My Interview With American Airlines Senior VP Kurt Stache

Just over a week ago I had the chance to participate in the retirement of the American Airlines MD-80 at a celebration in Roswell, New Mexico.  Taxiing past the rows of retired airplanes, we arrived at a hangar where we got to hear stories from team members on the history of the Mad Dog as well as crawl on some MD-80s ourselves. When I got invited to the event, I asked American Airlines if they could make time with an executive to talk about the MD-80 retirement and what the future looked like for American’s fleet.  Kurt Stache, Senior Vice President of Marketing, Loyalty & Sales at American Airlines, was nice enough to make some time in a very loud airplane hangar to answer a few questions: Hope you enjoyed the interview!

Don’t forget to check out the NowBoarding Podcast– with a NEW show format! Tune in for a recap of the week’s latest news, deals and top posts on BoardingArea! This week’s episode is Plane Sabotage and a Trick to See More Amex Offers, co-hosted by Jon Nickel-D’Andreafrom No Mas Coach.

 

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9 Comments

  1. I will agree with him about the Flagship Lounge, but investment in in flight entertainment with the removal of all screens to actually watch? Investment in business class with the removal of rolls, pre-portioned meals in business class which have presentation quality less than that of McDonals? Removing bottles of wine in business class?

    He sounds sincere but has he flown one of their products lately? Has he tried a Oasis torture tubes? Ok so customers can watch ‘live tv’ on their phones, but seriously? TV on a phone? This is to be proud of? Internet capabilities are the only real benefit that AA has brought in ages. His sincerity does not align with the current offering which is sad as he does sound sincere. I’d suggest he actually fly the product and experience the significant inconsistency with both terms of crew, product, and performance.

    1. I do really and truly agree with the Flagship Lounge. I have visited the one in MIA many times and it is on par with the Centurion and maybe even a bit better. It’s on par with really awesome lounges around the world. Even the base Admirals club is quite nice now. If only their actual product – airplanes were even half as nice.

      1. Some people feel that way as well, and I get that. But I think past my own needs of the family who does not have an iPad for each child to watch. Sorry but watching hours of tv on a phone you have to hold in your hand is not a comforting experience. The lack of power on older planes still to this day makes this even more useless. That is when the system works which is certainly not all of the time. So many times I have personally seen where the “stream to your phone” does not function. Not all systems work instantly as well. On gogo flights, you must be well above 10,000 feet before even getting the option for it to attempt the entertainment option. I have taken hundreds of flights out of MIA and have had the system work maybe once or twice.

        A coworker of mine took a flight from SFO to CLT and he sat there for hours with nothing to do or see. If it would have been on DL he could have watched nice content. No he does not have an iPad. And there is not enough space to use a laptop, let alone no power to keep it going transcon. There are lower cost options AA could use to bring back a more modern and fresh appearance and better experience for their customers. But upper management is choosing not to. DL is leading here and their numbers show it.

        I’ve had long delays sitting on the plane where people were actually quite calm as nearly everyone was watching a movie or tv on the ground.

        As for myself I load up my own iPad with content and watch that generally. But if there is a screen present and some good movies to watch, of course I will be happy to enjoy the experience.

  2. You’re being very kind, as is your wont. American really does have a toxic culture. From the top down, they really don’t care about the customer at all. There are still some people that care and try, but it’s not the norm anymore. As to Kurt Stache, I wouldn’t take his job for a million dollars a year. Being the head of loyalty for American goes way beyond a thankless job: you have the toxic culture, labor troubles, a CEO who not only doesn’t care about the customer but actively works to make flying more unpleasant, a fleet that’s becoming less comfortable, a frequent flier program that’s gone from amazing to awful in a decade, and flight crews that are actively embarrassed by the product they’re forced to provide. Being the head of loyalty for all that takes more gumption than I’ve got.

    1. Christian, we’re not in complete agreement here. I don’t think that Doug Parker (or Scott Kirby when he was with AA) took the airline in a positive direction. However, I do think there are plenty of smart, caring folks at AA who are trying to make things better.

      1. I agree that there are many caring and genuine people at AA. Unfortunately they are constantly challenged and sometimes outnumbered by the toxic Doug Parker culture.

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