A few months ago I wrote about how I am actually a nervous flier. Today that fear of flying manifested to an actual action – I changed my flight.

I was booked on AA613 from PHL-LAX on an old USAirways A321 with registration N189UW. Because I love torturing myself, I typically research the airplane I’m flying before I get on it. I sometimes do this when pondering whether to use a Systemwide Upgrade to find out if the first class is new and refreshed. After researching N189UW, I stumbled upon information that truly scared me:

  • N189UW is nearly 16 years old.
  • N189UW suffered a bird strike in May 2016 as AA423 from PHX. [Link]
  • N189UW made an emergency landing in April 2016 because of a hydraulic failure. [Link]
  • N189UW made an emergency landing in March 2016 for “smoke in the cockpit”. [Link]
  • N189UW made a crew-initiated rapid descent in April 2014 for problems with the air conditioning system. [Link]

N189UW is nearly 16 years old.

As you can see, 75% of this aircraft’s issues occurred within the last year and the issues aren’t minor. I like to say that I’m not afraid, just more risk averse than many people.

Superstitions and the Bottom Line

Look, I’m not a very superstitious person so this is the first time I did something like this. As soon as I evaluated the information in front of me, I made the decision that I did not feel comfortable flying on this airplane. I called up the AA reservations desk and utilized my Same Day Flight Change benefit that comes with my Executive Platinum status and moved to the 3:55PM ET flight operating as AA701 on aircraft N582UW, which is less than 3 years old – that’s much better! I will say that I would have only made the change if the price of moving my flight was free so my EP status saved my behind on this one.

I had a pretty bad internal struggle with this decision. I used the old “you can’t change fate” argument and scenes of Final Destination rolled into my head. But after sitting back and thinking about it, I made the decision to stave off my anxiety more than anything else. Perhaps my OCD with checking the airplane every time is out of bounds, but I like to argue that an airline shouldn’t give passengers the feeling that flying their aircraft is unsafe. And this is not to say AA airplanes are unsafe, but given the current climate, my anxieties are elevated.

I’m going to use this opportunity to once again reiterate the need for American to retire many of the old US Airways legacy A321s. Not only are they old and decrepit, but the interior accommodations are lackluster and the fact that they deploy these machines on transcontinental flights is deplorable.

I’m curious to hear if any of you have done something similar. Please tell me I’m not crazy!


(Featured image courtesy of AeroInside)