American Airlines No Longer Lets Employees Offer Compensation For Broken Seats, Missing Meals

Effective Monday American Airlines has taken away the tool airports, flight attendants, and reservations used to compensate customers when a crew member spills a drink on them, their seat is broken, or their inflight meal didn’t get loaded onto the aircraft.

To save money, instead of compensating customers when things go wrong, employees are supposed to show they care and acknowledge what the customer is saying… just not do anything about it.

At the beginning of 2018 American Airlines rolled out a new software program called iSolve to let flight attendants compensate passengers for onboard inconveniences like “inflight entertainment issues, broken seats or meal shortages.”

The airline quickly discovered that flight attendants were handing out more compensation than they wanted, so they sent out a memo after a few months to get front line crew to scale it back: no compensation for problems with internet or seat power; running out of buy on board snacks; cabin temperature (too hot/too cold) doesn’t get compensation. Nonrev passengers aren’t entitled to compensation for inconveniences.

Even so during American’s poor operations last summer they were handing out compensation at four times the usual rate.

Now American has discontinued the ability for flight attendants to offer compensation when the airline fails to deliver its product as promised. This suspension of iSolve will run at least through the end of 2020.

An internal memo reviewed by View From The Wing flagged this suspension effective Monday,

Effective 08JUN20, iSolve will be suspended through 2020 for goodwill compensation through airports, reservations and flight attendants. A closer look is being taken at every aspect of our operation, including tools and technology. As part of this review the decision was made to suspend iSolve. The tool will still be used to provide compensation for pre-removal and downgrades by Support functions.

Here’s what employees are instructed to do instead of offering compensation:

Unfortunately American’s front line employees have had their tool to deliver customer service when things go wrong taken away from them. That saves money in the form of compensation, but it’s airline scrip (generally miles) that they’re giving out in an effort to win back future business. That matters now more than ever when airlines aren’t filling all the seats on their planes.

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, 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. I wonder if they have programatically disabled iSolve so there is no way employees can issue compensation, or if they are just giving this advice but they have not made any IT changes that technically would prevent an employee from pushing the buttons to issue compensation? Do airport employees have any tools besides iSolve to issue travel vouchers or miles?

  2. Chase Ultimate Rewards also stopped issuing compensation for screw-ups last year. This is all part of the Shaggy “It Wasn’t Me” School of Management.

  3. Slow news day, Gary? WOW—in the middle of an unprecedented SHUT DOWN of global airline traffic and actual airlines disappearing left and right, this is what you write about??

  4. @Scott – Perfect response. Maybe Parker should be stiffed on his entire compensation for the year. With a sincere apology, of course.

  5. Throwing money at someone is a lazy way to solve a problem. In times like these it makes sense for any airline to ask their employees to step up and work harder to take care of the customer.

  6. I am so confused by those who criticize an author’s choice of subject matter. Are there people who get paid to read? Have people been forced to read the article? (I’m dubious) I can think of no reason for disgruntlement
    If I’m reading a blog and don’t find the subject interesting, I close the page. I don’t slam the author.
    It’s possible that it was meant as a joke and I’m being ignorant but I’ve certainly seen situations that weren’t meant as humor.
    As a side note, I did read this through because I found it interesting.

  7. Instead of AA becoming more customers friendly and caring they want to be naughty and nasty. Shame on u AA. What will u say “DP” if u had hot coffee spilled on u by a flight Attendant. ” O its OK “

  8. @Bree,
    Exactly!!! Step and provide good customer service. When I started that is what I was taught. The number of vouchers that are issued instead of fixing the problems.

  9. I’m definitely doing my status match with Delta now and will avoid flying A A at any cost. This was the last straw A A.

  10. Broken seats and non functioning equipment is different that “service” issues (spilled coffee is an accident). This company is telling its front line staff that worn out product is their brand – rather than putting the money into fixing the worn out equipment – or even making a serious effort to compensate the paying customer when the company does not provide the service they sold (a safe working airline seat).

  11. How do I get my $561 back for a flight I couldn’t take? I can’t get in touch with anyone because my reservation info doesn’t have a ticket number so that’s the end of the phone call. I have the record locator but that’s not enough. I believe they plan to keep my money! That’s called theft, AA!

  12. Nice work Doug Parker. I may no longer be an airline CEO, but I’m glad someone is living my dreams of giving airline passengers changes they will like.

  13. @Scott,
    Why do AA employees keep referring to their former President Scott Kirby every time their current management makes *another* crappy business decision? Perhaps you secretly miss him as all can see that UA is better positioned to make it to the other side of this downturn compared to AA.

  14. Have ya been on an AA airplane lately? They are full of non-elite, Allegient and Spirit cheap fare bottom feeders. There’s no service on board per se and the FA’s are pretty much absent during the flight. Soooo, the bottom line is that right now whether or not the FA’s are able to offer compensation is pretty moot. Just looking at loads it’s pretty easy to see that elite flyers are sitting at home still. No sense in giving compensation to low cost carrier flyers who won’t be coming back anyway.

  15. So rather than “I Solve” it’s now “F You”

    (but I really do care and am being “present” for you….)

  16. My wife and I fly fc we hope we are going to Cancun in Aug just found out that no meals and you have to ask for a drink. The meals are not that good any way.

  17. I fly American and over the years I can name most of the issues I’ve encountered or someone near me has and not one time did I ever see a flight attendant offer anything in return. I’ve seen seats stuck in recline twice, broken tray tables at least 5x, inoperable entertainment screens a couple of times, air vent not working at least once, outlets not working more times than I can count (in first class), and not enough meals loaded at least 3 separate times (first class). Not once did I get or witness a compensation, just a sorry. I take that back, once I was offered an alcoholic beverage.

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