US Airways posted a time-lapse video showing one of its airplanes being repainted into American Airlines colors. It’s kind of neat. You’ll notice immediately that this is clearly not an inexpensive process.
American Airlines has no plans to ‘bank’ its Los Angeles International Airport hub, an airline spokesman told me today.
I asked in light of my post this morning about American’s plans to switch its schedule in Miami to a ‘bank’ system. Starting in August, most American flights in Miami will arrive at the airport at just about the same time. Then, those planes will leave at right around the same time. The goal of such a schedule is to maximize connections. Each set of arrivals and departures during the day is called a “bank.”
American has said it will unveil banked schedules at many of its hubs. But for now, that does not include Los Angeles, airline spokesman Andrew Christie told me. “We have no plans to bank LAX at this time.”
This means LAX remains a ‘rolling’ hub. As we discussed earlier today, this means that the LAX schedule is more or less random. Flights arrive and depart at all hours of the day. Passengers can still make connections, but the entire schedule is not designed to facilitate them.
I trust you’ll all enjoy telling your cocktail party friends this weekend about the difference between ‘banked’ and ‘rolling hubs.’ #themoreyouknow
Remember the pornographic Tweet sent earlier this week by US Airways?
Well, news cycles are short these days. And it’s old news. But it is important enough that the airline’s parent, American Airlines Group, did a Q & A on the incident its most recent employee newsletter. US Airways had already said that the picture was an honest mistake and no one would be fired over it.
Here’s what went out to US Airways and American employees on Thursday:
As reported, a customer posted a tweet to the US Airways Twitter feed with a link to a very offensive image that any of our followers could view by clicking the link. Under our previous protocols (“previous” because we’ve improved them following this incident), an employee alerted other members of the social team to not engage with the poster and not respond to the tweet. They also captured the link and used an “explicit warning” notification to warn the rest of the social team not to open the link, and to watch for attempts to post it on other social media channels. They did that by copying and pasting the offensive link. The post was subsequently deleted as part of this process.
Later, when responding to a completely different customer on a completely different matter, the same employee pasted what they thought was a customer service link. But, of course, the link they pasted was the offensive link. …And you know the story from there.
In response, we immediately accepted responsibility for this accidental share of the link and posted an apology on the US Airways Twitter feed. Twitter also disabled the account to prevent others from posting to it. We also shared that apology with a number of media outlets who had seen the social media traffic.
From a process standpoint, we have made improvements to help prevent such accidental occurrences, including deleting offensive posts immediately and not sharing these links internally. The employee involved was attempting to do exactly what they should do – prevent a very offensive post from being shared broadly and to warn co-workers not to open the link. They then made a simple mistake that any of us could do with an errant email or text message. In this case, it was able to be viewed by a broad audience.
We continue to work with the social media team on improving our process, and appreciate their promptness in alerting our company to the problem and accepting direct accountability for the error.
We understand the embarrassment this has caused our co-workers, and we’re working hard to mitigate the damage from this incident. We have a superb social media team that is highly professional, very responsive and navigating in a world where seven billion people are potentially their audience in real time. That’s a big responsibility and one they take very seriously. No one feels worse about this than the team, and they should not be judged by one moment in time and one mistake.
To this last point, the conversation has now gone from the scintillating photo and mistake tweet to how our company has handled the incident (see what Mashable had to say). The silver lining is we were upfront, transparent, swift in admitting our mistake and protective of our social media team, who has been recognized both in and outside of the industry as one of the best out there. This unfortunate mistake does not change that, and only gives us the opportunity to get better.
Is a premium cabin airline seat a commodity? Or is it a luxury item similar to a five-star hotel or fancy car.
This is a question U.S. airlines have been confronting. On one side is US Airways. I’m told US Airways has a comfortable business class seat on its A330 airplanes. They’re flat, private and have plenty of room. But you never hear US Airways bragging about its seat. The airline doesn’t blog about its in-flight menus. And you don’t see the product advertised in high-end magazines or on the internet.
Contrast that with merger partner American Airlines, which makes luxury branding a priority. American is in the process of adding industry-leading seats to many of its airplanes, but it has actually just started the project. Many of its planes have an out-dated business class product. No matter. The carrier has been advertising its new seats — and its onboard bar — just about everywhere. And American is not just selling a seat. It is selling an experience.
It appears the new, combined American Airlines will being going with the American approach of luxury branding. But is this a good idea? Skift has an interesting story this week called “American Airlines Has Designs on Becoming Your Hotel in Sky,” detailing American’s approach.
American believes its airplanes can be a like a luxury hotel, Steven Moo-Young, American’s director of onboard product planning and design, told Skift.
“We’re in the hospitality industry and these are our guests. We want to make them feel as though they’re at home,” Moo-Young said. “Our DNA is hospitality.”
Skift’s Marisa Garcia noted that American’s executives used hotel-like words to describe their product. The seats, for example, were not seats. They were “suites” that could turn into “beds.” Those seats — err, beds — even have “do not disturb” buttons.
Garcia writes of American’s approach.
They’ve carefully studied the preferences of their guest, their life-style choices, their technology needs, their food preferences, even what they like best about their cars. Then they’ve blended all of it into a unique brand experience.
I’m intrigued by American’s approach. But I think it’s possible that American will over-promise and under deliver. I also think the airline might be overestimating what the customer wants. Are we sure the business class customer wants a hotel-like experience? Or does the premium customer simply want the US Airways experience — a comfortable seat that goes flat, in a clean quiet cabin. Maybe with some decent food thrown in. It’s just a plane ride, after all.
In American’s latest employee newsletter, the airline focused on the difficult winter weather that had affected the operation so far in 2014. Here’s some data the carrier provided on impacts to American and US Airways as of Feb. 20.
Deicing events so far in 2014 at ORD
Inches of snowfall so far in 2014 at ORD
Combined completion factor on Feb. 13 – the lowest in more than 10 years
Flights operated by Piedmont and PSA on Feb. 13
Percentage of canceled flights at CLT on Feb. 13 (all but a handful of our 640 daily departures)
Percentage of canceled flights at DCA on Feb. 13
Calls received in the domestic reservations system on Feb. 12 and Feb. 13