American Airlines Is the Worst: A Series

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An American Airlines Airbus A321 plane takes off from Los Angeles International airport (LAX), March 28, 2018. (Mike Blake/Reuters)

And now, for another installment in my long-running series, “Screaming into the Void.”

Commercial airline travel is terrible, of course, but American Airlines goes out of its way to make it worse in a couple of key ways. My least-favorite of them is the credit-card shilling.

If you fly American, you know this pitch: Limited-time offer for a Barclays card, enough free miles to get you two round-trip tickets anywhere in the continental United States, etc. See if you can actually book two round-trip flights to any place you’d want to go with 60,000 miles and let me know.

The awfulness of this is multifaceted. For one thing, there is the Clockwork Orange sensation of being literally strapped into a seat while someone screams corporate banalities at you on a loudspeaker fifteen inches from your head. That is beyond bad manners — it is positively abusive. The mandatory face mask, a recent innovation, adds to the totalitarian mood.

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It is also — and this cannot be emphasized enough — a lie. It is a “limited-time” offer in the sense that the sun eventually will run out of gas and become a dying star, first engulfing the Earth in fire and then leaving the wreck of the solar system a sterile plane of interstellar cold and utter silence, which will be interrupted only by some addled flight attendant screeching about the limited-time Barclays card offer.

This “limited-time” offer has been running for years and years and years. I cannot remember a time before this limited-time offer.

Stop it, you ridiculous corporate monkeys. Knock it off.

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