5 Things The CEO Of American Airlines Told The New York Times

American Airlines CEO Doug Parker gave an interview to the New York Times, and much of it covered familiar ground for readers. Five things stuck out to me, though – including that Parker loves viral videos where passengers are being removed from planes, and everyone on board cheers.

  1. Parker has no use for federal travel restrictions. Remember when President Trump first announced the ban on travel from Europe during a television address, sending everyone scrambling, because no one knew what it meant? That seems so long ago. Now it’s crazy not ban vaccinated French while welcoming unvaccinated Indonesians.

    The folly of the situation right now is those restrictions were put in place back in March of 2020 when the President of the United States at that time deciding on national TV and announced that we’re going to be tough on this virus, we’re not going to let it come to the United States. We’re going to do that by not letting people from Europe come to the United States.

    But we had a consultant come in, she’s from Munich. She, in order to get to the United States, flew to Cancun for two weeks, and then she was allowed to enter. She was a lot safer in Munich than she was in Cancun. But that’s what we’re doing.

  2. 100 passengers a day engage in misconduct on American Airlines flights. No wonder so many videos are going viral.

    I’ll just give you some numbers, just what we call customers misconduct reports. We would get about 30 a day at American Airlines in 2019. Now we’re getting about 100 a day. And we’re flying fewer customers, of course. The severity is what really matters. I mean, in those 30 a day, most of those are people who had too much to drink, or didn’t have their meds right, or chose to smoke in the bathroom. And again, those aren’t acceptable, but that’s what it was.

    Now, the events you’re talking about, the serious events, ones that actually require us to go take action against the customer, have increased as well.

  3. Parker loves viral videos where everyone cheers the problem passenger being removed from the plane.

    The other customers, by the way, are really helpful in this. All these videos, as horrific as they are, virtually every one of them has all the other customers cheering as the other customer is taken off. And that’s what we really need.

  4. American plans to bring back inflight alcohol September 13. Delta and United service alcohol. Southwest doesn’t. And American only serves it in first class. The airline keeps saying they haven’t committed to bring back cocktails on September 13, only that it wouldn’t be before that. Parker keeps saying it’s coming back. But if it’s tied to the expiration of the federal mask mandate, I’m no longer so confident that won’t get extended now that the CDC wants vaccinated people wearing masks indoors again.

    We haven’t restored alcohol to the American Airlines flights for this reason. We have it tied to September 13, when the federal mask mandate is scheduled to expire. And that’s when we say we’ll return alcohol, because we don’t think we need that added to the environment.

    Pro-tip: on international flights American actually caters mini bottles of alcohol in coach and tells flight attendants not to offer them to customers.

  5. More industries should’ve gotten rich taxpayer bailouts like airlines did. Parker says with the bailouts the right business decision was to furlough everyone at the start of the pandemic, so it’s only subsidies that kept everyone employed. Of course limiting air travel might have limited spread of the virus, if managed well (unlikely). That’s an argument for the first of three bailouts only.

    By the second one we knew how many jobs were at risk, because airlines actually furloughed the workers they didn’t want to keep on. Only American and United furloughed in large numbers, and between them it was about 35,000 workers – the most that could possibly be covered by the $15 billion in the second bailouts. (Delta and Southwest got bailouts even though they never intended to furlough at all.) That’s an annualized cost of $1.28 million per job saved. During the period of time covered by the third bailout workers were fully recalled from furlough. Most of the money went to shareholders and creditors.

    The most famous exchanges on all of this have been with CNBC’s Andrew Ross Sorkin, and the way it came about is Sorkin was interviewing Parker live on TV. The bailouts came up, and I tweeted Sorkin during the interview with the math. He read the calculation on the air to Parker, who just dismissed it as “wrong.” And in this interview Parker again says of Sorkin’s numbers, “Yeah, no, he’s not correct.”

    Incredibly Parker offers, “the taxpayers did benefit and are the primary beneficiary of this.” And everyone should have gotten the bailouts airlines received!

    I think it’s a fantastic policy. I think other industries probably should have been availed of it. I mean, really, the government is better off than they would have been had they not given the industry this money.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Do you think Doug Parker reads this blog?

    More misconduct reports could mean more misbehavior, or it could mean more inclination on the part of flight attendants to provoke and write up such behavior. The power tripping tendencies of AA flight attendants have increased over the years, irrespective of covid.

  2. Only bullies use the excuse that “he provoked me”. The choice is very simple, wear a mask to protect others and because the law requires it. If you can’t follow those simple directions, you shouldn’t fly. Assaulting anyone because you can’t follow simple rules means you get arrested. I’m going to fly American MORE now. Pan can go fly Spirit.

    From a Florida physician whose vaccinated colleagues are out sick with Covid.

  3. Dr. TM, have you any evidence for your first sentence? It is a statement of fact, not of opinion. As a practitioner of science, you surely understand the value of evidence. Where can I find a peer-reviewed publication to support the claim?

  4. Well flying sucks these days and American is no exception. We are powerless to do anything about it. A recent trip that used to take 5 hours took more than 10 on AA I will drive when I can.

  5. Alcohol should be limited to First Class (or international Business) in perpetuity. Why let the riff-raff and the Hoi-poloi guzzle beer, wine, and spirits. They can’t handle their liquor. Only their social betters in the front seats should have the privilege.

    (I case it is not obvious, that is sarcasm).

  6. Doug Parker might find that people really will make a decision about traveling where they receiving the most service – and alcohol is one of those service components for all passengers.
    He might be confronted w/ the reality that part of the reason other airlines don’t have as many in-flight incidents is because other airlines are running much better operations and people aren’t as stressed when they finally get on planes. It’s always easier to blame the passengers than accept that some people are wound up because of the way they have been handled by the airline before they ever board the plane. and that is even before you factor in the difference in airfare between different airlines on the same route. Putting the most capacity back into the system without near as many business travelers as it once carried means American is discounting more aggressively than Delta or United.

  7. I hope alcohol and predeparture beverage never comes back especially predeparture beverage. Glad the FAA stopped it. It takes away from fas assessing the ability to observe what’s wrong during boarding.
    Their Job is safety and security. How are you suppose to do that while you are serving entitled people drinks while.boarding . Like they haven’t had enough at the airport

  8. @Joe says: “Yeah, more industries should get free money like the airlines, that’s a great idea.”

    The uber-rich absolutely support socialism, as long as they themselves are the beneficiaries. And socialism for other companies? Why, absolutely, of course!
    How else can they ensure that the C-level bonuses will happen?

  9. Kervin,
    American, not the FAA, stopped alcohol service. Delta and United still offer it among the big 4.

  10. Once again, the mask mandate is not a law. Laws are passed by Congress. See Schoolhouse Rock. And what is the Doctors point if the vaccinated are still getting Covid? Is he saying the crummy cheap masks 90% wear are stopping it?

  11. At Dave Edwards: again, look at the science of statistics. Yes, vaccinated people get COVID-rarely!
    Like one out of 10,000 rarely and when they do it is even more rare they end up in the hospital. Unvaccinated people die much, much, much more frequently. It’s a side benefit because soon all the covidiots will be dead. A win-win for everyone!

  12. Kara Swisher is funny but I’d hate to have her as my flight attendant, except to confront a maskhole. Excerpt from interview follows.

    Kara Swisher: What is the answer — I don’t know what you tell your flight attendants to say, but what’s your answer to these arguments when they’re talking about it being liberty? I just hate when people say that to me. I’m like, just shut up. Like, stop it.

    Doug Parker: [LAUGHS] That’s not what we taught our flight attendants to say.

    Kara Swisher: You should not hire me as one, because I’d be like — [LAUGHTER] I will put that mask on you.

    Doug Parker: We probably wouldn’t, probably wouldn’t, Kara.

  13. Kara Swisher has a bully’s swagger. “I’m right. If you disagree, shut up. You’re wrong.” Obviously, on the mask issue, she is aligned with reason and authority. But what of the cases when she is aligned only with dogma?

    Kara Swisher is an interesting, although unadmirable, character.

  14. I stand with Dr. TM on the debate over the appropriate exercise of authority by flight attendants. It makes complete sense to me that when responsibility for the safety of 200 or more people floating 35 thousand feet above ground in a tin can are given to a group of trained leaders, their directions need to be followed, even when given in a manner that would offend the sensibilities of a snowflake.

    In such a high risk environment there should be zero accomodation for confrontation, intimidation or the use of force. These are the bully tactics increasingly being adopted by a minority of misguided and ill-behaved passengers called out by TM.

    For reasons known only to him, Qinxuan Pan rejects the position taken by TM . He states that peer reviews are the only acceptable way to validate the truth of statements about human behaviour and his implication is that without scientific proof, “bully behavior” is somehow defensible when a person is triggered by a command they don’t like. This is a less than subtle form of deflection that distracts readers from the real issues at hand.

    Put another way, when you board a plane and in doing so put your life on the line, do you want the rules enforced by the flight crew or by the passenger in 35D?

    For those who would side with QP here is what a peer reviewed Journal has to say about peer reviews:

    “So we have little evidence on the effectiveness of peer review, but we have considerable evidence on its defects. In addition to being poor at detecting gross defects and almost useless for detecting fraud it is slow, expensive, profligate of academic time, highly subjective, something of a lottery, prone to bias, and easily abused.”

    It concludes by saying:

    “So peer review is a flawed process, full of easily identified defects with little evidence that it works.”

    If you want to read the whole paper go here:

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