American Airlines—Finances Indicative of Price Changes? Saturday, Mar 3 2012 

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 http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2011/nov/29/american-airlines-chapter-11-bankruptcy1 

Most people are aware of the financial obligations that accompany flying. Nowadays most people are also aware of the financial obligations that are accompanied with having to change flights for any reason at all. But is American Airlines being truthful?

One man details the truth about his experiences with American Airline. When booking with American he noticed that his previously booked flight was scheduled for a pm time when he clearly remembered booking in the am. Despite any arguments about how this came about he knew he must change the flight. When speaking to American representatives directly on the phone, they quoted him over $500 worth of change fees. Before agreeing he checked out the prices online himself. Not only was the flight almost $50 cheaper than the representative had quoted, but there were also several free seats on the flight that he needed to get on.

There are also several stories centered on people paying significantly different prices for relatively same seats with coach section. I myself was flying on American Airlines and began to chat with the person seated next to me only to find out that we had booked on the exact same day and our tickets were not at all the same price. How can American Airlines justify this? One seat being significantly more for what reason. One cannot help but wonder if these price quandaries are indicative of American Airlines financial slump. It is no secret that American Airlines is not doing well. Many articles have been written on their financial situation but one need only look at their financial statements to easily see the effect.

Not to mention American Airlines is only one of many airlines that is not doing well, and American’s market share is about 22.5%. This does not look good for airlines or the many people that will attempt to fly within the next year for reasonable prices.

American Airlines Financial Report 2010

Revenue22.2 billion

Net loss 471 million

Operating expense 21,862 million

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http://www.centreforaviation.com/analysis/delta-takes-over-nyc-64874

http://onemansblog.com/2007/05/19/american-airlines-leaves-me-hanging/

http://www.aa.com/i18n/amrcorp/newsroom/fp_3q2011financials.jsp?v_locale=en_US&v_mobileUAFlag=AA

Posted by Margaret Roberts

Employees at American Airlines are Upset AgAAin Friday, Mar 2 2012 

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American Airlines has once again made headlines for employees being upset with the company American Airlines announced plans at the beginning of last month to restructure the company. This restructuring would lay off an estimated 13,000 employees, terminate pension plans, and shut down maintenance facilities. Employees at American Airlines have been increasingly disgruntled since the Company filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy in November 2011. Hundreds of employees have been publicly protesting layoffs. As one flight attendant, who has worked for American Airlines for 32 years, says, “At first, I thought the bankruptcy might be a good thing. But now after what the company put on the table, it’s frightening. It’s scary. I feel like I have a gun to my head and that my career is over.”

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On the other hand, company representatives declare that this restructuring plan is a necessary, albeit tough choice. Representatives say they will reach out to meet with union leaders to reach compromises that will be more satisfactory to employees.

http://impactnews.com/articles/american-airlines-employees-protest/page-2.html

Posted by Aimee Domingue

Thanksgiving Round-trip Nightmare Friday, Mar 2 2012 

If you asked anyone (say, that you found in an airport on any given day) to say the first word or phrase that came to his or her mind when they heard “Thanksgiving,” you would get a pretty standard set of answers: “family”; “pumpkin pie”; “being grateful”; “Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade”; “turkey”; and “TRAVEL.” As the holiday season commences, millions of people travel to see family and friends for the Thanksgiving holiday – any many of those people do so by air. On the Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving  (and the Sunday after), airports see their heaviest traffic of the year. And come Monday morning when every-day-routines resume, many of those people have airplane “horror stories” to tell.

This past Thanksgiving, I was one of those people. I left for home on Tuesday evening, and returned Sunday afternoon, and my experience on both travel days caused way more stress than was necessary. On Tuesday, I arrived at the airport in plenty of time. I did not want to pay the $25 fee for checking my bag I opted to carry on my suitcase along with the “personal item” allowance. Everything went relatively smoothly given how crowded the airport was…I was dropped off, through security and at my gate with an hour and a half to spare. So I chatted with fellow students on different flights home, and then eventually made my way to find some dinner to bring with me onto the plane.

40 minutes prior to takeoff time, I was at my gate, food in hand, ready to board.  And 40 minutes later, I was still standing at my gate, food in hand, with absolutely no information as to why the plane had not even arrived! Why had no one informed us travelers as to the delay (let alone the cause)? I would guess it had something to do with the fact that there was not a single person at the gate desk. Not one. Some fellow students from my hometown and I began trying to figure out what was going on… The TV monitors told us that we were boarding (if only that had been true) and the TV at the gate desk had already switched to the next flight scheduled to leave out of our gate. And still, there was NO ONE around to ask what could possibly be going on. I decided to walk to another gate and see if another gate attendant could possibly provide me with a little information. However, every other gate was for the different airlines! No one other flights from the same Airline were leaving from our terminal. So the most that anyone could tell me was that I should use one the “black phones” to call some concierge help desk. At this point, I called my mother, and while I went to use the “black phone,” she called customer service. And of course, after we both got off our respective calls, we both had different answers. SHE was told that we would leave at 6pm. I was told that the flight was delayed (really…is that why there is no plane?) and that according to her most updated information, we were scheduled to leave at 6:45pm (the flight was originally scheduled for 5:30). When I asked why there was no one at our gate to give us this information, she told me she would send someone “right away.” At 6:15, we were still sitting there – no one at the desk, no plane, and no more patience. Again we called on the same “black phone,” asked the same questions, and got the same answers with a variation of time – 7pm and “she would figure out why no one was at the desk.”

Eventually everything worked out – the plane arrived, the gate attendants arrived (where they had been, we will never know), and I finally boarded the plane and ate my (now cold) dinner. Needless to say my flight experience was not a good start to the holiday. However, the next four days were great – full of family, friends, food and relaxing. When it was time to head back on Sunday, I again got to the airport in plenty of time. This time however, issues began as soon as I walked into the airport. I was headed back with a lot more luggage (warmer clothing, food to get me through finals, etc.) so I needed to check a bag. When I arrived at the ticket counter, I was told that the entire computer system was down. Cash was the only form of payment accepted for checking bags because they could not take credit cards (luckily we had $25 in cash). They had to handwrite the baggage ticket and handed me a little slip of paper (my baggage claim note), and then told me that I would need to get a ticket at the gate—I had not printed my ticket at home (which was a first, and after my experience most definitely the LAST, time I had not printed my ticket prior to arriving at the airport), so they handed me some slip of paper to get me through security and told me to talk to the gate attendant.

Getting through security was simple – no issues there – but as soon as I got to the gate, problems grew. While I had no printed my ticket, I had checked in, so I knew my seat on the plane was reserved. However, the gate attendant told me that since I did not have a boarding pass, I would have to wait a minute before he could take care of me. No problem (I thought), I could be patient. But then they informed us that waiting “a minute” really meant that I (and a few other passengers in the same predicament) would have to wait until everyone else had boarded the plane, because they had to make sure we had enough seats. Could we pull up our tickets on our phones perhaps (they asked) so that we could show them we had a seat? (Uhh…no? Is that even possible?). Then, once everyone at the gate had boarded, and we finally thought we were good to go, we were informed that we had to wait until the last call, to make sure that they had room for standbys. I explained that I was NOT a standby, that I HAD a ticket, but that THEY had not given me one at the desk because of an issue in THEIR system. The gate attendant looked at me like I was insane and kindly repeated that I had to wait until he knew he had room for standbys. He then proceeded to call over the speaker system telling any passengers for our flight that were not at the gate that this was the last call for boarding. Finally, less than 10 minutes before our flight was scheduled to take off, he told us that he thought no one else was coming so he could probably do us a favor and let us know, even though he was “supposed to wait” to let any of us on until 5 minutes before scheduled departure. Luckily the rest of the trip went smoothly.

While in both cases, everything turned out fine in the end, I will never again fly with them. I am going to stick with my usual airline and know that even though everything will not always go exactly as planned, at least they will have people keeping passengers informed.

Posted by Amanda Zingone

Sources:

http://airconsumer.dot.gov/reports/2012/February/2012FebruaryATCR.PDF

http://www.dallasnews.com/business/airline-industry/20110707-american-airlines-and-eagle-rank-at-bottom-of-consumer-data-for-may.ece

Traveling as a Valued Customer Friday, Mar 2 2012 

When I am looking to fly home to Dallas for the weekend from school, I always check the ticket prices and the flight schedule for American Airlines before I look at any other companies. I try to fly American Airlines whenever possible because I am part of American Airlines frequent flier program, called the AAdvantage Program. For every flight on American I receive frequent flyer miles that I am able to redeem later for tickets. Since I have traveled a lot with my family on American Airlines, I have been able to achieve the AAdvantage Gold elite status on American Airlines. This elevated status allows me to receive many different perks for my loyalty to American Airlines. I am able to receive upgrade perks which include complimentary upgrades to first class if there are seats available, upgrade to a window seat without charge, and sometimes I am able to upgrade a friend who is flying with me.

Through my AAdvantage Gold status I also receive a higher priority of customer service by American Airlines. I am able to use priority lines when checking in for my flight and at the security line. This priority customer service makes me not want to travel with other airline companies because I will not receive the same quality of customer service. Also when I am booking my flight I am able to have access to picking preferred seats on the plane, which are closer to the front of the plane. Through my status I am also able to save money by not having to pay baggage fees, which are usually $25-50 a flight, and I also receive discounts on hotels and car rentals. Through my AAdavantage Gold status I am able to save time and money when I am traveling on American Airlines, which makes me continue my loyalty with the company. When traveling on American Airlines I feel as though I actuall am a valued customer.

Cites used for information:

http://www.aa.com/AAdvantage/aadvantageHomeAccess.do?anchorLocation=DirectURL&title=aadvantage

Posted by Maddie Gunter

Travel Without Reaching the Destination Wednesday, Feb 29 2012 

Two years ago my brother and his wife lived on the beautiful island of Granada.  It looks like this…
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http://www.grenadaexplorer.com/Homepageeng.htm

My parents decided to let me go by myself, even though I never traveled internationally alone before.  We bought the ticket using our American Airlines points, picked my seats, and I was good to go.

I left for Granada out of New Orleans, with a planned layover in Atlanta  and New York’s JFK Airport.  I arrived at the New Orleans Airport three hours before my scheduled flight, check my 2 bags for $100, and prepared to get on the flights.

Once we were in Atlanta, I had about a 6 hour layover.  I walked around the airport and noticed a storm was coming.  About an hour before my flight, the American Airlines worker informed everyone that the flight was an hour delayed.  Twenty minutes later, they pushed the time back even further.  I went and spoke the the attendant saying that I would be very close to the take-off time in JFK, and I wanted to plan an alternate route.  She assured me that everything would work out, but everything did NOT work out.

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http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2011/11/29/american-airlines-parent-files-for-bankruptcy/

We eventually boarded the flight from Atlanta to JFK.  While on the flight, I spoke with a flight attendant about my situation.  I was concerned because American only had the flight to Grenada twice a week, so if I did not make this flight, it would take 3 days for me to get out.  He made sure that I would be first off the plane, since he could not call my connecting gate and ask them to wait.

Immediately when I got off the plane I bolted, running through the airport as fast as I could.  Luckily, it was 1:00 am and not very crowded. I wasn’t concerned about my luggage, only the flight.  I get to my assigned gate, and I see TOTAL CHAOS.  I hear people screaming, yelling, and crying at the attendant.  I hear them say that they overbooked the flight, and about 15-20 people were waiting at this gate.  I knew at that point I would not be getting to Grenada any time soon.

I began crying, exhausted from 15 hours of travel and frustration. On top of that, my phone was on its last bit of battery, and I knew I needed to speak with my parents.  I called them and told them the situation.  The attendants never addresses the group as a whole, but I heard them explaining that the flight had been full and overbooked, and they would work on getting everyone there.

By this time, there were 3 attendants behind the desk, working with each frustrated customer.  I had never heard humans speak to other humans in such a degrading way, but I understood their anger.  Because of the Grenadian Carnival week, people booked that flight a year in advance for thousands of dollars.  I booked my flight a month before using my points.

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http://www.aviationexplorer.com/alltitude_in_aviation.htm

My parents had tried calling the help line for American while I was waiting my turn, but that was unsuccessful.  I got up there, and the attendants looked as my as if I was crazy.  Just because I had not yelled at them did not mean that I didn’t want service.  I explained that I wanted to get to Grenada as soon as possible.  After going through my options for about 45 minutes and speaking with my parents, I told them they needed to book me a flight home.  They asked how I would be paying for it….HA.  I finally got stern and said, “You WILL reward all of my points back and you WILL book me a flight home.  For FREE.”  They got me a ticket and I headed out.

I had to go across town to LaGuardia, but before I did, I needed file a claim for my luggage.  I wasn’t allowed in the luggage room, but the security guard tried to get my phone number as I waited.  Disgusted, I walked away to try to get a hold of my parents.  I asked a nice man to use his phone since mine was dead and he was nice enough to do so.  After waiting an hour and a half, someone came to baggage claim and I took care of my business.  I immediately got in a car and headed as fast as possible across town to LaGuardia.

It turned out that the attendants at JFK didn’t print my ticket, so I waited in a line for 25 minutes, watching the clock because I knew I could miss this flight too.  At this point my goal was to make it home.  After security, I ran to my gate again, making the last call on the flight.

I got home about 24 hours after I originally left for the trip, and my luggage was delivered 2 days later.  After my father spoke with American Airlines many hours on the phone, he was able to get all my points back I originally paid for on the trip.

I feel like all of my issues were man-made mistakes.  So I looked up some statistics about employees at American Airlines.  Since it’s bankruptcy, American Airlines claims that it will cut about 14,000 union jobs. They will also cut pensions for about 13,000 workers.  In a satisfaction rating that recently came out, American Airlines was rated last for overall customer service and marked poorly for delays.

My thought is, if employment is so fragile at American Airlines, wouldn’t you work your hardest to treat the customers right?  Aren’t they the ones to keep the company in business?  I guess the people working the day of my travel did not have that mindset….

Cites used for information:
http://articles.businessinsider.com/2012-02-01/strategy/31011905_1_employee-unions-pension-benefit-guaranty-corporation-amr#ixzz1niW6CNBn 

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/02/29/us-column-americanair-pensions-idUSTRE81S1Z220120229

http://www.farecompare.com/news/report-american-airlines-ranks-last-in-airline-customer-service/

Posted by Elisabeth Whitehead