One Mile at a Time writes about filling out post-flight surveys from airlines. You don’t usually get anything for it, but the results of these surveys are surprisingly important.
For instance American’s new Boeing 737 MAX has less legroom in coach, no seat back video, and less recline. But the airline’s CEO Doug Parker cites that it does just as well in ‘likelihood to recommend’ scores as their other aircraft.
I think that says bad things about their other aircraft (I’ve long called legacy US Airways planes a ‘basket of deplorables’) and I think the scores were boosted artificially because they had been giving satellite internet free on these planes. However they interpreted the likelihood to recommend scores as meaning lack of seat back entertainment is fine (and frankly for me it is), less legroom is fine, and smaller lavatories are fine.
American Airlines Boeing 737 MAX Economy
As Lucky observed, when he took the survey after a flight in domestic first class he was asked about:
- whether he was served a predeparture beverage
- whether the flight attendant smiled, made eye contact, and referred to him by name
- whether he was thanked for flying American
American has two priorities for its flight attendants in premium cabins: serve predeparture beverages and address customers by name. And they still don’t do it consistently. Here’s the internal communication on the subject:
If flight attendants don’t do either one, scores really plummet.
Ultimately I think the focus on predeparture beverages and customer recognition by name as action steps miss the point. Great crews do these things, poor crews do not. So whether or not these happen is a proxy for a whole lot of other things about the crew, and overall attitude throughout the flight.
Like Lucky I’ve started filling these surveys out too. I recently filled one out with American as well, it was fairly negative about a legacy US Airways A319 flight from Washington National to Miami that was full and I couldn’t even get a Main Cabin Extra seat. They have an A319 scheduled hub-to-hub headed to South Florida on a Thursday afternoon in Winter.
They don’t have enough premium seats to sell (whether first or just extra legroom). As an Executive Platinum member who gave the flight very low scores I got a voicemail from the airline and an email after my survey. The form email I received didn’t address my issue – insufficient premium and extra legroom seats on certain aircraft. But they gave me 7500 miles.
Thank you for taking the time to complete our survey. My name is Victoria and I will be happy to address your concerns about your recent experience. As an AAdvantage® Ex-Platinum Member, you are among our most valued customers, so it is particularly troubling to hear that you were disappointed by our service.
On behalf of American Airlines, please accept my apology for your recent inconvenience. I’ve been trying to reach you to discuss your recent experience, but haven’t been able to connect with you by phone. I don’t want to keep you waiting on a response so I’m reaching out to you by email.
After reading your comments, we are very disappointed to hear that we let you down on so many levels. I know and understand your comfort is important and I’m deeply sorry to hear you were not able to take advantage of our Main Cabin Extra seats for your recent travel. I understand how upsetting this entire experience has been and I sincerely apologize.
As a gesture of goodwill and to encourage your future business, I have added 7,500 bonus miles to your AAdvantage® account. This adjustment will be reflected in your account very soon.
Mr. Leff, we value your long-standing loyalty and support as a Ex-Platinum Member and are eager to continue the relationship we have enjoyed over the years. Please be assured we are all working hard to provide the high quality service you have every right to expect when traveling on American.
I replied to the email explaining my concern again and telling them I was not looking for compensation just to get across my message. They sent me a different not super responsive form email about my ‘downgrade’ (I was not downgraded). And they gave me a partial refund of $150.
Thank you for writing back to us.
We very much appreciate the time you took to send us your suggestion about how we can improve our overall service. Your feedback certainly has merit and it clearly reflects the thought that went into it. It is always helpful for us to consider our service from our customers’ perspective. We try to be responsive to our customers and carefully analyze trend information based upon their reactions. In this way we can identify those service elements that are most appealing as well as improve those that produce a negative response. Our aim is to suit the needs and wishes of the majority of our customers.
As we determine the appropriate action in this regard, your preferences will be considered. Thank you for giving us the benefit of your observations.
Furthermore, In light of the details you provided, I’ve sent a request to our refunds department to review and consider your downgrade. Once the adjustment is processed, a credit will be issued to the original form of payment you used when purchasing the ticket.
I gave up, took the miles and cash.