AA Pilots Slam Management On Behalf Of Customers

My previous post discussed American Airline’s Web response to the grounding of its planes. But the airline’s problems go beyond maintenance issues with the FAA. While I was sitting on an AA flight today, I read something amazing in USA Today. The Allied Pilots Association (representing American Airline’s 12,000 pilots) had a large ad that was titled “Why is American Airlines Failing Its Customers?” Here’s an excerpt from the ad:

We’re embarrassed that so many passengers are inconvenienced and dissatisfied and hope you’ll accept our apologies for our airline’s unreliability. Why is American Airlines failing its customers?

Due to mismanagement, our airline doesn’t have enough workers to run dependably. It also doesn’t keep enough spare parts to ensure prompt repairs — and with the industry’s second-oldest fleet, the need for repairs is more and more frequent. American Airlines needs to reinvest in our airline, and do so quickly.

My take: This is even worse news than the groundings. When a major part of your workforce resorts to advertisements to tell management about the root of customer dissatisfaction, you’ve got a very serious problem. And, it’s not just the pilots that feel this way. I asked several AA employees that I ran into about the ad. While most did not want to speak badly about their company, it was clear from their responses (and sometimes, non-responses) that many AA employees agree with the pilots.

If the AA leadership team (execs and board of directors) have not yet gotten the message, then hopefully this is their wakeup call. As a frequent flier on AA, I hope that the company treats this as its “low moment” and commits itself to rebuilding trust with employees and customers.

The bottom line: It’s hard to excite investors when you irritate customers and employees.

Written by 

I'm an experience (XM) management catalyst; helping organizations improve results by engaging the hearts and minds of their employees, customers, and partners. I enjoy researching and speaking about leading-edge XM topics. I lead the Qualtrics XM Institute, which is the world's best job. We're igniting a global community of XM Professionals who are inspired and empowered to radically improve the human experience. To achieve this goal, my team focuses on thought leadership, training, and community building. My work is driven by a set of fundamental beliefs: 1) Everything starts and ends with human beings, so you need to understand how people think, feel, and behave; 2) XM is a discipline that needs to be woven throughout an organization's entire operating fabric; and 3) Building the XM discipline requires a combination of culture, competency, and technology.

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