For several years American Airlines has had a laser focus on ‘D0’ exact on-time departures. It hasn’t made them an on-time airline, but they’ve sacrificed cleaning, processing upgrades and standbys at the gate, and wouldn’t hold even the last flight of the day for connecting passengers.
Gate agents, used to getting called in for missing D0, and used to managers yelling at them as they try to get flights out, haven’t fully adapted to the need to prioritize aircraft cleaning in the Covid era on just pushing the aircraft back on time. Before the pandemic sacrificing cleaning to get planes out was the airline’s explicit policy.
During this past week’s employee Crew News session with flight attendants, one cabin crew member shared with management that she was working a flight where the aircraft was late coming in, and the cleaners were given just 5 minutes to work on the aircraft before the next flight.
As a result they weren’t able to completely clean the aircraft before the gate agent announced that cleaners had to get off the plane so that it could depart on time.
Chief Operating Officer David Seymour made clear that the priority has changed,
Unfortunately we heard a similar question at the last Crew News. We’re committed to the Clean Commitment. That’s not just a name out there. We are committed to that, committed to doing it right…
If the plane arrives late, we still have required things that we need to do of which cleaning is a very important thing. And if you as a flight attendant don’t think the airplane is clean enough you should have the right to say ‘no we’re not boarding the airplane until the plane gets clean.’
Whether it’s on time or not the point is we have more of a commitment to have a clean airplane safe for not only our team members but also our passengers and we can’t sacrifice that.
Then Brady Byrnes, Managing Director of Flight Service Training, added,
Please please please write this up…We will action them.
Interestingly enough I just received a note the other day from a flight attendant out of San Francisco. We quickly forwarded it on to the appropriate people and they were able to address the situation and there was one particular person who wasn’t necessarily quite up to speed on our commitment to the Clean Commitment.
It’s understandable that American Airlines employees aren’t up to speed that anything is allowed to trump D0, because they’ve heard for so long that nothing is, and not all supervisors get it either. But it’s good to hear it from the top, and hopefully word will trickle out across the airline’s stations. The legacy of D0 über alles has been perhaps the major barrier to actually implementing the cleaning that American Airlines promises.