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Union Leader Slams American Airlines’ Broken Airplanes and “Less-Than-Mediocre” Product

Union Leader Slams American Airlines’ Broken Airplanes and “Less-Than-Mediocre” Product

An American Airlines flight attendant union leader has gone on the attack in a viral email to the chief executive and president of his own company, criticizing the airline’s onboard product offered to customers and saying that things have now got so bad that he is “embarrassed” to work for the carrier.

The president of the Los Angeles base of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA) takes aim at his company’s decision to rip out seatback video screens from its single-aisle aircraft while its major competitor United is investing millions of dollars to install brand new seatback video across its narrowbody fleet.

“I’ll be honest. I’ve had it with this company. After months of flying around on broken airplanes, offering a less-than-mediocre product, it is obvious to me that upper management has effectively destroyed the brand,” the no holds barred email begins.

“Not only have you destroyed it, you remain tone-deaf, refusing to listen to those on the front lines who really wanted to see this airline succeed as a competitor to Delta and United.”

The union leader then goes on to recount a story about how the airline’s management team seem to dismiss fears that removing seatback video and cramming more seats on its planes might not be a wise business move in the long run.

“A perfect case in point was last month’s Crew News, where a flight attendant asked about United’s plan to add seatback IFE to all planes,” the email continues.

“A woman with a British accent, ostensibly involved in decision-making with regard to on-board entertainment, answered with one of the most unengaged answers I have ever heard from management. She said that management likes the content we offer via streaming and left it at that.”

“Real managers would have added, “but we are always examining different options.” Instead her insulting answer shut down all discussion. This is symptomatic of our absolutely intransigent, uninterested, tone-deaf management. No wonder our product is at bargain basement levels.”

Signing off, the flight attendant concludes: “Never have I been more embarrassed to work for this company than now.”

A spokesperson for the Dallas Fort Worth-based airline, however, has dismissed the complaints, saying that 90 per cent of customers bring their own electronic devices onboard so seatback video screens are hardly needed. American offers around 600 titles to stream for free, along with in-seat power and WiFi.

“Empowering customers to stream content on their own devices allows us to provide fresh, diverse and innovative content that is updated frequently,” a statement from the airline continued.

Some longtime American Airlines customers had been hoping that United’s decision to buy 270 brand new narrowbody planes and install state-of-the-art seatback video across its fleet might cause create a rethink at AA. For now, however, it seems as if the airline is doubling down on its cutback strategy.

TOTH: View from the Wing

View Comments (3)
  • Extra weight those little screens in the back of the seat, most everybody has a cell phone that they can stream the airline movies. I was really surprised when I read united “upgrading” the airplanes. They should also get rid of the magazines and just let anybody download a pdf version.

    • The extra weight seems frivolous as an point. However if you want to talk about maintenance and IT support for the entertainment system, that would make more sense to me.

  • The flight attendant union should perhaps get the flight attendants to actually show up for work on-time, actually provided the service required in the company policy, and actually follow uniform standards before pointing anything substandard with the American. I fly a lot. and the flight attendants are more a problem than any product AA has.. read the airline reviews.. its almost always the service that sucks! APFA really should do some self reflection before pointing fingers. what a joke of a union. I use to work in the airline industry and my husband still does work for AA as a flight attendant.. so im not trying to bash on FA’s but the APFA is a joke and they should be ashamed at the service their membership provides ( i know there are good and bad everywhere but the whole on average). I also LOVE how this “journalism” report cant even mention the name of the union person like they can publish whatever dumb article and quotes at the union request without taking any heat.. what a joke all around.

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