Monday, December 21, 2009

VERITAS: TOUCHDOWN - MORE TURBULENCE FOR AMERICAN AIRLINES

By Aliya Jiwan

We all have bad days. The reasons vary: getting some terrible news, getting stuck in traffic when you’re already late, having a heated argument with a loved one. It happens. Last week, it seems, an American Airlines flight attendant was having a really bad day and her actions took the airline on yet another rough PR ride. John Reed of California was travelling in First Class when, by all accounts, the flight attendant went nuts after he asked for a glass of orange juice. Viral blog posts by witnesses recounted the interaction as follows: “'This must be your first time in first class,’ she said. He asked what she meant by that. He told her he was actually on the flight that made him Executive Platinum for the 10th year in a row. She said, 'You obviously don’t know how this works.’” Later, she handed him a federal warning saying that he could be jailed for interfering with a crew member’s duties. He was greeted by authorities when he landed. The viral blog posts were picked up by the media and consumer travel web sites. I should note that this is the same airline which faced public backlash after firing one of its web designers for responding to a customer complaint. Rather than take the OJ incident as an opportunity to do something right, the airline did too little too late. It took more than a week for the airline to issue an apology and the following statement “As to the flight attendant in question, American has taken specific action related to that employee.” They would not elaborate. When you’ve spent a lot of time in hot water, it’s crucial that you seize opportunities to cool public perception. Competitor, Delta Airlines did just that, offering elite status to everyone on the ill-fated American Airlines flight. A true testament to the quote: ‘When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.’ Or in this case, some OJ.

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