It’s common for American Airlines top elites to receive an ‘executive liaison call’ to take a customer’s pulse on the airline. These may come when a customer’s business volume with the airline has dropped, though isn’t limited to that.
However recently American has been speaking to the customers that are traveling the most now during the pandemic – and it’s not the ‘executive liaison’ callers doing the dialing, it’s the airline’s senior management.
American Airlines President Robert Isom told pilots last week that Chief Revenue Officer Vasu Raja and Chief Customer Officer Alison Taylor thought it would be “neat to find out who it is that’s traveling and still earning elite status throughout the pandemic.” So they “pulled a lit of the top 50 customers and assigned 10 [each]” to various senior executives, including Isom himself who reports that this was the “first time [he] cold called customers in a long time.”
He shared the tenor of two of the calls. In the first “one of the customers, a woman was in car with her husband” and when she answered she said “is this a recording?” She acknowledged she’d been “traveling a lot.” He wanted to know about her business that’s been causing her to travel since the small amount of business travel the airline has been seeing is led by Midwest manufacturing. The customer replied that she’s a courier for bone marrow.
His next call turned out to be with a mechanic who works on power plants, and he’s been traveling to Europe – keeping power online – and that he found American’s “planes are clean” and that he’s made to “feel appreciated.” Of course there’s some selection bias in these calls. What he didn’t share is whether his airline’s most frequent customers of today told him they need to do anything differently.
The normal ‘executive liaison’ calls have been ongoing, and last month I saw reports of several. Those sharing the details of their calls that I saw complained mostly about the new standard domestic “Oasis” (and “Kodiak”) product, rather than the AAdvantage program itself.