It’s been over 3 years since I wrote about American’s ‘Goldilocks Problem’ boarding planes too early (before stated boarding time on boarding passes) and updating customers about delays too late.
I find that American won’t post flight delays until boarding time for an aircraft, even when those delays are blindingly obvious. And they won’t update delays until revised departure times have passed. That’s an issue because it wastes customers’ time.
If there’s no aircraft at the gate at scheduled boarding time, the plane isn’t leaving on time. It certainly isn’t boarding on time. But unless you’re watching the inbound aircraft (something you always need to do with American) you’ll leave the club lounge, stop working, and go to the gate. That’s lost productivity.
I found myself on an American Eagle flight operated by Mesa out of Dallas Fort-Worth. It wasn’t mainline, but it still illustrated the principle clearly. My flight posted a 30 minute delay, but I knew that wasn’t going to hold.
- It assumed a 14 minute turn at Dallas Fort-Worth
- And it assumed that the aircraft would make a 14 minute turn in Lubbock before that.
That’s simply not going to happen, and operations knows that. The plane spent 36 minutes on the ground in Lubbock. The Lubbock departure was scheduled for 1:45 p.m. and it continue to show a 1:45 p.m. departure even as that time came and left.
Once the plane finally got off the ground American showed that it was expected into our gate at DFW at 3:23 p.m.
My flight, through the miracle of time travel, was still showing 3:15 p.m. departure.
And when they finally updated it they planned for the miracle 7 minute turn at DFW.
We began boarding after 3:30 p.m. We were never going to depart at 3:30 p.m., the laws of physics made it impossible unless we were assigned a new tail which didn’t happen either.
American consistently fails to make providing updated (theoretically possible) flight information a priority. While an airline doesn’t want customers leaving the gate area in case the airline makes up time, and if passengers dissipate they lose the opportunity to get back on schedule, the airline insists on stringing passengers along. In so doing the reveal that their operation is much more important than their customers.
At American Airlines nothing is more important than ‘D0’ and it’s often struck me they’d be happier if they could just run their operation without any customers.
D0 means flights departing exactly on-time. American doesn’t provide the gate staff, mechanics, catering and other resources to allow for on time departures, they tell employees to depart on-time anyway. They’re willing to sacrifice most everything else for that goal. Gate agents can skip processing upgrades. Flight attendants get called in if they delay a flight for catering to bring servingware for international first class.
“People waiting on airplanes” rather than planes waiting on people is the old AirTran model. It says that customers’ time isn’t important in the quest for low fares.
In contrast an airline that puts customers at the center of everything they do, that “knows why you fly” as the old American Airlines commercial said, would respect their customers with information that lets them get work done, grab a bite, or even stay at the office a bit longer. At root what is missing is putting its customers at the center of everything they do.