I criss crossed the U.S. a few times this week on business. Since I don’t fly professionaly anymore, that meant a seat in the back where I had to rely on the cockpit and cabin crew for the scoop on our progress, information I normally take with a grain of salt.
The entire trip was aboard American Airlines from ORD to LAX to DFW to MCO and then back to Chicago O’Hare thru St. Louis. After that much flying in a week – six days actually – I remember why I’ve always thought of connectioning flights as nothing more than opportunities for more things to go wrong. Not one flight was on time the entire week.
The worst leg was Orlando to Dallas. The aircraft was four hours late leaving DFW. That put me into the hotel in Orlando at a mind-numbing 3 am. The gate agents would offer no more information than that the airplane was late.
Despite the fact that my posts here often seem to pair up management against the pilots or pilots against management I think the folks at American deserve a pat on the back for their efforts during this five-leg trip. Despite being late most of the time, the cockpit crews at American seem to have taken a page from the Southwest Airlines’ rulebook by actually telling passengers the truth about the reasons for the delay. On this trip, one was mechanical, a few more were weather and another was simply a dispatcher’s choice to spread out the chaos among many groups of passengers when an airplane broke down conpletely.
Of course, there is the slight chance that I’m becoming more patient as I grow older, although I doubt that has much to do with why I didn’t tear any of my hair out this week.
Airline flying is a pain in the tail these days with delays at check in, as well as through security and route problems related to lots more people trying to go more places on fewer airplanes.
But again, it seems as if perhaps the American Airlines cockpit and cabin crews have not forgotten that they are employed for one simple reason … that thousands of us each day hand over our hard-earned dollars to pay the fares that cover their paychecks. Not all airlines seem to understand those economics with United being the carrier that most comes to mind.
All too often in their haste to control their environments, some airline employees see passengers as the enemy when we’re actually the reason they have a job. Certainly there are passengers that should simply be tossed off aircraft too, but most airline passengers want to see employees succeed. Why would we not? I’d just like a little reality check about our progress from time to time despite paying for a commodity-like service.
So hats off to the American pilots and cabin attendnats who busted their tails to keep us all updated this week during some truly irritating trips. Now, if they could just get some of their gate agents to be a little friendlier and more forthcoming with information during the chaos of a normal workweek, they will have a truly world-class airlines on their hands.