It’s no secret that recent American Airlines changes weren’t well received by the frequent travel community. Some folks in the blogsphere and elsewhere were upset about American’s lack of notice while others were just plain upset they made the changes.
I was lucky enough to run into Suzanne Rubin at a conference this week and talk with her for a few minutes. Suzanne approached me and she was the one to bring up the recent changes and how they were handled.
Suzanne was open with me that she didn’t expect the reaction that AAdvantage received for the changes, but was very open about owning that feedback from the membership. I’ve known Suzanne since not long before she took over the AAdvantage program from Maya Leibman and always known her to be a straight shooter.
But this was a refreshing reminder of why I still respect the folks who run AAdvantage. I can tell that Suzanne internalizes the reaction from the community and wants to maintain a strong relationship with her members. I know also that she and the rest of the management team at American Airlines will continue to make decisions that they feel are best for their business.
Sometimes those will be to the benefit of their customers; other times they will be the right financial decision for the company but may hurt their relationship with that some group of folks. We discussed the recent improvements in visibility of systemwide upgrades and some of the decisions they had to make internally to deliver those improvements to their customers.
I left our conversation feeling that Suzanne is ideally equipped to handle what comes ahead and that we’re likely to get more heightened communication on changes going forward.
Some will say that my bias to American Airlines is clouding my judgment, but I think Suzanne’s track record on communication stands on it’s own. I’m still cautious about the leadership in other areas of American, due mostly to the thought patterns exhibited by Doug and Scott Kirby during their days at US Airways.
In short, the AAdvantage folks are still there, still listening, and still improving.