Results of the New American Airlines Employee Survey Are Out

Last year American Airlines conducted an extensive anonymous survey of its employees. They received over 59,000 responses — and the results were really bad.

  • Only 41% of American Airlines employees believe that the airline’s management makes “the right decisions that take care of customers” and only 32% 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.”

American, to their credit, didn’t spin the results. They said this would be a baseline against which they’d measure improvement.

The airline has completed its second ‘American Voice’ survey, and while I haven’t seen the full results The Forward Cabin shared this snapshot:

The most positive thing that American is able to highlight is that employees — paid and scheduled based on seniority — don’t plan to give up that seniority by leaving the company. The two worst results are both about employee trust in the decision-making of the airline’s leaders.

We know that mechanics are unhappy about their inability to get a new contract and anecdotally have been causing some of the airline’s operational challenges. Flight attendants are embarrassed by the new domestic product that the airline offers. Perhaps survey data that can be seen in a spreadsheet will underscore some of what employees have been telling management each month already.

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 is very customer service driven. I love the roominess of the bathrooms on the new 737-Max-8 aircraft. You can tell by the improved bathrooms and seat pitch that AA’s management is carefully monitoring how their customers perceive their service. I hope they win several awards for this new aircraft upgrade.

  2. There’s absolutely no way AA rolls back the new interiors, no matter how much everyone, including employees, hates it. The only way AA mgmt listens now is if employees are willing to walk because of crap like the interiors. Current AA mgmt will not waffle on the new interiors…

  3. As much as I loved flying AA before the Doug crap show, I now avoid it at all cost, even as a lifetime plat.

    All that said, I do like that they are willing to share results like these to their employees (ostensibly also recognizing that they will be leaked).

    As a leader, often the most difficult thing is eating some humble pie publicly while reflecting on your performance. It’s easier to say ‘we can do better’ than ‘I need to do better’.

    I wish the AA management well in their quest to turn these numbers around- but fear that even with all the right intentions, I don’t think they have the traveler experience chops to compete instead of copy.

  4. I think that most NEGATIVE response in the survey is that the employees with seniority are not going anywhere anytime soon. I wish they would leave.

    Ever noticed how the new employees try the hardest? It’s because they have not realized that with the union backing them they don’t have to do squat and there are no consequences. Seniority? What a stupid metric to use to run a business

  5. I echo Jed and also a lifetime Plat avoiding American
    I’ll pay more to not fly American or travel more segments as they have created a disintegrated ,lFF program devastated employee morale and awful experience in the air
    I fly them only if they are the only carrier to do the job with an hour or less flight

  6. It felt like the pilot slowdown of a few years ago: two mechanicals (in sequence, not in parallel), then let’s de-ice and hang out on the tarmac a while. Let’s do the tarmac thing again at DFW. Then let’s deny boarding when I show up 6 minutes prior to scheduled departure for my paid first seat. (Which I’m sure they’d given to someone else. ) It’s not that they didn’t know exactly where I was…
    I just had the weirdest feeling that there was an underlying agenda.

  7. Thisnhears survey had dismal participation. I hope there are serious discussions among executive leadership, about why participation was so bad.

  8. While the bottom favorable responses relate to the employees views of leadership, contrary to the letter to Team Members, the top responses do not pertain to hw employees view their contributions. Also it is good that one of the most favorable responses was that employees think their managers act ethically and honestly. The bad news is that only 73% believe that.

  9. @Amapas, not sure what you mean by dismal participation. The participation is approximately 47% of AAL employees. Most research firms believe employee participation in surveys that approach 50% is much above average.

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