American Airlines CEO Says Unless Passengers Complain More, the Airline Will Keep Making Them Uncomfortable
It's an interesting, but rather flawed, logic
I've long marveled at the joyous abandon with which some airlines have abandoned customer service. Somewhere in many airline executives' souls is the notion that you get what you pay for and you're not paying enough to get good service. So they shovel more seats onto planes, make those seats smaller and, new idea this, thinner.
One of these airlines has been American. It's become something of a champion of, as the insiders call it, densification.
The latest, shiniest example is the airline's Boeing 737 MAX. This is the plane with Economy Class toilets only slightly wider than Economy Class seats and one American pilot called "the most miserable experience in the world."
This is an interior design American is now inserting into many of its older Boeing 737-800 planes. It means a smaller seat pitch -- the distance between the back of one seat and the one in front -- and less legroom even in First Class.
You might think that passengers can do nothing about this. Ah, but you're mistaken. In a recent chat with employees, captured by View From The Wing's Gary Leff, American's CEO Doug Parker explained that the airline is happy with these cramped conditions because passengers are perfectly happy too. His logic, though, trembled more than a priest at a house of ill repute. (The local billionaire's house, that is.)
He said of the 737 MAX:
- This aircraft, whatever we have in the fleet now... 10, 15 of these airplanes now flying in the system. The feedback from the customers anyway, likely to recommend scores etc. look pretty similar to all of our other aircraft types.
But wouldn't you expect the new planes to be more likable, if only by virtue of them being new? After all, these MAXs have larger overhead bins and that nice new airplane smell. Oh, and they have Satellite WiFi which, Parker boasts, "allows everyone on the aircraft to stream Netflix at the same time." Indeed they do. However, it's been offered for free in the initial period of the plane's exposure. Soon, it will be charged for. And this being an airline, it won't be cheap.
Moreover, the MAX has largely been flown short distances. It's scheduled in September for routes such as LAX-Washington D.C. and LAX-Miami. I wonder if there'll be surveys on those planes.