And, then, this morning, the head of AA’s AAdvantage loyalty program sent out a note to some (or all) of the airline’s elite customers, saying the following:
At American, we always do our best to provide our customers with a smooth travel experience. You may have seen recent media reports about American’s operational challenges or even experienced a service disruption yourself. Whatever the circumstance, I am truly sorry for any inconvenience to you. I also want to let you know what’s going on and assure you that we stand ready to help.
Prior to recent issues, American has been running an extremely good operation, with reliability measures at their best levels in many years. The recent delays are due to the increase in maintenance write-ups by our pilots, many right at the time of departure. Our maintenance teams are responding appropriately to such reports, which may cause interruptions in our schedules. I know you will agree that nothing is more important than running a safe and reliable operation. Ensuring the safety of our customers is always our highest priority.
We are taking several immediate steps to improve our service during this period. We are proactively reducing the rest of our September and October schedule by approximately one to two percent. These schedule adjustments will enable us to provide our customers with more reliable service while minimizing impact to travel plans. Additionally, we are increasing staffing of maintenance, reservations and airport personnel to offer you more flexible travel options.
As always, our goal is to get you to your destination safely and on-time. Because you are a valued elite member, should you find that on your day of departure these issues will cause you to arrive more than one hour late at your final destination, all you have to do is ask and we’ll do our best to arrange an alternative. We will seek out the best available reaccommodation, whether that is on American or on another carrier — or if you prefer, we will let you cancel your reservation and receive a refund. Your needs are our primary focus.
Above all, I want to thank you for your business and your support. We do not take your loyalty for granted and are working hard on your behalf.
Suzanne L. Rubin
AAdvantage® Loyalty Program
First, let me say I think this is a great move on their part. Things have been improving for AA over the past 6 months, and I already regard them as having better customer service than their competitors. So, trying to get out in front of this (would have been better a few days ago) is smart.
I was a bit surprised, although pleased by the somewhat indirect reference to the pilots in paragraph two, essentially laying this at their feet.
I’m also really pleased to see them say that they’re proactively going to protect elite customers by allowing them to reschedule prior to delays getting that bad (after only a projected hour delay) with no penalty, even if it means finding a flight on another airline. As defined in Suzanne’s note, this is a much more forward-thinking process, and should help alleviate the worst of the frustration.
I’m biased, for sure. I was still buying AA tickets even before Suzanne’s e-mail. And, I’ll still be flying on them after.