For the last few years American Airlines has focused like a laser on “D0” — departing exactly on time.
They believe that the number one thing they can do to make sure flights arrive on time is to make sure they depart on time. Departures are more controllable than arrivals. After all government completely controls the air space between airports.
When American’s President Scott Kirby became the President of United, D0 became United’s focus as well.
A focus on D0 without properly staffing gates means that gate agents have to dump other priorities. Customer service disappears. Proper processing of upgrades disappears. Flights board early, so customers show up at boarding time to find a flight mostly full and no overhead bin space. There are major customer service costs to “D0.”
Those customer service costs don’t show up as clearly on a spreadsheet as D0 does. So they’re ignored.
During United’s 3rd quarter earnings call they shared this chart:
So here’s the thing. American has been giving gate agents an excuse – a mandate even – to let everything else slide in the name of D0. And it’s not even helping D0. They take the customer service hit and aren’t even doing as good a job pushing flights back exactly on time as United or Delta. Smart.
By the way, British airline Jet2 takes D0 to its logical conclusion.