Dear American Airlines,
I thought perhaps you’d like some feedback about my recent trip with you. If you don’t, then kindly delete this message and go on with your day. No hard feelings. I hope it’s a great one.
If you’re still reading, cool.
Here’s the thing: no one died on this flight, so, you know, in my book, that’s a successful flight. Not only that. No one got sick (that I know of—I didn’t smell any evidence at least. . .) And we all got to our destination at a reasonable time.
These are all good things.
I think, too often, we Americans expect a lot. And I get it. It’s the American Way. But as my friend Christopher reminds me: most of us are not saving babies. Or anyone, for that matter. I’m lucky that my job is not one in which I take people’s lives in my hands each day.
So yes. It was a good flight. A successful flight. My life, in the hands of your pilots and staff, continues. And for that, I am forever grateful.
Could some things have been improved? Sure.
Do you want to know what those things are? If so, read on. If not, delete this message and go about your day. No hard feelings. I hope it’s a good one.
So you’re still reading? Okay. Cool.
I should start by saying that I’m an American who moved to Spain a year ago. So some of my feelings might be influenced by this. If you have any stressed employees, send them to Spain for a spell. Their goal should be to understand the phrases “no pasa nada,” “no te preocupes” and “tranquila.” Not to look them up in their online app for a definition. But to experience the situations in which these phrases are said. . . though, now that I think about it, not many Americans would be on board with these Spanish sentiments of “chill out,” “no worries,” and “take as long as you want”. . . so maybe scratch that.
My point is that after a year in Spain everything I’m about to say can really be brushed off by a “no pasa nada.” Don’t worry about it. No one died.
So. Point one. Let’s talk temperatures.
A few weeks ago, the Spanish government, during a heat wave, ordered/requested that all businesses not set their A/C lower than 27 degrees in order to save on energy. That’s 80 in Fahrenheit.
I wish I had a thermometer on this flight. I didn’t. So in my estimation, I’d say it felt like. . . Alaska.
My husband, dear man that he is, asked every flight attendant who passed by our seat, “Is it a little chilly in here?” Thankfully, something was done. But I’m still sitting here with a blanket over my lap, a sweater on, a mask on solely to keep my nose warm. And I wish I had a hat and a scarf.
So was the situation improved? Sure. For a period of time. And ultimately, no one died of frostbite. That I’m aware of. So hey — no pasa nada.
Point two. Food.
Now I know airline food—at least for Americans—doesn’t have a good reputation. I didn’t realize airline food could actually be really good until I flew AirFrance. Twenty-five years ago.
I would have hoped American Airlines would have improved in this time. And they have. The entree was good (cauliflower Mac and cheese — whoa!). But the salad? I didn’t know anyone was still growing iceberg lettuce let alone eating it. The dressing? I’m not sure what that was. But I now live in a country that doesn’t even have salad dressing. So you could have just given me some oil, vinegar, and salt and I would have been fine. Actually, that would have been preferable to the balsamic we got.
And what’s with the cold, hard bread? There’s a long history of bread making around the world. And from what I’ve gathered in my 45 years on this planet: it doesn’t need to be refrigerated.
Maybe it comes to you frozen? Fine. But can you just get it to room temperature? Seriously — just leave it out while we’re boarding. I promise you it won’t go bad in an hour of sitting out. But I’m not affiliated with any food safety company. So don’t take advice from me, of course.
And really? No one died. So cold, hard bread? Eh. No pasa nada.
The dessert? Here I’m thinking you’re taking notes from the Spaniards who seem quite disinterested in the vast amounts of sugar we Americans are used to in our desserts. It was a salted caramel — that was sweet. But the chocolate on top? Kind of tasteless. Though my husband took and ate my rejected dessert. So I’m thinking this one’s just me.
And, you know, no one died.
And then. . . then you made up for it. When you brought out the ice cream!
And it was good. Sure, I would have loved some chocolate instead of vanilla, but that’s just my obsession with chocolate talking—that’s my own problem.
Oh — and I liked the little puzzle there on having to find the spoon under the lid. The flight attendant clued us all in on that one. But my husband was in the bathroom at that time and missed that discussion. So I had great fun watching him try to figure it out. And more fun when I acted like I knew it all along. But I’m a good wife. I told him I got a hint. . . Gave us a good laugh. And you know what? Laughter is better than dying. So there you go. No one died.
I’ve done a bit of traveling. But I don’t think I’ve ever heard any foreign airline needing to tell their passengers that if you move your blanket and pillow from your seat into the overhead bin and someone takes it, it’s on you. You’re out of luck. The fact that you need to say that makes me more than a little sad about the state of affairs in a country when you have to say such things. I wonder if the guy speaking Catalan also said that? Or do only the English speakers need to be warned of this scenario? My bet is on the latter. Because in Spain, if I took someone’s blanket and then realized they wanted it, I’d try to give it back. And they’d say, “no pasa nada.”
As I said above, all-in-all, it was a good flight. I got to watch the Downtown Abbey movie (the English version passed too quickly through our local cinema in Spain so I missed it there). I was fed. Watered. There were bathrooms. They were working. They were clean. The staff was so very nice. And. . . yeah. No one died.
So thanks, American Airlines. Thanks to you, I get to spend Saturday celebrating my parents 50th wedding anniversary with nearly 200 friends and family—most of whom I haven’t seen in quite some time. Thanks to you, I will able to hug people, laugh, talk, eat, drink, and be merry.