American Airlines Pilot Comps Drinks For The Whole Flight

The captain of an American Airlines flight comes out into the cabin – into economy, no less – to talk to passengers about their flight delay. He explains what happened, that the aircraft had arrived late from Puerto Vallarta, and he offered that they planned to make up a few minutes in the air if they could. He even offered to take passenger questions.

He could have made the same announcement from the cockpit. Hearing from the captain carries more weight than hearing from cabin crew. But hearing from the captain in person shows that someone in authority (of the aircraft) cares and respects you and your time. That diffuses the tensions in the cabin.

But talking to passengers in person isn’t all that the captain did.

This American Airlines captain offered to “provide free drinks” on the airline. I’ve heard of pilots ordering pizza during a long delay, and that turns around the mood of an aircraft. But it sounds like they wouldn’t be on board on the ground long enough. (Small kindnesses go a long way. And because who doesn’t love pizza?) Instead the captain made a different gesture, according to a passenger on the flight: booze.

Now, a decision to order pizza to a plane is entirely driven by the captain of the aircraft. There’s no formal “airline pizza policy,” but pilots can actually get reimbursed by the carrier when they do something like this. This isn’t something they ask permission for, and they do sometimes just come out of pocket without filing for an expense reimbursement (in which case the airline might not even know about it). Then again, you probably don’t like your employer’s expense reimbursement process, either! Here the captain doesn’t need to buy pizza, just offer what’s already been loaded onto the galley carts.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Some of the people commenting here are just miserable miserable people. You’re bringing everyone down. Take a hike. The Captain took time to speak with people face to face which was a kind gesture drink or no drink. People just amaze me & not in a good way

  2. When that captain decided to offer free drinks to the passengers, hopefully he talked to flight attendants first to make sure they had what the needed gor catering. And ice. The captain has no idea what the flight is catered with and u have to put a 2 drink limit or the flight attendants will never their service. I know because I was a flight attendant for 40 years. U have to work together. But I was always happy to offer free drinks. With or without the captains help.

  3. Go Captain America!!
    What a wonderful gesture on his behalf besides going into the lions den! I’m flying Sunday on AA and hope we have no delays but…..

  4. I say Kudos to this captain. It says alit to me about his character. If you don’t drink alcohol, I’m sure soft drinks or juice would be complimentary as well. He didn’t have to come out of the cockpit to explain anything. I think it was a very nice gesture. The rudeness of some people appalls me. You can’t please everyone and some will always find something to complain about .

  5. I feel like that idea I commend him for that because recently on American airlines we sat for an hour and a half on that plane it was miserable no one even came and spoke with us they just told us it’s been delayed blah blah blah

  6. I hope the captain paid for the drinks out of his own pocket! I suspect he walked though the cabin for a little “pilot” PR. Wait till you see the fares after these glorified bus drivers get their upcoming raise.

  7. Wow what has happened to the country I used to love?? The only comment in here should be how awesome the captain was for delivering the explanation face to face. Then he offers the whole plane open bar. What a guy!! Instead I’m reading negative comments like what about the “non drinkers?”, etc, etc. Unbelievable! The fact that someone who doesn’t have to do anything other than fly the plane, made a caring approach of explanation to a plane of pissed off passengers and half of you go out of your way to turn it to a chastising fest. This is why society sucks!! I hope the next time any of you negative people fly that your plane crashes in a million pieces and does the rest of us a solid. My comment is harsh, all of yours were absolutely discusting!! This world gets worse as more people turn into trolls and ruin everything good and descent left. Society as a whole is becoming a bunch of Karen’s.Cheers to the captain and to the Karens, don’t fly. You all should stay at home with horrible selves and keep your s!$t comments there too! Ughhhh!

  8. That’s a huge difference in the experiences I have had with American Airlines.
    1. Three hour delay on the tarmac in Phoenix.
    2. Twenty four hour delay in North Carolina with no hotel or food vouchers, apparently they were all out of vouchers and were told lay down on the ground in the airport if I was tired.
    3. (My personal favorite) As the ground crew in Phoenix was filling the plane tank with fuel (before passengers were boarded) they realized they over filled the gas tank and had to empty it. Passengers are told it would be a few minutes; two hours later we are told all connections will be rescheduled and I lost three days of my seven day vacation and was stuck at a Comfort Inn in Addison Texas and not in Belize where I was supposed to be. Lessons learned
    American Airlines sucks and will never fly with them again.

  9. Respect is often lacking in today’s world. So any show of respect, here for people’s time, is very welcome.

  10. As passengers, we’re grateful that ANYONE cares. Gonna be a long summer people, hiccups will happen – and maybe alot. Thank you Captain for a lovely gesture!

  11. To Brian burns : glorified bus drivers? What is wrong with you? They are highly trained. Maybe you’re the bus driver. If you don’t have anything respectful or insightful to bring to conversation, just skip it dude. Nobody wants to hear your bash when something kind was done.

  12. The captain had every legal right to make that call! “Free Alcohol or anything else” If you know anything about “aviation“ for those who care to criticize this wonderful captain for setting a great tone for his cabin crew to have to deal with unhappy passengers due to a delay… He did a great job…

    The Captain is and always will be the “PIC” Pilot In Command” he legitimately has the right to make any final call he chooses to on his air plane good job captain ❤️ I stand in solidarity

  13. What a great gesture! If you don’t drink, then just take accept his apology. This, however, I’d problematic for the flight attendants on a short 2 hour flight. They likely won’t have the supplies need for the gesture , and that could cause issues.

  14. Glorified bus driver?? Does the gentleman who posted this have any idea the knowledge of physics and aerodynamics one needs to fly a plane? Your college degree if you even have one doesn’t give you not even 1/4 the amount of knowledge and skill that a pilot needs of an airliner that weighs several thousand tons. A bus driver in an emergency pulls over and calls for help. Airline pilots are not getting any assistance from anyone during an emergency and are on their own and have fractions of a second to figure out the problem and what to do to correct it before that window of opportunity closes and the plane is doomed. Give these human beings the respect they deserve even when delays happen that are beyond their control because they are a lot more talented and have a lot more responsibility than you ever will.

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