Update: American Airlines Denies “Service Analyst” Concept

Filed Under: American

This is an update to a post I wrote yesterday based on a Chicago Business Journal story (you can find the original post below). American Airlines tells me that this story isn’t true, and that American Airlines hasn’t introduced a new “service analyst” position.

Instead the airline sometimes sends people from their flight service team on flights, which is a practice that happens on almost all airlines. The airline also says they haven’t increased the number of flights on which this happens.

American has issued the following statement regarding this:

“From time to time, members of our flight service team ride along on flights to ensure our planned service is running smoothly and as designed, but we have not increased these rides recently.

As it relates to customer service training, all of our new hire flight attendants receive onboard service training when they begin. Additionally, we’ve put them through two rounds of company-wide customer service training we initiated last year – Elevate the Everyday Experience. Safety is our top priority, but after that, nothing is more important to us than improving the customer experience.”


One of the issues with US airlines is that service is consistently inconsistent.

Why is service on US airlines often not great?

This can be attributed to many factors, though I imagine that at least one of them is that there’s virtually no oversight of service on flights.

Once the doors close, flight attendants can do whatever they want, and they don’t have any supervisors onboard. While there’s typically a “purser” on the flight, in reality they’re just paid a couple of extra dollars per hour to do paperwork and make announcements, and they’re in no way a supervisor or manager.

In many ways I think this is one of the reasons that service on US airlines is worse than on many foreign airlines. Many foreign airlines have a true cabin manager who is tasked with providing performance evaluations of the crew, and who is accountable when things go wrong.

American Airlines now has some “service analysts”

While American isn’t going that far (there’s no way unions would allow it), Chicago Business Journal is reporting that American Airlines has recently introduced “service analysts” on some flights. This is being done to create a more consistent level of service, though many flight attendants are angry about this.

The “service analyst” is a management employee and not a union employee, and as a result they’re assigned passenger seats during takeoff and landing, and aren’t technically part of the crew.

According to a memo to a crew that recently had one of these service analysts on a flight, he introduced himself and said he would be on the flight “performing a work along” to help with “everything from boarding to service.”

Not surprisingly, some employees aren’t happy about this:

At least one AA pilot source said in the past he has admonished AA employees seated as passengers not to interfere with the cabin crew while they do their job.

I appreciate that American seems to recognize the inconsistency of service (I mean, I think it’s pretty obvious). At the same time, I’m not sure to what extent this will actually be helpful:

  • It’s not like flight attendants can actually be disciplined for what they do on these flights, unless it’s a serious safety violation
  • I imagine many of the flight attendants in need of extra training will also be the ones who give the service analyst the cold shoulder
  • This is creating frustration among some flight attendants, who view this as a way that management is checking up on them

At the end of the day if American wants to improve their corporate culture, having crews feel like they’re being watched (without any sort of potential for punishment) isn’t the solution.

The big problem here is simply that the airline lacks a vision, so the employees have no common goal to get behind. American wants their employees to provide better service, all while they’re sending them mixed signals, configuring their planes like Spirit Airlines while pretending to be a premium airline.

What do you make of the alleged presence of American “service analysts” on flights? Is this useful, or just creating more frustration among employees?

(Tip of the hat to @xJonNYC)

Comments

  1. I think that as long as this is done as a learning experience rather than a punitive measure it can be quite useful. But here’s the problem: to be truly effective, though, the service analysts MUST MUST MUST be blinded/unidentifiable to the crew– otherwise you immediately have a bias (crews who know they are being monitored will perform differently). This means they can take notes and write reports but have no influence on the operations on the flight.

    While 50% of the crew are decent, and another 25% excellent, it’s only those final 25% that are the source of heartburn who should be concerned.

  2. Here’re a couple of examples:
    — On more than half the flights I’ve been on in the last month, the inflight announcements (particularly those from the cockpit crew) have been inaudible or under-audible.
    — There is also huge variation in tone of crew announcements ranging from (usually the case) pleasant to sometimes syrupy all the way to hostile.
    — A number of meals have been served too cold.

    These are all areas that the service analysts can note, and with sufficient data points, the airline can better pinpoint problem areas and methods of improvement.

  3. They should have managementon random flights and not be identified to the crew. That would help identify crew issues and training problems. The rest of us have managers who will correct us.

    FAs seemed to often excel in only one area- Whining.

  4. Typical union employee responses. Attitude is a huge part of the job in a service-oriented, customer-facing role. If this job was truly about safety, then don’t bother serving any food/drinks. Don’t bother with trying to differentiate the “premium” cabin product. Until that day comes to pass, these folks need to wake up and realize they are there for much more than just “safety.”

  5. It sounds extraordinary that there is no one member of the cabin crew who is in charge and so accountable.
    The cabin managers is indeed very clear on both Easyjet and BA.
    Easyjet have the different members of the cabin crew do different announcements as part of a progression plan and I presume the cabin manager is assessing them and providing feedback.

    That may explain why the US3 service is generally so poor.
    Are Southwest, Sprint etc the same, or are they like Easyjet?

    But how can the unions “not allow it” ?
    Presumably the line of responsibility currently goes to with the Captain – I am sure they would be happy to have the line through one cabin crew manager rather than all the FAs.

  6. Agree with Adi_T’s first point above – I think this is a smart and necessary idea given the lack of accountability, but the monitors need to be unidentifiable to cabin crew and can’t interfere in any way (not sure if union rules would allow this). Monitors would need to be equally enabled to provide incentives/promotion recommendations at the same time as constructive criticism and areas for improvement. Only way to motivate employees is offer carrots at least as often as sticks.

  7. So, the crew will know when there is a service analyst present and will know where they are? I worked in a corporate restaurant that did “secret shops” and I have to say it did keep us in line to a greater extent than if we knew we weren’t occasionally and anonymously being watched. Bad “shops” were followed-up on and discipline was a real possibility. Alas, as was pointed out, in the case of AA the unions would shield employees from disciplinary action. Accountability makes for a better employee and a better company but unions aren’t interested in either.

    I’m a oneworld/AA guy that has had terrific luck with American. That said, Delta probably provides consistently better service both because of their profit sharing scheme and lack of a union that protects crap workers (pilots are union, most others are not). There is a union movement at DAL that seems to be gaining momentum. It will be interesting to see what happens to service if and when front line employees unionize.

  8. “This is creating frustration among some flight attendants, who view this as a way that management is checking up on them” . LOL F them; an FA is a semi-skilled job, IOW they have 6 weeks more “training” than the barista at starbucks, and are easily replaceable as any dimwit with a GED who can pass a drug test can do the job. So yes mgmt is checking in on them because so many are absolute shit at their jobs and need said oversight – its about time AA does something to identify the FAs that need to be given the opportunity to seek excellence elsewhere.

  9. How dare management check on employees? The fact that this is even controversial is living inside a union bubble.

    Also service on Delta is just fine … equal to or better than Lufthansa, KLM, AF, or other full service carriers in Europe, South America, etc. Obviously not on par with Singapore in terms of consistency/polish, but employees are nearly universally happy and well-meaning. Still… expecting a 45 year old black lady from Atlanta to act like a 23 year “Singapore Girl” is just not realistic culturally. The former is actually more comfortable for me, personally.

  10. Seems like an odd concept. They would be better off hiring someone to do mystery shopping of the flights to then analyze the service instead of having the person announce themselves to the crew. It’s a typical practice across any service industry ( I know serveral other airlines do it). Seems that would be a better way to go.

  11. “We are here primarily for your safety.” That statement sets the tone for the service culture (or lack thereof) and agenda of American carriers. Customer service has already taken a back seat even before the flight leaves the ground.

  12. Lucky writes: “At the end of the day if American wants to improve their corporate culture, having crews feel like they’re being watched (without any sort of potential for punishment) isn’t the solution.”

    Maybe American is less interested in “corporate culture”/ fuzzy warm union feelings in this case, and more interested in making sure that they maintain a product that people want to buy. Absolutely there should be observations, rewards, and punishments. Wacky that some people are taking management to task for daring to, um, manage their stafff.

    Please get some service analysts analyzing the crochety gate staff and wildly inconsistent FA performance on AA183 LAX-PVG. Some staff on this particular route are absolutely delightful and many are not. Last flight was pure comedy gold: a Jewish person being told by a flight attendant that the proferred ham sandwich was “turkey”. The passenger later inquired about the type of meat in another meal. The eternally unsmiling FA grumpily said “I don’t know” and walked away, never to be asked or bothered again. Imagine the adventures the whole flight might have had if it wasn’t preference, but a food allergy. Good times!

  13. Perhaps the goal of the service analyst is being misunderstood. From the way I read the article, it sounds like the service analyst will be assisting with the service aspect of the flight. As such, would it not make sense that the service analyst will primarily assist with premium cabin customers and top tier elites so that they experience a superior level of service. Perhaps American is testing this out and in the long run is planning to roll this out to all of their flights and will not include them as part of the crew. This could be a way to provide better service since they aren’t technically part of the crew and thus won’t be union employees and thus will be accountable for their performance.

  14. How is this a bad thing? EVERY successful organization has accountability for their teams. This is a way (one I support) of calling bs on team members who don’t pull their share. Corporate culture CAN help inprove this, but as we all know, there are some (many) that just won’t, and this is a way to hold them accountable to service standards.

  15. This sums up my experience in virtaully every enterprise I have known:

    “While 50% of the crew are decent, and another 25% excellent, it’s only those final 25% that are the source of heartburn who should be concerned.”

    And I will add that the 50% in the middle can be influenced both postively and negatively byt he people around them. So, on a flight with 8 FA’s, the average break-down will be 2, 4, 2 and this flight will be OK, not great, not bad.
    But the number are not always so even, a change of one bad for good or visa-versa will make a big difference.
    so, on any given flight, it’s 3, 4, 1, then those top 3, help to motivate positively the middle 4 to strive for better service and this will be an outstanding flight.

    On the other hand, the exact opposite happens, on the 1, 4, 3 flight. The 3 low performers put pressure on the middle group not to make them look bad and the middle group will be influenced and this will be a bad flight experience. How else can you explain being given a cold meal?

    I have seen this pattern manifest itself in the military, as well as in our schools.

  16. I have a solution: introduce pursers! It’ll give cabin crew a possibility to get a promotion; throw in some dollars and extra training and let people apply on merit. These can then act as team leaders and motivators, and any service related issues can be addressed on the spot. Of course it won’t solve all the problems, but it’ll help.

  17. Agreed with Justin. Lucky, you are just wrong on this.

    Go into any store — those in which the management (e.g. the owner) is present and keeping an eye tend to work better.

    This actually makes sense, and you reflexively dismiss it as “a lack of vision”.

  18. An organization is tested when something goes wrong – not when things go OK. IMO, American’s efforts don’t go far enough. ‘Secret shoppers’ should testing failure modes as well.

    Presumably, FA’s undergo training to deal with various problems. How effectively do they handle them? Performance failures can be systemic in addition to an individual’s compliance. If not tested, how does the employer know the extent of their employee training investment’s effectiveness? And where the problems like?

  19. As Lucky has been threatening to leave American … this Executive Platinum actually did. Status matched to Alaska last month … and just had a delightful first transcon round trip on AS. Upgraded both ways. Delightful FAs who liked their jobs. Two course dinner better than anything on AA in any cabin. Back to the gate to offload unruly passengers (handled very well) and still arrived early both ways. Communication about inop equipment was great … unlike AA captain a week ago who scared passengers with a poorly worded maintenance delay announcement. Good app and website. Generous aspects to the frequent flyer program. Free wifi for T-Mobile customers on GoGo, which AA is ditching. AA has lots to learn.

  20. As others have stated above, quality control monitors need to be anonymous. McDonald’s used to have ‘secret shoppers’ that regularly visited stores within an area to test in-store/lobby and drive-through wait times and whether staff followed procedures such as welcome greeting, repeat-back of order, suggestive sell (i.e. the famous “Would you like fries with that?”), etc. Employees who successfully executed on all service standards received a “Super Streak” pin as a small badge of honor. Maybe AA could something similar.

  21. I’d say to have Quality Analysts instead to observe the whole picture, including service, except they would scream bloody murder over the new 737’s being so horrible.

  22. Love the concepts! Yep AAccountability is important as well as the the ability to attract customers. But for instance even on Eagle flights we don’t get ‘Singapore’ quality attendants.

  23. This is so frustrating to watch these morons who should know how to manage with the pay they are getting. It’s like watching pro wrestling and the good guy always does stupid things. This is utterly simple. Have random people who fly unannounced to the crew who then report on what they saw. Then the crew never knows if one of those people is on the plane at that time and has to be on its toes all the time. That’s what I thought they were doing when I read the headline but of course that would actually work so I guess they don’t want to do that.

  24. There’s nothing controversial IMHO. The problem is the unions. Look at airlines that don’t have FA unions and how much happier and better at service their FAs are!

  25. Let AA die quietly. Service staff are responsible for this Union travesty. Because there is no accountability within the Union umbrella, Admin has no power to make changes. This translates into contempt within FA ranks for any unrest from the passengers. And since these flight staff are certain that no consequences endanger their positions or pensions AA is helpless to fend off this present chokehold.
    Unless some proud members within the Union FA’s stand up and demand new standards of service be imposed on all flight crews,
    There is only one direction left for this corporate group. It is sad to see such a previously well organized group destroy itself from within.
    Thousands of loyal passengers sit on the sidelines wondering at the outcome, hopeful but unsure how this airline will find a way to survive and again prosper….to the delight of those of us who have always loved this “Home Town” airline.

  26. So much drama from Lcky. Wish you had some real perspective. Most of this seems to be based on your threats to leave AA — perhaps trying to get that Concierge Key which they denied you?

  27. FA are employees of AA. I think it’s FANTASTIC. That AA is leaning toward actually making sure that FA’s do their job. If they don’t like it – too bad. That’s why they call it a job.

  28. Just got home from flying on AA. Not my favorite domestic carrier, I like Alaska and Southwest a lot better. AA seemed about the same as Delta to me. My favorite was my international flight on All Nippon Airlines. That was service.

  29. Great initiative. I have always trained my employees the concept of checks and balances, check and recheck, and service assurance.

    Now, customer orientation and service assurance may be an alien concept to US airlines, more in particular AA but it is never too late to start rectification of past mistakes.

    Btw I am surprised that unions exist in US. Quite a socialist concept. Also something that I find a strange fit with the tipping culture. So employees have rights from being unionized and expect to be tipped as well? Mymymymy where else does such a walhalla exist? Not even in France.

  30. AlanD is correct. Lose the unions, release the FAs who are decades past their sell-by date and maybe, just maybe, our legacies could compete with Johnny Foreigner. It all starts with the looney U’s though. A lot of FAs want them gone too.

  31. AA should implement a mystery shop program that evaluates flight attendant service. Right now their mystery shop program (along with United) only evaluates if the flight attendant makes the credit card announcement properly… (The instructions explicitly mention to not evaluate the service of the flight attendant…).Southwest, as far as I’m aware, is the only US carrier to have a mystery shop program that evaluates flight attendant service. Keeps the flight attendants in line and it seems to work with Southwest. They consistently have better flight attendant service.

  32. If its obvious that American flight crews provide inconsistent and general uncompetitive service then why are the airlines prevented from establishing a management role, and monitoring and training/disciplining the staff. After all every American firm that does anything else, understands that work isn’t a democracy, and that non-performers get identified and “attended to”, while good performers are included in rewards/recognition/promotion incentives.
    All those above that are not in favour of this, have seemingly never had to pay employees out of their own pockets, or worked anywhere except in an unrepresentative “bubble”

  33. How dare they try to align, ensure and enforce service quality across their fleet. What a shocking concept this is to American FAs, and other US-based carriers. *eyeroll*

    This brings me back to that this TV interview I saw featuring a cabin service expert who declared western-culture origin carriers would never match the level of service of…. for instance, Asian carriers. Culturally, FAs are ok to lower themselves physically when talking to a premium passenger (as an example) where this would be met with immense opposition by unions in the U.S. I think it’s time we just give up now and expect the subpar experience on US carriers. It’s such a waste of time expecting more to be honest, because I think this is more of a cultural problem in the air.

  34. “Btw I am surprised that unions exist in US. Quite a socialist concept.”

    Because for decades prior to the National Labor Relations Act in the 1930’s, labor-management relations were unregulated, unpredictable, and frequently violent. Union members and management-hired armed security fought shooting wars. Google the Battle of Blair Mountain if you don’t believe me, or watch “Matewan.” The NLRA was a compromise solution – litigate rather than shoot it out.

  35. And what’s so extraordinary about that? I agree with the comments who say it should be a random, unannounced inspection so the crew will not know. Hotels and restaurants typically have third-party inspectors hired to check on service levels as it makes or breaks a 4- or 5-star rating. Michelin or Gault Millau do the same, all unrecognized by the staff. Airline employees should be subject to those inspections as well. Only the bad employees have to fear them!

  36. I work as a flight attendant. We have random performance evaluations and incognito ones, as well. The results of either could be punitive in nature. I personally have no issue with this, as I always do my job to the best of my ability. I also have not heard a single person complain about the process (which makes me wonder if there’s more to this AA story than we know).

    However, the evaluations actually do not seem to affect employee behavior. Those who like their job and do it well do so pretty consistently regardless, and the same seems to hold true in reverse. People are who they are, and the ones who can’t maintain standards *usually* get weeded out, so to speak, at least where I work.

    The difference with a company like Southwest, since others have mentioned them, is that they have truly made service a part of their culture. They actively recruit people who fit the mold of what they are looking for, and they treat their employees as well as they do their customers. Their corporate culture is entirely different from other airlines’, and that does not happen by accident.

    Some airlines hire on merit, some on personality, and some seem to hire based on other, unknown criteria.

    I am passionate about my work. I love my job, and I love our passengers. It gives me great joy to represent my airline well. But after interviewing with American four or five times in person (I’ve lost count), I have yet to figure out what it is they’re looking for (though, apparently, it’s not me, lol). Their interview process is drastically different from Southwest’s, and I sincerely wonder if they need to reevaluate it – not because I can’t get on (I’ve long since given up) but because I’ve seen them overlook many, many, many excellent candidates, often in lieu of younger and/or subjectively prettier ones. The interview itself is very impersonal and seems to have absolutely nothing to do with the job (based more on how quickly you can answer something, rather than the content of your answers). It’s complete 180 from Southwest’s (and no, I didn’t get on with them, either, lol). IMHO, if AA is genuinely concerned about service, they should start at the beginning. Just my $0.02.

  37. Wouldn’t it be nice if the passengers showed some respect to the f/a”s as well. It goes both ways. Kindness,just saying hello, how are you when you board and proper manners, like thank you, as well as listening to the rules instead of thinking all rules apply except for me…Yes. they’re are some bad apples as with any company. If you only knew how AA is treating their f/a’s you might have a little more compassion…Bottom line, treat others the way you want to be treated. And yes, I’m a AA flight attendant…Safe Travels !!!

  38. A friend of mine does a sort of mystery shopper / training role with another airline. He is trained crew not management. He spends the flight observing what the crew does and then provides feedback at the end of the flight – good and bad – on a collective basis rather than to individuals so he’ll say things like ‘remember to remove the plastic cover off the meal’ rather than point out that Janice or John didn’t do it.

    He does this especially when a new service is being rolled out more as a follow up on the training.

    But as part of the role he also takes feedback to management on what the cabin crew think could be changed or improved.

    But to suggest that an employer checking that its employees are or aren’t following company policies and to rectify errors as a bad thing is ridiculous.

  39. TWA had the best reputation for the best pilots and FA’S. I flew during the 80’s and 90’s. Carl Icahn bouy it and dismantled it and made a profit from the best airline in the USA. They should study what they did right.

  40. Most important thing here: AA has recognised that there is an issue in consistency / quality of service.

    Second most important thing: they want to do something about it.

    Maybe this is the solution; maybe it isn’t. But the recognition of the problem and desire to address it is a huge step.

  41. I have worked the last 31+ years as a F/A with AA. I have no problem if there is a “ghost rider” on my flight to observe the crew. There are service procedures that should be followed and adhered to, so if you’re doing your job, following procedure and providing the type of service that is expected of you, than you have nothing to worry about. To be effective though, the “ghost rider” must be completely unknown to the crew. It does no good to let the crew know you’re observing them because everyone will be on their best behavior. Every AA flight as a Purser and it’s essential that a thorough crew briefing is performed before boarding begins.
    The Purser is responsible for serving the passengers seated up front while the remaining crew is to serve the passengers in the main cabin. I take pride in doing my job and think the majority of the others do too. Of course there are those F/A’s who do not do their jobs and place extra pressure on the rest of us.
    As a commuter I see first hand the lack of consistency from flight to flight. This is only one of many issues that we are facing right now.
    I agree with many of the comments that were left and know we can do better. Change starts with the top and we need management to do their part and offer support and boost our morale. It’s imperative that we all do what we can to improve our service otherwise I fear we may not have a job at all.

  42. I don’t get it. The last point about “creating frustration” because management “is checking up on them.” Isn’t that just about universally the job of management? The workforce in my place of employment is largely unionized (I am not), and management is always checking everybody’s performance – announced, unannounced, internal and external surveys, regular performance evaluations, you name it. It is normal and part of the job. If you don’t want to be supervised, go into business for yourself.

  43. I’m not sure why this is an issue. I know other carriers could use mystery flyers to evaluate the service.

  44. Service is bad on US airlines because the industry has no culture of service. All of it is marketing. Even in premium cabins, the service is more often than not, mediocre at best. If the industry would find a way to pay its front line employees a bit better and not treat them as a commodity, then perhaps the standards of service might improve. The other factor here are unions. They exist to protect collective bargaining. They also destroy work culture.

  45. As per my comment above I think it is entirely reasonable to be checking up on FAs and removing bad ones but I do think unions have a place. There needs to be a balance between companies and labor and without unions or laws that protect the workforce companies abuse employees.

    Unfortunately neither side (unions nor companies) can be assumed to act with common sense. I don’t think a union should always support the employee when it is clear the employee is not any good at the job, and I certainly wouldn’t support companies that abuse employees (forcing them to work while injured, unsafe conditions, being extremely sick, lack of bathroom breaks, etc.).

    Sadly there are too many people out there that have no common sense.

  46. KLM and Air France have quality observers, usually frequent flier elite members They report observations from everything from check in, lounges , boarding , in flight and arrivals via a special app

    European airlines have a chief purser /cabin services director who is responsible for the entire cabin crew This is in addition to a senior crew responsible for each cabin ( economy, business etc)

    Service in the US used to be top notch. Sadly it’s not always the case now

  47. AA is the worst all around. The customer service is terrible and all they do is try to blow smoke. They have no regards for anything but lining their pockets. I hate them and would gladly pay more to avoid flying with them.

  48. As an Executive Platinum flyer I see inconsistencies all the time in how the cabin is serviced.

    Being at the front of the bus a lot, there are even more inconsistencies.

    It’s simple things. Pre-flight drinks? Maybe, maybe not.

    After the seat belt sign is off, the FA stay in their seats for another 10-15 minutes.

    FA starts a huge food prep before taking drink and snack orders. Maybe 30-40 minutes into the flight the beverage order is addressed.

    FA’s disappearing in First and Business to sit in the back of the plane.

  49. I don’t understand how this is controversial to them. I expect my boss, manager, etc to audit my work, check on performance goals, etc. And I do the same for people working under me. I don’t just hand the keys and say “do your thing” and never check on them. I mean, wth.

  50. I’ll keep it short and sweet. Who watches the watchers?
    is there a team watching what management is doing?
    remember.. the front line employees are only doing what the cubicle dwellers tell them.
    those pencil pushers at HQ are making all the decisions .

  51. United should do the same, but on a unannounced to the crew, specifically on international economy seats. Their variation of service is incredible and completely subpart with their competition.

  52. This is no different from mystery shoppers hired by retailers and brands to assess customer service, and just as non-controversial.

  53. About bloody time they start doing something because the service in the AA premium cabins is crap. I’ve not ever found a redeeming factor with their service.

  54. Is there really something in the union contracts that allows them to prevent a management employee from being on a flight and evaluating in-flight performance? Management staffing and duties should not be a subject a union can bargain over.

    “According to a memo to a crew that recently had one of these service analysts on a flight, he introduced himself and said he would be on the flight “performing a work along” to help with “everything from boarding to service.” Now that is puzzling and should get unions upset. Unless the Railway Labor Act has some exemption, management employees should not perform bargaining unit work unless it is de minimis.

  55. Normally you link your old post rather than just copy and paste it to use as filler. Come on man. Standards are slipping on this blog

  56. Generally American Flag carriers suck. Delta is the least sucky. Time for them to be broken up so there are 8 airlines.

  57. @ Ben — This is an actual update to the prior post, using the same URL, etc. Given how many comments were made on the original post, and how many times it was shared, that seems better than a second post that the same people might not see, no?

  58. @John Absolutely. This looks like a great way to enforce credit card flogging and avoiding plane-side issues that could threaten Dougie’s precious on-time metric. Union contracts prevent AA at getting at the bad-apple FAs, of which there are quite a few.

    @Justin Re SQ, if I wanted to be served by a robotic doll, I’d buy one in the Sharper Image catalogue. Just like IRL, sincerity not included.

  59. While I like the idea of a service analyst (although it must be anonymous and blind to have real meaning, as I said earlier), I’m surprised by the frequent vitriol against flight attendants on this blog. Just like every profession there are good apples, excellent ones, and rotten ones.

    It’s easy for us to be demanding as we sit on our computers, but flight attendants are among the most underpaid of all mid-level professions, and that’s not even counting the wear and tear on their bodies through jet-lag and constant changes in altitude.
    I’m not a flight attendant for the record, and I don’t think anyone should be entitled to keep their job if they’re performing lousily, but I think the VAST majority are just doing their jobs in a less than optimally pleasant environment. My two cents.

  60. This is not the least bit controversial.

    American acquired TWA back in the mid-1990s.

    I was a Quality Assurance Inspector for TWA for 9 months in 1992 (an extra 3 months longer than usual).

    I flew from Honolulu to Stockholm and everywhere in-between evaluating all aspects of their service.

  61. P.S. If a union member flight attendant was written up by a Quality Assurance Inspector, there was hell to pay. The union membership was definitely not a safety net in these cases.

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