Monday, September 06, 2010

Ugly American

Last Friday, I returned from Chihuahua, Mexico after spending a week there on business. The American Airlines flight from Chihuahua to Dallas was delayed by about forty minutes because...

...the crew didn't arrive at the airport on time. This excuse didn't sit well with my fellow passengers because nearly every one of us was trying to make a connecting flight in Dallas. And it just seems like a really lame reason for delay. You can understand mechanical issues, the weather, or the fact that the plane you're going to depart on is late coming in from somewhere else. But the crew showing up late for work? There are jobs where being on time is absolutely critical and I would bet pilot would be at the top of that list.

When the crew finally did arrive, they weren't exactly hustling to make up for their tardiness. They strolled through the terminal with an air of ease and jocularity that hardly seemed appropriate considering the circumstances. Would it have been that hard to at least pretend to have a sense of urgency or a realization that YOU were the cause of widespread anxiety and worry among the passengers? You know, your customers?

After we boarded and taxied into takeoff position, the pilot came on to announce the flight information. You might think that this would have afforded him a perfect opportunity for a heartfelt mea culpa for the flight delay. I certainly did. Yet none was forthcoming. Neither was an apology provided later when he announced our approach into Dallas-Fort Worth. In fact, there was not a single word of regret expressed by any American representative (gate agent, flight attendant, pilot, etc.) for a delay that was by all reasonable assumptions completely their fault.

American's lack of concern and unwillingness to assume responsibility did not go unnoticed by the passengers. Especially by those like my work colleague who missed their connecting flights in Dallas and found their journeys home unexpectedly disrupted (I was fortunate enough to make mine). Just because someone didn't show up at work on time.