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Posts from the ‘American Airlines’ Category

Paying for miles with your privacy.

March 28th, 2014

Drs. Andor Demarteau

Over the last several years, commercial companies have increasingly found social media as a new platform to strengthen their brands and give away perks, or at least pretend you have the chance of winning something.

Increasingly, these actions also seem to attract people towards social media. Because if you don’t have an account on Facebook or Twitter (the latter to a lesser percentage of usage), you simply cannot take part in the newest sweepstakes of your “favoured” brand.

I shall now look at two very different ways that airlines are making use of your social habits and profiles: KLM’s Meet & Seat program, and American Airlines’ current AAdvantage Passport Challenge promotion.

KLM: Meet & Seat

This KLM initiative is aimed at passengers who travel alone, and interested in sitting (or being seated) next to another passenger with similar interests for a particular flight. The idea is to share bits of your social media profile, from either a Facebook or LinkedIn account, so that other passengers, also choosing to share, can find a seat near a fellow passenger having similar interests and who is travelling to the same destination (for example, a conference or business meeting).

No perks, no costs. More importantly, the relevant data is removed from KLM’s systems 48 hours after the flight’s departure. Why 48 hours, and not directly after wheels-up, is a bit of a mystery. But at least there seems to be no harm done here (or is there?)

American Airlines: AAdvantage Passport Challenge

Another way of using social media, according to American Airlines, is to ask its frequent flyers to engage in a bit of fun…

Playing games relating to brand knowledge, and copying the correct answers from several blog posts on the Internet, will earn you 700 miles. A bit of fun for free frequent flyer currency — sounds okay…

At the same time, it attempts to get users to sell their own privacy (and their friends’ too) for a measly 350 bonus miles!

But the most miles earnable, rightly enough, is by flying with American Airlines, US Airways or one of their oneworld partners. Apparently, you can earn up to 500 bonus miles per flight taken, with bonuses possibly summing to over 9,000 miles depending on the number of achievements unlocked.

So if you fly often enough within the two months this program runs, sell your own and (possibly) your friends’ privacy, and play some games on which the answers can be found with a simple google, you could probably earn up to half a ticket or so. A Facebook account is a mandatory part of this deal.

But are those miles really for free?

Depends how you interpret this particular terms-and-conditions clause from AA’s web site:

12. USE OF DATA.  Sponsor will be collecting personal data about participants online, in accordance with its privacy policy.  Please review the Sponsor’s privacy policy at www.aa.com/privacy.  By participating in the Promotion, entrants hereby agree to Sponsor’s collection and usage of their personal information and acknowledge that they have read and accepted Sponsor’s privacy policy.

But is American Airlines the only “sponsor” profiting here?

Only the sun rises for free…

At least that is the lesson I was taught all the time as a kid.

Nothing ever comes for free, except the rising sun every day.

Ask yourself this the next time your favourite airlines tempts you to share personal information with them for some miles, or an interesting flight companion:

“What is the actual costs for me, my personal life and my privacy?”

Or have we already gone down this path too far, where privacy has become a commodity good only available to those who really care or can afford it?

Now, expect speedier boarding with American Airlines!

May 21st, 2013

Kinny Cheng

The Seattle Times:

FORT WORTH, Texas — In a quest to speed up the boarding process, American Airlines is letting passengers board sooner if they travel lightly.

The airline said Thursday that people carrying just a personal item that fits under the seat — no rolling suitcases — will be allowed to board before most other passengers.

American said the change will allow flights to take off sooner, helping the airline improve its on-time performance.

I’ve been briefed by several different people on the complexities of these boarding procedures in the U.S. of A., which — in most other countries — are much more straight-forward by comparison.

This latest revision by American Airlines should indeed help with the overall pace of boarding. In fact, I still believe it is possible to further simplify the process — but, with all things relating to change, it takes time for people to accept.

Computers cripple AA, social media saves the day?

April 22nd, 2013

Kinny Cheng

Michael Sebastian, PR Daily:

As the airline suffered a nationwide computer outage on Tuesday, social media became the go-to source for information on the carrier’s progress. The company tweeted updates about the outage, and responded to voluminous tweets from customers, resolving issues and wishing passengers safe travels.

Social media saves the day again for American Airlines — considering how Facebook and Twitter are now two well-established ways of getting the message (or news) out there.

According to the article (a good quick-read), the situation at some locations wasn’t perfect, specifically relating to inconsistent messages on situational updates. Granted that everyone involved should be singing the same tune, there would surely be loose ends.

Hopefully, experiences over time will bring improvements to such procedures.

I have personally found American Airlines’ Twitter account to take on a rather robotic personality — one that I very much dislike because of its seemingly inferior nature come conversation and engagement. But this time round, AA may have actually proven itself to be worthy of some praise…

That one and only American Airlines 777-300ER review you should read…

March 26th, 2013

Kinny Cheng

Jaunted’s Cynthia Drescher has just completed a three-part review series on American Airlines’ new Boeing 777-300ER — and she leaves no stone unturned.

A fun and very informative read.

In under ten minutes, you’ll be telling everyone else just how good/bad this new baby of AA’s really is!

(To be) the biggest airline in the world…

February 19th, 2013

Kinny Cheng

Lori Ranson, writing for the APEX Editor’s Blog, talks about some of the intricacies relating to the American Airlines and US Airways merger:

“Now management teams at the two carriers face the formidable challenges navigating a seamless combination of their respective operations while minimising the effects of inevitable integration challenges on the combined carrier’s expanded customer base.”

On one side of the fence, we have two management teams which are now trying to combine as one. Needless to say, this won’t be a pretty sight, nor would the process of it be anything but a dread for the many. Clashing corporate cultures and the amalgamation of personnel, on almost every level of the pecking order, will most certainly reverberate throughout the organisations (that’s with an “s”, for now).

Oh, and how can I forget about the unions supporting their members

“But cracks appear to be spreading in the joint vision for the overall passenger experience for the American Airlines that will emerge after the two airlines complete their targeted 18-month integration effort.

Roughly a month after American choreographed an elaborate unveiling of an update of its 45-year old aircraft livery, uncertainty is arising over the new branding’s longevity now that American and US Airways are merging to become the “new” American. The new livery that features [an] American flag on the tail and a flight symbol replacing the iconic eagle next to the American name at the front of the aircraft has drawn more criticism than praise amongst the active aviation community.”

Wasn’t that the plan from the very beginning — that is, American Airlines and US Airways becoming as one, and taking the former’s branding?

All the rumour and speculation relating to the new American Airlines livery were around weeks before its official announcement, including pictures of their new Boeing 777-300ER aircraft leaving Paine Field with no tail markings. During this same time, the merger talks have been well under way.

More interestingly, though, is how American have made such significant investments in their rebranding and restructuring efforts, but yet they selectively chose to turn a blind eye on the very-clear possibilities of a merger with US Airways. How can this possibly be?

“Queried directly about the new American branding–including the new livery–remaining in place now that two carriers begin work to build a joint management team for the new carrier, US Airways president Scotty Kirby told investors that the American Airlines name is the greatest in the history of aviation, and with “100,000 employees who are excited about this..that’s going to help us have the best product in the industry, and really your brand is as much about your employees and how they treat customers”.

Prodded that he avoided directly answering the question about retaining the new livery, Kirby quipped: “I was well coached.””

What a load of crap.

“US Airways has also concluded that based on lessons learned from its integration with America West, and observing the mergers of Delta and Northwest and United and Continental, that it is more prudent to “take the larger airline’s [technological] systems and put those in place”, said Parker.

Asked if that same philosophy would apply to the passenger service approach of the combined carriers, and queried specifically about the fate of American’s “Main Cabin Extra” extended legroom offering, US Airways’ president Kirby remarked that “there is going to be a whole host of integration harmonisation that needs to go on.” Soon a transition committee will start work on a whole host of areas where the two carriers have differences, and Kirby stated there are “no answers [on those differences] yet”.”

Yes, let’s do talk about sitting around and watching other airlines wrestle away…

I’ll use the Continental and United Airlines example. On the surface, their integration is pretty simple: retain the United brand name, but use the Continental tail. Why? Those of us in the commercial aviation are aware that the latter scores far greater points when it comes to passenger experience, by far. Brand association, via visual stimuli, is a very strong one, and I believe this is one of the baseline reasons why the new branding set-up is so.

But beneath the surface, although United-Continental attempts to integrate the better passenger experience factors into their current product, those very same issues relating to the management teams and their workers still plague the development of those possibly-positive aspects from their joining.

In my personal opinion, for both Delta-Northwest and United-Continental mergers, one major flaw comes to mind: branding. In reality, the Delta and United brand names are indeed more far-reaching than the respective alternative. However, if I were to use passenger experience as a means for the branding decision, I would’ve most certainly chosen the alternate brand for both. It is also my belief that those in management who makes such decisions have, pretty much, no regard for the qualitative aspects and long-term implications of their decisions.

Getting back to the American Airlines and US Airways merger, both airlines have somewhat-tarnished reputations when it comes to their branding, hence it probably wouldn’t matter as much in that regard. The integration of the two airlines into the same “American Air” branding makes the most sense, given how the former is the one actively acquiring the new aircraft and upgrading their in-flight (hard) products — albeit the airline having filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection back in November 2011.

As with virtually all airline mergers we’ve seen in more-recent time, there will be winning and losing elements for customers, more so for the frequent flyers of either airline. Again, the acquisition of newer products by American Airlines will mean an improved on-board passenger experience for various flights/routes. But for people who have Star Alliance Gold status with US Airways’ frequent flyer programme will most likely lose access (to those partner airlines) once the merger is completed, as the decision to go oneworld has already been made.

“Shortly before Kirby made those comments, American’s CEO and the combined carrier’s future Chairman Horton stressed that American has had a strong focus on “our highest value customers–global travellers that provide a disproportionate share of our revenue, and our strategy over the last couple of years has been all about building a great experience for those customers”.

“Doug and I have talked a lot about that,” Horton remarked. “The mission going forward is to make sure we’re pushing forward with all of those things and ensuring that we only make it better for our best customers.””

By “our highest value customers” being those “global travellers that provide a disproportionate share of our revenue” , I’m assuming Horton was referring to the subset of passengers who either: don’t have much choice when it comes to picking a carrier based on their required itinerary; or are clueless to the fact there are better alternatives made available by numerous non-American-based carriers.

All I’m going to say here is this: If you’re going to attempt a mass exercise on improving the passenger experience, then should this not be across-the-board rather than just concentric on keeping your premium-paying customers happy?

Of course, this wouldn’t be the American way of doing it (pun very much intended).

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