Thursday, May 3, 2007

So, I flew American Airlines recently. As a seasoned flyer, I was ready with a lot of books, magazines, Video iPod, Water, food and inflatable pillow. I don't care about airline food and drinks anymore. Some people still do or they were in such a rush, they didn't have time to buy food and drinks.

Shortly after take-off, two flight attendants walk from the back to First Class, return moments later with two first-class food plates. When I got up to the bathroom, they were sitting in the last row, reading magazines, eating their food and taking a break. Mind you, nobody in Coach had received any drinks or food yet, and service calls were left unanswered.

Not many things can upset me about airlines anymore: JetBlue's obnoxious behavior was the last time I can recall. But this prime example of customer disservice just shows that all the flashy advertising campaigns and marketing efforts don't mean a thing, if your company culture doesn't align appropriately.

I don't envy flight attendants: They used to work in a desirable profession and now they've become vaccuum sales people. ("$2 for a bottle of water.") And I understand their frustrations: Airlines try to cut down costs as much as they can, try to squeeze every dollar out of that operation.

But, if you work in such an environment you have two choices: Get with the program or get out. Now, I understand if they want to get out. What I don't understand is when they stay (I guess it's flight privileges and benefits) and then turn on the customer in return. You don't do yourself and your company a favor. You make the situation worse for everybody.

Airlines have to take a hard look at themselves: Your flight attendants hate the company they are working for. They hate their customers. They hate what they have become. They hate what the future might bring. And these flight attendants directly reflect the brand.
We know, times were hard after 9/11 but things are picking up and everything has to change. As of now, AA is well on the road to become another TWA. Or PanAm.

P.S.: Asking every passenger if they can collect their magazines and hand them over to the flight attendants shortly before landing doesn't help either.


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