How REAL Management & Managers Navigate "Rough Waters"


Aug 30, 2007
You are US Airways "Sand Castle Management & Philosophy," do you:

(a.) Manage your business, control the things you can contol?
(b.) Make changes in your game plan to accomodate the unexpected?
(c.) Just blame everyone for everything...the ATC for being overworked and inept (DP: "You should be calling your congressman"), blame your customers for not wanting to pay money for anything and/or blame your employees for being overpaid and threatening the long term health (read: investor and management PROFIT) of the airline?

Oh wait...I'm sorry....we know what US management would do...(c.)

I meant to say, "You are AA Management, What Do You Do?"

Yes, correct everyone, answers (a.) and (b.)

Those of you customers who have bolted for AA....feel good about your decision. This from an airline management team that won't sit around and complain about things they can't control.

USA Today Travel Blog

American: Improving customer service a priority

American Airlines is turning its focus to customer service -- an area in which it was plagued by storm-related operational problems. "We're going to make sure next summer is better than this summer was," David Cush, American's senior vice president of global sales, says to The Dallas Morning News (free registration). The paper writes that "although (AA) couldn't control the storms that plagued (its) operations during its busiest months, officials are working on a plan to improve their response to such events and minimize schedule disruptions."

Among changes under way or already in place: AA has added five to seven minutes to flight schedules at its busiest hubs "and is looking for better ways to identify open seats during the last flights of the night to accommodate stranded passengers," the Morning News writes. AA officials also are looking at ground operations, flight routing and scheduling to see if there are improvements that could be made, the paper reports. In addition, AA hired Mark Mitchell to fill the new position of managing director of customer experience, a move AA hopes will help push along improvements for customers.

As for AA's rough summer, Cush says tells the Morning News that he's been getting "an earful" from the airline's biggest corporate clients. "They're not satisfied with the experience that any of the airlines have delivered over the last few months," he says. Mitchell –- AA's recent hire -– says an unusually stormy summer at AA's hubs, full planes and an overwhelmed air traffic control system combined to create problems for the carrier. "You look at any one of those three –- we probably could have handled one or even two of those combined," he says. "The fact that we had all three of them on top of us, we have to figure out how to tweak the airline to get better at managing those events."

AA talks MD-80s, opts not to sell some seats to buffer against holiday flight disruptions

In addition to its story on American's efforts to refocus on customer service (see above), The Dallas Morning News (free registration) also runs a detailed Q&A with Mark Mitchell, who the paper dubs AA's "new tsar of customer service." The Q&A is in the paper's Airline Biz blog and is a good read for anyone interested in AA.

In one of Mitchell's more-interesting answers, he says AA will not sell some seats during the busy winter holiday schedule -- a move the airline apparently hopes will build in a buffer against possible service disruptions. Mitchell tells the paper's Terry Maxon that "when you look at Thanksgiving and Christmas, we're going to have higher load factors even higher on peak days. In order to give our airport people the ability to solve some customers' problems when things go wrong, we’ve blocked some seats. We are by choice not going to sell some seats in some key markets on those heavy days because we know, on average, things will go wrong around the holidays."

Another noteworthy excerpt came when the Morning News asked Mitchell if he considered AA's "fleet of older MD-80 jets a negative on customer service perceptions?" Mitchell responded: "I don't know that we've identified the MD-80 as a big negative in any respect. It's certainly not a fleet that says, boy, it's got all the extras. ... But we don't see it as a big detriment. We looked to replace the MD-80 with things like the 737s going forward with the orders we've launched. The 737 brings a lot more to the table on terms of operating efficiency, fuel as well as things like entertainment centers. But I don’t know that we see the MD-80 as a big negative."