Before I begin, this post is obviously my opinion and I thought I’d have a little fun. I have zero insider information and am in no way qualified to make strategic decisions at a global airline. With that said, I’m a loyal American flier and thought I’d offer up some advice on how the airline can really “go for great.” Now with a nice glass of Irish whiskey poured, I begin…

Chill with D0

D0 is the term American uses when referring to pushing back at or before the scheduled time of departure. You can see why leadership would want to push this messaging down to employees. If there is an intense focus on departing on time, American will rank higher in timeliness rankings. I applaud the move.

However, being so hyperfocused on D0 comes at the expense of the customer (i.e. not upgrading elites, boarding before the scheduled boarding time, closing the boarding door early).

Fleet consistency

As of the writing of this post, there are a couple dozen legacy US Airways Airbus A321 airplanes operating transcontinental flights without seatback IFE or power ports. How in the hell is this okay, years after the merger?

In days like today where live seatback TV is almost the norm, it’s foolish on American’s part to think they can get away with this. But that’s just the thing, they¬†can. Why? Because we still buy tickets and don’t often have a choice.

Strategically, American knows they have a captive audience in some markets, so what they’re doing is smart. But that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t try to strive for the highest levels of satisfaction among customers.

My advice, invest in upgrading at least the transcon aircraft. I’ll take an old Airbus on a two-hour shuttle flight to Boston. But don’t make me sit for 6 hours in coach with flinstone-era accommodations.

Empower your people and promote high performers

Self-explanatory. Get your people excited. Customer satisfaction starts on the ground. Identify top performers in each market and elevate them to lead teams.

Emotional intelligence. Empathy. Transparency. And of course, excellent compensation.

I’m willing to bet that American’s employees don’t ask for much. They have a tough job and for many of them, flying is something they would do for free — but that’s not how it works in the real world. People have families to support and bills to pay. Throw them a bone.

Public companies see employee satisfaction as something that will negatively affect stock price because for them it usually always is based on paying more money. How about this — pay people more, invest in them, and watch how much better they treat customers. When that happens, watch how much better off your stock price is.

I was waiting for a flight home from Dublin a couple of weeks ago and was listening to two American employees chatting. One was a senior manager and the other was a new hire. The senior manager was talking about the perks of the job and giving the new hire tips on how to effectively deliver excellent customer service. You could tell the senior manager was a top performer. American should identify these “linchpins” and lean on them.

 

 

My short rant is over. Curious to hear your thoughts on this matter!