With Double the Planes Out of Service Each Day, American’s Employees Resort to Gallows Humor

American Airlines CEO Doug Parker told employees at an internal question and answer session this week that historically they’ve started each day with an average of 35 aircraft out of service, but recently they’ve been starting out with 65 planes out of service thanks as a result of conflict with the carrier’s mechanics.

Later on he talked about how the airline’s operation is taking a toll on airport staff. I like that in Charlotte employees have come up with their own gallows humor about it, handing out trophies for mandatory overtime. Parker explains,

I was in Charlotte yesterday, people are getting awfully tired because we’re having, it’s one thing to have a storm came in here’s mandatory overtime, it’s another thing to have every day asking people – it’s not asking, it’s mandatory overtime – the people in Charlotte in a perverse attempt at good humor have created the Mando Cup, they walk around with a trophy for people… sharing with each other that they understand how tough it is and what we’re doing to the team but that’s the way in airports that we end up dealing with the difficult operation.

More staff are working more hours to deal with problem resolution during irregular operations.

There are things that American can do to improve but first they’re going to have to stop the spinning.

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 InsideFlyer.com, 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, what’s up with the AA fire sale domestic prices this weekend?

    I’d think with the loss of the MAXes, AA would be short of seats. Seems like they have a lot of empty seats to fill.

  2. You didn’t focus on the AA mechanics when they were actually disrupting the flight schedule, but NOW you focus on them? When they are obviously all working (since the alternative is court-ordered jail time for their leaders).

    AA’s real problem right now is weather. Absolutely terrible weather in DFW; bad thunderstorms almost every day. Today is another terrible day at DFW, with by far the most cancelled flights of any airport in the world. The rest of AA’s operation, however, is now fine.

  3. So what is the proper number of AA planes out of service daily? The assumption seems to be 35, the historical average. Maybe it should really be 65 or something close.

  4. Contrary to what the blog posting title implies, The Mando Cup was created because of the unrelenting storms this season creating massive operational disruptions, resulting in “mandatory” overtime for airport employees.

  5. Why is it so hard for Doug Parker to put together a coherent sentence? It’s difficult to decipher his ramblings.

  6. Doug Parker specifically notes the mandatory overtime is “every day” and not just because of storms. I’m not the one implying anything here, American’s CEO is.

  7. Huh, I got stranded overnight in DTW because of canceled flights due to weather in DFW. I asked the check in people if they could do anything and they gave me a sheet with “support numbers for discount stays.” Doesn’t seem that memo reached the DTW staff

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