American CEO Doug Parker: Front Line Employees Don’t Understand Strategy of the Company

After American’s earnings calls the company’s executives meet with employees and take their questions. One of the questions was about the airline’s internal employee survey which revealed that

  • only 32% of employees believe American’s leaders listen to and “seek to understand the frontline team member experience.”
  • only 33% believe leadership makes “the right decisions that support” employees. Fewer than half believe they have “the flexibility to meet the needs of our customers who fly American” when things go wrong.
  • only 38.9% say that “people at American trust and respect each other.”

When asked for his takeaway from the survey one of American CEO Doug Parker’s comments was really telling, and if he internalizes it actually could change the culture. It was clear at American’s media and investor day that they’re giving employees raises, trying to give them better access to benefits, but they lack a vision for employees to rally around. People need to feel like they’re on a mission that’s greater than themselves, and they need to like and respect their colleagues, in order to do more than phone it in at work.

Parker realizes now that employees don’t understand the vision for the airline.

Three years isn’t enough. Pay increases isn’t enough. There’s a huge gap that we need to keep working on and also I would add a bit of a surprise to me was seeing the front line saying they don’t understand kind of the strategy of the company. That’s not exactly what the question said but that’s what it feels like as you get through it all. That we haven’t done a good job of explaining who the company is and where we’re going.

American Airlines Boeing 737 MAX

The problem of course isn’t one of communication. It’s that the airline lacks a clear vision. I spent a full day listening to the airline’s executives and never heard a vision other than ‘never lose money again’. It’s not clear if they’re a premium airline that’s supposed to focus on customer needs, or a deep discount carrier that’s moving self-loading cargo. Employees don’t know what they’re trying to accomplish either.

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. Dougie is out of touch with the world. He needs to take a ride on the 737-MAX lavatory then tell the FAs how to improve the airline.

  2. Nothing will change. The CEO and top executives have not even flown in their latest planes 737-MAX. And doubtful they fly economy ever. They have no idea what or how their front line employees do their jobs. All the executives care about is profit not people.

  3. And his hand-picked board will keep rubber stamping his ridiculous pay packages. This guy is a clown. He is so out of tune with his employees it embarrassing.

  4. The thing is, you can have crappy airplanes while still having a vision or strategy. What is AA’s goal in business? What does its mission statement look like? Is it 10 words or a paragraph? You can look around at other airlines and pretty much see their strategies, AA (and UA for that matter) have no visible strategy. And @gary, Never lose money again is NOT strategy or vision.

    Vision translates to workforce. If I were looking for a job in that sector I’d pick Delta or Southwest over AA or UA, even if pay were lower.

    AA’s C-Suite is out of touch with its employees and has no strategic vision for the company. They’ve done enough to drive my business away, that’s for sure.

  5. All Doug Parker cares about is himself and his stock earnings, since he has a large stock option in the company he wants it to do financially well. So yes, HE has a vision (which is really just monetary). I think his goal is to skyrocket the shares of AA and then bail once it hits the highest it can go.

  6. We all know how badly AA has deteriorated, particularly the devaluation of of top-tier status. If UA would match my ExPlat with 1K, I’d move my annual 100K miles and 20K spend to them. And since I’m based in Dallas, that’s saying something.

  7. For Doug Parker to ignore or discount frontline employees’ opinions is folly. My personal experience flying AA has been less than ideal. I still use them but they are not my first choice when a choice exists.

  8. You cant keep cutting costs/quality to monster profits and loyalty no matter who you are
    Crap food fit only for animals, limited to no saver award seats,internet support moved to the clueless Manila call center ,terrible uncomfortable planes etc The list is to long to share here
    Customer relations that doesn’t respond to anything unless in the media /public eye
    No empowerment given to agents to fix problems with issues or distressed passengers is just another major thorn
    It will take more than a bloody passenger being dragged off the plane(thank you UA) before we see a material improvement
    Not listening and responding to customers and team members are the added insult to injury when you live in a concrete bunker and have a fantasy of what it is to run a succsful company by a monopoly govt approved.But creative passengers can bypass them as I have where possible
    Doug Parker must go
    Its a shame what hes done to a once great airline and its iconic ff program
    I moved on with my wallet a year ago after 20 great years
    I’m sure some other elite is taking my place # 67 on the upgrade list as we all post 😉 🙂

  9. This is stupid. Doug Parker’s vision of what the workers should be doing for him because he is such a great guy.

  10. I would submit look at parker’s past and you will see present and future of AA. Clearly he has been driven to be a “big” airline President and he finally has it. That’s the bad news for his company and the flying public. He has just as in the past looked to cut cost, reduce the inflight experience such as seating, amenities, food and comfort choosing the old AmericaWest version of airline travel packed cheap and who care’s. The new “Max” is a perfect example of his thinking let alone the employees are out of step with the company/his vision going forward. That is the mark of an ineffective manager. Example he made the statement that he has not been on the new 737Max yet he wanted to pack in seats, really Doug admitting he has not been on his newest airplane? That spells volumes for his management or lack thereof

    I think it’s Parker who needs to get instep rather than his employees. And like his buddy Anderson former formally of DL defaulting to AB over US metal stinks yet he is slamming open skies when they buy more US metal than DL and AA combined.

  11. I had used some frequent flier miles to get my granddaughter had an American Airlines ticket for non-stop flights between New York and Pittsburgh. I was charged $85. in addition to the miles.

    On a clear summer day, her flight was cancelled. She was “offered” a flight the following evening to Charlottesville, North Carolina, where she would be required to stay overnight before being given an early morning flight – two days after her scheduled departure! – back to New York. So we had to drive her back to New York.

    American Airlines said they would redeposit my miles, but NOT refund the $85.
    It took several phone calls to get that corrected.

    This, of course, is the airline that totally screwed over Pittsburgh and all the American Airline employees based in the city after Doug Parker enticed Pittsburgh to build a terminal to American Airlines specifications.

    Doug Parker has no customer service mission. No wonder his employees don’t get it

  12. I believe the assertion that the airline lacks vision is accurate and the assesment as to how it is lacking is right on. As a former employee of American in Passenger Sales, who now puchases enough tickets on the airline to have Platinum status, I have observed and experienced enough to agree that under this management team, there does not seem to be a clear vision of what kind of airline American is working to be….premium or low cost. Possibly they think they can make it both? If so, good luck with that.

  13. When you look at the numbers and hear Parker make the statement “his employees don’t understand his plan for the company”! I suggest Parker is the one who does not understand!

  14. It is evident that it is Mr. Parker who is out of touch and fails to understand what his Company Policy should be. It appears he has never heard the well known words of the greatest Airline CEO who ever held that position, Herbert D. Kelleher. “Your employees come first. And if you treat your employees right, guess what? Your customers come back, and that makes your shareholders happy. Start with employees and the rest follows from that.” .

  15. Active employees understand that Parker cannot be trusted. The retirees were promised D2 travel privileges when they signed a contract for early retirement. Parker came from USAIR and downgraded retirees to a D2R standby priority.

  16. So much hate. You’d think AA had stolen all your frequent flyer miles and stranded you at a gulag.

    The airline has a clear vision. They’re trying to build the best team, cater to premium travelers (note: this is not folks who enjoy premium travel; it’s the folks who like to PAY for premium travel), and achieve financial success. How do you think Doug Parker became the CEO of the world’s largest airline when he started as the CEO of a tiny money-losing Arizona airline (America West). Seems like he’s managing the “vision thing” pretty well, at least as most people in the real world would define it.

  17. I’d gladly take my concierge key status elsewhere. Haven’t been able to get UA to give me their top for AA’s top, would gladly do so as it’s still very early in the year for me and happy to switch!

    AA has devalued my business way too much.

  18. @iahphx, If that is indeed what the vision is for the airline (really build the best team and achieve financial success is not really a vision, but cater to premium passengers could be), then where does reducing benefits for the top tier flyer (that apparently they are catering to) fit in. And where does basic economy fit into that vision of catering to the premium passenger? If building the best team is part of their vision (pretty sure every business would include this, but whatever), then why does his team, by these survey results, pretty much universally hate him. Or is the “best team” just those in the C suite? As noted in the post and some comments, achieve financial success is not a vision, it is not something that is going to inspire anybody on your team to try to achieve greatness as a corporate vision should.
    As noted in other comments and emphasized in yours, Doug Parker is managing that “vision thing” very well. Unfortunately, it is for himself and not for his company or for anyone but, possibly, his shareholders. In my estimation, a CEO has to cater to more stakeholders than just himself and his shareholders and those are the only people he is even trying to work for.

  19. You have to discount the survey given how many of the employees are legacies from the bad days – emotions may cloud realities.

    Were you at the shareholder meeting? That might explain why he was focused on the financial metrics.

    All you have to do to get the seating you want is to pay for it. Let them eat cake I say!

  20. @iahphx no one “likes” to pay for anything. I know nothing gets you off more than gushing over Doug Parker, but take a cold shower and calm down.

  21. @iahphx they’re ‘cater[ing] to premium travelers’ in a pretty strange way given their approach to their front line. “How do you think Doug Parker became the CEO of the world’s largest airline..” he did it (1) through government subsidies which kept America West alive, by (2) taking advantage of the bankruptcy code that offloaded billions in pension liability onto the federal government before he acquired US Airways, and (3) by being de facto installed as head as the world’s largest airline by the PBGC pushing the creditors committee to merge inside bankruptcy because that plan meant not terminating even more pensions. In other words he’s benefited from government subsidies to gain his position — to a far greater degree than the Gulf airlines you think Parker ought to be given even more favors to compete against.

  22. Instead of getting hung up with the haughty and out-of-touch Dougie P, and arguing over whether his has any kind of “Vision” that connects with his employees or not; if his definition of of a “Vision” is obscenely high numbers following dollar signs dancing in his own, and his cronies’, bank accounts and nothing more; or if he has a “Vision” of anything for the airline at all since he seems to have no interest flying his airline’s crappy product and experiencing it the way 85+% of the customer’s whom (over) pay him for the privilege of being treated so poorly do…

    …perhaps it might be better to constrast his leadership with that of Gordon Bethune, whom when he took over Continental from the spectacular destruction of the Frank Lorenzo years after Lorenzo ran not one…not two…not three…or even four (yes, Texas Int’l, Eastern, New York Air, and Continental) into the ground before finally being banned from positions of leadership in the industry long ago, strongly believed motivating his employees was the “secret sauce” that ultimately resulted in Bethune’s seminal book on the industry called “From Worst to First” chronicling the dramatic turnaround of Continental Airlines from one many believed was damaged beyond repair and likely to fail, to what many believe was among the best airline in the country within just a few years after Bethune took over…

    Bethune, who is credited with turning around a failing airline that was rapidly careening towards a final death spiral, very much embraced the “Vision Thing” and had very strong opinions about the need to motivate employees to deliver a good product, and to want to come to work.

    He did this by incentivizing the process, with bonuses paid to every non-management employee when certain performance metrics were achieved per DOT data reports/metrics (on time arrivals, number of lost bags, number of complaints filed by passengers for problems or bad service), and regularly giving away Ford Explorers (IIRC) to employees with exemplary ontime arrival for work and sterling attendance records.

    Bethune very much believed in the importance of a Vision for both employees and the type of airline he believed passengers wanted – as they did, very much (here again, the myth that it doesn’t matter if one offers a better product is debunked… ), and that was proven by his widely accepted claim of having taken Continental from “worst to first,” which are the words he used in the title of his book chronicling his successful turnaround of that floundering airline.

    Parker, however, has been very successful at lining his, and his cronies’, pockets by ruining the passenger experience and not particularly invested in the employees’ perspective after he successfully got the labor groups on board for his essentially hostile takeover of American Airlines after it entered bankruptcy in late 2011.

    That’s not to say, he hasn’t rewarded the employees since he and his management team wrested control of American from its management (which had long before Parker entered the picture lost the trust of its employees even if Legacy American managment actually had a deeply ingrained corporate culture that dated back to the Crandall era where the company very much had a Vision of its place in the industry and the product it wanted to deliver to its customers).

    He has.

    The problem is, money itself, or at least the pricing/selling models that are predicated on how best to screw people by deliberately manipulating the product in order to create revenue streams from cabins intentionally “sadistified”, and the imposition of a Byzantine, or even Kafka-esque, labyrinth of impossible to satisfy and never ending rules that require payments of fees at every turn, is itself morally bankrupt, incredibly dishonest, and quite frankly, deceitful, fraudulent and unethical.

    So how does one motivate employees at all, when that’s what the dealio at that airline is.

    Passengers are told “Go Screw Yourself” by the absurd rules and hate selling they encounter at every turn, and as if that’s already not bad enough, once they’ve bought their ticket, at every turn they’re reminded of how much “Go Screw Yourself” is not just the selling and pricing model the airline is built on, it’s also how little their patronage means when they step aboard brand, new 737s that rolled off the assembly line in Renton, WA practically yesterday, yet find themselves as if on a time machine lacking 21st century touches such as slick, seatback screens offering a first-rate entertainmemt experience instead of staring at the back of the seat in front of them the same way they did when the very first 737 took to the skies in passenger revenue service for Lufthansa in 1967 combined with deceitful trickery of 21st century soul-less jack-holes, like Parker, who have no problem devising ever more clever ways to shrink seats, shrink row pitch, and shrink lavatories to ridiculously small sizes even he doesn’t bother to fly the crappy new planes he ordered for his airline.

    If the apalling cabins of American’s new 737-8 MAXES, or any of the despicably densified, and often threadbare, economy cabins on American’s aircraft don’t scream “Screw You”, nothing will.

    Forget the awful food. One can always bring their own aboard anyway!

    It’s everything else at this airline that reminds one from start to finish how little they mean to the airline once it shakes you down for everything it thinks it can screw you out of.

    And how exactly does one sell that, anyway, whether it’s to employees or the customers? And how can one motivate their employees for a larger purpose and meaning, when the “Screw You” aspect is so blatant and painfully obvious, trying to pretend otherwise would be both laughable and a cruel joke?


  23. Another contrast to Parker might also be David Neeleman, the Founder of Jetblue and Azul, the original leader of those airlines he founded, as well as others, and for whom the word “Visionary” nearly always precedes his name whenever I reference him in my comment posts, and is also the word used to describe Neeleman by many others.

    With Jetblue, for sure Neeleman and the talented teams he assembled to start Jetblue or Azul years later (in Brazil) had a Vision in mind for the airline he created, and for the corporate culture he believed necessary to create to motivate front line employees who would “sell” the airline simply by how they interacted with passengers – something Herb Kelleher also imparted to his employees as part of his Vision for Southwest decades earlier than Neeleman did when he launched Jetblue.

    In fact, Neeleman had a very clear Vision that he modeled the airline on, and that he “sold” very effectively to both employees and passengers.

    That Vision was “Bringing Humanity Back to Flying” – something clearly NOT even remotely resembling the unspoken, but readily apparent “Go Screw Yourself” “Vision” (if one can call it that…) one cannot help but see and feel at Parker’s soul-less, money grubbing, American.

    So whether it be Gordon Bethune, David Neeleman, or of course, the legendary Bob Crandall and Herb Kelleher, all of whom more than prove it’s possible to have a Vision and a successful, profitable, passenger centric airline.

    To wit, and again, just as Bethune turned Continental around with a Vision based on offering a better product as the pathway to bigger profits, so, too, did Neeleman at Jetblue.

    I’m noting this because I’m so sick and tired of hearing the “myth” that airlines that competed by offering a better product, and whom embraced quality and real value, be it more legroom, “comfy leather seats”, free live 36 channel satellite tv, free unlimited snack baskets, etc., or as Bethune did after he took over from Frank Lorenzo, whose airlines all failed despite his attempts to offer rock bottom airfares, crappy service, and crowded, densified planes.

    In fact, crappy airlines that offered “low fares” and crappy products like many of our airlines, like American, now do, prove the exact opposite of the “story” being told by Parker and others like him.

    Name the crappy airline of the past that American (and others) are now like, and I guarantee they’re long gone:

    PeopleExpress (the OG, not the one that came and went a few years ago): FAILED
    ValuJet: FAILED
    Tower Air: FAILED
    Air Florida: FAILED
    Carnival Airlines: FAILED
    ATA/American Trans Air: FAILED
    Eastern Airlines: FAILED
    Pan Am: FAILED
    Braniff (1/2/3): all FAILED

    The list of airlines as crappy airlines, ones very much as awful as American now is, that failed goes on and on.

    But there are many success stories of airlines that include passengers’ needs in their Vision, and who’s success was predicated on offering a premium passenger experience, or in Southwest’s case, under promising, but over delivering even if the service itself took a decidedly no-frills approach eschewing first class cabins for upgrades, airport clubs, or the types of “goodies” most others in Southwest’s earlier years used as lures to sell their brands.

    And those airlines are:

    Jetblue (during the Neeleman and Dave Barger eras, not the current “just suck a little less than the awful others” era)

    Southwest (yes it was the very definition of no-frills, but they did it better than anyone else, and still do)

    Continental (during the Gordon Bethune era)

    American (during the Bob Crandall era, when he took that airline from almost worst to absolute first and kept it there throughout his tenure there)

    And perhaps even Virgin America…it’s CEO (Cush) may be largely unknown when compared to the celebrity of Sir Richard Branson, but this airline had a Vision, and it, too, offered a quality, award winning product that was gaining market acceptance/success and rewarded shareholders with a bidding war between Alaska and Jetblue before being taken over by the victor or that war, Alaska.

    So, with the list of failed, crappy airlines that attempted to succeed by degrading their products, offering a crappy, unpleasant travel experience, and who claimed low quality is what makes low fares possible as their Visions and Mantras, well documented, while by contrast there are many several success stories of airlines that actually SUCCEEDED by putting passengers FIRST and seeking to make a quality product the foundation of their business models with things like bigger seats, comfy leather seats, more legroom in coach than any other airline (Jetblue in its glory days under Visionary leaders like Neeleman or Barger), free seatback IFE with a robust catolog of movies and entertainment programming, or better yet, 21st Century technology such as live satellite tv with 100 channels (or at least 36!), free, unlimited snack basket offerings or a slick, quality buy on board offering (like Virgin America has while it’s planes are still around) if “free” is not your thing…

    Sorry, Kool Aid drinkers, the myth that airlines that seek to succeed by competing over who can be the best at actually being the best are doomed to fail is just that, a myth.

    Meanwhile, crappy airlines like Parker’s soul-less, heart of darkness, dystopian one for American that flat out screams “Screw You!” featuring disgusting planes with teeny tiny seats packed into no legroom rows with bathrooms so small even a mouse can barely fit inside, are really the ones that fail – or would if we actaully had meaningful competition instead of the OLIGOPOLY we’re now stuck with that our elected leaders don’t want to grow a pair and do something about to stop the arrogance and abuse that Parker’s no vision, vision is a perfect example of everything wrong about our airlines right now.

    We can have better airlines.

    We used to have better airlines, some of them even bear the names now of those formerly better airlines who buried the crappy ones of the past that they now resemble themselves.

    We just have to DEMAND better instead of just bending over and taking it…

    Just sayin’

  24. @GaryLeff — At the same Doug Parker got “government subsidies,” he had just been named CEO of a small and largely unsuccessful airline that had its liquidity yanked by its bankers after 19 foreign terrorists decided to take down the US aviation system on 9/11. The United States government, reasonably believing that the US airline industry might need some help after this devastating attack (heck, they routinely help businesses damaged by floods and hurricanes), initiated some programs to get the industry back on its feet. One of those programs was the Air Stabilization Act, where airlines such as Parker’s America West could apply for loans (remember, the private sector wanted nothing to do with aviation after 9/11) to keep US airlines afloat. The terms of the loan Parker got were ridiculously usurious (had he had the cash, Louie the Loan Shark would have been more generous), forcing Parker to give one-third of his airline to the Feds. But he had absolutely no choice.

    Like everyone else who’s invested in Doug Parker, the government made a killing on its shares, which appreciated 200% in the six years before they were bought back (the gov’t had previously also received interest) . That’s some “government subsidy,” no?

    Keeping his small, struggling airline afloat after 9/11 against all odds was just the first of many remarkable achievements Parker has had in his career. He then reinvented America West’s business model to reverse its financial fortunes (at the same time that Southwest was lowering fares in PHX to drive them out of business), bought hopeless-and-about-to-be-shutdown US Airways and turned that company around too, drove the entire industry to profitable stability through consolidation (securing hundreds of thousands of paychecks and making his shareholders boatloads of money), and ultimately creating the largest airline in the world by using an innovative strategy that included gaining the support of American’s unions.

    You may say the guy lacks vision, but I would say your analysis lacks a single shred of common sense and wisdom. It would be like claiming that Michelangelo was just a lucky house painter. .

  25. I think ALL of you are not reading between the lines. This has nothing to do with service but stating a response to union employees crushing the airline to demand change next contract. He is saying “I’ve given them many concessions and they still won’t help us”. The union will NEVER say that management is doing a good job as they could use that as a rebuttal during negotiations. I have no dog in this fight, just observing.

    AA has a rough group of employees. U wonder why service sucks? Because they know they can’t be fired and have done the same actions for 30 years.

    I leave it to the other for chicken and egg arguments

  26. And let’s not forget what he gave the AA retirees who built this Airline – the bottom of the stand by list, By the way is any of the AA dedication and talent still there?

  27. Management makes all the difference. That’s the only thing that entities them to the big bucks. Take Continental. It was an amazing airline under Bob Six (and regulation). It was a shitty airline under Frank Lorenzo (twice bankrupt). It was a wonderful airline under Bethune. By and large with the same front-line employees and equipment.

  28. My experience talking with AA employees “away from the job” is that working for AA at one time was a sincere source of pride.
    Parker just does not get that, and neither does Alex Cruz at BA.
    Customer and employee satisfaction are probably the most important elements. Southwest, Virgin have made it work. And made excellent profits along the way.

  29. RE: My experience talking with AA employees “away from the job” is that working for AA at one time was a sincere source of pride.
    Parker just does not get that, and neither does Alex Cruz at BA.
    Customer and employee satisfaction are probably the most important elements. Southwest, Virgin have made it work. And made excellent profits along the way.

    Blaming unionized employees is oh so convenient, but alas, as Southwest has proven for decades as a heavily unionized carrier, and its reputation for (usually) dependable and reliable service, as well as a great many highly motivated, enthusiastic, employees who seem to actually like their jobs, and as many companies in other industrial/post-industrial countries (for example, Germany) unionization in and of itself does NOT necessarily equate to companies that suck, or cannot make money.

    Yeah, sure, just as there are bad managements there are bad labor leaders, but this notion of Sainthood for management, and total villification for unions, is ridiculous.

    There are a great many companies in many industries around the world where talented, competent management coupled with labor leaders who are equally talented and competent produce great products AND profits.

    But, since we’re talking about airlines in a space where airlines are front and center anyway, all we need to do is think about the example set for now more than four decades, through all sorts of economic cycles, oil spikes and busts, all sorts of “flavor of the week/month” business models, good presidents AND bad presidents from BOTH parties, a variety of wars around the world be they with our direct military emgagement or by proxie, even one of the worst terror attacks the world has ever seen staged in one day, in a matter of hours, and where four civilian aircraft became the weapons of mass destruction, by one airline that through it all, has been consistently profitable, delivered handsome returns to shareholders, and has yet to forget or abandon the people who actually make all that possible: the people who choose to fly that airline because that airline has never wavered from its Founder’s vision to deliver a good product, and the people who despite being as heavily unionized as can be, being hired and trained to believe in offering a great product that people like will want to spend their hard earned money on again and again whether they fly every week, month or once in a blue moon.

    Blaming, or more correctly, scapegoating, unions as the cause of everything evil at American, or other airlines (past or present), is a nice, convenient, lame excuse for lazy, inept, imbeciles who lack both the courage, vision and talent to take a nice long look in the mirror at their own failures as human beings, or of course, an obvious clue that they’re not really qualified for the jobs they have.

    Far too many leaders, and great businesspeople accurately describes them all, in our own domestic industry in my lifetime, such as Herb Kelleher (Southwest), Bob Crandall (American), Gordon Bethune (Continental post-Frank Lorenzo), or David Neeleman (JetBlue, but of course, no unions while he was there), all have proven that GREAT QUALITY, PROFITABLE, and yes, even UNIONIZED, airlines have existed, and are very much possible.

    If others choose to believe the words of the less talented managers who just love pointing fingers at everyone else but themselves for an airline’s shoetcomings, THEIR AIRLINE’s shortcomings, that’s on them.

    As long as we can all agree, examples abound that proves whatever they’re saying simply isn’t true.

    If one has any doubts, perhaps they should track down Herb Kelleher, have a bottle of Wild Turkey in hand when you do that, and see if he’s willing to knock a few down with you and tell you how it all started with a triangle drawn on the back of a napkin to link three cities in Texas…

  30. American Airlines in general is out of touch with the people who use the airline. Service? Hello? I have elite status with American and usually fly what they laughably call First Class domestically, and Business Class internationally.

    Safety, in which AA is good, is obviously the most important consideration for air-travel. However, unless you are flying to a country like Venezuela, airline safety is pretty much a given nowadays. I heard the CEO talk in Miami, and he thinks they have a good handle on customer research. Clueless!

    If there is another choice, especially internationally, I’ll take it – One World Iberia to Europe, Latam to LA, Qatar, Quantas, etc. – the main exception being British Airways. which is as bad as AA. Star Alliance there are many good airlines.

    So instead of complaining about unfair competition, AA should get serious about service and better pricing.

  31. I have dealt with several Airlines in my lifetime, but I find American Airlines to be the most frustrating. I have even written to Doug Parker & I have yet to hear one peep from American Airlines.

    Dear Mr. Parker:

    I am writing to complain about the poor and abysmal service and advise I have received from your DTW Cargo team. They not only told me terrible information, they have made absolutely no effort to resolve my issues.

    Let me explain why I am so upset:

    1) I had a package coming from England to DTW (Detroit). It ended up in Orlando, Fla. After putting a trace on the package it arrived in DTW on Tuesday 4/10/2018 at approximately 10:20pm.

    2) I received the AWB # & your phone number on Friday & called your offices on Friday 4/13/2018 I asked if I could pick up the package on Saturday 4/14/2018 & I was told that would be ok. I was given the address & nothing else.

    3) Shortly after this call I received a call from Jessica of your offices called me. She did not know that I had already spoken with your offices. Which tells me that no one documented my initial call. Jessica confirmed that I could pick up my package. She added that I would need my drivers license, passport,& social security card. By the way I told Jessica that I had never done this before.

    4) At 3:04pm, I received the following email from Jessica:


    Per our phone discussion, our address is 614 E service Dr, Detroit, MI 48242. You will need to clear this through US customs, please bring proof of citizenship and your ID, once you pick up documentation from our location we will provide the form needed for customs. Customs is located in international arrivals in the McNamara terminal. Once we get clearance from customs there will be a $50.00 charge for American Airlines, this can be paid Via check or credit card.


    You will notice that she still maintains that I can pick up my package at DTW. But, now (for the first time) I am told I will be charged a $50.00 fee.

    5) I arrived at your DTW location today expecting that I would have to fill out a form & get the customs stamp. When I stopped off at the Cargo office the guy at the desk gave me a folder & basically sent me on my way. No help, no advise & no warnings.

    6) When I got to customs everything went south. The customs agent said that broker #31 stamped on the papers given to me by your organization should have had my package cleared. That I could not get clearance until at least Tuesday.

    7) I called your offices back and spoke with a Shelia and she basically said there was nothing she could do. She did handed me off to a Bruce Handsbury. Although, Mr. Handsbury used a great deal of alleged sympathy and platitudes the bottom line was he was not going to help. He advised that I should hire a broker (Dosen’t the broker number prove there was one already) and I would have to come back to pick up the item. He also threatened me with storage fees. I left my call with him feeling like he really was not that concerned about my issues and feigned concern and platitudes

    Mr. Parker — Here are my issues:

    1) it is not my fault that you all shipped my package to Orlando and not DTW.
    2) it is not my that I followed your staff’s directions and I still don’t have my package.
    3) I didn’t know of this $50 fee until I was printing emails and materials for my meetings with your staff today. That was Friday evening shouldn’t Jessica have mentioned this when we talked earlier in the day?
    4) My wife and I drove seven hours today to pick up a package that we were assured we would be able to picked up.
    5) I was never told that Customs only works Monday – Friday 8:30am – 5:00pm. Even today when I stopped by to get the initial paperwork.

    Mr. Parker, I am a school teacher and coming to Detroit from two hours away is extremely difficult during the week. I already has expended a day, tank of gas, and hours of frustration dealing with your organization.

    I would like to see something done to resolve this issue. I have already began advising people of my issues with American Airlines on Tweeter, and Facebook to illustrate my concern with this horrible treatment. I also am posting a complaint on “Flyertalk” and other social media sites .If I don’t receive satisfaction I am also going to file a complaint with my Congressmen and State Senator.

    Mr. Handsbury said I must come back pay the fees and possibly storage fees. He suggest I hire a broker at my own expense then file a claim with you. Why in God’s name should I expend any of my own money with this is clearly a problem with American Airlines. I have done nothing wrong.

    I will not be satisfied until

    1) that American Airlines get the Custom clearance.
    2) Even if it costs American Airlines additional feels if you need to hire a Broker (which I think already has been handled) you need to ship the packages to either my home address or to MBS International Airport.
    3) This mysterious $50 fee must be waived.


    John B. Mulloy

  32. I’ve been in Aviation a long time. I’ve also seen the different management styles and or” Vision”of at least 5 different CEO”s at AA. DP is by far the slickest in terms of Lip Service. The days of the” tell it like it is” style of CEO”s left the Industry when Bob Crandall retired in the mid 90s… AAs debt has never been higher than today ! 28 Billion and climbing ! Add that to rising fuel cost and one more 911, ( God Forbid ) and AA is back in BK !! Dumping Pensions, Golden Parachutes, and all !!! ..Hope I’m Wrong, I really do ? This is the result of Greed and Not putting your front line Employees first. Period . What A Vision hah?

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