Today I received a nice letter from the "President -- Aadvantage Loyalty Program," American Airlines' frequent flyer program. On 09/12/2011, some readers will have read my post regarding how an American pilot and a couple of friendly flight attendants I met in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, helped me get an American flight out on the 6th day of being stranded after 9/11/2001.This was the good side of American Airlines and I'm sure there are more good examples. However, there is a bad side that is a "union story" that is worth telling as a part of "the other side of unions (not the hyped romanticized side)" that I've contemplated writing, but have been late in doing so. Frankly, the AA story is a minor one compared to the big union picture, but it's significant, especially at this point in time.
For years, I flew often on American Airlines to Latin America, Europe, and within North America. The service was usually good to excellent, except when there was no service or delays. And, these were more frequent than chance problems would have been expected to cause. The normal excuse was "maintenance problems." More than a few times, in the Dallas hub, I commented to an agent "it surely seemed they had too many maintenance problems." The agent would politely acknowledge my comments but not expound.
One flight, which was a very important one for me, was so announced as delayed for maintenance. I approached an agent and asked, "OK, what is really going on here? If American has so many maintenance problems, maybe we shouldn't fly." The agent looked straight at me and said, "sir, you've been here before, what do you think?" I told him that I suspected crew problems, knowing the activism of their unions." I also said that I expected to eventually see a crew approach the gate entrance and we'd fly in time....if I decided to stay. I said, "you have union problems, right?" He said he'd be fired for agreeing, but he then said, "Yes, pilots. They are probably trying to call in a crew now." Eventually, a crew did arrive.
I flew that flight but switched to Continental for most destinations after that.
You may ask, is this important? No, not as a singular issue, but it is emblematic of one part of the dysfunctional nature of our economy, our businesses today. Most citizens never experience this and won't know what the essence is if they do have the experience.
Moreover, it is illustrative of the foolhardiness of President Obama for catering to unions. Of course, he does so to assure he has the voter bloc, not for the good of America, which is undoubtedly one of his last thoughts. Now you know why I wrote this. If you've read this far, thanks for doing so.