Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.
It’s as if everyone wants to commemorate this glorious day, April 9.
It’s the day Dr. David Dao was dragged down the aisle of a plane and into a very large settlement with United Airlines, after he’d refused to be bumped in favor of an airline employee.
United tried to get ahead of the anniversary by releasing news of how much the airline has improved since then.
And now American Airlines’ pilots are joining the party.
The Allied Pilots Association, which represents the American’s 15,000 pilots, just released a statement in which it offered three principles “aimed at humanizing air travel.”
Which would it do that this very week?
A clue comes when you look a link the pilots offered concerning “recent news coverage” which has moved the pilots to philosophy.
The link is to a Forbes article entitled “How To Fix United Airlines’ Culture.”
Ah, so American is cantering to the rescue, after United injected dehumanization into air travel?
I’d rather thought that airline executives had done that by turning their employees into police officers and prison guards and making the planes as comfortable as dim sum with the mother of a lover you’ve just left at the altar.
And let’s not forget that United’s president Scott Kirby came from, oh, American.
But what about these three travel-saving principles? Safety, Reliability and Empowerment.
Contrast these with the four so-called Core principles suddenly embraced by United recently: Safe, Caring, Dependable and Efficient.
Well, there’s not much of a contrast, is there?
Perhaps the most fascinating of American’s principles is Empowerment. This, the pilots describe as: “There’s doing things right, and then there’s doing the right thing.”
Yes, of course. But how many airlines really practice that?
“Pilots are committed to ensuring that their passengers are accommodated and have a comfortable flight,” says the pilots’ union.
But what is American doing to ensure this comfortable flight?
It’s stuffing more seats onto its newest Boeing 737 MAX planes. Yet the airline’s CEO hasn’t bothered to fly on one.
The toilets on these planes are now so small that one person in the know described them as “the most miserable experience in the world.”
That person was an American Airlines pilot.
Still, the pilots seem to believe that American is putting them — and passengers — under too much pressure.
They say that it’s perfectly possible for passengers to still be accommodated, even when they arrive at the gate close to departure time.
They believe it should be their decision when to close the doors and push back, not someone “behind a desk or in front of a computer.”
So I asked American for its view.
“We agree with APA that safety, reliability and exceeding our customers’ expectations is American’s goal on every flight. We’re committed to providing that experience, and it’s great to have partners in our unions that share our passion to take the best care of our customers,” airline spokesman Ross Feinstein told me.
Wait, this is the airline where a Flight Attendant challenged a passenger to fight, isn’t it?