7 Simple Steps Would Make American Airlines Great Again

American Airlines has the best business class seat, overall and on average, of any US airline. Delta’s suite with doors is confining and they fly too many Boeing 767s with narrow seats. United doesn’t have enough planes with Polaris business class seats yet, and those seats aren’t as good as American’s or Delta’s new product. Yet American doesn’t get credit for this. They’ve also done a lot of get high speed internet spread out across their domestic fleet.

In contrast Emirates has a fairly poor business class, with angled seats still across most of their Boeing 777 fleet, and they have more Boeing 777s than Airbus A380s. Business class on the A380 isn’t a great seat, though it is flat with direct aisle access. Yet the airline enjoys a top notch reputation, in part because of a first class that creates a halo effect over the brand (the A380 first class cabin is dense, but has showers) and in part because of strict service standards.

American’s CEO Doug Parker thinks Emirates offers showers because they’re subsidized, but Emirates has earned more money from actually flying planes than American has over the last several years and Emirates gives business class passengers less than American does. Yet Emirates has the better reputation.

The challenge American faces is that it suffers from a reverse halo effect and lack of service standards.

  • Coach has gotten worse. Most passengers experience the airline in coach. Eliminating seat back video screens from the domestic standard product, pushing less padded seats closer together, has created a poor reputation for the airline. How can their business class be good?

  • Employees are unhappy, though relatively little is asked of flight attendants inflight. The operation suffers too from unhappy mechanics who seem to be slowing down the airline. American needs to put contracts to bed but that alone doesn’t come close to solving the problem. And their number one service priority is ensuring flight attendants don’t have more work to do yet have reduced staffing on many international flights.

    Great employees need to feel they’re fairly compensated but that’s just table stakes. When fellow employees shirk responsibilities without consequence that creates a toxic environment, in which there’s little point in investing substantial effort in the job. Employees need to like and respect their colleagues. They also need to feel like they are on a mission that’s greater than themselves and more than a paycheck. The airline though lacks a mission statement and their product sends mixed messages to employees about whether they are supposed to be offering a premium product or a low cost carrier product.

Customers used to put up with a lot from the airline because they were valued as loyal customers. The AAdvantage program was the differentiator for the airline. The program was great for award travel, great for upgrades, and rewarding across the board. That changed three years ago. American voluntarily surrendered their competitive advantage, and isn’t going to take it back.

Former airline executives Scott Kirby and Andrew Nocella overruled the AAdvantage team and decided to follow Delta’s and United’s leads directly in instituting a near-exact copy of revenue-based mileage earning. Customers earn fewer miles from flying, so the reward component doesn’t provide much reason to fly. And award availability vanished under US Airways management.

American and other airlines sell more premium seats than before, making upgrades tougher, though domestically American’s first class product has gotten worse — less legroom, less comfortable seats, worse food — making it also less worth paying for.

I’ve described American Airlines as having “greater potential to be better than it is today than any other US airline.” I think that’s correct.

Here’s how I’d approach ‘making American Airlines great again’:

  1. Compete in major markets. American has largely abandoned New York and isn’t a major player in the Bay Area (where even Delta is building a focus city in San Jose). They don’t have as many takeoff and landing slots in the New York region as Delta – US Airways management sold much of their New York LaGuardia operation to Delta – but they don’t even use what they have effectively, squatting on slot with flights like New York JFK – Baltimore. (This summer New York JFK has been undergoing runway work, and waived some slot usage requirements, so American reduced their schedule — while neither Delta nor JetBlue did the same.)

    Though it’s the largest and most premium aviation market in the country it’s also highly competitive, and tough to earn a profit flying. American’s approach has been to back off of competing, but that’s meant that the airline offers fewer flights for New Yorkers — fewer flights on which to pitch credit cards, fewer flights that are attractive for award redemption and encourage credit card spend.

    American loses money flying overall, and earns their profit entirely by selling miles to banks so it makes no sense to cut themselves off from the most lucrative credit card markets in the country. They need to maximize their New York presence and build up their presence in the Bay Area to take advantage of credit card revenue opportunities.

    American Airlines Terminal 8 New York JFK

  2. Bring back a premium domestic product. The best domestic premium product in the U.S., outside of markets with lie flat seats, has been Virgin America’s recliners with leg rests. Those are going away. Neither Delta nor United offer anything special up front. American’s standard was 40 inches between first class seats on their Boeing 737s. The new ‘Oasis’ standard reduces that to 36 inches, takes away underseat storage (despite not needing the space for seat back entertainment systems), and offers less padding.

    A premium product should feel premium. On Virgin America you could easily get up from the window seat without disturbing the person in the aisle. Restore some of the first class legroom and consider foot rests. Bring in people who pay attention to the details in meal service, vary the meals more often than rotating them once a quarter and sticking with the same food for a year, pay attention to presentation.

    Part of the premium domestic product is more than first class, it’s extra legroom coach too. American’s Oasis configuration squeezes legroom there too. The airline needs more Main Cabin Extra seats and those seats should have 34 inches of pitch.

    American Airlines Oasis Domestic First Class

  3. Add cheap seat back screens. American says 95% of customers bring their own devices, and that may be true if you count cell phones. Many families don’t have one tablet per person, either. Too many aircraft still lack power – and will for the next couple of years – to charge phones. And customers are rarely told they have to download the airline’s app to view streaming entertainment.

    A seat back screen makes an older aircraft look new. Customers like and use seat back entertainment (I do not). It used to cost $1 million per plane to install, but streaming to tablets installed in seat backs cuts that by two-thirds. This alone will go a long way to changing perception of the airline.

    Customers Think Lack of Seat Back Screens Mean Planes are Old, Product is Cheap

  4. Offer award space on their own flights. I often see premium cross country New York JFK – Los Angeles or San Francisco flights with mostly empty cabins in first class, a cabin that’s become a nonrev travel perk. Yet they don’t release seats. There are almost never business class saver awards to Europe or Asia on American Airlines flights including flights that ultimately accommodate employee travel in premium cabins.

    American’s joint venture partner British Airways offers a minimum number of first and business class award seats on their flights when loading schedules, and their parent company is the most profitable airline group in Europe. American should keep award charts, and offer saver award space on flights where they don’t expect to sell all of their premium seats. That’s not ‘giving away the seats’ — on the contrary the airline’s entire profit comes from selling miles to banks, so customers need to stay motivated to earn those miles or the whole game collapses.

  5. Develop a customer-focused mission statement and use it in decision-making and employee communications. Make clear that the focus of airline decisions should be on adding value to the customer in order to earn loyalty and a revenue premium.

    Too often the airline seems to care more about its operation than customers (indeed, passengers almost feel like ‘the thing that gets in the way of running the airline). Departing on time is important – not as important as arriving on time – but the airline needs to get the little things right in order to make it possible. Ensure gates are sufficiently staffed so upgrades and standbys are processed on time, ensure flights are catered. Don’t just yell at employees to push planes back exactly on time no matter what, whether everything has been done or is in place.

    And communicate clearly with customers. Update delays as early as possible, board when you say you are going to and update expectations so that customers can remain productive in the club they’re paying to access instead of hovering around a gate with no aircraft.

    For Halloween CEO Doug Parker was Boy George lip syncing Karma Chameleon with a giant chameleon running around in the background (he says ‘this is how we’re making culture a competitive advantage’)

  6. Shed the bottom 1% of their workforce the way that unionized Southwest does. The huge dispute with their mechanics is actually a great opportunity. The Transportation Workers Union acknowledges to me that they have shirkers among their members. The TWU and IAM do not want changes to ‘scope’ – the ability for American to outsource jobs as current members retire. Scope changes aren’t necessary if the airline can reduce the cost of in-sourced labor, or get greater productivity for the price.

    Delta makes a profit on its maintenance operation. With greater work rule efficiencies, American can market their maintenance services to other airlines. They can maintain a more reliable operation without increasing head count. But that only works with work rules and a willingness to shed unproductive staff and rewarding greater productivity.

  7. Improve the operation keep crews with planes, so that when an aircraft is delayed that doesn’t cascade into delaying more than one downline flight. Increase block times — that’s expensive in the short run, but right now American just needs to stop the spinning. Focus on getting each step along the process right so that planes are able to push back on time and that there’s a gate and staff to meet each aircraft so it arrives on time, too. In other words, D0 isn’t the only metric that matters (Delta by the way focuses on A0).

Right now high revenue customers prefer the product that Delta offers, despite the airline’s deficiencies. Customers are willing to spend more to fly Delta, and American has a premium problem. Offering a clear mandate to employees to focus on customers, providing a quality reliable product, and focusing on customer loyalty could change that.

None of these steps are outside of American’s reach. None of them are unprecedented. Improve American’s operation, improve the domestic premium product, offer reasonable award availability to sustain the driver of the airline’s profitability and the carrier could be not just the largest in the U.S. but also the best.

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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  1. 8. Fire Doug Parker. The airline culture starts at the top, and Parker has created a toxic culture. He needs to be replaced with someone like Herb Kelleher, Gordon Bethune, Richard Anderson, etc who prioritizes on product presentation and a collaborative culture where employees take pride in their jobs and are empowered to take care of customers.

  2. Right on. As to paying attention to presentation up front, in the 90s I regularly flew AA in first internationally and the FAs would tape color photos of the proper dinner presentation in the galley. Ocassional check riders would sit anonymously in first and debrief the crew on their performance after landing. That, of course, was the Crandall era.

  3. Most or all of these steps seem sensible, Gary, but I fear you’re spitting into the wind. One simple step that might put AA back on a customer-friendly yet still profitable path would be a change in the leadership (assuming the new leadership had the right orientation). But that seems nowhere on the horizon.

    A second, more indirect step that could improve AA and other U.S. airlines would be the U.S. government revamping laws and regulations to allow for more competition. As I believe you’ve advocated in the past, this could include allowing foreign ownership of majority stakes in U.S. carriers.

    I’d argue that it should also include the introduction or stronger enforcement of pro-competition, anti-consolidation rules so as to weaken the current oligopoly in the industry. But it’s hard to see that doing much in the short run since the mergers that brought about the oligopoly won’t be undone.

  4. Agree 100%. The lack of focus on the customer experience has driven the whole industry downhill, Between increasingly cramped space, lack of seat-back entertainment, etc. etcl, for the last year, we’ve been opting to drive vs. fly for regional trips. (US West Coast), and using other carriers for international. (EVA, Delta, others)

  5. I know you focus on first/business class issues because that’s where your interest lies. But the majority of passengers are flying economy, and you barely touched on that. The dehumanizing of economy is doing more to affect airlines’ reputations now than premium products.

  6. Agree with most of the folks that have replied! AA is a poor airline as compared to ten, twenty years ago. A new Board of Directors, with a customer service bias along with employee participation, as well as a profit plan for the future is desperately needed!
    Maybe entice Robert Crandall to come out of retirement for a period of time to fill the Chairman of the Board leadership!
    As a customer of AA, I have experienced the very downgraded customer service, especially with connections being forced through the PHX hub!

  7. We recently completely rdtrip first/business class travel from California via ORD to Athens Greece. We gave ourselves four hour layover in Chicago to make sure we wouldn’t miss our international flight. Same on return coming into Chicago Terminal 5 and connecting with a two hour connection to LAX. All four flights had a gate delay either on the outbound or the inbound. We had an avionics problem on AA160 and on AA161 returning to ORD we sat on the taxiway for 50 minutes for a gate, after a 10 hour flight. UGH!. Chicago only has 28 gates for 35 flights and must have the same problem in Los Angeles where we also waited for our gate to clear. We were delighted on the service, the comfort on the flight, the business seats and even the food and beverage service. Our flight attendant service was excellent. But, because every flight was delayed because of infrastructure issues we probably will not fly AA by choice. It’s just too stressful in making connections.

  8. Great article. I agree with the changes to the passenger experience; the new NEOs and the addition of power and hi speed internet are a massive to older planes are a huge plus verses DL and UA. But the spacing of seats, lose a row in the 737 (not sure about the refit A321’s yet they are similar to DL footprint so time will tell). Been noticing more attention to EXP in coach (my wife is one) as well as the people they travel with (that would be me :)). I hope that the rumors are true and Oasis is dead and they are re-thinking the 737 cabins as well as other amenities.

    I don’t agree with San Fran being a focus; they should continue to grow PHX (note that PHX is the fastest growing area in the country next to DFW) and I believe flights will come back to JFK / LGA soon. I would make LAX and JFK destination hubs and jumping point to Europe’s and Asian’s largest cities; keep PHL as the European hub, MIA the Central and South American hub/destination point, ORD Midwest hub and secondary European hub, PHX western hub/destination point and DFW the world hub. DCA and LGA are focus cities for the east and Midwest. If the need something else on the west coast, I would target Portland or just buy Alaska. They are smart to limit exposure where 2 or 3 other airlines claim to have hubs and just build up the fortress hubs where they dominate and keep LAX and JFK destination hubs.

    Hope to see more changes and focus coming. . . I feel that it is.

  9. Totally agree with your assessment and get well plan. But unfortunately, I don’t see AA doing any of it.

    I used to fly AA exclusively because they took care of me and provided a premium service. Over the last few years they have un-impowered their people, ruining the customer experience. The revamping of the 737 Max was the final straw – seats without padding, bathrooms you can’t turn around in, and NO leg room. Jeez!

    That’s why i fly United now. They genuinely seem to care and are improving their product every day.

    Bye-bye AA. Don’t see you righting the ship in my lifetime. You’re a dying beast. RIP.

  10. Regarding the Phoenix comment, I left the area in 2011 and geez the area, especially Scottsdale is growing, not sure it is sustainable but wow. Tons of money, just sold around 100 Ritz carlton residences for over $1M each. From a selfish perspective I think it is too much.

    Regarding AA well my flying has gone to delta despite requiring stop after years of using AA exclusively.

  11. You should sent these these article to stock holders they are the only ones who can solve AA mass ,please do it !!!!!!

  12. #1 should have been fire Doug Parker and Isom.

    When they go fully dynamic with AAdvantage they will have slowly ruined the best part of this airline. Death by a thousand cuts to this airline has been a sad thing to witness as a 5 year running EXP.

    I will requalify this year because I had a lots of early year flights but I haven’t had a paid flight on AA in two months. There’s large groups of CKs & EPs who are fed up with the airline. These customers revenue will not be made up and they will continue to lose money flying while the operation goes to hell.

  13. @Gary: “American loses money flying overall, and earns their profit entirely by selling miles to banks ”
    Then the solution is much simpler than you suggest — stop flying completely and just sell miles to banks.

    That extrapolation of your logic shows how economically illiterate your statement is.

  14. ……………………………….MAGA………………………………
    Make American (airlines) Great Again

  15. American does international long haul premium very well with a very high quality hard product and decent enough service. This is where AA actually makes money from flying.

    All the problems with AA won’t go away because domestically they are losing money. Nothing is going to magically improve because seat prices are kept in line with the competition and there is no money to make improvements. AA is too big for its own good. I understand the concept of feeder routes and many aa members who fly domestically for business but American might be better spinning off into two or three airlines and achieve regional efficiency in each one.

    Some say AA should placate the unions but this is not Europe. The performance of AA personnel is already subpar and paying them more money for doing a lousy job isn’t going to provide any benefit to AA. The work slowdowns and interference of normal operations is one reason I hate unions. It’s always the worst of the worst benefiting from unions (including union management) and not the best performers.

  16. I agree with your points. I’ve been flying AA since the US merger and all my flights are F and J and my EQM is over 225,000 miles annually. I’m generally annoyed that in spite of my flying patterns, high spend, and EXP status I never receive a targeted offer for anything and I’m constantly bombarded with bargain economy fare ads via email to places I never travel. For once, I’d like to get a targeted offer for something that would be useful. It’s almost insulting that I’m never thrown a bone given my loyalty. This year, after making EXP a few months ago, I started booking with DL just to test the waters and see if they want to offer anything for my loyalty. AA needs to take care of elite flyers better.

  17. Wow..great article..

    Its amazing that customers/critics and employees can relate and agree with most if not all of your ideas,
    Unfortunately, Senior management is in way over their heads and cant seem to improve the dysfunctional operation.
    They have had more than enough time to fix the problems. Morale is in the gutter, not that we dont care , we do, We love our airline and work doubly hard every day with problems we face that really shouldn’t be our problems…However it pains us greatly to see our customers inconvenienced and frustrated.
    We are on their side !!!!
    . We are worried Parker, Isom and his senior management team LLC mentality is heading this one proud premium airline straight into the ground for another bankruptcy which seems to be only process they are successful at..

    It’s time for the AA BOARD of Directors and the investors to pressure Parker and Isom to the curb with their golden parachutes..So we can return AA to highly respected brand Senior Management have lost the confidence of the investment community and most importantly , American Airlines employees worldwide.

    Again, Thank you for your article and for caring enough for the company .
    Flight crew
    Concerned and Senior

  18. Seriously pondering status matching to DL. I’m sick and tired of Dougie and his minions completely trashing AA and AAdvantage. The nonsense with the new married-segment BS with awards is beyond absurd. For example look at OKC-AZO on 7/22. Segments are available individually as saver awards, but OKC-ORD-AZO is only available as an aanytime award, not saver. If this isn’t the most clear cut example of how far AA goes out of their way to screw over their loyal customers, I don’t know what is. They have truly lost the plot.

  19. @L3 – No, the point I am making is that flying alone doesn’t earn them money (CASM > PRASM + Cargo) and so loyalty revenue drives profit, if you didn’t take my statements out of context here you’d see the point is that sale of points to banks is well compensated and thus the award seats aren’t being ‘given away free’.

  20. What a co-incidence. I just flew in the American Airlines Oasis Domestic First Class seats pictured in your photo.
    No, wait. I meant to say Singapore’s Premium Economy seat.
    Sorry, my mistake, Hard to tell them apart.

  21. In eight of the eleven major markets (considering Boston and Phoenix tied for 10th), AA has a good to great presence. With a modern fleet and fixed assets and slots deployed in NY, LA, ORD, DFW, DCA, MIA, PHL and PHX, how can you not make money? The O&D are there. They have ceded only IAH, ATL and BOS. So they must have problems deploying their assets in a customer-friendly and profitable manner.

  22. Or the board could fire top management and undo every change they made since the merger. You know how one of your giant pet peeves is loyalty programs not giving notice of program changes. If American undid every change they made since the merger, would you care if they didn’t provide notice of doing so? That’s how you can tell every single move they’ve made since the merger made their airline worse.

  23. You should have started on the bottom: the only truly sensible advice you give is for AA to improve their operation. It’s not terrible, but it should be better. I see no logical reason why they can’t achieve DL levels of reliability. That should be their goal.

    The rest of your ideas would either increase cost over revenue or are essentially impractical.

  24. Hello everyone!
    Send all this type of articles to AAG investors, as well as your concerns and thoughts. You may also USE TWITTER, as a platform to express your concerns and thoughts.
    AA has been on a down hill since the merger with US Airways and and Parker became CEO.
    Parker focuses only in competing against Spirit, Frontier and maybe Jet blue, and is turning AA into a low cost carrier type of airline, instead of competing against Delta and United and try to turn back AA into the great legacy carrier it used to be.

    USE TWITTER to express your concerns and thoughts as well as send emails to investors.

  25. @chopstick there are cuts American has made that is hurting their ability to earn premium revenue, so yes they would need to spend some money to improve their product in some cases to match delta

  26. You know the route map is not gonna improve. Doug Parker has been very vocal that he only wants fortress hubs. It’s pretty near impossible to have a competitive network if you deliberately avoid competition.

    Things are not gonna change until the stock price forces the issue. Until then, nothing you listed’s gonna improve, but it may get worse.

    Which leads to: why the heck do you continue to sweat the problems at AA? Leave already. I finally moved on and let my last 60k AA miles expire. It’d take a lot more than 60k AA miles to get me back.

  27. You clearly have no idea what’s actually going on with the labor department. Don’t speak for us when you don’t even take the time to actually reach out and ask us about what’s truly going on. You make some logical points, one that the employees have been telling them for a very long time. However, it is cascaded by the fact you feel outsourcing and decimating employees benefits and scope is the real benefit. We’re very productive, but you’re not out here, so in the meantime just keep looking out the window and have some appreciation towards the very workforce you just insulted.

  28. @Jordan – just because you disagree with me doesn’t mean I have no idea what’s actually going on and you’re 100% incorrect that I haven’t spoken to employees about this and for that matter union leadershio.

  29. Please tell me your Twitter conversation in which you’ve had isn’t your idea of actual researching and development. Come on down to the union hall and have face to face conversations with the actual people you’re talking about getting rid of. I’d like to see you say exactly what you just said in your safe space in the blog to the actual people who had to give back concessions, take furloughs, lost their pensions, and had their healthcare decimated. I wanna see you say that to their faces. As you said, 10, 20 years ago American was great. Well guess what, nothing has changed except management, that’s it. The employees are still here, and we’re in a full on waged war against us over pure greed. Instead you could align with us to make this airline great again, or you could continue to pretend to care while writing a “blog” I invite you to come on down to the hall. Our meetings are the last Wednesday and Thursday of every month, come on down.

  30. @Jordan – “Please tell me your Twitter conversation in which you’ve had isn’t your idea of actual researching and development. ” I have had actual conversations with your union leadership, over several hours and not on twitter.

  31. While that’s all fine via phone, I also invited you to come on down into the actual meetings and getting involved with actual employees. Hear their stories, pick their brains, tell them what you said about labor on your blog, but you completely side stepped that. The invitation is still extended. Feel free to get ahold of our leadership to attend a meeting.

  32. Doug Parker managed to turn American into the low-cost mess US Airways was. It’s sad. I was a premium client, even made it to Concierge Key at one point. Now I only fly American when there is no other viable alternative.

  33. @Jordan: When you had a dispute with management about a decade ago I was on an AA flight across the Atlantic. The cabin staff did their job in what can be described, most sympathetically, as a perfunctory fashion. Nothing more than was required by some rules. No charm or friendliness. No gratitude to customers or respect to them as other human beings.

    Its hard to sympathize with you when you take out your disputes with management on the paying public. We know it isn’t necessary because we see the motivated staff at other airlines. It is something wrong with you that accounts for this, not some toss in management. I will never forget how AA treated me after I spent my hard-earned money on one of your tickets and will always choose an alternative when it is available.

  34. I’ve been with the airline since the America West days…and two megers later I’ve seen the decline in emoyee care which has led to passenger service declination. When Ed Beauvais founded HP(America West) the philosophy was one of being the Hometown Airline where we were one big happy family, which worked very well. Everyone looked out for each other which ensured the passengers were well taken care of. After the second bankruptcy, Bill Frankie took the helm and his mandate was ” If we are to survive, we need to become a corporate airline and loose the Hometown attitude, Enter Doug Parker, who took over from Bill, sure he turned the airline around with newer synergies but the airline was still a low cost carrier. The first merger with US Air was one that that concentrated on operational need, D-0 A-0 was all that mattered, emoyee morale began to shift into the negative realm, no one felt appreciated and the quality of service suffered. And now the merger with American Airlines, a once proud legacy carrier, who all the others strived to be like, has been reduced to the largest low cost carrier in the world while trying to maintain it’s elite status, and the level of passenger service shows it, and employee morale is once again in declination.
    Doug is smart enough to know that you can’t have it both ways, but it seems he’s lost sight of the simple rule of business, it takes money to make money. So rather than put much needed funding into employee and fleet items, he would rather build a new hotel at the main corporate campus in DFW and build maintaince facilities out of country where labor is less expensive, not as qualified, and not strictly monitored or regulated.

  35. Very good points! Except the whole top tree of executives needs to go.
    They have systematically eliminated any American Airlines thinking management to place with their flawed way of thinking.

    The subject of labor is where things get messy.
    For one their business plan is flawed, which in turn always always falls on the bottom of dribble down economics of today. Not only do the employees get the scraps, but also the blame in the big picture. American or U.S. Air is what we really are the problem here. The leadership is in no way leading. Their example just recently purchasing stocks “in a good faith of the airline” as we have seen produced rewards for executives in an insider trading scam! How does any company only concerned about filling their pockets expect loyal and happy employees?

    This elitist thinking that it’s ok to continue to lower wages of people by contracting out the very employees that helped to build these businesses is a failed plan in its self!
    I just wonder what kind of economy we will have when people in this country have all been replaced or contracted out in every sector but the top? Well if anyone doesn’t know here is a hint. Indentured slaves! The Indians always out number the Chiefs, the Indians are the ones who turn the wheel. That wheel the way the world of business wants to run is with less spokes making it weaker and weaker. When it collapses guess who gets busted…..hint not the ones riding in it, they just grab their pile of gold and walk away from it….
    It’s time to stop the real welfare scam! The corporate one!
    American needs leadership!

  36. AA employee who agrees 100%.
    We have told the USAIR mnmgt team everything you state would make American Great.

  37. American was my favorite airline for both domestic and international travel from 1990 until 2012. And, believe it or not, my second favorite airline for domestic travel during that period was US Airways. I had been flying them since they were Piedmont Airlines. The decline began almost immediately following the AA-US merger. Both my legacy American flights and my legacy US Airways flights saw a noticeable decline in service. I quickly switched to United for international and to Jet Blue for domestic. I still have to fly American to see one of my daughters, and it is usually a painful experience. Another daughter has recently moved to Atlanta, so I will probably fly Delta to visit her. I just booked a European trip on AA with my remaining frequent flyer miles, so I could use them up. My AAdvantage account balance dropped below 40,000 miles for the first time in nearly 30 years.

  38. Take a look at the average 4 day trip an AA Flight Attendant has to work. 2-4 flights a day with 10-11 hours rest each day. Rest includes time spent getting to hotel and back to airport the next day. On the third flight of day 3 it is sometimes hard to smile at the man asking for his 4th scotch & water on a 2 hour flight. We are exhausted. With all of it.

  39. Take a look at the average 4 day trip an AA Flight Attendant has to work. 2-4 flights a day with 10-11 hours rest each day. Rest includes time spent getting to hotel and back to airport the next day. On the third flight of day 3 it is sometimes hard to smile at the man asking for his 4th scotch & water on a 2 hour flight. We are exhausted. With all of it.

  40. What ever happened to the Management Philosophy of: The Customer is King! ? Oh, well now it’s the America Worst/ U S Scareways mentality. Pack’em in! We need that space for more Seats! Awards Program! Ha! That’s for Our Management Team Only! Lavatories take up valuable Revenue Space! Ergonomics? We are now using Japanese Ergonomic Measurements! Don’t like it? Tough! WE decided, so this is the Way it’s going to be! Seriously, I see AA spending money like drunken prostitutes. The Decision making process around here defies reason. It’s NOT COMPLICATED to Provide Good, On-Time Service. Most of the Headaches that I see Our Customers Experiencing are the result of Poor Decisions that start at the Curb. This Airline Spends WAAY to much time On intangibles. Most of the Employees are just so sick of Mismanagement that their attitudes are Shot! This is supposed to be an AIRLINE, not an ATM for Upper management to scheme and plot Lavish Compensation for themselves. GM suffered the same malaise during the 80s, 90s, and 2000s because they forgot about building Great Cars, but they took great Care of the Management PiggyBank! You can’t have” Business Moron Crooks Running an Airline! You Need Airline Aviation People with Real People Skills. In 1954 C.R.Smith flew Hundreds of thousands of Miles on the Airline. He got a First-Hand Knowledge of Exactly what the Customers Experienced. Now, The Corporate Elite Fly On Private Jets.(We’re not going to fly with those smelly people and their screaming Kids!) They don’t Care what your going through and even less about stealing your Miles. The Whole Culture is Wrong! Only a Change Back To American Airlines thinking( The Customer Comes First) will save this Airline. That can only be achieved by Cleaning House down at Centerport( and get rid of that Shadow Headquarters at PHX)!

  41. I consider myself as one of AA’s bread and butter business customers. I have chosen AA as my primary airline for over 45 years. Although I am not Exec Plat, I achieved lifetime Platinum status over 20 years ago, and I carry over 200,000 award miles. I am annoyed and frustrated with the decline in AA customer service and operational efficiency. No problem with the AA employees – I treat them with respect, and they do the same for me. But leg space, seat type, entertainment, baggage rules, on time departures, and connection times have all declined. Operationally, AA is so bad that they often blame their customers for delays with announcements like “our departure will be late if you don’t check your bags now” or “if you don’t sit down quicker, you will cause others to miss their connections”. The number of first class upgrades that I receive with stickers/miles has dropped by over 90%. I am over 6 feet tall, and the newer seat configurations are much more uncomfortable. On a recent AA flight I checked in an hour before boarding time and was told “your bag will not get on the plane”. I will gladly pay more for excellent customer service, but that is just not available from AA anymore for a frequent but not constant business traveler. I have been loyal to AA, but now AA is not loyal to me. I have begun looking first to Delta and Southwest.

  42. I am a 13 year EXP and currently have CK but right now I am planning how to use my 1M miles this year so I can shop my status in 2020 – I have already reached EXP again but the increasing number of intensified 737 that I fly was the deal breaker for me. The “business” class in this aircraft is insulting and that is their strategy for the future. They plan on flying this aircraft on long haul routes not just 2 hour jumps. While the 777-300 business class is great the rest are mediocre or in the case of 787-800 just awful. So United here I come – I doubt anyone at AA cares or will notice this 5 million miler depart and that says it all

  43. Some good points, some not feasible. TWU-IAM association is a mess. Have you seen the video from LGA town hall? Some union “leader” who has never worked a day at AA kept saying how the union will bloody their noses and how they’ve given so much (yet this guy hasn’t given anything). AA insources more than any other airline and it’s not even close. Every employee has been given job protection where they currently are located, in latest proposal, and they will not lose their jobs. And having ability to outsource doesn’t mean they will. It’s having the ability to selectively outsource a minimal number of jobs to be competitive if it’s needed. The union leadership though – they lose future dues. That’s why the union is protecting scope. It’s not because employees are worried about their grandchildren having jobs there. The offer on the table is better than any other union contract in the industry. Period.

    As for senior leadership, I think a lot of people here are right. Doug and Robert are not fit to run this company. It’s not a lack of effort or will. I know they both do really care about their employees. But they don’t know how to run a company this big. Doug says the industry has changed – he’s right – but then why does he still treat it like a small airline cutting costs at every possible corner, results be damned.

    The two officers running revenue management are awful. The RM department and culture are a disaster. Roll out BE for “select seats”, then sell it to everyone. How is it possible to have full planes, with fuel prices down, and not make money? And how are the RM leaders not held accountable when they don’t have the revenue???? There is no accountability when people fail. There are leaders where whole departments are flocking away due to incompetence and they just turn the other way. I’ve been at AA a very long time. I’ve seen the Crandall days. He’s not the answer (and it’s a different world). Sure hope they figure it out fast.

  44. Last year, I flew AA first class LAX – LHR. The product was mediocre. Sure was glad I used miles rather than cash to pay for this trip. American definitely needs new leadership and vision.

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