Kindness, the American Way
While traveling on Nov. 22, 2011, I was reminded of what an honor it is to engage with the wonderful people [who are] traveling the world. We have so much to be thankful about. We have the ability to be in so many places so fast, so often, and at a relatively low expense. Thank you to a superior airline (American has been my favorite) and personnel who make flying as safe, as pleasant and as comfortable as possible.

I sat next to a U.S. Marine, serving to maintain our freedom. It was my honor to have had the opportunity to speak with him. He shall soon serve our country in Japan for the next two to three years.

On another flight, I sat next to a young woman from Kenya studying for her doctorate in history at Ohio State. Again, what a privilege to share a conversation with such a vibrant and interesting person.

Bottom line — be reminded that what we often do not realize is what greatness surrounds us. Take the opportunity to share the goodwill with others. Help others (elderly, children or women) with their baggage, be courteous and, overall, enjoy the opportunities we have. It is something we often forget in the rush to get ahead in this world. Enjoying your flight is up to you!
Paul Kling, Sanger, Texas

Editor Adam Pitluk responds: You said it all, Paul. This airline really knows its customers, and our customers are among the most interesting people in the world.

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And the winner is …
Cecil Bilbo from Champaign, Ill. Mr. Bilbo is the 2011 winner of the 100,000 AAdvantage miles for your thoughts contest. His letter, entitled “Reaching Out,” ran in the April 1, 2011, issue of American Way.

The Next Eclipse
I was fascinated by your recent story about eclipse chasers (“Made in the Shade,” Nov. 15, 2011). There was a total solar eclipse in July 1991 that was visible from El Salvador, and I remember all the grown-ups around me making preparations to see it. I was too young at the time (6 years old) to understand what the big fuss was about, so I didn’t go outside to see it. What a huge mistake that was!

Who knows when I’ll get a chance to see another one from my backyard? I guess if I want to correct that mistake, I better start saving all my AAdvantage miles from now on so I can travel to Australia in November 2012. That’s where the next total solar eclipse will be visible from (I know that thanks to the NASA link you included in your article).
Ana Berrios, San Salvador, El Salvador

Executive Senior Editor Chris Wessling responds: Don’t think of this as something you missed out on when you were 6. Think of it as a great excuse to have an amazing adventure when you’re 27!

The Answer is …
One reason I look forward to flying American Airlines is to solve the Mensa puzzles in the American Way magazine. I love them! The first thing I do after I buckle my seat belt is to quickly reach for the American Way in the seatback pocket, whip out my pen and start solving. I’ve never scored 100 percent, but that’s my goal. I have a blast working on them.

Here’s a Mensa quiz for you: If BB=2, CC=3, DD=4 and ZZ=26, what does AA equal? Number one, of course!
Maria Smith, Fort Worth, Texas

Associate Editor Cheryl Krzywicki responds: I love it! Every issue, I look through the Mensa questions, and most of the time I just scratch my head. I know that our intelligent passengers will be able to figure out these questions, even though I often struggle. Then I read this email from you, creating your own Mensa question about American Airlines. Brilliant! I absolutely love it. Thank you for taking the time to write to us.

Customer Service
My brother and I flew from Dallas to our home in Iowa. We flew first class and had a fantastic experience, mostly due to a fantastic flight attendant. I believe her name was Cathy. I would just like you to be aware of this quality employee. I hope to be fortunate enough to fly with her again.
Kay Fisher, address withheld

C.K. responds: We always like to hear that our employees are treating our customers so well. We take great pride in providing excellent customer service. Thank you for the kind words.

The Unlikely Connection
A few months ago I was on a trip that included visits to London and Paris. I needed to make a last-minute trip to Zurich, which impacted my original itinerary. To make a long story short, I purchased a ticket from Paris to London to try to catch my original flight from London to Dallas. The British Airways flight was scheduled to arrive about one hour before my flight to Dallas, and I knew there was no way I would make the connection because I needed to retrieve my bags, clear Customs, check in and go through security.

I remembered reading — in American Way — about the partnership between American Airlines and British Airways, so I decided to ask if my orphan British Airways flight could be merged with my original itinerary so my
bags could be checked all the way to Dallas. I expected an instant “that’s not possible because the tickets were purchased separately” response. Instead, the agent was able to do exactly what I requested. I was more than impressed and extremely thankful.
Erik Alfonso Nilsen, McKinney, Texas

A.P. responds: You know, Erik, my wife had a very similar experience with British Airways when she was trying to fly home from London. She had a business-class seat, the flight was canceled, and the gate agent literally put her in the same seat (number and everything) on an AA flight. You, she and I — and everyone in the AA family — are all big fans of the Joint Business Agreement. You’d receive the same service from Iberia, Japan Airlines, Cathay Pacific, LAN and Qantas.

Wheels Up
“Wheels up” has two connotations in the airline industry, one referring to taking off and the other referencing storing bags in the overhead bins. I would like to suggest a standing ovation for all the flight attendants who can now add “baggage handler” and “general engineer” to their résumés with all the lifting, positioning and utilization of every possible nook and cranny to accommodate the multitude of passengers’ carry-ons — I am guilty myself. Time is of the essence, and I am always amazed at the quick work that they do. So thank you to all the flight attendants, and please take your seat as this flight is now departing.
James Smith, Lucas, Texas

Design Director David W. Radabaugh �responds: You’re kind to consider the welfare of our crew. If we were all just a little more thoughtful, I’m sure the boarding process would be quicker and far more pleasant.

My Favorite Symbol
The first thing I do when I take my seat is to look through the magazine. Besides the content, which is always diverse and engaging — I can always find something interesting and useful in the magazine — it has become a symbol of my favorite airline and a great way to begin my flight. It is the American way to fly home — a terrific airline, fantastic crew members and an excellent magazine to crown it all.
Alexander Gorev, Alexandria, Va.

Senior Editor Anna Fialho responds: Thanks so much for your letter. It always makes us happy to hear from our loyal readers that they love flying American Airlines — and how much they enjoy reading our magazine! We hope you’ll continue to fly the skies on AA and that American Way continues to be the symbol of your favorite airline.

Where To Next?
My favorite part about flying is the world maps in the back of the magazine showing all the places American Airlines flies to — and consequently, all the places I want to go. Thanks for inspiring me, one flight at a time.
Meredith Campbell, Boulder, Colo.

Managing editor Travis Kinsey responds: One of our favorite things to do is daydream about trips we’re going to take as well. So, we definitely understand the appeal!

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Kagan McLeod

Carve a Turkey

Reader response to Jordan Rane’s Nov. 15, 2011, “Itinerary” article, “How to Carve a Turkey,” which gave step-by-step instructions on how to slice your holiday bird, made many readers’ mouths water. We thought it only necessary to share some of these letters.

Regretfully, our family Thanksgiving celebrations have lapsed since our parents passed away three years ago. We all had simply gone our own ways, until my oldest sister put her foot down and insisted we all go to New Mexico. The kitchen was full of children all excited to see the turkey properly sliced for all to enjoy. Of course, the three sisters looked at the three brothers and asked, “Which one of you is going to carve the turkey?” Silence came over the crowd with the stark realization that none of us had ever attempted this hallowed ritual before. This was the supreme right of my dad for 50 years, and no one even remotely considered taking this responsibility from him — not while he was alive, anyway. At that moment, with the awkward hush in the kitchen and a tender turkey ready to go, I recalled the article. I shouted out, “Bring me the bird!” In minutes we had a nicely carved turkey for all to enjoy, and I had secured a carving job for many Thanksgivings to come.
David Fellows, Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. 

Since I only prepare the Thanksgiving meal every other year, I always need a refresher on carving the holiday bird. I placed my American Way magazine on the kitchen island as I began to carve the turkey. When the family arrived 20 minutes early and uncovered my secret, the rest of the day was a joke about what other holiday cooking tips I had borrowed from your magazine.
James Cross, Grapevine, Texas

You hit the nail on the head when you said, “Any holiday procedure that involves leering guests and a large knife is naturally intimidating.” After a couple of read-throughs, I felt like I could shake the butterflies and carve the bird with confidence. There was just one small detail you failed to tackle: Exactly how was I supposed to tell my father-in-law that I would be carving the bird? I guess I’m on my own there!
Antoine Drye, New York

All day we salivated over the smells coming from the kitchen. My brothers and I helped peel potatoes, chop nuts, stir gravy and run to the store, but there is a moment, every Thanksgiving, when our mom turns around with an expectant gleam in her eye to find her kitchen completely abandoned. The magic words she uses to clear the kitchen? “Who wants to carve the turkey?”
With a trusty American Way magazine page in hand, her soon-to-be-favorite son — me — stayed in the kitchen, confidently took up the carving tools and sliced it up just right. Mom was so proud, my siblings were amazed, and everybody had a great meal.
Tim Schirack, Tucson, Ariz.