I Just Had The Best Inflight Service In 7 Years, And It Was On An American Airlines Regional Jet

When I boarded my American Eagle flight from Washington Dulles to Austin recently, I knew it was going to be a great flight. Everyone’s upgrade had cleared – there was even an empty seat up front. And the Dallas-based flight attendant in the galley greeted every passenger who came on board.

Allie helped some passengers re-arrange seating so they could sit together, suggesting folks that might want to trade. She arranged a three-way swap that let two different couples sit beside each other.

Then when she got a moment she offered predeparture beverages. It was a full drink service, she even recited everything they had in the galley when asked. Mostly she just seemed genuinely happy to be there. It was refreshing, and puts everyone in a great mood. (American doesn’t stock one passenger’s preferred drink, and she stopped and apologized for this, came up with some ideas that he might like – it was just so genuine.)

But that’s not the thing that struck me most, even. She offered to serve meals whenever a passenger would like during the flight. I’ve never had that on a domestic flight before!

  • Now, these regional jets don’t have ovens. They’re going to be cold trays. I used to like getting served smoked salmon with a bagel at breakfast for instance. There are plenty of things you can do without reheating!

  • But these days American Airlines serves boxed meals with shrink wrap packages inside. This also makes it easy to serve the meal at any time. The flight attendant just needs to take out the “PM Protein Box” and put it in front of the passenger. Need I mention that this was the same meal served in the other direction on this route two days earlier?

It never occurred to me before that I’ve never seen a flight attendant on a U.S. domestic flight offer to serve the first class meal whenever a passenger preferred. The boxes are just handed out when they’re handed out. Instead we got Dine Upon Request on an American Airlines And it’s something that, given the current service offering, is easy to do!

When she took meal orders, she explained the contents in each box. Normally I get “protein or vegetarian” and when someone asks what the protein is, “I think it’s ham” (when it’s prosciutto). And did I mention multiple proactive offers to refill drinks?

Towards the end of the flight she announced connection details, something that hasn’t been required in years. One passenger’s onward flight to Los Angeles was delayed 20 minutes and he was livid. She had him smiling. He even complained about Texas politics, since he was connecting in Texas and she’s based in Texas, and she deflected deftly. She helped a passenger with ear pressure during descent. And once we were at the gate she assisted the husband of a wheelchair passenger with a small carry on.

My seat’s right arm rest was broken, but who cares? This was the best American Airlines flight I’ve had all year and I flew long haul first class with them this summer. I gave Allie a “Non-stop Thanks” (“AAplause”) certificate, naturally, and thanked her for making everyone in the cabin smile.

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 InsideFlyer.com, 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. It is amazing how genuinely great service can overcome almost any shortcoming. In this way, a flight attendant has a more important, more difficult, job than a pilot.

  2. It only goes to show how delivering on the AA service promise is entirely at the FAs’ whim. You hit the jackpot with Allie. On your next leg it could be Rosa Klebb.

  3. Bravo for Allie! Amazing the difference a smile, friendly voice, and a little human kindness can make in a flight (or any situation, for that matter)
    Hopefully more of Allie’s colleagues will take her cue.

  4. Wait til her second week on the job when she’s a screaming lunatic or locked in the galley for the entire flight. It’s won’t take long.

  5. Don’t worry, they are obviously new employees. You can rest assured that the union will have a word with these troublemakers.

  6. I thought they’d eliminated those boxes in regional F/J. I definitely didn’t get one on AUS-NAS or AUS-MBJ earlier this year. Maybe AUS catering doesn’t work on Saturday.

  7. You had me at “she arranged a three way swap that allowed two different couples to sit next to each other.”

    Allie deserves recognition for superior service.

  8. I think it is the E175…there is something about it that just makes everything better. I rarely have anything other than great flights on E175s. Maybe it is the fact that everyone is just grateful that they’re not stuffed into a decrepit CRJ, and that brightens everyone’s moods. The solo F seats are my favorite in the short-haul fleet!

  9. Good for you Gary. My wife recently flew AA with totally different results. Transatlantic flight to Zurich, in the back of the bus sitting next to two random strangers. The 65-ish FA was rude/huffy/confrontational the entire flight. By landing my wife had become friends with her two seatmates, they were unanimous that the FA was by far the worst they’d ever seen.

  10. Ditto. Have/had great experience with most of my AA flights including when my wife had just gotten out of the ER that morning and they made sure we were in FC for the 5 hour flight home. 99% of AA’s crews are great but you just need one that makes for a bad flight. But that is everywhere. My last DL flight was awful, they actually missed our row TWICE for beverage service and when we rang the call bell, they told us to go back and get it ourselves. Again, there are bad apple everywhere, but it’s not the norm. Social media just highlights bad service so people feel it’s everywhere and not just .01% of the time. I will fly DL again, but let the airlines know of the bad service. So glad to see Gary write this but truly, this is more then norm on AA.

  11. It happens once in a blue moon. I have had similar outstanding service on AA too. Unfortunately about once every 100 flights. Absolutely the exception when it should be the norm.

  12. I recently flew from Chicago to Nashville. A very short flight but Alejandra has made my day by hit all the right points of being the best FA of 2023. I can’t believe that she has only been on the job for 3 weeks. After the flight, I received a survey about the flight experience. I filled out the survey and contact EP service and made sure that her team leader knew what a outstanding employee she was.

  13. Several years ago I decided the criteria for giving out an AApplause certificate was smiling. That’s it. Anyone who smiled.

    Still have a big stack.

  14. Why would you write this whole post and not credit the airline. This isn’t AA, it’s Republic or Envoy or or or… If the service was good it’s credit to that operation, very little to AA…

  15. Why wouldn’t you credit the airline that operated the flight? This great service didn’t have anything to do with AA, it was Republic or Envoy or or or…

  16. That was me with the LAX connection. Wish I had recognized you on the flight. I’d love to talk Texas politics with you, Gary.

  17. I have found the AA flight attendants based in Miami to be the most rude and arrogant. The PAX were treated as a nuisance.
    I moved to JetBlue for my south Florida trips.
    Like night and day!!

  18. Flying JSX. $800 round trip HPN to BNA – Can’t wait. I’m for the small guys.

  19. I used to date a regional carrier FA and was impressed at how much customer service training AA required of the regional affiliate FAs. AA management seemed aware that they had to rebuild their reputation, especially to compete with Delta.

  20. Sometimes I wonder if people fly to get somewhere or to see someone smile, or eat a bunch of things.

  21. That’s old school service. Not hard to do if you enjoy your job. I did 25 years with Eagle/Envoy and loved it all.

  22. That’s a wonderful story! There are so many who truly stand out and are not recognized. I can say from experience that Annie will likely not “get” anything for the certificate. MOST regional partners don’t honor them. If she flies for a wholly-owned, then she will. I would follow up with her “actual” airline so that she gets direct feedback from her manager. Thanks for highlighting a standout!

  23. Which regional operated this flight? Since you referenced a DFW based FA I’m assuming it was Envoy, but Skywest or Mesa may also have a base there

  24. I am so proud of you Allie!!! That’s my great niece (& co-worker)! And to the nay sayer who thinks her awesome disposition is temporary, it’s not. She was raised by a wonderful mother who is kind and generous and firm when needed, because let’s face it FA’s do have to firm when needed for the safety of passengers. Keep up the great work Allie!!!

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