Friday, August 10, 2007

Even on the internet, American Airlines sucks

So, I get an email from American Airlines today, and I decide I'm going to unsuscribe. I had just unsubscribed from Southwest Airlines emails, so it seemed fair. I guess there are people who look in their email and say, "Hey, you know what? I really could fly to some arbitrarily selected destination between three and eight months from now," but it seems unlikely these emails are ever going to benefit me. So, I click the link.

Unsubscribe Information
If you no longer wish to receive these marketing messages from American Airlines, please visit: or reply to us and type "Unsubscribe" in the subject line.

This is a post-only email. Please do not reply to this message unless you are unsubscribing. For all inquiries, visit or send an email to

Now, I think that's pretty sucky that they sent me an email to which I can't respond. But, OK. I don't want to start a dialogue, I just want to get off their list. So, I click the unsubscribe link.

Unsubscribe From Our Email

To unsubscribe from any of our email products please follow the below steps:

  • Go to the "My Account" section, located at the top of any page on
  • Then select the "Email Subscriptions" tab.
  • Choose the email you wish to unsubscribe from, then click "Submit".
Unsubscribe from Net SAAver Vacations email from AmericanAirlines Vacations.

OK, seriously? I was all over the link clicking idea, but making me log in? I guess they wouldn't want any evil-doers to whom I had innocently forwarded the email masquerading as me and unsubscribing.

Remember this is an airline we're dealing with. This is a business that thinks it's a good idea to give you an 8-character alphanumeric code which you can remember instead of, say, your name in order to retrieve reservations. So, when I go to the login page, I'm faced with
Your password is case sensitive and must be 6-12 numbers
and/or letters.
Remember My AAdvantage Number
This is a public/shared computer, do not remember me.

I have to know my AAdvantage number; if I want to unsubscribe and I don't have my AAdvantage number, apparently I can register for a new one, and then unsubscribe. I was a little annoyed that Southwest made me reenter my email address to get it unsubscribed. Now, I see the bar they were trying to clear.

Now, American Airlines doesn't send me my AAdvantage number when it sends these things out. As a good air traveler, I'm supposed to have my customer lockin number tattooed in reverse on my forehead, so that I can just read them in the mirror whenever I'd like. So, now I have to log in to Travelocity and retrieve my AAdvantage number. This is annoying because my stored authentication information isn't on the new computer. I would have had to reenter them anyways at some point, but American Airlines thinks now is a good time.

So, I try to guess which password I used for Travelocity. Nothing funner. It turns out that Travelocity lets you use a login name or an email address, but you have to commit -- you can't log in with either one like at Craigslist. Now, you might think that blaming American Airlines for Travelocity's authentication is unfair, but the point is they insist that I go through something painful to retrieve my AAdvantage number.

I don't just need my lockin number, though. I need my password. After entering it wrong, I get Your password is case sensitive and must be 6-12 numbers and/or letters, my old buddy the incremental password rule. So, now I can click some radio buttons and unsubscribe from

Change Your Email Subscriptions

Email Address
Email Preference Text HTML
Subscribe Unsubscribe *
AAdvantage eSummary
Your AAdvantage account summary with the latest AAdvantage news and exclusive bonus mile offers. View Sample
Subscribe Unsubscribe
Your personalized emails featuring American Airlines product and service news, current promotions and special offers, all tailored to your travel history and interests. View Sample
Subscribe Unsubscribe
Net SAAver Fares
Your weekly travel savings bulletin including discounted weekend fares, special mileage offers, fare sale news, vacations and more! View Sample
Subscribe Unsubscribe
AAdvantage promotions
AAdvantage partner promotions, partner information and more ways to earn AAdvantage miles. View Sample
*Once you have unsubscribed to AAdvantage eSummary, you will need to go to and select the AAdvantage tab in order to review your account information and program news and offers.

How did I end up with HTML mail? I hate HTML mail! I'm easily bewildered, so I don't really recall which of the four possible email lists I don't want to hear from. I
just wanted to hear from American Airlines less. I just unsubscribe from everything.

I get a follow-up email


If you did not change your contact information or if you have an
inquiry, please visit: to view the
changes, or if you have
any immediate concerns regarding your account, please contact
Web Services.
If you have unsubscribed to one of our email products, we will remove
your address from
our mailing list as soon as possible. Please be aware that you may
continue to receive

emails for up to 10 business days.

So, they're not sure exactly what I did, but suspects that someone logged in to their web site with my authentication information and changed one of my 'contact preferences.' They do allow the possibility that I unsubscribed, and if so they'll get to that in the next few weeks.

Why ten days? Their staff psychologists probably estimated that no one is going to recommend this painful unsubscribing experience after ten days, and they don't actually have to do anything.

We'll see.


Brad said...

I hate the whole "10 days to unsubscribe you from spam e-mail" policy that many companies have. This is supposed to be a database transaction, people -- it should take 10 *seconds*, not 10 *days*.

"10 days" seems to be the magic number for "not long enough to seem outrageous, but long enough that they'll forget that they tried to unsubscribe". And indeed, I've had to unsubscribe multiple times from a single credit card company's e-mails, always with the alleged 10-day processing period...

Anonymous said...

I would unsubscribe from anything this pig line offered. Their pilots are stupid and sit in the cockpit with their porn dreaming of having hot women while banging dumb stews, while the real FAs bust their asses. This is a loser airline and any employee who is good or wants a paycheck gets shafted. I think it is a requirement that you screw the pilots to have a job.

Rionn Fears Malechem said...

Thanks for your input, and welcome to the blog! For the record, whatever it's faults, I doubt that employees are required to have sex at all, much less with someone in particular.

Anonymous said...


I have met some of the AA pilots out of O'hare and believe me it is true. They have actually been in my home and have left snot and other horrible bodily fluids all over. They are pigs. The false persona of pilots needs to stop. There are excellent pilots out there who are good human beings, but believe me the pigs I met are just slobs. They have fake FAs who wear the uniform so they can have sex with them whenever they want. I think the real, hard working employees are suffering horribly at the hands of greedy management. Something very suspicious about an airline that has planes grounded that have missed routine maintenance while the execs placed huge bonuses in their pockets. I hope one day someone uncovers what is really going on behind the lines with this airline. When they say 9/11 was an inside job, I believe it after having met these slobs.

Rionn Fears Malechem said...

...Thanks for coming by the blog.
Rionn Fears Malechem and RFM Industries, incorporated, take no responsibility for comments posted to our blog entries by site visitors.
And, for the record, I'm still undecided as to whether 9/11 was an inside job. I'll allow the possibility, but I'm a LIHOP.

Anonymous said...


I felt the same way as you about 9/11 and then I met some of the AA pilots; the meeting changed my mind. Not every person who works within the airlines cares about its future. Some have another agenda. Sure maybe Osama was involved, but someone on the inside had to help. Who taped the box cutters to the seats? As you wrote, anything is possible.

Anonymous said...


Also, I have read that Hitler staged a similar attack on his country prior to his dictatorship to aid in bringing a facist government.

Anonymous said...


Just for the record, I am not blaming Bush for 911. I don't think he was behind it.

Rionn Fears Malechem said...

Thanks for coming by the blog!
And, again for the record, I believe Anonymous is referring to the Reichstag fire.
Similarly to 9/11, this incident was used as an excuse for extending executive power. Similarly to 9/11, it is not clear if members of the ruling party were actually complicit, or just took advantage of an incidental occurrence.