American Captain Offers Delayed Passengers Free Drinks


An unidentified American Airlines captain turned a grumbling planeload of delayed passengers into putty in his hands with some honesty and a massive bar tab earlier this week. The aircraft was delayed on a flight from Phoenix to Puerto Vallarta and the pilot walked down the aisle with updates on the situation. “We’ll do what we can to get you there as quickly as possible.” He also reportedly sealed the deal with the vacationers with drinks on the airline.

From a customer service point of view, it seems to have worked. Passenger Sami Muhonen made the pilot a Twitter star with a video of his late departure mea culpa and a glowing review. “This is customer service. Thank you! Others reportedly chimed in to heap praise on the captain, including the airline itself.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.

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  1. Good for this captain! Hopefully the airline will recognize him for his customer service in what could have been a difficult situation.

  2. Excellent. It’s about more than just the left seat up front. Hope the FA’s union and APA don’t attack him.

  3. TWA gave captains blanket authority to “comp the drinks” in situations like this. I often did throughout my career.

  4. Twenty years ago this was pretty much standard practice at least where I worked. Even showing a movie on a non-movie flight was acceptable to the bean counters.
    Things have changed over the years. Good Job Captain!

  5. Well done. Other than flight safety, the ability and willingness for a Captain to successfully interact with his or her passengers is hugely important on any flight, especially one that is not going smoothly. It is not a common ability, but one to strive for. Comping goodies without reprocussions from the airline is good policy.

  6. Years ago when stuck way out on the edges of ORD due to a ground stop the AA captain came on and said “While on the ground we can’t sell alcohol so we’ll give it away.” Everyone booed when we got airborne and he then came on and said “Sorry, now we have to charge you”.