Sunday, September 21, 2008

American Airlines Wakes Up From Decade Long Nap And Decides There Is A Problem

American Airlines has finally figured out there is a problem. After waking up from a nap that started somewhere back in the 1980's, the staff of American Airlines has figured out that they need to do something about customer service and flight performance or people might actually decide to quit flying their airlines.

Some of the clues that prompted American's staff to wake up and smell the coffee include:

•It finished last among 19 U.S. carriers in on-time arrivals for four straight months between March and June, before improving to 16th in July – its highest finish in nine months.

•Its on-time marks have been beneath the industry average every month since December 2006.

•For the 12 months ending July 31, American was last among all carriers in on-time flights, with only 67.5 percent arriving within 14 minutes of schedule. That was 6.7 percentage points worse than the industry average of 74.2 percent.

•Among the 10 largest carriers, American ranked second-worst in the rate of lost-bag complaints for the year ending July 31, ahead of only Delta Air Lines Inc.

•It has had the third-highest rate of flight cancellations through the first seven months of 2008, ahead of only two regional carriers, Mesa Air Group Inc. and American's own partner, American Eagle. Even excluding about 3,300 flights canceled in a maintenance inspection in April, American still ranked near the bottom.

So what is the big master plan to turn this around, well they haven't quite gotten to that yet, right now they are in the process of figuring out which faction within the airline is to blame.

American Airlines operations department says that the weather is to blame. Apparently since the 80's there has been bad weather which has caused all of it's flight delays.

"I think it went back to a sense of operational optimism," he said. " 'Oh,' we just thought, 'the weather will get better. The storms will go away.' "

When 2007 turned out to be bad, planners thought 2008 would be better. Until July, it hasn't been.

Since the start of 2007, American has recorded four of its top 10 days for flight diversions, when weather has forced the airline to land planes at airports other than their intended destination.

"It sounds like rationalization," Mr. Cordes said. "But the fact of the matter is we've been dealing with these weird weather events for a year and a half."

Now rings in the Flight Attendants Union which blames management for all the customer service problems.

Whether coincidence or not, the airline's on-time problems have grown as it has entered negotiations with its three major unions: the Allied Pilots Association in summer 2006, the Transport Workers Union in fall 2007 and the Association of Professional Flight Attendants this summer.

Mr. Cordes and Mr. Mitchell said they don't think morale issues or employee problems have contributed much – if at all – to operational problems for American. Mr. Mitchell noted that the number of teams working to improve the airline's customer service has grown over the past year.

Laura Glading, president of the flight attendants' union, said there is a link between employee morale and customer service, particularly as the airline has cut staffing and onboard amenities.

So apparently providing customer service was not what flight attendants thought they were going to be doing on their job, individual job satisfaction doesnt help, in order for flight attendants to be nice to people the airline has to be nice to them everyday.

So in comes the last group in the blame game, the pilots union, which says cutting jobs and pay for pilots is the reason they can't get a plane off the ground on time, because you know it's not really the pilots flying the planes.

The Allied Pilots Association has been increasingly critical of the airline's management, blaming it for the delays, cancellations and other problems.

Bill Haug, secretary-treasurer of the pilots' union, noted that the airline's performance has declined since employees took big concessions in pay, benefits and working conditions in 2003.

So as you can see American Airlines is ready to address their industry leading worst customer service and on time record, just as soon as they can figure out who is responsible. In the meantime you can be sure that you, the passenger, will be the one who pays for it.

Stumble Upon Toolbar


Nomadic Matt said...

AA is the worst airline ever. Right now I have to fight them about getting my Aer Lingus miles to transfer over...I only am with them because they are part of the oneworld alliance....

i despise them...