Fern Fernandez Out at American Airlines

In January Hector Adler got bumped up to Senior Vice President at American… in advance of retirement. I wrote at the time,

American’s uniform disaster VP Hector Adler gets bumped up to Senior VP. He retires next year. He ‘retired’ from Northwest Airlines as Vice President of Inflight Services in 2005 as well. Smart move, blame the uniforms flight attendants say are making them sick on the guy headed out the door.

Now Fernand Fernandez, Vice President of Marketing, is leaving.


Fern Fernandez Introducing New Meals for American Airlines Domestic Service, June 2015

Like Adler, Fern Fernandez was also closely associated with the airline’s uniforms, which thousands of flight attendants and now hundreds of pilots have reported make them sick although the airline says that testing with the manufacturer reveals no problems. Pilots now want a recall of the uniforms.

The airline says Fern’s departure “is not related to our uniforms and that his contributions to the company have been meaningful and valuable.” Without a doubt he has made his contributions, and I’ve always much liked him as well.

However he was also deeply involved in last year’s ‘greatest flyers’ ad campaign which was roundly mocked because it seemed to send the message that if you’re a great flyer, you should put up with whatever inconveniences or poor product the airline decides to throw at you.

Fern came over to American from US Airways where he oversaw marketing and loyalty. Russ Hinckley reported up to him at Dividend Miles, which is a reversal of sorts since Fern worked for Russ at Northwest. (After the merger with American, Russ left to launch Copa ConnectMiles.)

Kurt Stache, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Loyalty and a former President of AAdvantage, says they’re looking for a replacement “who will continue to help us remain focused on engaging our internal and external customers.” Whatever that means.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. Not naming a replacement suggests that this move was unplanned and it doesn’t reflect well on AA’s succession planning.

  2. Internal and external customers? WTF?

    The phenomenon where you just get to say words and they can be (a) meaningless, or (b) bulls8it, or (c) both at the same time, is annoying.

  3. This is no surprise. AA is in complete turmoil. It’s been one service disaster after another. They haven’t decided if they want to be a mainline carrier or be just like Spirit. My recent flight from LAX to HK in FC on a 777-300 was nothing to write home about. The food was just horrendous. Someone at AA needs to start flying Emirates, Singapore or Cathay so they get a better idea of what good service is like. They need to stop copying Delta & Spirit.

  4. ok, I’m piling on here, but I am lifetime platinum and live 15 miles from DFW, but in the last year I have flown SW, Virgin America, Jet Blue, and Iberia. In all cases I had AA alternatives. Yet despite having the perks that come with plat and having Adm Club privileges, they don’t get my business unless they can meet or beat on price, because the experience and ontime performance suck, and the gobs of miles I hold have been devalued by about 2/3. I know I’m a dope for not having burned miles earlier, but you’ll have to take my word that I didn’t have the time to use them. Still I hold a huge grudge. P.S. everytime one of their pilot thanks me for my business I want to slap them and tell them what a bunch of overpaid, whining ingrates they are.

  5. Fern will be missed. During her tenure American became the premiere airline globally. Her focus on only the best food quality and outstanding customer service has made American what it is today. She was a leader in creating value for the AAdvantage program so booking mileage saver awards for international destinations was a snap. We wish her all the best.

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