At an American Airlines employee question and answer session last week, a flight attendant asked airline President Robert Isom about customers booking away from the airline because of its inferior international premium cabin inflight product compared to its partners. The cabin crew member shared that this is what he hears from the airline’s Concierge Key and Executive Platinum members.
Isom offered that Flagship Lounges and Flagship First Dining are returning, and “that same approach to bringing back and getting more amenities onto the aircraft it’s happening right now.”
Brady Byrnes, American’s VP of Inflight, said they’re hearing “the same thing from customers” but noted the challenges they’ve had with supply chain and with “caterer partners [being] adequately staffed with what we’ve scheduled” and that they’ve worked “with the APFA [flight attendants union] on what was the right time to bring back service.” So there’s “been incremental adds” so far, and “some great stuff..just around the corner in the not too distant future.” He noted that domestic first class is now “back on china” for the snack box items.
A Current American Airlines Meal
Byrnes argues that international airlines aren’t flying as much as American is so have an easier time delivering a quality product, but says:
We’re keeping a very close eye on what our competitors are doing, so I feel confident that we are competitive versus our U.S. competitors, maybe a little less so than our international competitors.
Jodi Spicer, the Managing Director in charge of food and beverage acknowledged flight attendant and customer frustrations, “you’re the one out there speaking to our customers, and they’re asking questions and sometimes the answer isn’t always easy as you’re offering a cold product and certainly getting mixed nuts back was a big win for us on the international routes.”
However, as I’ve been reporting, she says this is all going to change,
You will see changes coming over the next few months…really soon I promise you’ll see some great improvement there I promise and we’ll keep on going there all the way through to domestic.
Isom promises to “keep track and pace with both Qatar and with BA” but then argues that BA can offer a better service because it is flying so few flights. While British Airways seems to be improving when you’re offering excuses for failing to meet their standard of service that should be raising a lot of questions.
I’d note as well that – contra Brady Byrnes – the Association of Professional Flight Attendants union isn’t supposed to run the airline. They advocate for less work, more pay, and hotel rooms on overnight trips. Outsourcing marketing and product decisions to the flight attendants union is… bizarre. Simply put: galley ovens have never been a known source of spread for Covid-19, so serving hot versus cold food was never a question of safety. And, as Jeff Bezos famously points out, the biggest mistake companies make is focusing on what competitors are doing, rather than what customers want.