Gosh, I just dream of one trip on American where they’re not a disaster. I guess the whole “new year, new me” fad hasn’t extended to the airline with which I’m basically in an arranged relationship, thanks to being based in Miami.
I don’t want to spend too much time being repetitive, so I suggest checking out my recent post about whether or not I’ll continue to fly American in 2019, in which I explain:
- American is in a rut because leadership is asleep at the wheel (and has been for quite a while), and customers, employees, and shareholders aren’t happy
- I’ve had an unbelievable number of delays lately, to the point that every other flight seems to have a maintenance issue
Now I wanted to share my latest experience, or more accurately, Ford’s latest experience (but his issues are my issues, so…). 😉
While fairly minor, it perfectly sums up how horrible of a job American’s management team is doing in running an airline. I think this situation checks just about every box in “American incompetence bingo.”
What American Airlines cares about
American’s management is just so lost at this point. Frankly I think American’s management team cares about two things (I’m not trying to be shady here, as I genuinely believe this):
- Cramming as many seats into planes as possible, without actually thinking about the implications
- It might sound nice from a shareholder’s perspective to get as many seats as possible on a plane, but American can’t seem to figure out how to get decent yields on those seats (hint: it’s because no one wants to fly American)
- “D0” departures (which means departing on-time), which is one of the most overrated airline metrics out there
- Departing on-time says nothing about arriving on-time, and it creates a culture where all employees care about is closing the door, and not actually using common sense to provide customer service… oh, and American is also pretty lousy at it, because they constantly have maintenance delays
My latest example of American’s messiness
Today Ford flew from Miami to Dallas to Aspen, and I think what happened is a perfect example of why American is just so misaligned as an airline. This situation involves a maintenance delay, a checked bag, and “D0.”
A maintenance delay to start
Flying from Miami to Dallas, the flight was delayed by 37 minutes on departure due to a maintenance issue. Apparently there were issues with the smoke detector in the cargo hold. Thank goodness this at least got fixed quickly, but how is it that every other American flight seems to have a maintenance delay?!
Seriously, I’m not suggesting flying American is unsafe, or anything, but just how reactive is their approach to maintenance? This just isn’t normal.
When I told Tiffany this story and said “on the plus side, the flight only left 37 minutes late,” she (accurately) responded with “how’s that Stockholm Syndrome going?”
Checked bag incompetence
Unfortunately this was one of those trips where it was necessary to check a bag, though the connection in Dallas was still 51 minutes, which is more than the 50 minute minimum connection time.
Alaska and Delta have a 20 minute baggage guarantee, where they promise they’ll get your bag to baggage claim within 20 minutes. It took American 27 minutes to get a bag with a priority tag off the plane. No, not 27 minutes to get it to the connecting flight, but 27 minutes just to unload it. And that was a priority tag.
So naturally the bag didn’t make its connection. There were several passengers connecting, and as you might guess, the priority on the next flight was leaving early. Why? Because that’s all that American trains their employees to care about. So the connecting flight left six minutes early, without bags.
“D0” is so stupid
Don’t get me wrong, punctuality is important for an airline, though American doesn’t seem to understand the difference between on-time arrivals and on-time departures.
An on-time departure means nothing to me, yet that’s all that American cares about.
For example, the flight from Dallas to Aspen was scheduled to arrive at Gate 6 in Aspen all along.
Yet all along, the previous American flight from Aspen to Dallas wasn’t scheduled to depart from Gate 6 until 12:39PM, 18 minutes after the scheduled arrival time of the plane that was supposed to use the gate.
Fortunately that flight left 17 minutes early, which means that when Ford landed they ended up “only” having to wait for about 15 minutes to get a gate, so the flight that was supposed to arrive 11 minutes early (which is what was shown after takeoff) ended up arriving eight minutes late.
Well thank goodness they at least left DFW nice and early and left bags behind, because then they wouldn’t have had the privilege of waiting!
The icing on the cake
This is just the icing on the cake, but American actually doesn’t have a lost baggage department in Aspen, unlike Delta and United. Because why would they, it’s not like they ever lose bags?!
Instead you have to go to the departures level. Not that it’s a huge inconvenience, it’s just another way they make the entire process more complicated. If a flight is checking in around the same time, you may find yourself in a line while already frustrated.
What this tells us about American
Like I said above, this is such a textbook example of American’s incompetence at every step of the way. While Delta tries to eliminate pain points for travelers, American does nothing to avoid them.
They do all of this while constantly wanting more and more money from their top tier flyers, and they think they should be able to charge higher fares across the board.
Yet they honestly don’t get it.
I’m curious. Does American management not think passengers care about checked bags being delivered in a timely manner (this has been a consistent issue with the airline)? If not, why not?
If they do think passengers care about it but think they’re not able to deliver the same experience that Alaska and Delta offer, then why not?
Does American think that scheduling a plane to arrive at a gate 18 minutes before the plane that’s supposed to leave that gate makes sense? And then furthermore, they’ll make sure they leave early from the departure airport, so the plane can wait even longer? Or is the entire American route network based around every flight leaving 20 minutes early?
Isn’t it time for a new management team, rather than Doug Parker just constantly throwing his hands in the air, clueless as to why the airline isn’t doing as well as they should be, while they continue to deliver a crap product to passengers?
Obviously this isn’t singlehandedly the biggest example of American’s incompetence. But to me it’s a small example that shows just how misplaced management’s priorities are, and how every aspect of the experience makes you wonder whether anyone put any thought into the product being offered.
Hey American, how about taking a proactive approach towards maintenance, rather than a reactive approach? Why are you so abysmal with checked bags? Alaska and Delta guarantee a bag at baggage claim within 20 minutes, and you can’t even get a priority bag off a plane within 27 minutes?
I’m just about one lost bag or maintenance delay from starting a change.org petition to get Doug Parker fired.