Doug Parker answered American Airlines employee questions this week. One thing he got asked about is the Boeing 737 MAX which has no seat back video on demand.
He emphasizes that high speed streaming internet is just as good and is the future, comparing seat back screens to the old GTE Airfones, nevermind that not every family of 5 has enough iPads to go around and that he acknolwedges they’re not able to stream most first run movies.
Although the lavatories are tiny and have had problems – with water splashing back up all over passengers, with doors banging into each other – he thinks the airline has made the right decision for customers with 30 inch pitch, no seat back screens, and small lavs because he reports that customer survey ‘likelihood to recommend’ scores for the plane are “tracking along with the rest of the fleet.”
That doesn’t say much for the other aircraft in the fleet especially legacy US Airways planes without seat back video or even seat power. Meanwhile there are only 3 or 4 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft in the fleet, flying limited routes, and only a small percentage of those customers are even surveyed. So the amount of data involved is limited. Moreover American Airlines has been giving out free internet on these planes. When that goes away the ‘likelihood to recommend’ score may drop.
His experience with the plane is second hand because — as I wrote two weeks ago and then others in the media picked up on — he hasn’t even flown the aircraft.
Two weeks later he still hasn’t flown the plane and he thinks it’s weird that anyone should care,
I haven’t flown the 737 MAX as people like to report for some weird reason.
I don’t think the things this blog reports are weird, even if Parker does. The CEO of the airline is promoting the quality of their new standard domestic product that’s not only being delivered on 100 new planes but that they’re investing in retrofitting their existing aircraft to mirror. So it seems significant that the CEO hasn’t bothered to experience the product — we’re well past when he signed off on it, it’s been flying for two months.
And it’s PR 101 that he’d fly the plane if only to be able to say he has the next time he’s asked.