American Airlines is on everybody’s mind right now: Thousands of flights cancelled, more than 100,000 passenger stranded and millions of dollars lost.
How did AA react to this crisis?
Sure, they put up a link on the corporate site, summarizing the situation. Very White House press statement of them. The press statement from Gerard Arpey was uploaded on their YouTube page. They covered the bases. But did they join the conversation?
Top-down statements might have been good enough a decade ago, today they just cause a shrug. CEO’s tend to apologize on a daily basis and links on sites to a press release are almost an insult to seething customers. Instead, American Airlines should have explained the situation in full: Why were the planes grounded? What is the benefit for the customer? How are they going to make sure this won’t happen again? Are they willing to accept that customers are so fed up with their product? How are they going to change it?
Encourage people to converse with American Airlines. Let them express their feelings. Passengers feel helpless when dealing with airlines. Give them a channel to communicate their feelings.
And, most importantly, give the staff on the ground authority to treat people like they should be treated: If they have to spend the night, offer them luxury accomodations. If their flight is delayed, offer them a generous voucher for food and drinks. Give everyone affected a free flight within the US. People that had to stay overnight should receive a transcontinental flight.
Currently, American Airlines is hiding and hoping another airlines will mess up and their mistakes will be forgotten. People don’t forget days of delays. They will talk about it. Write about it. Share it with others. American Airlines should consider the crisis as an opportunity. It’s not too late.