American Airlines is in an endless war with its employees, so much so that they instructed how they can apologize while Delta gives its employees the job. A story about two airlines.
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American Airlines distributes excuse instructions
This week, American Airlines management gave instructions on how to better apologize to customers for their poor performance. Yes really. A reader sent me the exact phrase last week, and I wanted to let it marinate before posting it (then others did later.) Why? Because I could not decide if the airline showed effort for once, or rather, an example of the carrier further anchored against its employees.
The instructions were long, so I will boil it down to the basics: [1
• A detailed account of the situation
• Recognition of the injury or damage done because it shows that you validate their feelings and the customer starts to feel that you understand the situation
• Taking responsibility without making excuses for the situation is important as the excuse is about them and how they feel
• Offering some form of recovery when possible ”
Although I disagree with the method, I disagree with the message. "We know that we deliver a minor product to our customers, so it's your duty to apologize better."
Lock for a quick moment that the mechanics were wrong in their demands, even the flight attendants – basically US management solely to the right of the airline – does the approach make sense to still task the front line staff with making a better excuse? Wouldn't it be easier at this point to just rely on employee demands?
Delta Gives Raises
Delta announced that they will raise 4% for employees this year and that profit sharing will be better than ever. Personally, I'm not surprised that Delta has less conflict with its employee bases. They run a better airline that makes their employees more proud of the company, they have fewer complaints and no tense labor negotiations that go on (literally) for years past the deadline.
I have previously stated that American unions can do them an injustice, and the case for working without one at Delta becomes clearer with the day.
Monkey See, Monkey Do … Sometimes
American Airlines is happy to follow Delta's leadership in almost every other aspect. For their sins, United is no better. Delta switches to qualifying dollars for employees, American follows. Delta sets activity levels, and the American is almost following. Delta starts investing in strategic partners with equity, American follows. Basic economics, premium economics, the list goes on and on, but is not a perfect carbon copy.
Why is it so difficult for American Airlines to connect the dots that customers prefer better operations, that employees become satisfied and produce results in keeping customers happy too?
I don't think I could buy Doug Parker and company a clue at this time. The evidence is clear that happier employees (which are a result of many factors including wages) are better employees and customers appreciate it. Money is not the only way to thank employees, but regardless of the love of their job, they eventually go to work for money – it seems like an appropriate incentive. Americans should immediately settle the disputes and move toward stimulating their employees. At least, if they lost money on flight operations, it would come from a morally defensible position.
What do you think? Are the two airlines so different that no comparisons can be made? Is American Approach to Work Correctionable?