Steps American Airlines is Taking to Improve Operations at Dallas Fort-Worth

After the opening of 15 new gates in terminal E satellite at Dallas Fort-Worth last month, American today is offering 900 flights and will continue to do so on peak days from the airport this summer. That’s a year-over-year increase of 100 flights.

American has already made changes to their operation that should improve reliability this summer, like delaying conversion of additional Boeing 737-800 aircrafts to new denser interiors, potentially providing for additional spare planes and slack in the system.

Dallas Fort-Worth won’t be without challenges — DFW is colloquially known as “Doesn’t Function Wet” — but according to an internal communication there are several moves American has made to help with their operational reliability.

  • Hired more employees in Customer Care, Maintenance and Flight Service.

  • Expanded access to equipment with 180 new items “including bag tractors, belt loaders, pushouts and bag carts” and “added vending machines that dispense supplies such as wands, headsets, radios, batteries and more, which gives team members immediate access to the tools they need rather than spending time searching or borrowing from other areas”

  • Retiming departures to the minute starting in July. Instead of timing departures in five minute increments, offering an exact departure minute “will reduce the number of aircraft scheduled to push back and depart at the same time, reducing potential queuing time and taxi delays as planes make their way to the runway.”

  • Pushing back widebody flight times “to the end of each bank [of departures] to reduce ramp and runway congestion” which may or may not be desirable for customer connection times.

  • Better gate assignment sending aircraft to gates closer to their arrival runway, or to their planned departure runway, so that planes don’t taxi as long.

  • More diversion cities so that when flights can’t land at DFW they don’t all wind up in the same place, so there’s less of a queue to get back into the air once things are clear.

One thing to note is that the B terminal at DFW will no longer be exclusively for regional jets. Gates B5 and B12 have been “resized to accommodate mainline aircraft.” Additionally at B American “developed an outbound bag room and expanded [their] baggage handling system with five new piers and coming soon, a new baggage carousel.” Terminal E will also be getting an Admirals Club.

There are additional steps that American can and should take, of course. One is getting a mechanics union contract done, to put acrimony with their workers behind them. Things have recently escalated between the company and TWU-IAM, and the airline sued the mechanics’ union over charges that mechanics were purposely slowing down their operation.

Another is scheduling crews to stay with aircraft when possible. Today when a plane arrives at an airport and will operate another flight, the crew from that plane likely go on to fly a separate third flight. That means when the plane is delayed, two onward flights are delayed instead of just one — one because of lack of aircraft, the other because of lack of crew. Keeping crew and planes together prevents cascading of delays.

American says they’ve “started service from DFW to 23 new markets and increased service to more than 80 existing markets.” Hopefully the DFW and summer 2019 experience will prove positive as American prepares to operate over 700 daily departures from Charlotte by the end of the year.

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. @ Gary — Maybe they could try firing pilots that lie to customers just so they can time out?

  2. Those all sound like things they already should have been doing. Nothing groundbreaking or revolutionary here.

  3. I wrote a note to AA (online) after a bad DFW layover experience, and focused specifically on how badly Terminal D seems short staffed (ticketing agents, gate agents, customer service personnel in particular). Got a nonsensical response, but I wish more people would do the same. In any sort of weather event, the place just falls apart; the lines people are made to wait in are criminal. Insanely short-staffed.

  4. Best way to improve is to cut the taxi time from the Far East runaway : you practically drive in from Houston out there

  5. –One time, I went to the customer service desk. There was a long line that was not moving despite having many seemingly senior service reps. There was another guy behind them helping them. What was the problem? Apparently, management had rolled out a new reservation system, and no-one could get it to work.
    –Another time, I had a problem. So I called the EP desk to see if they could fix it. They told me, they would love to, but they no longer had the authority. They told me that the service agent on the ground had the authority to fix the problem. I spend 30 minutes in line.
    –Another time, I had a roller and two small carry-ons. In fact, I had flown out to Mexico, then back that same way. I had been upgraded and was in first. The desk in DFW made me gate check a roller at the gate. Seriously, I should have just stuffed one of my small carry-ons into the roller. They apologized. However, they said management was videotaping the desks, and punishing personal that allowed a third bag on the plane.

    Conclusion: Management problem.

  6. Let’s hire in every other departments except where they’re needed most, the ramp. Let’s just budget $35 mil a month in overtime and work our employees to death, then file a lawsuit against them because we don’t wanna take the blame for our piss poor management decisions. Let’s not talk about the thousands of bags being missconnected in DFW, count is over 10,000 in 4 days because of their decision making. Let’s not talk about that these vending machines do not exist, we still have no equipment to do our jobs. Let’s not talk about how management is running American Airlines brand into the ground while the powers that be from USAirways make millions of dollars a year but demand their employees be outsourced, and their livelihoods decimated all in the name of profits. Going for last.

  7. If you didn’t pick it up in the article, NO NEW FLEET SERVICE NEW HIRES. Added flights. More flights added to terminals because of flight – terminal departure matching. Less manpower on gates to work them. We want American to be #1, but with hands tied, all we can do is watch.

  8. Aircraft is both singular and plural. One aircraft, two aircraft. Otherwise interesting article, it’s amazing that DFW can handle that many AA departures a day.

  9. INCREASED flights,increased workloads,need for addition equipment for the new gates,NO ADDITIONAL FLEET SERVICE CLERKS ! AA is not supporting it’s workforce.
    Delaying the Oasis project aka less leg room,tiny bathrooms and no in flight entertainment gives Parker time to try and save face as NOBODY likes the configuration.

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