American Airlines sends out surveys to about 12% of passengers after their flights, and they get a 10% response rate — or about 90,000 surveys back each month. That way they can compare their performance month-over-month.
To compare their performance against other airlines they use metrics from JD Power and Airs@t.
According to American’s presentation of JD Power data, passengers like flight crews of Southwest, JetBlue, and Alaska best. Delta slots in behind Alaska. And American and United bring up the bottom. Those results have been consist year after year.
According to American’s analysis there are (2) things that drive satisfation scores in premium cabins.
- Flight attendant serves a predeparture beverage
- Flight attendant addresses passenger by name
If flight attendants don’t do either one, scores really plummet.
Shockingly American says customers report receiving predeparture beverages 86% of the time today. My own experience it’s less than 20%. And American wouldn’t be sending this out to flight attendants if they believed that number.
A couple of years ago American was reminding flight attendants about the importance of predeparture beverages.
But they were talking out of both sides of their mouth, reminding flight attendants that on-time departures are more important, at American D0 is always an excuse for not completing customer service tasks even including upgrades.
And while there are many fantastic crew members at American, I’ve been inundated with comments from flight attendants who hate the company and hate their customers. They claim:
- They aren’t being paid until the door closes, so why should they do ‘extra’ work before then?
- ‘Entitled’ customers don’t deserve it. They pay for the seat and get the seat, flight attendants are there for safety.
- They’re often mis-catered and that eats up time they could have served beverages.
There are great crew, and crew who will do the opposite of whatever management asks them to do. And there’s really no process in place to change that.
And ultimately I think the focus on predeparture beverages and customer recognition by name as action steps miss the point. Great crews do things things, poor crews do not. So whether or not these happens is a proxy for a whole lot of other things they do, and overall attitude throughout the flight.