Six or eight months ago, American Airlines rolled out iSolve, a tablet-based software wherein flight attendants could offer on the spot compensation (usually in award miles) for complaining passengers. Mind you, these are not complaints due to uncontrollable circumstances (force majeure, acts of God, etc.), as those are (rightfully) not due further compensation.
No, these are airline-caused, exacerbated or ignored problems, usually with the aircraft itself.
In other words, “airline screws up, airline compensates passengers.” What a unique freakin’ concept.
Except it worked. Passenger complaints were resolved by the flight attendants on the spot. Sorta like the restaurant screwing up your pork chop and giving you free dessert. Everyone wins.
American has now told flight attendants to ease up on the happy passenger bit. It seems they are paying out more miles than anticipated. So, let’s dissect that a bit:
- “Paying more miles than anticipated.” Really? Exactly how many miles did you anticipate paying out for passenger complaints caused by the airline itself? Did you chat with flight attendants, maybe asking how many such complaints they received in a typical 90-minute flight? What data did you use to come up with the far-exceeded miles compensation quota? I’m guessing they either (a) pulled it directly outta their ass (the PDOMA method), or (b) had no clue what was going to happen, as they believed the complaints to be infrequent.
- This should have opened the suits’ eyes. Do they have any idea–any idea at all–how many complaints are fielded by flight attendants during each flight? Who else can a passenger complain to? Banging on the cockpit door to speak to the Captain will likely end poorly, so there’s no one left in flight except those flight attendants. Now, you give them a tool to make their –and their passengers–lives a small bit more bearable, and you’re sayin “wait a minute, we don’t want it to be that bearable!?”
- Don ‘t forget, these are problems fully and completely managed by American. The in flight power outlets. Seat back recline mechanisms, internet problems, food outtages, and cabin temperature. All are 100% controllable by the airline, and are problems that passengers bring up as complaints to flighht attendants, which flight attendants can no longer resolve quickly and peacefully.
I’m trying not to use the F-word, but this situation makes it damned hard.
So, I’ll say this: American execs– get your heads out of your collective asses, and act like a leader of some sort. You’re about to hit a rough patch in airline business… are you certain this is the best possible face to show right now? Did you think we wouldn’t hear about it? Are you so freakin’ tone-deaf that you simply don’t believe these are real problems that matter to travelers?
More fodder for my common refrain: cell carriers, cable companies and airlines… all view customers as fungible resources. You’ll leave one provider, go to another. I leave American, someone else joins American from United.
Just stop it. Pretend customers matter, act like a leader, and stick to decisions that make life better for both your employees and your customers.
This ain’t rocket surgery.