Wishlist: Doug Conant as new CEO for AMR Corp

Discussion in 'American Airlines | AAdvantage' started by Mike Reed, Oct 17, 2011.

  1. Mike Reed

    Mike Reed Gold Member

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    Disclaimer: This post is NOT based on rumor, it's not based on FACT, it's simply a daydream as I wonder what it would take to turn AA around in terms of competitive quality and earnings.

    I've been doing some reading about what Doug Conant achieved at Campbell Soup. The short version is he took a company in decline, with a poor revenue outlook and a product that was taking a beating from competitors, especially with regards to perceived quality - and turned it around by re-focusing on product quality and internal measures to clarify the needs of the company and its responsibility to its employees and customers alike.

    The current situation is much like AA - a perceived downgrade in quality of service, earnings difficulties, a poor relation with a large part of its employes and what appears to be a lack of focus in terms of competitive differentiation and brand messaging (can you, in < 7 words, describe what makes AA different from UA/CO, US, etc?).

    I can elaborate more on the comparisons if folks are interested, but I'd really enjoy a business-level discussion on what's really needed to turn AA around.

    I see good things coming from customer-focused groups like AAdvantage (the support for OWMD is a great start). I see good things with AA's Dining Rewards program and the ease of use, consistent posting of miles, etc.

    I see incredibly poor performance with vendors like Cartera, who blemish the AA name with ham-fisted attempts to run a modern shopping portal site, horribly inconsistent posting of miles, and quality issues (recent issues on the AA portal, the DL portal, etc. with invalid promotions).

    I see changes in operations (schedules, planes) but I'm unsure if that addresses the actual financial needs of the company (and I'm still concerned that adding Airbus planes into the mix will cost MORE in terms of additional maintenance, training, etc. infrastructure than they'll regain in fuel savings, and will certainly decrease those savings by the amount it takes to support and integrate the planes, pilots and crews).

    I see NO corporate direction or strategy, and I see no competitive network expansion or ability to expand. Perhaps the divestiture of Eagle will help this, ESPECIALLY if Eagle flies more CR-9 routes. While I try to avoid RJ flights when I can, the CR-9's are great planes, and the two-class seating makes a difference. I could easily see Eagle growing at AA's expense (and think that spinning them off is the wrong approach vs. what you see with Alaska/Horizon - rebranding them and deepening the integration would be best, IMO).

    And finally, labor. I don't want to get into a union vs. non-union fight here, and I don't doubt that each side has needs that don't necessarily align with the other side... but the fight is just getting ugly, and the disconnect of field employees from the rest of the operation is pitiful. Most cabin crews and Admiral's Club staff I encounter, although they know the names of the AAdvantage levels, have NO idea how the programs work, mileage levels, benefits, etc. How can they be expected to support these directions when they don't even know what they are?

    That's enough to get a thread started...
  2. tommy777
    Original Member

    tommy777 Co-founder

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    I'm not going to get in to the debate of who should run AA, but sometimes change is good. Arpey has been at the wheel for a long time and has not proved that he can bring the company to profitability.

    As a person who has flown 150K+ miles on UA each year for a while and been a happy customer until the merger and now moving a big chunk of my business to AA, I can immediately tell you differences I see and like.

    -- No free domestic upgrades for lower tiers. I had a better upgrade success as AA Gold when changing flights on day of departure than as a UA 1K. LOVE that you have to have instruments and request an upgrade. LOVE to see an empty F seat every once in a while. LOVE that top tiers get the best treatment and that AA differentiates a lot between Plat and EXP, but at the Platinum level you still have an upgrade success 1Ps could only dream of.

    -- 8 EVIPs and you don't need to spend 600 bucks to get to an upgradeable booking class, money that you pretty much flush down the toilet if you don't get the upgrade.

    -- Dedicated security lines that are not sold to everyone with 20 bucks in their pockets. Try the AA difference at O'Hare. While UA lumps everyone (including non elites with a 90 dollar a year credit card or that pays from 20 bucks "to upgrade their experience") in to one security line, even 1K, AA has a line for Plat, EXP and First only. I save 10-25 minutes every time I fly out of ORD.

    --CRJs are a fact of life. We have to deal with it regardless of who we fly. At least AA has a full meal in F and more F seats while UA has 6 seats total and sodium explosion snack boxes on flights over 3 hours to Miami and Spokane +++

    -- Mid tier is not useless. You get 100% bonus when you are a plat, while UA 1P now only gets 50%. Talk about a kick in the nuts for UAs 1MMilers. Oh, and you will get the upgrades you want.

    -- Wifi on board. Need I say more?

    -- Upgraded international First and Business soft products. Love things like PJs, upgraded amenity kits. At least they try not to be a lousy domestic US carrier going internationally.

    Those are my 7 main reasons why I have made AA my #1 choice for travel in North America.

    There are of course negatives

    -- While the Admirals clubs are a lot larger and a lot less crowded than the United Clubs, the food and drink offerings are a joke. United knocks their socks off and are now improving their club drink offerings. I love UAs Espresso machine and now you get more good quality drinks for free.

    -- On time performance. I've been lucky the last few months, but AAs statistics is not good compared to UA.

    -- International business class product. Slanted seat and video players on the 767s.. But at least they don't have 4 seaters in business class :rolleyes.

    -- Lack of international destinations in Asia

    -- And because of that, I wish they could make a deal with BA and CX like UA has done with LH so we could use the EVIPs on those carriers.

    Oh, and with fleets as large as AAs, commonality is not important. When you have hundreds of planes of a particular type, the commonality advantage disappears.
    Skye1 and DCtrAAveler like this.

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