The American Airlines Update – FINALLY!


Sorry for the long delay friends… I’ve been waiting on getting a copy of the response (below) before posting an official result of the letter I wrote to American Airlines. Thanks for all your comments, encouragement and added humor. It truly has been an experience.

Two weeks ago, I received a call from Clay at Caldwell Travel, who had clicked on my blog link out of curiosity and read the post regarding American Airlines. He sent it to his boss, who circulated it throughout Caldwell Travel. And they forwarded it to Ginger Byrn, an AA rep from Nashville… who called me almost immediately. Ginger was very kind and definitely sympathetic… offering to “pad” my upgrade points as a gesture of good will.

But the funniest call came the next day, from a Customer Relations Exec at American Airlines in Dallas. Michelle Simmons had received my letter via the email I sent to the Customer Relations link on the AA website. 1) I was completely shocked a live person actually got it (since I’d already received an automated response) and 2) I was even more shocked that it made its way up the line to her desk.

Michelle was funny, yet professional… letting me know that “though they were distraught over the level of service and trouble I’d had… they thoroughly enjoyed reading the letter”. Michelle said it had been passed around to all the Executives in Dallas and that they were even talking about having staff and new hires read it for customer service training. Hilarious.

Then came the clincher. She said, “Debbie… on behalf of American Airlines… please don’t break up with us”. And she offered 15,000 bonus miles as compensation – which I took, of course. I mean, that honestly isn’t near what I’d hoped they would offer… but as I told Michelle… “it’s hard to put a price on that poor of customer service (though I could certainly try). But even when things are out of your control, like weather and MD80 recalls… being kind to people is always in your control. Caring for your customers during trying times means more than any compensation”.

She whole-heartily agreed and then said, “But please accept our bonus miles and upgrade points as our bouquet of I’m sorry roses”. I laughed and said, “Thank you Michelle. But don’t be sorry… just be good.”

After all… that’s what I would tell a guy if he came back begging for my forgiveness.

In closing our discussion… and after giving me her personal cell number in case I was ever in a jam again with AA… she asked if I had anything else I wanted to say. Well… of course! As you know… I always have more to say.

Me: “Michelle, just keep in mind that I am a voice of many” (which is what Mary Graham told me to say when I talked to them).
Michelle: “Yes, of course… there have been difficulties for many of our passengers.”
Me: “No. What I mean is… I work and travel with Women of Faith”.
Michelle: (audible gasp)
Me: “So there are close to 100 people traveling together every weekend, roughly 30 round trips a year.”
Michelle: “Yes… yes… I know. They’re one of our biggest accounts”.
Me: “Exactly. But the thing is, I’m the only one who wrote a letter. Everyone else is just switching airlines. They let each of us choose who we want to fly with you know.”
Michelle: (gulp) “Really?”
Me: “Yeah… so, I really think it would behoove AA to send a letter to all the people affiliated with Women of Faith… and just let them know you care. You know, ‘court’ them a little.”

So, below is the letter that was sent to Mary Graham, and intended for all the WOF team who have been disillusioned in their relationship with American Airlines.

Feel free to post your thoughts. I know you will. Happy flying.

Dear Ms. Graham,

After a lovely and constructive conversation with Ms. Barnett (following our receipt of her cleverly-written and candid expression of disappointment and concern over the service she’s received from us lately), I was asked to reach out to you to assure you of our commitment to serve the Women of Faith with professionalism, courtesy and reliability. I consider it a privilege to do so.

There is no question that the airline industry has been faced with some real challenges lately. Regardless, we realize that we must continue to work hard to ensure that we meet the expectations of our customers. Above all, we must respect our customers’ time by providing them with on time flight departures and arrivals. I can tell you that everyone here at American Airlines is focused on this issue and we’ve begun to implement changes to our aircraft operating schedules that will provide more time in between flights in an effort to improve dependability. In addition, we have accelerated the replacement of some of our older aircraft (our MD-80’s) with 737’s. This will help immensely. We are working on other operational initiatives as well.

Please stick with us. We are eager to continue the good business relationship we have enjoyed over the years with the membership of Women of Faith. We consider it a real honor to have you as American Airlines customers. I hope you will let me know if I can be of assistance to you or your group members in the future.

Sincerely,

Michelle Simmons
Customer Relations
American Airlines

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10 thoughts on “The American Airlines Update – FINALLY!

  1. Call me jaded, but I have a feeling this amount of personal involvement wouldn’t have been given had you not made it known that you worked for WOF. I guess we’ll all just play the waiting game and see if AA makes good on their promises.I, do, however find it awesomely hilarious that your letter circulated all over AA!!! Kudos Debbie!!!

  2. actually – she didn’t find out I worked for WOF until the end of the phone call. It was never mentioned before that. So, I’ll give em that… ;o)

  3. I just read both letters.I have the opposite response from annibelle–given the long record of disappointments in your letter, shouldn’t they have made a huge overture towards you AND WoF.Like top-level reforms that you instantly feel. A department of customer delight operated directly by the CEO, where magical things happen to Platinum Elite people.Maybe they have. Set a reminder to post an update in October.

  4. “A department of customer delight operated directly by the CEO, where magical things happen to Platinum Elite people.”josh – that is brilliant.

  5. love it! i’m glad they did more than just laugh at your letter. it also sounds like you showed them a lot of grace in not demanding more from them, which is also cool. you had every right to express displeasure and they could have done more…but it’s cool that you didn’t come across as someone who feels “entitled” or whatever. i worked in retail for 4 years, and i despised those kinds of customers.

  6. So, I read this only hours after you posted it, but held off on commenting – for whatever reason. I don’t know. 🙂I was laughing out loud when I read that they passed the letter around amongst the Execs! Dreams do come true!! 😉 You’re right. It’s really hard to put a price tag on the extreme level of poor service you guys have received. It sounds like you’ve at least got the “ball” rolling and the Execs in reality…sort of. Actually, they should get a good dose of reality and travel with you guys for a few weekends, get treated exactly the way you were, and THEN maybe they’d “get it”. 🙂 Who knows. At least Michelle was pleasant and helpful and caring.So, what’s next?? Letterman? Oprah? Ellen? 🙂

  7. Sounds like a great example for those of us who become ambivilant with change when it comes to corporations. We have been conditioned to have a mindset that “the little guy always loses to the big guy.” In this case it didn’t happend. We are in a situation with Pulte homes where we almost gave up, but kept on! Hey! your name came up several times in conversation at my house! We need to get together and connect you with Angela!

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