John Stancavage: AA employees say 'fly in my shoes'
BY JOHN STANCAVAGE World Business Editor
Sunday, October 07, 2012
10/07/12 at 3:34 AM
Last week I wrote about my recent nightmare flying experience with bankrupt American Airlines.
I didn't do that much actual flying, as most of my time was spent in airports or on the tarmac while delays and alleged mechanical issues kept me grounded.
As irritating as that trip was, though, I found myself empathizing with the employees who have to cope with this chaotic environment every day. Yes, you can argue that a few might be helping make a bad situation worse, but I got the impression that most were as frustrated as I was.
All these workers really want, I surmised, was to be treated better and feel rewarded. That seemed to be borne out in many emails I received.
"Thank you. It was great to read a different perspective for once," wrote one AA worker. "As a mechanic of 26 years, I actually make significantly less after we agreed to the contract a few years ago that was to help keep the company out of bankruptcy."
He was just one of many longtime employees who could remember when American was the world's No. 1 carrier.
"It is disheartening to see what has become of this once-proud airline," wrote an AA flight attendant with four decades in the air. "We are all so sick and tired of saying 'I'm sorry.' (But) it's difficult to do a good job when we don't have the tools; i.e, food for the passengers during delays, seats that work, video systems up and running.... We feel your pain."
One reader, a veteran AA flyer, warned that American employees who are deliberately disrupting flight schedules are tarnishing the airline's image.
"While I sympathize with the employees of AA, there is the other side of the coin," he wrote. "As a businessman who has been on at least two flights a week and has traveled on AA since 1965, the 'slowdown' (has) cost me a lot of time and, as I bill by the hour, money.
"Have a little concern for the guy who makes his living using the airlines and helps to pay the salaries of the employees."
An American pilot emailed me to say he was concerned about losing such longtime passengers. But the pilot also touched on the complexity of the current situation and said the airline's problems have been building for a long time.
"The last decade has been one of uncertainty, broken promises and breached trust," he wrote. "It has been stressful for both employees and our families. An aging fleet, the selling of spare parts and gutting of maintenance staff has led to a perfect storm."
Still, he continued, "Please don't give up on us. We want to be a world-class airline and provide you with the product you're accustomed to and deserve."
Original Print Headline: AA workers say 'fly in my shoes'