Former American Airlines Chairman and CEO Don Carty was traveling in first class on Thursday. He left the airline 17 years ago, but some flight attendants still hate him. One crewmember took out their anger that he’d fly American the day 8000 flight attendants were losing their jobs.
Carty ran American from 1998 to 2003. He was in charge at the airline on 9/11 and its aftermath, and as the carrier struggled along with the rest of the industry he executed what was the largest corporate restructuring outside of bankruptcy in U.S. history. The airline struggled mightily to avoid a Chapter 11 filing for a decade. Carty was known for recording a regular message to employees that could be heard dialing 1-800-AA-CARTY. (Under his successor, this was replaced by an e-mail.)
While employees at American may have done better than at some of their competitors going through bankruptcy and discharging pensions, Carty’s American paid retention bonuses to top executives. This angered employees who were forced to take pay cuts, and he was ultimately forced out over this.
As a former airline CEO he isn’t just flying first class, he’s a Concierge Key. And I believe that his wife, traveling with him, appears to have brought an emotional support animal (“ESAN”) on board based on the record being shared to social media.
The cabin crew member complains he didn’t say hello or thank you. And one of the flight attendants on board was being furloughed – these didn’t all happen “midnight September 30” as commonly believed. Some trips for furloughing employees (like this one) lasted through the week.
Of course Carty, who after leaving American became Chairman of Virgin America and of Porter Airlines and Vice Chairman of Dell, has been gone from the airline for 17 years. He’s hardly at fault for current employee furloughs Fewer people traveling in response to Covid-19 is what’s responsible for furloughs, even though neither Delta nor Southwest are currently letting any cabin crew go. Still, at United the pilots union still harbors resentment after 35 years so this a 17 year grudge nothing new.