Last week saw a widely reported and outrageous example of how flight attendants can boot anyone of a plane for any reason – or, more to the point, for no reason at all.
There have been many cases in the past where the circumstances surrounding a passenger being removed from a flight have been ambiguous and dubious, but this is the first time where the other passengers on the plane were so outraged at the egregious acts of the flight attendants (and the overpaid pansy passive enabling pilot of the plane) that they bravely risked their own ejection by loudly booing and calling out disparaging comments while a harmless woman was forced off the flight.
Of course, like all bullies, while the flight attendants were happy to pick on a single woman who had done nothing wrong, when confronted with an uprising by many passengers, the flight attendants didn’t also insist the other passengers be similarly offloaded. So one inoffensive woman is booted off the flight, but a dozen or more passengers, booing and calling out negative comments – they get to stay on board.
As is inevitably the case in such shameful scenarios, what does the airline do in response? As the first article reports, ‘an airline spokesperson said they are investigating the matter’.
With the sparrow like concentration spans of most media these days, that’s all they need to do – to play a delaying game for 24 hours, by which time, the matter is no longer headline news, and the airline has saved itself the need to take any formal public position on the matter.
But I’ve a longer attention span. So I wrote to American Airlines’ Media Relations and on Wednesday 14th asked them
Could you please let me know the result of your investigation into this incident
I quickly received a response from Leslie Scott, the person apparently handling this matter
We’ve been in contact with the customer and have apologized for the incident.
This reply of course did not answer my question. So I sent a second email
Thanks for the fast response.
May I ask what is happening to the crew members involved in this. The captain? The lead flight attendant? The flight attendant?
This brought an even quicker – and briefer – reply
We don’t discuss internal personnel matters.
Well, it seemed to me that it would be possible to give at least some sort of answer to what their investigation found, even while avoiding ‘internal personnel matters’ (and why wouldn’t they discuss ‘internal personnel matters’ anyway?). So I wrote my third email
Thanks for another fast, albeit rather terse, reply.
Three follow-ups :
Did your investigation confirm the validity of your crew’s decision to refuse travel to the passenger?
What advice do you have to passengers who might be similarly thrown off your flights in the future?
What steps have you taken to ensure this doesn’t happen again in the future?
Leslie’s reply, while lengthier, concluded with a refusal to actually answer anything at all about the incident.
Hi David –
Apologies if I sounded terse, that was not my intent.
As I mentioned before, we are in contact with the passenger and have apologized. We have addressed the issue with our team members to ensure we provide a consistent, quality travel experience for our customers in the future.
That’s all we’re going to say on this matter.
That seemed to be all I could get from them – total stonewalling and a refusal to comment at all.
But the story continued to grow last week, albeit with no-one in the media attempting to hold AA’s feet to the fire and encourage a substantive response. So on Monday this week I wrote to Leslie again.
It seems this story has grown/is growing in the media, and there is considerable public concern and curiosity about the matter.
Has American Airlines decided to make any further statement?
If not, may I ask why AA is refusing to explain the situation and alleviate the concern and ill-feeling it seems to have justified? Doesn’t your silence amount to an admission of – if not guilt, at least embarrassment and a concession that there’s no way of defending what occurred, while simultaneously being unwilling to admit a mistake in public?
Many further thanks
Leslie’s reply to me was again prompt, and again very short.
Hi David –
You have our most updated statement on this matter.
Do you detect any contrition or any concern, or any suggestion of consequences to anyone involved? Are AA reassuring us that such egregious acts won’t continue, unabated, into the future?
Or is their refusal to comment indicative of an unrepentant attitude that implies a continued tyranny of individual flight attendants, automatically and unquestioningly aided and abetted by the pilots, and the danger that we too might end up being forced off a flight for no reason at all.
Good and great companies and their leaders don’t hesitate to admit their mistakes. They step up to the plate, apologize, accept and create consequences, and take measures to ensure that they learn from their mistakes and similar errors don’t occur in the future.
What is one forced to conclude about American Airlines? Do they really ‘caare’?