Apparently mechanical diversions now rate full-on rants in the New York Times

You, American Airlines, should no longer be flying across the Atlantic. You do not have the know-how. You do not have the equipment. And your employees have clearly lost interest in the endeavor. Like the country whose name graces the hulls of your flying ships, you are exhausted and shorn of purpose. You need to stop.

That’s how author Gary Shteyngart starts his trip report from a recent Paris – New York voyage on American Airlines. Well written and certainly gripping, though I’m not really sure it deserved to be published in the New York Times. But apparently this is pick on AA month and the NYT is getting in the game.

The short version of the story is a mechanical diversion led to an overnight in London, some trouble getting through immigration (because, as we all know, AA controls immigration queues at Heathrow), and then a second cancelation. Certainly not a great day for AA and not a great trip for the passengers, but also rather short of kafkaesque, the term used in the headline.

I have no idea why the Times thought this was worth publishing, other than that the first paragraph is pretty well written. And it was in the opinions section so I suppose he’s entitled to his. I’m just not sure why they thought the rest of us care about it so much. Or why the anti-America (the country, not American the airline) aspect is so tightly wound with his travel experience. Quite bizarre, indeed.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


  1. Having worked for the New York Times for 10 years, I had the same reaction when I first read this story and do not think it is up to the NYT’s usual high standards.

  2. @Stuart: Being one of those evil conservatives, I think this is perfectly in line with NYT’s usual low standards. 😀

  3. The NYT editor thought it was a rant about hating America, so it got published. Pravda has more credibility these days.

  4. There was that United flight from Shanghai about 10 weeks ago that took 3 days… One flight on American hardly is generalizable to the overall operation.

  5. Gary Shteyngart is a brilliant writer. “Super Sad True Love Story” is one of my favorite novels of the past few years. I don’t consider him an authority on travel, and I’m sure he’d agree with that assessment.

  6. It’s too bad that he’s right about America but not American. Watch the opening monologue from the first episode of The Newsroom and tell me you don’t agree… especially with the “but we could be” part.

  7. I found it amusing,nothing more. The line:

    An apocalyptic scenario: an employee of the world’s worst airline assigned to the world’s worst border crossing at the world’s worst airport.

    At least he got two out of three right

  8. I just read it and actually thought it was quite entertaining. Like you said, it’s in the Opinion section, so it’s not meant to be serious or accurate, just opinionated, which it certainly was!

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