ConnectMe: American Working on Better Communications During Flight Delays

Earlier in the week I wrote about how American systematically lists incorrect boarding times on boarding passes for large domestic narrowbody aircraft (Boeing 757, Airbus A321, and Boeing 737s that now have 172 seats crammed in) and for widebodies flying domestic routes.

The airline has known about this problem for years and chosen not to prioritize telling customers the correct time that they’ll be boarding. However American now tells me a fix is in the works and it’s anticipated for November.

I also wrote about how the airline fails to update departure times during delays with any sense of reality.

  • In the case of my own experience this week it was assuming 14 minutes on the ground two times in a row for the aircraft I’d be flying, and projecting a departure time that was before my inbound aircraft was even scheduled to arrive.
  • Often it’s just pushing out anticipated departure times by ten minutes every time the last delayed departure time comes and goes — over and over, for an hour or two even.

Always-Delayed MD80s are Leaving the Fleet

While I don’t know any plans to improve the efforts of American’s Integrated Operations Center to prioritize better departure time expectations, there is a new effort to improve communications between different parts of the airline to better deal with delays, and hopefully reduce them as well. It’s called ConnectMe, and here’s how it’s being described to employees:

The attempt here seems to be in this first phase to get better information to customers, which is laudable.

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. AA’s customer communications are like something out of Curb Your Enthusiasm.

    On a recent flight from LGA to Washington DC there was no plane at the gate, but nevertheless the sign said “Boarding: 15 minutes” Then it counted down as follows:

    14 Minutes
    13 Minutes
    12 Minutes
    etc etc
    5 Minutes
    4 Minutes
    Flight Cancelled

  2. Dear American,
    I’ve been waiting 20 plus years for you to improve in many ways
    Shall I list the dozens of missed opportunities and the lack of caring?
    Finally for the last expected 30 plus approx years left of my life
    I’ve simply moved on to other global and regional airlines and despite having to connect a bit more in places I’m here to tell you your competitors are doing a superior job in most regards
    The grass is truly greener elsewhere with greater earnings in programs and pleasant helpful cultures where many team members love and take pride in their company and customer
    I’m not so sure why I waited so long but perhaps I kept a failed faith in a program where I had earned going on near 9 million miles and kept hoping saver awards would be more readily available where cabins sit empty
    Where your agents might actually be empowered to assist and help passengers without fear of losing their jobs
    It’s a big country I’m sure someone is taking my place as I write

  3. For an extra $25 per segment we will be offering a new service called real time, where you can access true departure times.

  4. @ Dwondermeant – Hear, hear. I left American 4 years ago for greener pastures i.e. Delta. Never looked back.

  5. I’ll believe it when I see it, but ConnectMe sounds like a good idea. Just like listing the addition of the “incoming flight information” on the online flight status page was a good idea. Currently, at the hubs, I find that the gate agents are often clueless as to where their aircraft and crew are. If they know more, they can tell their customers more. Personally, I’m not expecting a revolutionary change from this, but more information at the gate would obviously be a good thing.

  6. I am glad to hear this. I think DL leads the way in connecting with passengers about delays so about time AA looked to improve theirs.

    However, passengers need to use some of their own common sense. It takes 30 minutes to unload a mainline plane, 20 – 30 minutes to reload 10 minutes to prep for boarding, fuel, and start baggage loading so start your own clock once the plane pulls up to the gate and stay close to the gate, just to be safe.

  7. Every corporate system launch that was designed with a benefit to customers always clearly communicated this benefit, as it’s usually a motivator for the system’s adoption by employees.

    The fact that customers aren’t even mentioned in the benefits bullet point means that they don’t really care about customers. And that should come as no surprise to you.

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