American Airlines is in a never-ending war with their employees, so much so that they instructed how to apologize better while Delta gives their employees raises. A tale of two airlines.
American Airlines Distributes Apology Instructions
This week, American Airlines leadership gave out instructions on how to better apologize to customers for their poor performance. Yes, really. A reader sent me the exact verbiage last week and I wanted to let it marinate before I put it out (then others subsequently did so.) Why? Because I couldn’t decide if it was the airline showing effort for once, or rather, an example of the carrier further entrenching themselves against their employees.
The instructions were long so I want to boil it down to the basics:
“An apology should always include:
• A detailed account of the situation
• Acknowledgement of the hurt or damage done as it shows you validate their feelings and the customer begins to sense you understand the situation
• Taking responsibility without making excuses for the situation is important as the apology is about them and how they feel
• Offer a form of restitution whenever possible”
While I don’t disagree with the method, I do disagree with the message. “We know we are delivering an inferior product to our customers, so it’s your duty to apologize better.”
Pretending for a quick moment that the mechanics were wrong in their demands, the flight attendants too – basically, American management is solely in the right at the airline – does the approach make sense to still task those frontline employees with delivering a better apology? Would it not be easier, at this point, to just relent on employee demands?
Delta Gives Raises
Delta announced that they will be giving 4% raises to employees this year and that profit sharing will be better than ever. Personally, I am not surprised that Delta has less strife with their employee bases. They run a better airline which makes their employees more prideful in the company, they have fewer complaints and no tense labor negotiations that drag on (literally) for years past their deadline.
I have previously stated that American’s labor unions may be doing them an injustice and the case for working without one at Delta gets clearer by the day.
Monkey See, Monkey Do… Sometimes
American Airlines is happy to follow Delta’s lead in nearly every other aspect. For their sins, United is no better. Delta switches to qualifying dollars for employees, American follows suit. Delta sets the activity levels, and American nearly follows suit. Delta starts investing in strategic partners with ownership equity, American follows suit. Basic economy, premium economy, the list goes on and on but isn’t a perfect carbon copy.
Why is it so hard for American Airlines to connect the dots that customers prefer a better run operation, that keeping employees happy then results in keeping customers happy too?
I don’t think I could buy Doug Parker and company a clue at this point. The evidence is clear that happier employees (which are a result of myriad factors including pay) are better employees and customers appreciate it. Money is not the only way to thank employees, but regardless of one’s love for their job, they ultimately go to work for money – it seems an appropriate incentive. American should immediately settle the disputes and move toward incentivizing their employees. Then, at least, if they lost money on flying operations it would be from a morally defensible position.
What do you think? Are the two airlines so different than no comparisons can be made? Is American’s approach toward labor correctable?