Update: American says this is simply the training they’ve been given, that there’s no change,.
That’s unfortunate – we can expect flight attendants to continue current practice.
According to a spokesperson,
To be clear, there is no new memo to flight attendants. When flight attendants come in for recurrent training, those who have chosen to participate in the program will receive training about the program. Customers and flight attendants value the offering and there has been no change to the program or the training.
American Airlines has two credit card issuers, Citibank and Barclays. Barclays gets to acquire customers inflight and in airport (but not within 100 feet of an American Airlines lounge). Citibank gets every other channel.
Inflight credit card announcements are the most effective way to acquire new customers, as United President Scott Kirby has reported. He brought inflight card offers to United Airlines, even insisting that they become mandatory.
- Customers flying the airline are people who choose the airline and who fly, a natural market for the cards
- Passengers skew high income
- They may be bored and a captive audience
- And for Barclays it’s the only way they’re adding customers, since they don’t pitch from tables in airports and merely advertise
In other words, inflight card announcements aren’t going away. But they should be done better, as I’ve written they certainly shouldn’t be done before 8 a.m. when passengers are trying to sleep.
However American Airlines issued a memo to flight attendants on improving the inflight Barclays card announcement experience for customers. It shouldn’t be made early morning or late night, it should only be made once, and it should be read verbatim from the script.
“Now AA management is trying to rein in the sales pitches from especially aggressive flight attendants. And there have been some, as some frequent travelers on AA have noted.
“The presentation also states that the credit card inflight announcement should take ‘no more than 1 minute.’ Additionally, the ‘the announcement MUST (sic) be read verbatim’ and also advises FAs that they ‘must not deviate from the scripted announcement provided or provide false or misleading information to passengers.’
“And the training presentation specifically asks that flight attendants ‘be considerate’ in making the credit card pitch and adds ‘make only one announcement and one trip up and down the aisle per (flight) segment.’
“The company further advised flight attendants not to disturb ‘disinterested passengers or pressure any passengers to fill out an application.’
“In the small print, the company also suggests the card pitch only happen between the hours of 8 a.m and 9 p.m, and that the pitch be suspended during extremely turbulent flights, as well on flights experiencing emergency situations or a significant delay.
I have to think that the insistence on reading the card announcement verbatim is in some measure driven by a desire to say that’s what flight attendants have been told so that any future accusations of misleading messaging can be blamed on a rogue employee rather than a concerted effort on the part of the carrier to at least turn a blind eye to misleading messaging that supports new cardmember acquisition.
I still think the best approach to inflight card applications would be for American Airlines to offer bigger lavatories, and use the walls to advertise their cards. The larger footprint would make sense because it’s monetized, and as Dana Carvey reminded us in Opportunity Knocks the big decisions in life aren’t made in the board room, they’re made in the bathroom.