There is something of a problem lurking under the surface at American and one that made the jump to Delta ll the more easy and that is customer service. As a Platinum member at American Airlines, I get a dedicated phone number to call in on, and rarely need to wait on the phone as might be customary with normal flyers. Seeing as I make changes to my meal preference on a regular basis, calling in was a requirement for me. American Airlines, unlike Delta and United, does not have an option to choose an special meals online, this can only be called in.
Calling an American Airlines call center is hit and miss. Sometimes you get a great operator, sometimes you get a horrible one. Lately and more consistently, the awful representatives have been more and more prevalent on calls. Rude behavior, angry tones, and even hang ups without saying goodbye after a conversation. Just to make things clear here, I've never called to complain to American Airlines, only to get help with an award booking, seat change on British Airways, or meals... usually the meals are my why I called.
Call centers aren't the only problem though, many of the flight attendants have become rude, and unhappy. Flying in business class comes with a certain level of service expected. For me, that is nothing more than be polite, and offer to get me a refill. Honesty, that's all I really want from a flight attendant. Returning from Argentina, I had the single worst experience of my flying career, and this was a business class flight. I've never been treated so dismissively in the air, even in economy.
While not every flight attendant is like this, it is something that I noticed in my limited experience with Delta and Alaska, just isn't very prevalent. So why is it that American Airlines is so behind the curve on this aspect. This is hard to say, but it likely has something to do with the corporate culture.
No matter the reason for it, this is a problem that will drive customers away. When American decided to level the playing field with loyalty programs, it should come as a no brainer that there needs to be another good reason to stick it out with American. Those who can change, will do so if given a compelling reason. Like the proverbial straw on the camels back, slightly sub par loyalty program, poor customer service, reduced mileage awards. Any one of these isn't enough to make me jump ship, but add them all up and it just makes sense.