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Airlines

This Is Not a Great Month for Flying American Airlines

This Is Not a Great Month for Flying American Airlines
Jeff Edwards

In the past few weeks, the world’s largest airline has faced something of a perfect storm when it comes to schedule disruptions, but the actual weather only accounts for a small percentage of American Airlines’ latest operational issues. Increasingly contentious labor issues and the continued grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft certainly haven’t helped.

Recent headlines are offering some insight into what frequent flyers have known for some time: this isn’t a great time to be flying American Airlines. The much-discussed operational problems at the largest carrier on the planet can’t be attributed to a single cause, but instead, appear to have resulted from a list of troubles that seems to be growing daily.

American Airlines’ well-publicized labor issues haven’t improved over the summer – in fact, the contentious relationship between the airline reached a new level of antagonism this week when dozens of picketers protesting below poverty level wages and unaffordable medical insurance were arrested at the carrier’s headquarters near Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW). The mass arrest of labor leaders representing catering workers is only the latest skirmish between employees and the airline.

American Airlines and union-represented mechanics have already been in and out of court dozens of times this year as contract negotiations stalled. In June, the carrier won a temporary injunction against mechanics who management claimed were purposefully delaying flights by citing frivolous issues as a way to keep planes on the ground. Union leaders denied the allegations and in turn accused the company of disregarding serious safety issues in the name of cost savings and quick profits.

The airline’s courtroom victory this summer doesn’t appear to have the desired effect. The injunction against mechanics was made permanent this week, but CNBC reports that American Airlines officials aren’t satisfied and have vowed to seek damages from their own employees after admitting that more than 900 flights have been canceled or delayed in recent weeks.

Of course, labor issues aren’t the cause of irregular operations at American. Even before Boeing 737 MAX aircraft were grounded from the airspace of nearly every country on the planet, the plane’s dubious safety record had already started to weigh on the airline’s schedule. In March, the union representing American Airlines flight attendants told its members they could not be forced to work on flights operated with 737 MAX equipment. Although the 737 MAX doesn’t represent a significant percentage of the carrier’s fleet, the loss of the aircraft for passenger service has added to an increasing strain on operations.

The carrier has also reported significant weather-related delays at some of its busiest hubs. A number of travelers connecting through Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) recently found themselves spending as many as two nights stranded in the City of Brotherly Love. Similar issues attributed to weather have been reported by the airline at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT).

Have an upcoming flight on American Airlines? The FlyerTalk American Airlines AAdvantage forum has the most comprehensive and up-to-date information on the carrier’s increasingly irregular operations (IROPS).

 

[Featured Image: American Airlines]

View Comments (15)

15 Comments

  1. jonsail

    August 20, 2019 at 1:58 pm

    A schedule change causing a 9.5 hour layover caused me to cancel my TA flight w/ American and book with UA.

  2. LukeO9

    August 20, 2019 at 2:59 pm

    what appears to be required to get decent wage increases here is very different to executive wage increases, which have been large and automatic for decades.

  3. quant_93

    August 20, 2019 at 5:00 pm

    Parker doesn’t care if passengers have a bad experience. This really isn’t news.

  4. diver858

    August 20, 2019 at 7:22 pm

    More objective, unbiased Flyertalk “journalism”: “…below poverty level wages and unaffordable medical insurance…”
    Hmmm – guess who wrote this one for Jeff?

  5. uxb

    August 21, 2019 at 4:16 am

    You forgot to mention PHX, where if you landed during the day, you were almost guaranteed a cancelled flight and a stay at the local airport Sheraton because of extreme heat.

  6. pentiumii

    August 21, 2019 at 5:42 am

    I believe that every problem that AA has can be traced back to the merger with USAir. Domestic airlines have lived with the luxury of knowing that the flying public only looks at the price and therefore the airlines do not have to compete on any other basis. However, AA has pushed this indifference over the edge and frequent flyers like myself are avoiding them because it is just to painful to try to be their customer. Hopefully Marriott and AA can learn from this experience during the next recession.

  7. mbgaskins

    August 21, 2019 at 9:30 am

    Two words for the problem.

    DOUG PARKER.

  8. krlcomm

    August 21, 2019 at 4:54 pm

    The article’s title almost makes it seem like there’s a good month to be flying AA? 😁

  9. bigislanddave

    August 22, 2019 at 4:27 am

    So AA gives me my money back on my First ticket $1100 one way inside the USA because they cannot get me to my intended destination with one day of travel due to mechanical issue, but 2 days later sells me the same ticket for $450 and it works. I have a MBA and I do not understand how this is a good business model. Lower revenue and a customer who vows to fly Delta or United in the future.

  10. ayton

    August 22, 2019 at 6:56 am

    Once again, DOUG PARKER in a race to the bottom.

  11. northernlights1

    August 22, 2019 at 2:57 pm

    Wow shock. Union leaders creating slow downs? And they claim that American is ambivalent to their safety concerns? Does anybody actually believe ANYTHING a labor union says? They are interested in only one thing and it aint us the flying public.

    What I don’t understand is peoples work ethic anymore. Its not a free lunch out there folks. Work your ass off. Don’t expect much. Have pride in what you do.

    As far as caterer’s go. Any money in their pocket is money out of my pocket. This isn’t a socialist economy. Don’t like your job. Quit and retrain. Its a free country.

  12. POatParker

    August 22, 2019 at 4:25 pm

    I agree with many people above. The problem is DOUG PARKER! HE NEEDS TO GO! He is destroying AA. He is outsourcing maintenance to cheaper, non AA sources over seas! What kind of quality is that?? The general flying public should be outraged! Not to mention how he has literally crossed the lines of human dignity with the flying public. He has squeezed in more seats, smaller bathrooms, worse seat rakes, used the S80’s way past when they should have been retired, etc. AA stock sucks under his regime, despite all of his money grubbing antics! It is time for PARKER move on, away from business. Maybe he can go start another profession, like taking candy from babies, while driving drunk!

  13. kkua

    August 24, 2019 at 8:22 am

    AA needs a lesson in becoming proactively flexible and take a page out of DL’s playbook. For any potential IrrOps, DL issues a travel waiver a day or two ahead of the affected dates. Why can’t AA do this and save themselves the negative publicity?

  14. splpllw

    August 27, 2019 at 11:28 am

    I found Mr. Parker’s email on the internet, and sent him a message explaining that we had to cancel our entire vacation last week (Alaskan cruise) because AA couldn’t get us there in time to meet the ship.. Amazingly, I received a call from AA….(his office?)….Someone had actually read my email…..and she did apologize……and said they were trying to “do better”. In the email, I also mentioned my concern about the adversarial relationship between AA and the mechanics, emphasizing that the mechanics are just as important as the pilots that fly the planes. I also wrote…….I want AA to HUG the mechanics, and I do….seriously!!

  15. uxb

    September 5, 2019 at 6:55 am

    Let’s not forget all of the cancellations at PHX because of excessive heat, dry lightning, haboobs, etc. I don’t know why Discount Dougie stubbornly refuses to stay at that hub when he has LAX. It’s not economically feasible.

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