For a second straight day, Beck on Wednesday used his show to complain that a flight attendant treated him rudely. Beck claims it was punishment for his conservative views.
Beck said American should fire the flight attendant, and he vowed to never fly on American again.
"These big, stodgy airlines that think they can treat people like garbage — they can't," Beck said during a 14-minute segment he devoted to the topic. He suggested that such poor service could explain why American had to seek bankruptcy protection, yet insisted that he wasn't trying to hurt American or urge fans to boycott the airline.
American said it regretted that Beck "had a disappointing experience" on his flight home Monday from Newark, N.J., to Dallas. The airline said it was still looking into Beck's complaint, a response that the commentator called "lumbering."
Beck said a flight attendant fawned over other passengers in first class but spoke only one word to him, and slammed a can of soda on his tray without opening it as he did for others. As for evidence of political bias, Beck said the man loudly told other passengers "how he was so proud of the very liberal cities in America." However, Beck acknowledged that his wife, seated across the aisle, didn't notice anything unusual.
American spokesman Matt Miller said the airline was still trying to figure out what happened on the flight. He declined to say whether the flight attendant would be fired if Beck's account is accurate.
"We take customer complaints seriously, but we owe it to all of our customers and people to follow our prescribed process to get the facts first and then take appropriate action," Miller said.
Thousands of travelers lodge complaints about airlines with the federal government each year, and many more gripe to the airline without filing a formal complaint. In June, the latest results available, American ranked 10th out of 15 airlines in rate of complaints.
Beck is no ordinary traveler. He has a radio show that attracts more than 8 million listeners per week, trailing only Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Michael Savage, according to Talkers, a magazine for the talk-show business.
But his protest likely won't affect the airline's revenue, said analyst Vicki Bryan, who follows American Airlines for bond-research firm Gimme Credit. She said Beck's followers are cost-conscious and will still shop for the best fare.
The president of the flight attendants' union, Laura Glading, said all passengers deserve and get courteous treatment from flight crews. She said that her group "will not allow Mr. Beck, or anyone else for that matter, to use a bully pulpit to jeopardize the livelihood of an American worker."
Airlines have feuded publicly with celebrities before. In December, actor Alec Baldwin was booted off an American flight for refusing to turn off his phone. He lampooned the airline on a "Saturday Night Live" skit in which he played an American pilot.
Baldwin is a liberal activist.
American is the nation's third-biggest airline. Based in Fort Worth, Texas, it is owned by AMR Corp., which filed for bankruptcy protection in November.