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The Case of the Runaway American Airlines Beverage Cart

Dec. 16, 2016
4 min read
The Case of the Runaway American Airlines Beverage Cart
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It's amazing that we don't hear more stories about out-of-control beverage carts while in the air, considering the number of flights where drinks are served. In case you missed it, a couple of weeks ago, Gilbert Ott, who runs the blog God Save the Points, was on a redeye flight with American Airlines from Los Angeles (LAX) to New York (JFK) when he came face to face with a runaway beverage cart.

The injuries to Ott's leg looked pretty gruesome and extremely painful. As the cart crashed into his leg, Ott says bottles came out of the cart and ice scattered on the ground. Any frequent flyer can agree — this scenario sounds like something out of a nightmare.

Images courtesy of Gilbert Ott.

Following the incident, however, Ott says he didn't hear from American Airlines. A couple of weeks after the incident, he received a check in the mail, covering the costs of his medical expenses, as well as $800 in travel vouchers with AA. But other than that, he says he hasn't heard from the carrier, including any word about refunding his one-way ticket.

"I would like a refund and a non digital form of apology. No phone call, no email," Ott said in an email. "... I'm a travel journalist, a freaking simulator ride or getting to ride around on a baggage cart all day or something would've been a really fun way of saying sorry, I'm not holding my breath. I just want my money back. The rest is on them..."

On the other hand, a rep from AA told us that the carrier has apologized and offered Ott compensation:

We have apologized multiple times to Mr. Ott. American has provided him a full refund of his one-way ticket, in addition to an $800 travel voucher.
Upon his arrival at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport Nov. 18, medical personnel met the aircraft; he declined any medical assistance. However, we have offered to reimburse any medical bills resulting from the knee injury sustained on American Airlines flight 10.

With regards to the ticket refund, the AA rep said that the delay has to do with the third party through which the ticket was booked. The rep said that the refunds team is working with the travel agency in order to issue Ott a refund on the one-way ticket.

The story is a tense one, and is sure to make any flyer cringe at the thought of having to deal with this. But, enter some comedic relief. A couple weeks after the incident and when he went public with the story, Ott got flowers and a gift delivered to his front door — but they weren't from American. In fact, they were from Virgin Atlantic. And along with the flowers, the carrier sent Ott a set of knee and elbow pads along with a note, which read:

"We might not be who you expected these to be from, but we heard what happened and everyone at Virgin Atlantic wishes you a speedy recovery. And in case you ever fly AA (American) again, we've got you covered. Get Well soon." - The Virgin Atlantic Team
Images courtesy of Gilbert Ott.

For such a bad situation, the move by Virgin Atlantic definitely helped to sweeten it up a bit. "Virgin Atlantic truly made my year with that," Ott said. "The knee pads made both my wife and I laugh and turning pain into happiness is a rare gem these days."

What do you think of this situation? What would you have expected from the airline?

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Featured image by Kevin Song