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American Airlines post-merger reflection... 6 years later?

American Airlines post-merger reflection... 6 years later?

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Old Jan 23, 19, 9:17 pm
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Question American Airlines post-merger reflection... 6 years later?

Was wondering for your reflections on AA 6 years since the merger was first announced, and about 3-4 years since pmAA and pmUS were completely merged. Do you view current AA as more of a glorified, bigger pmUS, more like a Greyhound of the skies, or more like pmAA, where premium ruled the roost? Or more of in-between?

As for me, I view AA as more of in-between. I do see some pmUS stinginess, but I also see some of pmAA's premium laser focus shine (although that's dulled considerably). Premium cabins is pretty much almost on par with pmAA now in terms of meals, although AAdvantage isn't as good as pmAA's was. I'd say it's overall a mix. Customer service is pretty bad, though, and there's an overall "blah" feel of the airline comprised as a whole, nothing really exciting or unique like pmAA was. However, pmUS had its own "feel" too, liked or not, and today's AA just kind of feels like the airline that survived a merger and is just maintaining the status quo without really being unique.

Thoughts?
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Old Jan 23, 19, 9:54 pm
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Originally Posted by MrAndy1369 View Post
Do you view current AA as more of a glorified, bigger pmUS, more like a Greyhound of the skies, or more like pmAA, where premium ruled the roost?
Thoughts?
What's the distinction between the first two alternatives? Kidding aside, on the flagship transcons (80% of my travel), things are much better now, mostly due to updated equipment, terminal amenities and generally good crews. I've been generally pleased with the limited interaction I've had with AAngels, check-in staff and phone reps when I've had questions or issues. As a travel agent, I'm able to offer some extra benefits to clients that I don't have access to on other carriers, so I appreciate AA's efforts to support my industry.

That said, I do avoid flying legacy US ships, because the "premium" feature I usually end up with (MCE) is less prolific. The current trends in IFE/space utilization on non-flagship routes and blog/twitter "scoops" seem to highlight a sort of crisis of culture that is still far from settled. Would be great to see management and employees more visibly aligned and working on a clear vision for the future. I think they will get there, eventually.
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Old Jan 23, 19, 10:02 pm
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“Meh” to put it in one word.....lazy too re: the LUS side of things as far as updates to power, real MCE etc.
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Old Jan 23, 19, 10:48 pm
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It’s an odd mashup of personalities. On one hand you have them pushing the envelope when it comes to cheapening the domestic product - ripping out IFE yet not having power on 5 hour flights, plenty of pmUS birds flying with no real MCE besides bulkheads and exit rows, trying for 29 inch pitch in economy - and on the other hand you have the best international First Class among US airlines between flagship check in, lounges, dining, and on-board hard product.
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Old Jan 23, 19, 11:00 pm
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I came from America West, then USAir, now AA, and the leadership really has not changed in its perspectives. They used to be the airline that typically tried to do well but quite frequently did not quite succeed in that quest, and had some personnel that should not really be in the industry, but you forgave them because they were small and some of your friends worked for them. Now that they have gotten bigger, the picture has not really changed: still quite mediocre, except now on a larger scale, and there are good experiences but also some really bad ones. Some of the personnel really is not happy where they are, and it impacts operations and customer satisfaction. From my perspective, I see current-day AA as a bigger version of America West and USAir.
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Old Jan 24, 19, 7:55 am
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There's no better indication of which ideologies have taken control (at least domestically), than with the Oasis project.
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Old Jan 24, 19, 7:58 am
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Project Oasis / MAX / neo densification & IFE elimination
Operational reliability
D0 obsession
Service inconsistencies
Greater restrictions on SDFC and other benefits
Platinum as second lowest status
Miles devaluations
Awards highly limited, and trammeled by married segment logic
Admirals Club limitations later this year
Increased EQD for EP
Reduction of credit card spend EQD
Paucity of upgrade availability throughout
Reduction of Business class seats number on some aircraft
Etc.
Etc.
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Old Jan 24, 19, 8:14 am
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6 years ago I wouldn't be #11 on an upgrade list on a mid week mid afternoon flight from ATL-DFW as an EXP--I'd be up front.
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Old Jan 24, 19, 8:23 am
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Personally, while I feel the airline is the definition of meh, I have a hard time of assessing much of the blame to the merger. My biggest complaints are the reality of the airline industry in 2019, and what its doing to our airlines overall. Sure, there are a lot of things I don't like about AA 2019, but it's not like I can't say 90% of those things about the changes at United, or Alaska, or even Delta over the past 5-10 years.

Some things are improved, some airlines are doing things more to my preference than others, and some airlines are leaders, but overall I don't think I can just compare PMAA and pretend that standalone AA in 2019 would look anything like that when the entire industry has gotten cheesier, denser, and more striated in terms of product offerings.

I might have liked the way a different management team dulled-down AA's product to respond to those pressures more than their current team did, but odds are good I'd be just as dissatisfied -- if not less satisfied.
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Old Jan 24, 19, 8:56 am
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Originally Posted by jvel View Post
There's no better indication of which ideologies have taken control (at least domestically), than with the Oasis project.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I was under the understanding that Oasis was a pmAA goal/ideology that was postponed and happened to be implemented under the current leadership?

That aside, another question, this time for pmAA... do you think that, if pmAA retained standalone status and did not merge, and kept their leadership the way it was, would today's "AA" be dulled down and meh, too? In other words, would the dulling down of AA have been inevitable, regardless of the merger or not?
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Old Jan 24, 19, 9:13 am
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As a flyer who spent many, many hours on America West and American Airlines flights, I see the current status as not quite as good as either of these airlines were in, say, 2005. At that arbitrary point, HP had cheery, regularly on-time service with a can-do attitude to many places from PHX and LAS. I enjoyed my flights on HP. Contemporaneously, AA had professional, on-time service to many international destinations and partnerships with many international airlines that made them the best of the American airlines in general, usually by a significant margin.

When HP saved the old US Airways and took on their name, the service consistency dipped noticeably. Flying a new US flight sometimes meant good service and a sense of urgency in service, and sometimes not. The addition of new international routes was nice, but flying through PHL was such a big step down in experience that it swiftly became the hub to avoid, worse even than ORD.

Prior to the AA-US merger, AA seemed to falter or lose confidence as a company. While still professional and wide-ranging, the pre-merger year was very directionless. Once the AA-US merger took place, the new direction wasn't always one that I would have chosen, but at least a goal or objective seemed to calm everyone. For whatever reason, however, AA did not retain their unquestioned leadership of the American airline space. There were other airlines that were more profitable, there were other airlines that had better service on certain routes, there were other airlines that could boast more of this or that.

And so it is today that I might take a JetBlue or an Alaska or even a Southwest flight on certain routes. AA doesn't command my allegiance as it or HP might have done a decade ago.
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Old Jan 24, 19, 9:25 am
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I tend to think most of the changes-BE fares, the move towards a dollar equation in status and RDMs, more seats being put into a/c, etc. probably would have occurred to both airlines had they remained separate. Possibly on the AA side a few items like continuing with AVOD in the new Max and A321neos would have remained. In the end the coach experience in just about every airline save for the exception of WN has seen varying degrees of downgrading. I get the feeling the airlines are not done with "monetizing" the Y cabin.
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Old Jan 24, 19, 9:41 am
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Originally Posted by newyorkgeorge View Post
I tend to think most of the changes-BE fares, the move towards a dollar equation in status and RDMs, more seats being put into a/c, etc. probably would have occurred to both airlines had they remained separate. Possibly on the AA side a few items like continuing with AVOD in the new Max and A321neos would have remained. In the end the coach experience in just about every airline save for the exception of WN has seen varying degrees of downgrading. I get the feeling the airlines are not done with "monetizing" the Y cabin.
I agree fully with this. The trends that have been "downgrades" like densification, unbundling, revenue-based reward programs, etc., are industry trends. Neither AA nor US have been industry leaders in this respect.

For those who have complained about product, let's not forget that 6 years ago, US had an industry leading J seat (lie-flat with all aisle access) on most of its longhaul international service while AA had an industry-lagging J seat (slanty beds in a 2-3-2 or 2-2-2 layout). Even in international Y, US had nice responsive touch screens on their 332s while AA had tiny screens with video on a loop on the 772 and overhead screens on the 763, which are still there. I always remember this when folks bemoan the "US-ification" (or HP-ification) of the product. What we have actually seen is not a move to a better or worse product, but rather a divergence where the Y product has been getting worse (in most cases deliberately, with the goal of upselling to MCE, PE, or J/F). On the other hand, the premium product has been getting better, both in terms of the seats and extras, and in terms of the variety of offerings at different price levels (introduction of PE, for example).
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Old Jan 24, 19, 10:15 am
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AA has a dual focus and its going to cost people in the middle. The middle will move out to Delta. You have the LCC in Coach and premium FC up front. Premium Econ on long hauls can bridge the gap but on domestic flights it cannot. They close lounges at outposts and are making the beautiful FL lounges. Half Greyhound half premium. Soon enough they will be forced to go in a direction. As they lose contracts they can become an LCC or as they lose people in the back maybe they can be a full fledged premium airline. People like myself who we dont spend on J or F but enough in Y and W will slowly switch over to places where the middle of the road will be treated better. Delta is trying to become that.
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Old Jan 24, 19, 10:35 am
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90% of my EXP travel is TATL, so take this FWIW...

Setting aside the reduction of 4 SWU (:TD), I think AA is much better 6-years later. One of the best longhaul fleets of the US-3, it not THE best (aside from the 767s)... added PE before anyone else, as well. Longhaul J is very solid, and has improved a lot in 6 years. Same with the lounges.

Redemptions are harder and more miles, sure. Upgrades have not been any harder for me from Y-->J than they used to be. I still haven't missed an upgrade on a TATL or TPAC flight as an EXP for 5 years now.
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