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The path forward for AA’s inflight service

The path forward for AA’s inflight service

Old Jan 30, 2024, 8:06 pm
  #1  
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The path forward for AA’s inflight service

We all know service on American is a mixed bag. My last two short domestic hops (DEN-DFW-SAT) had great cabin crew - attentive and friendly service, PDB, etc. My previous 4-5 flights not so much, including no PDB and outright lazy service in F on premium transcon flights LAX-JFK and JFK-SFO. At its best, AA is fine to quite good. But this is about 30% of the time, with the typical experience leaving much to be desired.

Is the consumer perspective a bit uninformed? Sure. I don’t manage their budgets or know where they’re burning money they regret committing. But from a management perspective, I know a bit about how to grow your business and loyal customer base.

Two things need to happen:

1. Pay them. End the contract dispute and give them their damn money. They’re asking for $80k which is not a lot of money for someone working 2080 hr/year. Give them $70k with incentives that can get them to $80k. I think they’re around $60k on average now. Yeah that’s a big outlay but honestly what they need to do to remain competitive.

2. Send the same memo United reportedly did, as was leaked today: No use of phones when passengers are onboard. Be attentive and approachable while on the job. Not rocket science, and the minimum bar (or should be) for employment. Yeah, it sucks this needs to be spelled out, but that’s the world we live in.

Here’s to hoping they get something done and don’t go the route of recent history - cheapen the experience of paying passengers and enable their crews to give the middle finger to it all.
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Old Jan 30, 2024, 8:19 pm
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Originally Posted by gophish11
Pay them. End the contract dispute and give them their damn money. They’re asking for $80k which is not a lot of money for someone working 2080 hr/year.
Are you talking about cabin crew? They don't work anything close to 2,080 hours/year. Last time I looked at the APFA contract, 75 hours/month was considered full-time.
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Old Jan 30, 2024, 9:05 pm
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Originally Posted by Dr. HFH
Are you talking about cabin crew? They don't work anything close to 2,080 hours/year. Last time I looked at the APFA contract, 75 hours/month was considered full-time.
Wow, okay that does change the calculus. I think what I read (can’t remember the source) reported this wrong or gave the impression it was 71h per pay period. A lesson on checking my sources.

Well, like I said, the consumer perspective is often uninformed (or misinformed).

Still, I hope there’s a way to meet them somewhere in the middle and regain some degree of consistency in their levels of service.

Long ago, I used to work service where it’s hard to get more than 5h/day on the clock but still pulled down far more than your average FA, largely due to tips. I was also able to work a second and sometimes third job to supplement my income which is inherently more difficult for cabin crew.

Bottom line, I’m tired of the dynamics currently at play that our US based carriers can’t seem to figure out where

I guess as long as the are passengers (myself included) willing to spend more than your average FA salary on annual airfare and expect little but a seat in return we should manage our expectations. I digress…
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Old Jan 31, 2024, 5:46 am
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Originally Posted by Dr. HFH
Are you talking about cabin crew? They don't work anything close to 2,080 hours/year. Last time I looked at the APFA contract, 75 hours/month was considered full-time.
Maybe 75 flight hours per month, i.e. from parking brake released to engine shutdown (or whatever it is). But I don't think it's fair to say that boarding and deplaning time, getting from one flight to the next, etc. just isn't part of a FA's workday. And I can see it being awkward if two FA's start and end their day at the same hour, but get paid way differently if one gets longer flights with less percentage of non-flight time in their workday.

Contract negotiation is a regular part of business and I'm sure they'll sort out whatever needs to be sorted.

With that said, with regards to the in-flight experience, I don't necessarily expect that to change radically with a new contractual agreement. I think it's like anywhere; the best performers will be those who enjoy what they do. It's more about mindset than anything; though admittedly being underpaid isn't going to help motivation.

Some of the best cabin crews I've had have been short haul and regionals where I'm sure their take-home pay is peanuts, and some of the least engaged cabin crews I've had have been way more senior flying long haul - probably way more take-home pay per day.
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Old Jan 31, 2024, 5:55 am
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A reduction in the number of FAs working the main cabin as they are primarily there for our safety. Increased walk up self service offerings in the galleys. That is the future I see. Layoffs .
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Old Jan 31, 2024, 6:40 am
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Originally Posted by D3Kingg
A reduction in the number of FAs working the main cabin as they are primarily there for our safety. Increased walk up self service offerings in the galleys. That is the future I see. Layoffs .
There's a minimum legal requirement for number of FA's based on seat count, so I don't see this happening.
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Old Jan 31, 2024, 8:19 am
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Service is inconsistent on AA, UA and even DL, so not sure there's much that can be done. On each of these airlines, there are some cabin crew who are amazing and some who are terrible, and then the majority of crew are in the middle-- no complaints, but nothing memorable either. The US will never have cabin crew managers on board the way some Asian and Middle East airlines do.

Whether AA needs to focus on their inflight soft product is another story-- but in an era where they've decided their schedule is the product, there's not much hope there.
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Old Jan 31, 2024, 8:41 am
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I envision the service continuing to be a mixed bag, as it has been in the last 30 years, IME ...
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Old Jan 31, 2024, 8:46 am
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Originally Posted by D3Kingg
A reduction in the number of FAs working the main cabin as they are primarily there for our safety. Increased walk up self service offerings in the galleys. That is the future I see. Layoffs .
Proof that repeating falsehoods leads to one believing it.
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Old Jan 31, 2024, 9:37 am
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Originally Posted by gophish11
Here’s to hoping they get something done and don’t go the route of recent history - cheapen the experience of paying passengers and enable their crews to give the middle finger to it all.
AA has some really well paid people answering the questions you're asking, and are constrained by the US consumer markets.....majority of US consumers are cost sensitive, but changing....A premium experience and crew customer service delivery go hand in hand. We shall see in 5 years where the economy takes us, and see if those forecasts are true or not.

AA 2022 Article about premium seating

CNBC Article about Airline's Premium Seating view
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Old Jan 31, 2024, 9:52 am
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I've always said that the key to inflight service is: CONSISTENCY!

1. Develop a reasonable standard for inflight service, both for the premium cabin(s) and the main cabin. Even the main cabin should have decent BOB choices for domestic flights over 2.5 hours. To minimize waste, encourage pre-orders of BOB.
2 if the F class is 16 or larger, a Y FA should actually help the F flight attendant with the F service.
3. Execute this consistently on EVERY flight!

Honestly, it is really not that hard. They used to it and a lot more...
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Old Jan 31, 2024, 10:23 am
  #12  
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Originally Posted by HaleiwaFlyer
AA has some really well paid people answering the questions you're asking, and are constrained by the US consumer markets.....majority of US consumers are cost sensitive, but changing....A premium experience and crew customer service delivery go hand in hand. We shall see in 5 years where the economy takes us, and see if those forecasts are true or not.

AA 2022 Article about premium seating

CNBC Article about Airline's Premium Seating view
They might be well paid but I’m not sure they’re competent. AA’s margin was nearly 50% of Delta’s last year. Something isn’t working…
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Old Jan 31, 2024, 11:01 am
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Originally Posted by formeraa
I've always said that the key to inflight service is: CONSISTENCY!

1. Develop a reasonable standard for inflight service, both for the premium cabin(s) and the main cabin. Even the main cabin should have decent BOB choices for domestic flights over 2.5 hours. To minimize waste, encourage pre-orders of BOB.
2 if the F class is 16 or larger, a Y FA should actually help the F flight attendant with the F service.
3. Execute this consistently on EVERY flight!

Honestly, it is really not that hard. They used to it and a lot more...
Don't have too look far for #1. Alaska has it down (at least pre-pandemic) for pre-ordering Buy on Board. Maybe make the more perishable items pre-ordered only.
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Old Jan 31, 2024, 11:12 am
  #14  
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Originally Posted by dw
They might be well paid but I’m not sure they’re competent. AA’s margin was nearly 50% of Delta’s last year. Something isn’t working…
Let’s hope for a Flyertalker to take over that position then. Has to be someone on this board who has qualifications; maybe someone can volunteer their services to make AA better and take one for the team.
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Last edited by HaleiwaFlyer; Jan 31, 2024 at 5:40 pm
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Old Jan 31, 2024, 11:22 am
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Originally Posted by formeraa
I've always said that the key to inflight service is: CONSISTENCY!

1. Develop a reasonable standard for inflight service, both for the premium cabin(s) and the main cabin. Even the main cabin should have decent BOB choices for domestic flights over 2.5 hours. To minimize waste, encourage pre-orders of BOB.
My last three flights in MCE there wasn't even a menu! I asked about BOB for a 5 hour PHL-LAS flight and the attendant said "we have one option, it's yogurt". I said no thanks and she said "yeah I don't blame you".
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