American Airlines Tells Flight Attendants Not to Hand Out Too Much Compensation

At the beginning of the year we learned that American Airlines rolled out a new software program called iSolve to let flight attendants compensate passengers for onboard inconveniences like “inflight entertainment issues, broken seats or meal shortages.”

However management seemingly is worried that things may be getting out of hand and has sent a memo to flight attendants instructing them what not to compensate for.

  • If a problem is experienced by everyone onboard, don’t use iSolve, compensating passengers can be too expensive (and should be dealt with systemically by the airline)

  • It shouldn’t be used for problems with internet or seat power (and there’s tons of problems with seat power on American). However “isolated problems with the inflight entertainment system and the audio and video on seatback TV screens will continue to be eligible for iSolve.”

  • Running out of buy on board food in back won’t get compensation. Lack of meals up front can be compensated.

  • Nonrevs don’t get compensation.

  • Cancelled or delayed flights don’t get iSolve compensation, but again should be dealt with systemically by the airline.

  • Cabin temperature also doesn’t get compensation.

    Finally problems with airplane cabin temperatures that are too hot or too cold easily could affect a whole plane full of passengers, but none of them will be eligible to request iSolve compensation, per the new memo.

I’m not sure any of this really changes the intent of the program. A broken seat is meant to get compensation. I do think non-functioning power ports should. But it seems that if the issue is American Airlines poor management choices they aren’t going to pay out for that.

(HT: @xJonNYC)

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. On my flight from HNL to DFW in F my audio wasn’t functional and no iSolve was around for that flight. I wrote into AA and got 15,000 miles a week later.

  2. I foolishly didn’t think to ask for compensation when my wife’s seat and IFE were broken in first class a few months ago. thanks for reminding me to make them compensate for bad experiences up front.

  3. @Gary, you also failed to mention that Parker mandated no iSolve of any kind in Basic Economy except for actual death.

  4. Of course, my first instinct upon seeing the headline in my email for this post was a bigly roll of eyes, and to sharpen the knives for yet another slicing and dicing of just how awful this airline has become! 😉


    So, no doubt it will come as a surprise that apart from being chintzy when it comes to offering compensation for dilapidated power sockets that are in a state of disrepair such that they barely work, or require one to use scotch tape and bubble gum (aka “McGiver-ing”) to keep their plug from constantly drooping/falling out altogether, or simply are flat out dead even if they hold the plug in place, I agree with the guidelines of what’s in and what’s out for iServe compensation.

    I mean, seriously, non-revs demanding compensation… even I agree with Dougie on THAT!

    Ditto for cabin temperature…that’s just cray-cray asking for, much less expecting anything more than being laughed at for even asking for compensation for that.

    Call me crazy…but as recently as a flight taken a few months ago, and virtually any other one I’ve ever been on when cabin temperature is wonky it has NEVER been a problem to simply ask if the temperature can be adjusted….


    The thought of asking for compensation for cabin temperature…who knew?!?!

    That’s just cray-zzzzzzzeeeee

  5. No compo for a broken seat? If they can’t provide a functioning seat somewhere on the plane, then compo is warranted. Money or an upgrade.

  6. Just saying, if there’s that much going wrong that they can’t afford compensation for deficiencies to keep their customers happy, perhaps something is wrong…

  7. It always worries me when there are broken seats, IFE and power sockets. If an airline doesn’t keep the things we can see in good repair then it’s blind trust to assume they keep the (more importantl) things we can’t see in proper repair.

  8. @Traveller. Given the number of times I have had equipment related delays, that is a serious concern.

  9. AA management needs to fix onboard problems, so passengers have less reasons to complain.

  10. Earlier this weekend AA FORGOT to schedule a flight attendant. It was listed as unknown in their system. They were about to board a 540pm flight ORD to PBX and then kept delaying by 20 minutes saying they were working on it. They said they would get us out. They kept delaying. I didnt understand why they didnt have crew on call or pull from a later fligut. At 715pm I overheard then saying they would have to feed us after two hours. Then the pilots timed out. Then 10 minutes later they cancelled the entire flight. No compensation. But the they sent the 840pm flight to Portland on the aircraft assigned to us. That was the biggest slap on the face. Then they tried to reboot us but 8 would have missed my meeting. I had to book myself on Southwest the next morning and drive from ORD to MDW. I should have gone with Southwest to begin with. AA should have sent us out and worked on a flight attendant for the 840pm. Better yet, someone in the tower should be fired for dropping the ball. I was a contractor for a meeting and could have lost money. This was not a mechanical issue ir act of god. It was negligence. This happened on August 3rd. Some one with AA needs to tell me why I should trust them again.

  11. This past weekend, August 3rd AA pulled the worst customer service act I have ever seen. I was booked on a flight from ORD to PBX at 5:40pm. to provide meeting services for a client. I chose AA at the time because ORD is closer to home and they have power ports — but AA staff is miserable. I love Southwest but they are farther way).

    We were about to board at 5:!0pm and then they said we were delayed 30 minutes because they were lacking a flight attendant. I thought they were waiting for someone to come in on another plane. There was a 8:40pm fight to PBX also so I didn’t understand why they just didn’t pull a flight attendant off of that — she would end up in the same place. They kept delaying. I found out that crew scheduling did not assign someone and they were trying to find someone last minute. (I would think there would be crew on call). They kept delaying in 30 minute increments. The gate agents assured us that they would get us out of there. By 7:16pm I heard them talking that they would have to feed us after 2 hours. Then the pilots timed out. And then they cancelled the entire flight.

    Now here is the clincher — they sent out the next flight to Portland ON OUR AIRCRAFT!! — They used the exact plane and tail number for the 8:40pm flight that they were supposed to do for us. That was insult to injury. They offered no compensation but an 800 number to get rebooked.

    I needed to be in Portland for a meeting the next day — the soonest they could get me out was 1:40pm arriving at 6:40pm – I would have missed my meeting !!! Luckily I remembered that when I was shopping for flights, that Southwest had direct flights as well. I booked myself on Southwest the next morning. The problem is that Southwest only flys out of Midway — so I had to drive from Ohare to Midway to catch a Southwest flight. I should have gone with them in the beginning (at the time Southwest flights and AA flights with Main Cabin Extra were about the same price).

    No one can believe this incident and I will never forget it when I am booking travel. (Plus get the insurance). American said they would refund my money (I had to cancel my return flight because I would end up in an different airport). They said it would take 2 or 3 billing cycles t see it !!! WTF. I am still waiting for monetary compensation for this lack of customer service and competence — this by far is worse than a non functioning power port. AA put the bottom line before customers and the next flight before ours — we were there first and this wasn’t a safety or mechanical issue.

    BTW: My flight the next morning on Southwest was on time and everything worked out – although stressful. And Southwest employees love their job and it shows. Our head flight attendant was singing.

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