have blamed the airline for requiring that I leave. But the plane was already over the Atlantic Ocean when I got sick.

On the other hand — I was traveling to see an ill elderly person and there was a person coughing and sneezing behind me — and was congested — it was so bad that the flight attendent asked them to cover their mouth more snd offered cough drops. Mr. Business man got angry. I got sick 48 hours later and it was a problem as I was staying with someone with an already compromised immune system and this could kill. So I bought respirator face masks and moved to a different place to stay. But I was not happy that someone was so sick and on the plane and was dismissive of infecting others. The flu does kill.

Also one of my clients is an acknowledged expect in infectious disease — an MD/PhD who has made major contributions to the field. He lectured extensively on SARS internationally. SARS was spread through commercial air travel.

One thing to always think about; there could be someone with a compromised immune system on the plane (maybe finished treatment at a specialty hospital) or visiting someone who has a compromised immune system. Another person I know was treated in another state because her terminal cancer diagnosis was very rare for someone of her age. She traveled for stem cell transplants and treatment at a research hospital that was a 4 plus hour flight away.

Considering this was after the air travel ended and on changing planes when the motion was not happening and there was at least one passenger complaints the crew was conservative.

And I cannot blame the crew. You have no idea if someone was coming back from chemo or is immune compromised. Given someone heaving into an airsickness bag what is the crew to do? Listen to the companions of the person showing symptoms of illness or the one that may get sick?

So instead of just thinking about your vacation and hurt feelings, think about those around you — they may be immune compromised, going to see an elderly relative and may have panicked. I know that your daughter was not contagious but AA had to err on the side of caution given the complaint.
 
Feb 23, 2018
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#4
As someone who was hit by projectile vomit on a LA to Hawaii flight, if I heard someone heaving behind me I would have been the one calling the flight attendant.
 
Likes: Neil Maley

jsn55

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Dec 26, 2014
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#5
A truly horrible experience, Bill. Like many disasters of this nature, had the crew been respectful, understanding and HELPFUL, your family would not have been traumatized. As Christina outlined, there are many times when one's behaviour affects many others, especially on an airplane. I once watched a flight attendant convince a very drunk man to deplane before we left Heathrow. It took her about 10 minutes, but he departed willingly with her. FAs are taught these skills, and there is no reason for passengers, especially a young lady, to be treated so badly. The only reason that comes to mind for your treatment is the extreme pressure all the crew is under to get everyone settled quickly for an on-time takeoff. No excuse, but it might make your daughter feel a little better about what she went through.
 
Apr 10, 2017
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I agree with Neil and Christina, as I can see why other passengers may have been concerned. This past flu season was especially bad and the number of fatalities undoubtedly had people on even higher alert. Norovirus is also highly contagious and extremely unpleasant.

As someone who is prone to motion sickness, I can really sympathize with your daughter. It's a miserable feeling and I do take preventative medication for it when I fly. The timing of her nausea was quite unfortunate because you had just boarded the plane. I have gotten airsick twice and both times it happened right after a rough landing. Both times I felt better immediately as was the case with your daughter. I'm glad Dramamine works for her. Some tips for the future that help me--it's worse for me if the cabin temperature is too warm, if things get rough I close my eyes and do my best to think about something else, engage in a distracting conversation if she feels up to it, and have some ginger candy on hand. A sailing trip around the world is definitely NOT on my bucket list!
 
Likes: jsn55
Apr 19, 2018
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Thank you to everyone that has replied... I really do appreciate hearing the extra opinions. You all do make some good points. As annoyed and frustrated as we were at the time... I can wrap my head around the reason we were removed. I do have a couple issues with how it all took place, but the end result is something I can understand. I guess my first issue is the "accusation" (for lack of a better word) that was made about us was completely inaccurate. There was no vomit... it would have been visible 'somewhere' if there had been. When you hear false descriptions about you and staff (in this case AA) comes across as so dismissive and just ignoring you -- it gets frustrating. My second complaint is maybe more of a suggestion. This became a stressful situation and the FA really made no attempt to make it easier. There's a bunch of things running through your head when you're told to get off of the plane and you're on the other side of the country wondering what's going to happen next? Are we stranded overnight? Do we have to pay for a different flight? My suggestion would have been..... if they had simply said, there's another flight in an hour, a couple people are uncomfortable and asked us what we thought of giving the Dramamine another hour to kick in (even if we didn't really have a choice).... I can honestly say that we would have just said ok and it would have been fine. The one to two hour delay was not a big deal in the end, it's just more disappointment with how we were spoken with and the uncertainty that we faced when we're just told to get off. I have no interest in being in a youtube video and we just got off without arguing when we were told this... but it would have made it virtually a no stress situation because we would have known what was happening. In the end we had a good trip. We now know she needs Dramamine before long flights and the return trip went off without any problems. The airmiles they gave us are virtually useless to us and I of course have my opinions of AA now, but we got through it. Again thank you... I will keep checking this thread if anyone else wants to comment.
 
Likes: krisseye

Neil Maley

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#8
Bill I certainly understand your point as well. I think had them been a little nicer it would have a little easier to handle.

There are some people who can get sick just from hearing another person wrenching, even if it’s dry heaves. It’s really a tough call. I commend you for being open minded with our comments..

But I just wanted you to know that we do understand your side as well.
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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#9
I'm glad we were able to help you get your mind around this nasty experience, Bill. You have reached the correct conclusion ... the crew members who treated you badly should be reprimanded severely. I'm on a Rhine river cruise, and my well-travelled dinner companions last night agreed unanimously that it was the crew ... one guy cracked up the whole table when he said "They should just shoot flight attendants who behave so badly". Please give your daughter my best ... she will have the BEST spring break story of anyone at school.
 
Apr 22, 2018
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Bill you are 100% right!!! They should have "kindly" offered to remove the ONE unhappy passenger from the flight since she apparently was the one with the issue! Why would they remove an entire family?! If she has a problem, they could have compensated her and sent her on United or on another later American Airlines flight. They had absolutely NO right to remove you from the flight! American Airlines crew are HORRIBLE and rude, and have 0 compassion or people skills. They have blanket freedom to act as they please to their paying customers, and then their customer relations team supports their obnoxious behavior. I just had a horrific experience with them as well on April 9th, they removed my entire family (of 5) because I was trying to get food and markers from my carry on bags for my kids for the 9 hour flight from Miami to Barcelona. I'll be posting my story as well, just deciding if I want annoying comments from people who have no compassion first. ;) You sound like a great and supportive dad! Your daughter is lucky to have you! My advice, DON'T fly American Airlines!
 
Apr 19, 2018
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#11
I don't know all the details of your incident yet... so I'll refrain from any AA accusations at this point. I was very unhappy with the way this all happened. Honestly what probably bothered me the longest though was that when people asked how our trip was, this incident was the first thing that kept coming to mind. If you want to complain to AA, then go for it... for me personally, I need to just let this go. I made my complaint and got some miles (albeit basically useless to me) for it. Moving forward, I get to choose who I fly on. We usually do Southwest and with them starting to fly to Hawaii later this year, that removes the need for AA.


Other observations about AA flight crews really kind of surprised me. I didn't bring these up earlier because I don't want to sound like I'm just complaining about everything. But a couple other things I saw where customer service could have improved: On one of our return flights - in the middle of the night and several hours of flying already behind me - I had trouble getting my carry-on into the overhead. I was just tired and it was turned wrong - it was not the wrong size. I eventually turned and looked and there was a flight attendant about 5 or 6 rows behind me just staring at me like I was an idiot. She wasn't very friendly as she corrected me. These were the same flight attendants that shortly after I could hear talking negatively about a female customer up in row 8 that they found annoying. I have no idea what this woman was doing, but my point is that the other people on the plane should not be hearing you talk about the other customers - just not very professional. Lastly (yes the same flight), these attendants were at the back of the plane talking loudly with each other in the middle of the night while the vast majority of the plane was trying to sleep. Again it just seemed unprofessional. I understand this is their work shift, I have also worked many of overnight shifts, but you have to keep in mind that everyone is trying to sleep. There was no reason that required them to be so loud, they were just talking about nothing with each other without any apparent care that all the lights were off and talking quieter would have been nicer. Anyway - end of my rant - good luck to you.
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#12
Bill166, I hope you can focus on the good parts of the trip, and talk it over with your daughter so she does not feel guilty about having motion sickness.

Also just for perspective -- think of what happened to that passenger on the Southwest flight who died; children have lost their mother.... and this was a known problem with the blades on that engine type where one of their planes had to make an emergency landing in 2016. So now I am thinking of Southwest as the Pinto of the skies -- that may be unfair, but this event just horrified me but I also recognize the talents of the pilot.

One thing I have noticed is that when there is an airline merger, there seem to be labor issues with the integration and that can be taken out on the passengers. I have not flown AA in years, but I remember this on old NW routes and issues with UA. It should not happen. I do not believe in economic trickle down but I do believe that when there are problems within a company those problems can trickle down in the service to the customers. There should not be loud negative talk about another passenger.

I expect so little from travel nowadays in terms of service....
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
6,852
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113
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#13
Bill you are 100% right!!! They should have "kindly" offered to remove the ONE unhappy passenger from the flight since she apparently was the one with the issue! Why would they remove an entire family?! If she has a problem, they could have compensated her and sent her on United or on another later American Airlines flight. They had absolutely NO right to remove you from the flight! American Airlines crew are HORRIBLE and rude, and have 0 compassion or people skills. They have blanket freedom to act as they please to their paying customers, and then their customer relations team supports their obnoxious behavior. I just had a horrific experience with them as well on April 9th, they removed my entire family (of 5) because I was trying to get food and markers from my carry on bags for my kids for the 9 hour flight from Miami to Barcelona. I'll be posting my story as well, just deciding if I want annoying comments from people who have no compassion first. ;) You sound like a great and supportive dad! Your daughter is lucky to have you! My advice, DON'T fly American Airlines!
This made me laugh out loud, Malkie, now they're all staring at me: they removed my entire family (of 5) because I was trying to get food and markers from my carry on bags for my kids
Did you forget to mention that you were supposed to be in your seat with your seatbelt fastened, tray table put away and your seat upright at this moment?
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
13,331
13,024
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#14
Bill you are 100% right!!! They should have "kindly" offered to remove the ONE unhappy passenger from the flight since she apparently was the one with the issue! Why would they remove an entire family?! If she has a problem, they could have compensated her and sent her on United or on another later American Airlines flight. They had absolutely NO right to remove you from the flight! American Airlines crew are HORRIBLE and rude, and have 0 compassion or people skills. They have blanket freedom to act as they please to their paying customers, and then their customer relations team supports their obnoxious behavior. I just had a horrific experience with them as well on April 9th, they removed my entire family (of 5) because I was trying to get food and markers from my carry on bags for my kids for the 9 hour flight from Miami to Barcelona. I'll be posting my story as well, just deciding if I want annoying comments from people who have no compassion first. ;) You sound like a great and supportive dad! Your daughter is lucky to have you! My advice, DON'T fly American Airlines!
If this case, if the child had the flu or a communicable disease, she could have infected others around her. The passenger who complained was not the one who was ill- why should she be penalized? I am also betting in this case that after Bill moved to the back of the plane that other people opened their mouths when they knew he wouldn’t hear them if the FA came back after moving them.

If it was just the one passenger I think Bill and his family would have been left alone when they moved.

As far as your issue Malkie- we would need to read the entire story. Once we can read the story, we will be honest with you on our opinions of the incident.

I still think Bill could use our company contacts and write to the airline and see if they would give him a credit to use within a year. He was inconvenienced a bit but thankfully the agents at the gate seemed to understand his daughter was suffering from motion sickness and not something communicable because they put his family on the next flight. Otherwise they would have given him tickets for the next day.

Bill was very open minded and understood the other side of the story when we responded. If someone has been wronged by a company- we are the first to tell you if you have a case and how to go about getting relief but if the company is in the right- we will tell you that too.
 
Apr 19, 2018
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#15
If this case, if the child had the flu or a communicable disease, she could have infected others around her. The passenger who complained was not the one who was ill- why should she be penalized? I am also betting in this case that after Bill moved to the back of the plane that other people opened their mouths when they knew he wouldn’t hear them if the FA came back after moving them.

If it was just the one passenger I think Bill and his family would have been left alone when they moved.

As far as your issue Malkie- we would need to read the entire story. Once we can read the story, we will be honest with you on our opinions of the incident.

I still think Bill could use our company contacts and write to the airline and see if they would give him a credit to use within a year. He was inconvenienced a bit but thankfully the agents at the gate seemed to understand his daughter was suffering from motion sickness and not something communicable because they put his family on the next flight. Otherwise they would have given him tickets for the next day.

Bill was very open minded and understood the other side of the story when we responded. If someone has been wronged by a company- we are the first to tell you if you have a case and how to go about getting relief but if the company is in the right- we will tell you that too.
Hi Neil... just happened to check back to see if any other comments had been posted. My original email to AA was to Sean Bentel, who was listed on here as the primary contact (I believe that was what he was referred to as). Another AA employee ended up working with me. It seems Mr. Bentel is no longer in customer service, so that contact list might need an update.

In any event, in the end I was happy with how it worked out.... at least generally. I replied to their initial email (politely I should add if anyone else is planning on emailing a company to complain). My email just recapped our frustrations and gave a couple suggestions. They replied with even more AA miles given to us, so I consider the matter over. So as far as trying to receive a "credit", we're satisfied. I think AA could have handled it differently... but in the end I'm over it.