Qantas partner American: over 50% of flights delayed by pilot row

By John Walton, September 21 2012
Qantas partner American: over 50% of flights delayed by pilot row

If you're considering making a booking with Qantas' oneworld partner American Airlines -- including as part of a Red Roo ticket across the Pacific -- you might want to watch out.

American's pilots are locked in a labour tussle with the airline's management, and even the Wall Street Journal is suggesting that readers "book away from American this fall; pilot feud has made airline too unreliable".

The long and the short of it is that on Tuesday, only 45 percent of the airline's flights made it to their destinations on time.

It's been a similar (and sometimes worse) story across the week, as pilots spend extra time taxiing slowly, making sure that every single piece of admin paperwork's Is are dotted and Ts crossed, and so on.

But what should you do to make sure that the airline's problems don't make you late for your meetings in the US, or delay your return trip home on Qantas?

1. Try another airline

The obvious thing to do is to fly with someone else. Virgin Australia, Delta and United all fly direct to Los Angeles (plus San Francisco for United), with Air New Zealand also offering stops via Auckland.

2. Head out a day early

If you're heading out on serious business, the idea of being late for meetings with colleagues, contacts or clients because you got stuck in LA, Dallas or New York will make you see red. Consider flying out a day ahead of time. Your jetlag will thank you too.

3. Fly earlier in the day

Avoid flights late in the day, when your alternatives in the event of delay and cancellation dry up. The earlier you fly, the more opportunity you have to pick another flight if things go wrong.

4. Avoid checking luggage

Late flights, tight connections, cancellations... sounds like like a recipe for your bag going on a nice extended holiday while you're making your presentation wearing the clothes you flew in. This is one time to make like an American and lug an enormous carry-on bag with you.

5. Add extra connection time

When booking your flights, be wary of tight connections, especially coming off an AA flight. There's a significant chance that you won't make it. If your flights are already set, Aussie-accented pleas to a reservations agent or lounge staffer may bring you rebooking joy even if the flights are officially non-changeable.

6. Prepare before you leave for the airport in case you're delayed

Don't forget our smart traveller's checklist of things to do when you know that flight disruptions are on the horizon. A few simple bits of preparation in the office or at home can make a world of difference.

Have you flown American recently? What was your experience -- and were you delayed? Share your story with fellow business travellers in a comment below.

For all the very latest on business travel, follow us on Twitter: we're @AusBT.

John Walton

Aviation journalist and travel columnist John took his first long-haul flight when he was eight weeks old and hasn't looked back since. Well, except when facing rearwards in business class.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

07 May 2012

Total posts 371

Flew AA in August and in September.  No major issues with on time departures or arrivals.  All baggage arrived within a reasonable time period.

JFK to DCA - on time departure and early arrival.

DCA to ORD - on time departure and early arrival.

ORD to YYZ - on time departure and on time arrival.

BOS to JFK - departed 15 mins late and arrived 5 mins late.

There is a clear differential between QF and AA on friendliness of cabin crew, cabin crew eating in front of customers, wanting to charge their phones at your first class seat and level of service you receive on the planes and at the Admirals Club/Flagship Lounge. 

21 Sep 2012

Total posts 5

On a sidenote, Air NZ also fly to San Francisco and Vancouver for those looking to connect onwards to these destinations. 


04 Sep 2012

Total posts 72

Sometimes even AA surprise. I recently flew economy into SEA with AA. When I was waiting for the toilet, one of the crew asked if I was from SEA. I said that I was on holiday from Australia. When I came out of the toilet, there she was waiting with a really nice bottle of wine stolen from first class: "Enjoy your stay"!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Jul 2011

Total posts 1378

Equally in Sept had the following flights on AA


Combination of morning and afternoon flights. Latest flight was 15min late departing but arrived on time. On board I found AA crews friendlier than I remember and they are running vids advertising the coming soon business class and new 777-300s

The only issue I had was in LAS where the check-in queues are seriously undermanned. Waited nearly 50min in the First Class queue as I had an international connection and they needed to verify passport despite carryon only.

I was on an AA flight DFW/LAX connecting with QF94 on Friday evening. The AA pilots did seem to take the plane on the scenic route to the terminal gates once we landed. I really did wonder what they were up to - It seemed so unnecessary and an utter waste of time. It all makes sense now having read this article. On the flip side, I managed to sneak a peak at the space shuttle Endeavour mounted on a NASA 747 near the United hanger! 

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