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Couple slams American Airlines over ‘disgusting service’

American Airlines is investigating incident (File photograph)

Passengers have slammed American Airlines after they were left without food, travel vouchers or a back-up trip home when a storm that battered the island on Saturday forced their flight to return to the United States.

The couple, who declined to be identified, said they were out of pocket by $3,000 between flights, hotels and food once they arrived home from New York on Sunday via a different carrier.

They told The Royal Gazette yesterday they would “try and get compensation from AA” but said others in the same predicament would likely “not be so fortunate”.

“It was just disgusting service from AA after we are already exploited by very high travel costs.”

They said the bad weather, which also forced back a Delta flight, showed the “stark contrast” in passenger treatment.

American Airlines: working to get passengers home `as quickly as possible’

The Royal Gazette contacted American Airlines yesterday with a summary of one couple’s complaints after a storm on Saturday saw their flight unable to land safely and sent back to the US.

The carrier responded: “American Airlines flight 1289 from New York JFK to LF Wade International Airport (BDA) diverted to Boston due to severe weather at the destination airport, and then returned to JFK.

“Customers travelling on AA1289 have been accommodated on alternate flights. We never want to disrupt our customers’ travel plans and have been working to get them to BDA as quickly as possible.”

Friends on board Delta’s Atlanta-Bermuda flight, which diverted to JFK because of the gale, reported getting food and travel vouchers, a replacement flight home the next day, and flight miles as SkyMiles members.

The couple, both AAdvantage Gold members, said they were offered “nothing”.

The woman added: “Our family are lucky; we had the means to get home but we have heard of several others who weren’t as lucky and don’t have the money to afford two nights of hotels having to bunk up.”

She said passengers were displeased because Bermuda’s weather service had alerted the public to incoming storm conditions the day before it hit.

“I know several people were so irate because they knew the weather situation in Bermuda when they took off.”

Later on Saturday, a severe weather warning was issued, with hurricane gusts expected.

According to airport manager Skyport, the two flights were the only ones that had to turn back because of conditions. Air Canada was delayed in departing.

AA 1289 had been delayed leaving New York that morning by de-icing. It flew to the island without incident – but aborted its landing as it approached the runway at LF Wade International Airport.

The couple said: “The captain let us know that he would circle and wait for a break in the weather.

“Shortly after, he came back on to say that we would head to Boston as it is the back-up landing site for flights and we didn’t have the fuel to make it back to JFK.”

There was no food service on the flight back, they said, and passengers were not allowed to deplane at Boston.

“Once in the air from Boston to JFK, the captain said he had asked the flight crew to remain seated, so there was no service.

“By the time we were back in JFK, it had been about eight hours with very minimal service. He did assure us that there were plans for an alternate flight, and even mentioned it would be under the same number and would possibly run in parallel to the regular flight.”

But the couple said gate agents at JFK appeared “dumbfounded” when they were asked about the replacement-flight offer back to Bermuda.

Passengers instead had to rebook from the existing flight schedule, which was already full for the Sunday and into yesterday.

The couple said it was roughly 40 minutes before the American Airlines flight status was switched to “cancelled” – but the family were able to get on board the Sunday connection to Bermuda via Delta.

Others were not so fortunate, with the couple saying they were surprised people under such a long delay to get home were not offered credit – or alternate ways home.

Were you among those affected by the diversion of AA 1289? E-mail news@royalgazette.com

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Published January 17, 2023 at 7:59 am (Updated January 17, 2023 at 4:05 pm)

Couple slams American Airlines over ‘disgusting service’

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