Former Starwood CEO Adam Aron came up as a loyalty marketing executive. He worked at Pan Am. He launched Hyatt Gold Passport. And he was a Senior Vice President at United. He argues that airline customer service is bad because of their focus on safety. I don’t think he’s right, though it’s clear that a focus on safety doesn’t filter down throughout the company in the form of sweating the small details.
Singapore Airlines sweats all the small details, not just the mechanical ones. They built a model Airbus A380 using manila envelopes and the seats inside the plane even reclined. Tag line: “It’s the small details that make giants in the sky.” Bingo.
Which brings me to meal service on American Airlines. American’s egg croissant is actually alright, surprisingly one of the better shrink-wrapped cold bread and fillings offerings they’ve served me, but it was served with… deviled eggs. I’ll have eggs with a side of eggs, please?
On a subsequent flight I was offered a (shrink wrapped) turkey pastrami sandwich on a pretzel roll. That sounds ok for American Airlines. But it had both dijonaisse and cream cheese on it.
Putting dijonaisse and cream cheese on meat is literally a choice someone had to make. It didn’t just happen by accident. But it’s something off a random ingredient mix and match game, not something anyone would do while thinking about the customer experience.
The first person I mentioned this to suggested the sandwich is the result of American’s unwillingness to invest in meals for its domestic and short haul first class product. But adding cream cheese is more expensive than just leaving it off. They could have saved even money by not ruining the sandwich!
When you’re adding ingredients to any dish, or undertaking any project really, the question you need to ask is: am I making things better? And if the answer isn’t clearly yes you shouldn’t be doing it. Sweating the details means caring enough not to serve cream cheese on turkey pastrami, and not to serve eggs with a side of eggs.