The union that represents American Airlines flight attendants has claimed that an internal mobile app which is meant to accelerate airplane turn times at gates is a distraction and a “hazard to passenger safety”.
American Airlines has been working on the disputed ‘ConnectMe’ app since 2019 after partnering with Microsoft on a host of technology updates. ConnectMe is essentially an internal messaging app that works via Microsoft Power Apps within Microsoft Teams.
The Dallas Fort Worth-based airline hoped the ConnectMe app would be embraced by flight attendants as a new, accessible way to get hold of information that previously had to be accessed from a desktop computer at the gate, but instead, the app has been shunned by many flight attendants.
Earlier this year, however, American Airlines mandated that ConnectMe should be used by flight attendants to communicate with gate agents, pilots and engineers during both pre-boarding and boarding in a bid to improve communication and on-time performance.
AA’s Miami-based flight attendants are now disputing this mandate, claiming the union didn’t have any input into how the use of ConnectMe would be managed.
In a formal notice of dispute, the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA) claims that interruptions b passenger service agents through the app “has become not only a distraction … but a hazard to passenger safety”.
“The constant barrage of texts prioritizes another department’s objectives over safety which should be first and foremost,” the notice continues.
“Furthermore… an unintended consequence of this mandate has subjected Lead FAs (flight attendants) to harassment by agents and CSMs (customer service managers), which is in violation of the company’s Work Environment Policy”.
Like any messaging app, inappropriate and aggressive messages have sometimes been shared on ConnectMe.
As a result, the union wants flight attendants to be allowed to opt out of using ConnectMe and revert to the old way of communicating with gate agents face-to-face.
It’s probably worth pointing out that American Airlines isn’t the only airline to provide crew with a messaging app to connect with other teams. Delta Air Lines, for example, has had a similar system in place for several years.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.
United FAs has had the ability to communicate with gate staff and others on the ground for years now through an app on their iPhone.
I’ve been a gate agent and a CSM. I read an article where gate agents will be penalized by American, if there is a maintenance or a flight attendant delay. I have worked at American for 13 years and I got out of the airline business. On time performance is great, but the flight attendants and pilots have operational control on board. From safety to customer service, this app is a negative tool. Companies are making a work environment worse.