I criticize many of the decisions that American Airlines leadership have made. They’ve managed to anger shareholders, employees, and customers alike. While racking up more debt and worse operating statistics than competitors they’ve also re-started their project to degrade the domestic product.
There’s one area though that they’ve performed at an outstanding level. In many ways their customer-facing technology is behind competitors at Delta and United, and it’s easy to give that too much focus. Their app lacks many of the functions of competitors. I find their in-app booking experience to be clunky. You can’t even upgrade using miles or systemwides on their website.
Yet in merging US Airways and American, they completed what has to be the largest data migration in U.S. corporate history.
- The reservation system cutover was flawless
- Moving US Airways Dividend Miles accounts over to the American Airlines platform was nearly flawless and there were over 1 million unique accounts that had the same numbers on the US Airways side as the American side
- While it took a long time to accomplish, getting US Airways and American cabin crew onto a single system didn’t cause any flight interruptions either.
If there’s one area that American appears to excel it’s managing and executing on large IT projects. American Airlines clearly has a capability in managing and migrating data. Goodness knows this was a disaster in some other airline mergers, likely destroying hundreds of millions of dollars in value at least.
Here’s a recent talk by American Airlines CIO (and former AAdvantage head) Maya Leibman on her role in tech as, ironically, fostering connections between people.
With calls for change at American Airlines it’s worth remembering the things that are running well.