A storm system pummeled the Dallas – Fort Worth area on Sunday, leading to mammoth flight delays, cancellations, and diversions on American Airlines. But while the weather is beyond AA’s control, the ground handling and technological deficits demonstrate the true operational meltdown.
American Airlines Operational Meltdown – It Wasn’t The Weather…
Sunday was not a good day for American from an operational perspective. By the end of the day, the carrier had chalked up:
- 874 delays
- 276 cancellations
While the nexus of the delay was in Dallas, the inability of aircraft to depart from and land at American’s largest hub rippled across the network.
But the issue is deeper than a summer storm in Dallas.
While airlines cannot control the weather, they can can control how to deal with the impact of weather. This was the scene in Terminal D at DFW:
Terminal D rebooking line goes for as far as the eye can see… pic.twitter.com/PLm3Q2QTau
— joepercussion1 (@joepercussion1) August 1, 2021
Why was the line so long in Terminal D and in other terminals?
Only 2 agents working the counter too… Terminal A is about 15 gates deep for the customer service line
— joepercussion1 (@joepercussion1) August 2, 2021
It’s the ultimate icing on the cake, isn’t it? Your flight is severely delayed or cancelled and then you spend three more hours in line trying to sort it out.
Here’s where American Airlines really has control and is still thinking in such outmoded terms. Two agents on a duty when thousands of experienced flight delays? A mobile app that cannot offer passengers viable rebooking options?
This is what makes people hate American Airlines…it’s not the weather.
Talking to a live human agent is like a security blanket: probably unnecessary, but that personal touch is appreciated during a delay. When faced with operational issues of this magnitude, it is all-hands on deck.
I find it absurd that an airline the size of American Airlines could not find more than two agents to staff its customer services lines during a storm which temporarily shut down the airport. There’s no excuse.
Furthermore, it is amazing to me that American Airlines has not developed a website or mobile app actually capable of offering viable rebooking option along with a guide to help empower passengers to rebook themselves.
I get it – delays and cancellations happen and there is limited space. But tell people to keep refreshing as seats rapidly appear and disappear. Just because you initially don’t see options until the following day doesn’t mean that won’t change in a matter of minutes…or seconds. But passengers must be empowered to keep looking and technology should be user-friendly and easy…it is a win-win for the airline and consumer.
The true story about the operational meltdown at American Airlines is not the ~1,100 delays and cancellations, but the two agents on duty with lines to speak to an agent literally a mile long. Delays are inevitable, but American Airlines must do a far better job of managing those delays through proper staffing and technology.