If This Doesn’t Tell You Everything You Need to Know About American Airlines Right Now

American Airlines went to court to get an injunction against their mechanics union, claiming they were engaged in an illegal action to sabotage the performance of the airline. But, Scott McCartney reports, two of the airline’s lawyers failed to show up for a meeting with mechanics’ representatives — because their flight was cancelled.

A federal judge ordered lawyers for American Airlines and its mechanics union to meet in person over an alleged work slowdown, but American’s top two attorneys didn’t show.

Their flights got canceled.

American cancelled 4% of their mainline flights in June compared to 0.6% at United. While weather has been a factor at American’s largest hub (DFW stands for ‘Doesn’t Function Wet’), United too says “June had the highest number of weather and air-traffic control delays” the airline has ever seen. And coding everything to weather costs passengers real money. (Flying American Airlines is a good reason to make sure you’re paying for tickets on a credit card that offers trip delay coverage.)

Here are American’s internal stats for departures exactly on time (D0) and turning an aircraft around – from arrival to departure – in the allotted time (T0) for the first six weeks of the summer schedule, with eight to go.

It’s worth noting that American Airlines does not audit the reasons coded to a delay for accuracy. And with twice as many planes out of service each day compared to normal operations there’s little margin at the airline for error. Some of that is attributable to mechanics, to be sure, but it also seems to me to be the result of failing to do sufficient preventive maintenance before the summer season.

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. Airlines have been held to a “truth in pricing” standard. How are hotels any different?

  2. @Bob Sanders — airlines are completely different. Most federal regulation of business at the federal level is by the Federal Trade Commission. You can sue most businesses in state court, including on the basis of covenants of good faith and fair dealing. The Airline Deregulation Act didn’t ‘deregulate’ the airlines at all (it just stopped having the federal government decide who flies where and what they can charge). It created a separate regulatory regime just for airlines under the Department of Transportation.

    Airlines are regulated by DOT, and more stringently than other businesses, in part because of federal preemption. Individual states cannot regulate airlines, so the federal government regulates them more.

  3. Are heads ever going to roll in the board room at AA?

    Honestly, their failure to try to right this ship is indicative that their big investors must be in the tank with the executive team!

  4. Glad I migrated to UA. While they have their own share of issues, I’ve had far fewer problems that at American. Moreover, my experience as 1K has been better than AA ExPlat.

  5. It would have been more interesting if you stated why AA lawyers flight was cancelled. Was it do to weather or the mechanics dispute? 62% average on time arrival for 6 weeks! It been said many times before how does Parker keep his job?

  6. The way they treat the customers they are involving in this mess is even worse than those statistics!

  7. Doug Parker screwed over Pittsburgh several times over as he not only abandoned the airport that was built to his specs, he transferred every last service, so that local employees were welcome to leave the area or lose their jobs. He runs an airline that, on an alleged non-stop flight from Pgh to NY, cancelled the flight after a four hour delay (too bad if passengers didn’t have a place to stay overnight) and thought a reasonable resolution was to require passengers to fly to Charlotte the following evening, stay there overnight, and then fly to NY the third day!. Pony express anyone?

  8. DFW had two absolutely massive, unpredicted storms in May/June with one serving up >60mph winds. That probably had a lot to do with it.

  9. As I mentioned last week, the “mechanics thing” is old news. McCartney has made the same mistake you made — he’s focused on the operation from BEFORE the Judge issued the TRO against the mechanics. AA’s mechanical cancellations have been steadily decreasing since then, and now seem to run less than 1 percent.

    What hasn’t changed as much is the weather. Absolutely horrific at DFW on many days, including today. Like DFW has 13% cancelled flights today and all the other hubs are at zero. If you want to be a “thought leader,” shouldn’t you at least look at the easily available public stats?

  10. What’s your source in saying that “American Airlines does not audit the reasons coded to a delay for accuracy?”

  11. @oops – Doug Parker, confirmed by other executives, at an employee Q&A session last month explaining that they don’t want work groups pitted against each other so they don’t investigate the accuracy of delay codes or correct them.

    @chopsticks – I think you’re mistaken, given the aircraft out of service stats posted every day by the airline. 24 international flagship aircraft out of service right now alone.

  12. @hana blume – Doug Parker, for all his faults, had nothing to do with how the old US treated Pittsburgh. The current terminal was designed and built from 1987-1992 to Edwin Colodny’s specifications, when USAir was a regional airline flying DC9s to Utica and Toledo. Doug was still an analyst minion then. The hub was shut down in 2002-03, when Doug was still at America West.

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