I know it's variance, but consistently missing or getting reverse-dominated, losing coinflips, or crushed vs. undercards in crucial points in tournaments distorts my view of it (in tourneys, not cash games). So I sympathize with the original poster.
The last time I played AK in a tourney, I got it all in as a bigstack against another bigstack who got in raising war with me... I decide enough is enough, go all in... then he tank-calls with 47 offsuit and busts me. Had he lost, he would have been left with <1000 chips. I truly believe I would have taken the whole thing down had I won that all-in. AK has gotten me crippled preflop against literally any two cards, again and again and again and again. It's cost me a few hundred bucks by now.
The examples vs. AQ and AJ was when I got called down (or sometimes checked down after the turn) and reached showdown, and saw that I was indeed lost the 3:1 favorite hand. If it had come Ace-high, I'd double up each time, but no. I'm not even mad - just glad I didn't triple barrel all in and at least AK spared me some of my stack.
The last decent outcome I had with AK was flat-calling preflop, folding when I missed, and losing a few big blinds. I told myself "I'm not letting this ****ing hand undo the three hours I've invested getting this far". An orbit or so later I picked up Kings and doubled up - that's a hand I'm obviously willing to put my tourney life on.
The thing is, I absolutely agree with you. It is a premium hand, and I know it's all variance. I move on to the next tournament, and still play Ace King aggressively. So I 3-bet, call the 4-bet shove, and same old story. So I guess it's a byproduct of negative reinforcement - everytime I refuse to play scared money and decide to "play to win, and not playing not to lose", AK punishes me and I get slaughtered by AQ or any two cards.
Plus the times it's a coinflip, but I'm not mad at losing those because the better hand won, as is supposed to happen. I just wish it worked out for me when I have the best hand.
I don't play tourneys that often, but I'd still play it aggressively and hope for a better outcome regardless of the past bad beats. If I Do double up, then I'm always positioned to make a deep run.
In cash games, it's an amazing hand since you're not pressured by the rising blinds and antes, and you can afford to wait for the spot where AK specializes in - flopping top pair against AQ or KQ, and stacking them.