Connect and get the inside scoop on Airline Companies

Welcome to Airline Pilot Forums - Connect and get the inside scoop on Airline Companies

If this is your first visit, be sure to check out the FAQ. Join our community today and start interacting with existing members. Registration is fast, simple and absolutely free.


User Tag List

Post Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old 10-01-2012, 05:28 PM   #1  
Gets Weekends Off
Thread Starter
 
JonnyKnoxville's Avatar
 
Joined APC: Sep 2009
Posts: 610
Default Friends Don't Let Friends Fly American

Friends Don't Let Friends Fly American Airlines
By Matthew Yglesias


Don't fly American Airlines: Conflict with pilot's union is destroying American Airlines' service quality and you have to stay away.

You may have read Gary Shteyngart's endlessly amusing New York Times op-ed about a nightmare experience on American Airlines over the weekend, but he's such an entertaining writer and air travel horror stories are so common that I'm afraid some people may miss the core point. You seriously have to stop traveling on American Airlines. Seriously. If you're booking some travel somewhere, book it somewhere else. If your company has some relationship with American that gives them a strong preference for you to fly with American, still book it somewhere else.

Right at about the same time as Shteyngart's transatlantic misadventure, I myself was booked on an American route that was supposed to take me from Tulsa, Okla., to Dallas and then from Dallas to Baltimore. My plane boarded about five minutes late in Tulsa, and then the pre-takeoff stuff all seemed to be going a bit sluggishly. Then once everyone was boarded and the plane was away from the gate, the pilot announced that the backup gyroscope was broken and we wouldn't be taking off after all. The hour-plus delay was clearly going to cause me to miss my connection, but while on the runway I was able to ascertain from my iPhone that my connecting flight was also substantially delayed because the plane was getting in late, so I had some hope. My flight eventually took off about 90 minutes later than scheduled, and I hurried to try to make the connection. Unfortunately, the train inside the Dallas airport (it's American's main hub, and American is the overwhelmingly dominant carrier there) was partially broken and only running in one direction, so the train took the long way around, greatly slowing my ability to make the connection. Still, I hustled to the gate and got there two minutes before the rescheduled departure time except ... the door was already closed. The plane, however, hadn't actually left the gate, and there were about a dozen other people outside with me. Normally under those circumstances, an airline will reopen the door to avoid the expense and inconvenience of rebooking everyone, but not this time—the pilot just jetted away.

This turned out to be a bit of a blessing in disguise for me, since I was able to rebook on a flight into Reagan Washington National Airport, which is much more convenient for me than Baltimore, but passengers who were actually trying to get to Baltimore were pretty screwed. Then I shuffled over to my Washington departure gate, but that flight ended up delayed 40 minutes, and then I got home.

Mine was hardly the greatest disaster in aviation history, but it's striking that since Sept. 16 fully half of American's flights have been delayed, while just over 90 percent of non-American flights have been on schedule.

And this isn't a coincidence. The basic issue is that American Airlines filed for bankruptcy in December not primarily to restructure its debts but to restructure its contracts with the unions that represent its workers. The company successfully used the threat of court orders to induce almost all its unions to agree to givebacks, but they couldn't come to agreement with the pilots. Then on Sept. 5, American got a bankruptcy judge to throw out its pilots' contract. Thus since mid-September the pilots have been essentially sabotaging the airline. Some of that has been through elevated numbers of sick days, but the primary tool is overscrupulous maintenance requests. As an anonymous American Airlines pilot explained to the Dallas Morning News' excellent aviation blog that normal airline operations simply can't be done this way:

If you ran your car like American Airlines has been running for the last two weeks if your car was leaking oil on the drive, write it up. Windshield wipers streaking, write it up. Shocks squeaking, write it up. Car pulls slightly to the left, write it up. Your wife would be thrilled ... until the bill came in.
The other thing (you're) seeing is guys that used to use their knowledge of the systems to keep it limping along or reset it are no longer helping out. Most of the time the fix is to just reboot the system and seeing if it does it again. Now guys get a message or the system doesn’t preform as it should then instead of trouble shooting and seeing if it does it again they just write it up, “No Bucks, No Buck Rogers” is the saying.
Long story short, American is totally screwed. What management is discovering right now is that formal contracts can't fully specify what it is that "doing your job properly" constitutes for an airline pilot. The smooth operation of an airline requires the active cooperation of skilled pilots who are capable of judging when it does and doesn't make sense to request new parts and who conduct themselves in the spirit of wanting the airline to succeed. By having the judge throw out the pilots' contract, the airline has totally lost faith with its pilots and has no ability to run the airline properly. It's still perfectly safe, but if your goal is to get to your destination on time, you simply can't fly American. The airline is writing checks it can't cash when it tells you when your flights will be taking off and landing.
In my experience, the passengers on a Tulsa-Dallas flight are not super sympathetic to labor unions. But it's worth emphasizing that one possible resolution of American's bankruptcy is merger with US Airways—an option that US Airways has been pursuing and that American's unions say they support. The main problem with a merger as best I can tell is that if US Airways takes over, American's executives will probably lose their jobs. So the contract fight is, in part, a fight to maintain American's independence for the sake of its managers. The cost of the fight, however, is that the airline can no longer reliably deliver passengers to their destinations. So stay far, far away.
JonnyKnoxville is offline  
Old 10-02-2012, 07:24 AM   #2  
Gets Weekends Off
 
LittleBoyBlew's Avatar
 
Joined APC: Nov 2006
Position: Bigg Bird!!
Posts: 599
Default

" the pilots have been essentially sabotaging the airline."
This FOOL has NO CLUE what takes place in the "real" airline world, and yet his readers might take HIS word as gospel....
The pilot profession needs to take a pro-active role in educating the flying public!! So far the media blitz is making us the villains!!
Time to up the ante. Take advantage of the current situation to "enlighten" the flying public why we do what we do..
Come on APA, DO NOT miss this opportunity!!
LittleBoyBlew is offline  
Old 10-02-2012, 07:39 AM   #3  
Gets Weekends Off
 
Dashdog's Avatar
 
Joined APC: May 2007
Posts: 433
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by JonnyKnoxville View Post
....
The smooth operation of an airline requires the active cooperation of skilled pilots who are capable of judging when it does and doesn't make sense to request new parts and who conduct themselves in the spirit of wanting the airline to succeed. By having the judge throw out the pilots' contract, the airline has totally lost faith with its pilots and has no ability to run the airline properly. It's still perfectly safe, but if your goal is to get to your destination on time, you simply can't fly American. The airline is writing checks it can't cash when it tells you when your flights will be taking off and landing....
....
The main problem with a merger as best I can tell is that if US Airways takes over, American's executives will probably lose their jobs. So the contract fight is, in part, a fight to maintain American's independence for the sake of its managers. The cost of the fight, however, is that the airline can no longer reliably deliver passengers to their destinations. So stay far, far away.

I don't see this as an attack on the pilots, and I think it was a pretty good article, especially the two points above. He summarized pretty well what the pilots are doing, although sabotage may have been too strong of a word.
Dashdog is offline  
Old 10-02-2012, 08:13 AM   #4  
Gets Weekends Off
 
LittleBoyBlew's Avatar
 
Joined APC: Nov 2006
Position: Bigg Bird!!
Posts: 599
Default

"Thus since mid-September the pilots have been essentially sabotaging the airline. Some of that has been through elevated numbers of sick days, but the primary tool is overscrupulous maintenance requests. As an anonymous American Airlines pilot explained to the Dallas Morning News' excellent aviation blog that normal airline operations simply can't be done this way:"

This paragraph, serves to reinforce what the flying public perceives..
LittleBoyBlew is offline  
Old 10-02-2012, 08:58 AM   #5  
Gets Weekends Off
 
Groundhog's Avatar
 
Joined APC: Jun 2005
Posts: 200
Default

Quote:
My flight eventually took off about 90 minutes later than scheduled, and I hurried to try to make the connection. Unfortunately, the train inside the Dallas airport (it's American's main hub, and American is the overwhelmingly dominant carrier there) was partially broken and only running in one direction, so the train took the long way around, greatly slowing my ability to make the connection. Still, I hustled to the gate and got there two minutes before the rescheduled departure time except ... the door was already closed. The plane, however, hadn't actually left the gate, and there were about a dozen other people outside with me. Normally under those circumstances, an airline will reopen the door to avoid the expense and inconvenience of rebooking everyone, but not this time—the pilot just jetted away.
As if the pilot had any control over the boarding process. Even if the Captain had attempted to use command authority to reopen the doors to let the late pax on, the rest of the pax and the gate agents (read: the company) would have accused the Captain of a work action by causing the flight to be delayed further.

Hog
Groundhog is offline  
Old 10-02-2012, 08:05 PM   #6  
Chief Jeppesen Updater
 
FlyerJosh's Avatar
 
Joined APC: Oct 2005
Position: Executive Transport Driver
Posts: 3,047
Default

I flew AA this weekend. Both flights were late due to MX. FAon first flight commented aloud in middle of cabin, "I'm so tired of these ******* BS delays". Turns out some placards needed replaced on two tray tables in the cabin. Took 45 minutes.

Next delay the evac slide apparently "fell off the door". Delayed 40 min then took another 20 min to get off the gate AFTER door had been closed and jetbridge pushed back. (No flow either). The best part of that delay was when the crew commented about it being a "real maintenance issue that needed addressed"- over the PA.

Fight or not, WHAT the paying passengers PERCEIVE, is what has a huge impact on the long term viability of the company.

What I can tell you is that until I see some reason to change, this will be the last trip I take on AA and I'm making the recommendation we don't position crew on the airline either.

You guys deserve a fair wage, respect, and a contract/negotiations process that isn't all jacked up, but when a passenger shells out hundreds or thousands of dollars, the likewise expect that flights will arrive and operate accordingly.
FlyerJosh is offline  
Old 10-02-2012, 08:19 PM   #7  
Gets Weekends Off
 
Groundhog's Avatar
 
Joined APC: Jun 2005
Posts: 200
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by FlyerJosh View Post
I flew AA this weekend. Both flights were late due to MX. FAon first flight commented aloud in middle of cabin, "I'm so tired of these ******* BS delays". Turns out some placards needed replaced on two tray tables in the cabin. Took 45 minutes.

Next delay the evac slide apparently "fell off the door". Delayed 40 min then took another 20 min to get off the gate AFTER door had been closed and jetbridge pushed back. (No flow either). The best part of that delay was when the crew commented about it being a "real maintenance issue that needed addressed"- over the PA.

Fight or not, WHAT the paying passengers PERCEIVE, is what has a huge impact on the long term viability of the company.

What I can tell you is that until I see some reason to change, this will be the last trip I take on AA and I'm making the recommendation we don't position crew on the airline either.

You guys deserve a fair wage, respect, and a contract/negotiations process that isn't all jacked up, but when a passenger shells out hundreds or thousands of dollars, the likewise expect that flights will arrive and operate accordingly.
No doubt. I would recommend that you communicate to AMR management that they get their maintenance in order.

Hog
Groundhog is offline  
Old 10-02-2012, 08:26 PM   #8  
Chief Jeppesen Updater
 
FlyerJosh's Avatar
 
Joined APC: Oct 2005
Position: Executive Transport Driver
Posts: 3,047
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Groundhog View Post
No doubt. I would recommend that you communicate to AMR management that they get their maintenance in order.

Hog
Trust me. I'm not going to waste my time writing a letter to anybody to complain about their service, simply because it's not worth my time or effort. The majority of customers won't either:


I'm a nice customer.* All merchants know me.* I'm the one who never complains no matter what kind of service I get.

When I go to the store to buy something I don't throw my weight around.* I try to be thoughtful of the other person.* If I get a snooty clerk who gets nettled because I want to look at several things before I make up my mind, I'm as polite as can be;* I don't believe rudeness in return is the answer.

I never kick, complain, or criticize, and I wouldn't dream of making a scene as I've seen people doing in public places.* No I'm the nice customer, but I'm also the nice customer that never comes back!

That's my little revenge for being abused and taking whatever you hand out, because I know I'm not coming back.* This way doesn't immediately relieve my feelings, but in the long run it's far more satisfying than blowing my top.

In fact, a nice customer like myself, multiplied by others of my kind, can ruin a business.* And there are a lot of nice people just like me.* When we get pushed far enough, we go to another store where they appreciate nice customers.

He laughs best, they say, who laughs last!* l laugh when I see you frantically advertising to get me back, when you could have kept me in the first place with a few kind words and a smile.

Your business might be in a different town and your situation might be "different", but if your business is bad, chances are good that if you will change your attitude the word will get around and I'll change from the nice customer who never comes back to the nice customer who always comes back -- and brings his friends.

-- Anonymous
FlyerJosh is offline  
Old 10-10-2012, 11:03 AM   #9  
Gets Weekends Off
 
CaptKrunch's Avatar
 
Joined APC: Feb 2009
Position: LeftSeat PA-44
Posts: 525
Default

Sorry to say but if you just a flier why are you on a forum that caters to airline pilots?
CaptKrunch is offline  
Old 10-10-2012, 01:24 PM   #10  
Chief Jeppesen Updater
 
FlyerJosh's Avatar
 
Joined APC: Oct 2005
Position: Executive Transport Driver
Posts: 3,047
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by CaptKrunch View Post
Sorry to say but if you just a flier why are you on a forum that caters to airline pilots?
Me? Actually I'm more than "just a flier".

And although I'm no longer "directly" attached to an airline, I still visit (and occassionally post here), because I have a vest interest in what happens on the far side of the industry.
FlyerJosh is offline  
 
 
 

 
Post Reply
 



Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search


Related Topics
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Eagle TA samballs Regional 340 09-26-2012 09:23 PM
Special Eaglewire 09/12/2012 AllisonRR Regional 103 09-14-2012 04:32 AM
Delta's involvement in American? Bucking Bar American 36 08-25-2012 03:26 PM
Eagle Pilots: A Must Read 32LTangoTen Regional 0 08-19-2012 01:47 PM
Interesting perspective on PBGC! tailwheel48 American 26 02-13-2012 05:10 AM


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 04:35 PM.