Part 3: A Formal Complaint with the FAA

So, after experiencing the American Airlines flight in which I was harassed and intimidated by the flight crew, I spoke with someone on the phone who was a good customer service agent, but who ultimately had no authority to actually address or respond to what happened to me.

I had posted to my personal Facebook account and got some suggestions and feedback. One suggestion was to file a formal complaint with the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA), the U.S. agency that “oversees” airline travel in the United States. They have a system in place, and because my first preference was (is) to allow “systems” to do their thing, I filed a complaint at the online portal (FAA Consumer Complaint Form ).  On Halloween night, I filled out the form, relaying the gist of the story in the text box, attached the document wherein I detail the experience (when I got home from the airport, I immediately sat down at my computer to capture the details of what happened), and hit submit. I immediately got a response that I would hear from an FAA analyst.

The following morning, November 1, I got an email from the FAA that they had forwarded my complaint to American Airlines for response.  I thought about trying to follow up with the FAA that I had already heard from AA, but that their response was….lacking…given what had actually happened. I decided against, thinking that perhaps
“the system” might work. (I know, I know…)

So today, November 4, I got an email from a different customer service agent. This was is named Rogers Smyth, and I am 98.45% convinced that is not anyone’s real name, but is likely the generic customer service name they assign to written responses (so Rogers Smyth, reach out to me! I hope I’m wrong and that you do actually exist: that is an excellent name for someone working in customer service!).

Again, while I’m glad they responded, I’m still left unsatisfied: Glad they can use my experience for internal training purposes, I guess. Maybe that will prevent MFA and Robin from losing their cool on an innocent passenger in the future.

But that does nothing to assure me that I will not have some formal complaint “out there” on some mysterious “file” that will impede my travel in the future. That does nothing to assure me–or any other consumer–that these matters are taken seriously. The FAA process does nothing to assure me that the federal government cares for one minute that I was targeted for harassment and intimidation through no fault of my own.

All this does do for me is assure me that the official system permits companies like American Airlines to sweep experiences like mine “under the rug.”*

So here I am: Publicly sharing my experience, no matter how embarrassing it is.

*I learned from Rogers Smyth that there are additional next steps offered to passengers in the UK:

“If your comments are related to American Airlines service to, from, or in the United Kingdom and we have reached an impasse in terms of resolving your complaint, please know that we are obligated by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to inform you that the NetNeutrals EU Ltd. (, located at 3 Armley Court, Armley Road, Leeds, LS12 2LB, is a CAA-approved Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) provider competent to deal with airline service complaints. American Airlines, however, does not participate with NetNeutrals EU Ltd. in resolving disputes.”

November 3, 2016
Dear Mrs. Mylastname:
The Department of Transportation Aviation Consumer Protection Division has forwarded your correspondence to us regarding your experience onboard PSA flight 5583 on October 27 from Washington D.C. to Lansing. We appreciate this opportunity to respond.

I apologize for the flight delay and am concerned about the flight attendant behavior you described and hope you will accept my apology for the disappointing service you received. We work hard to provide professional, courteous service to our customers, and it is clear we fell short when you traveled with us. We have forwarded a copy of your comments to the appropriate personnel at Flight Service for review. Thank you for giving us this opportunity to improve our service.

While we can certainly understand your desire for specific feedback regarding disciplinary action taken, we’ve made it a strict policy not to share internal information or documents pertaining to our personnel.

Mrs. Mylastname, I hope you are convinced to think more favorably of us. We value you as a customer and are eager to restore your confidence. Please give us another opportunity to serve you. In turn we will do our best to make your trip pleasant and trouble free.

Rogers Smyth
Customer Relations
American Airlines
AA Ref# (The number for my complain)  


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