The Tale Of Two Airlines: Southwest And American
May 22, 2008 7 Comments
Yesterday I was struck by the contrast between two pieces of news; an ad in the USA Today from the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association (SAPA) and a new fee from American Airlines.
First of all, I found a full page ad in the USA Today which was a letter from the SAPA to Herb Kelleher, the newly retired chairman of the airline. Here’s some of what the pilots had to say:
As you step down from the SWA Board of Directors, the pilots of Southwest Airlines would like to thank you, Herb, for 38 years of positively outrageous service to our Company and our pilots. It has been an honor and a privilege.
I also read yesterday that American Airlines has decided to impose a $15 fee for the first bag that passengers check. This announcement comes two weeks after announcing a $25 fee for the second bag that customers check. Wow, that will be a customer experience nightmare in so many ways: slowing down the check-in process as customers find out the news and have to pay the fees, slowing down the boarding process as more people try and find space for their luggage in the overheads, and pushing more luggage off the plane when overheads get filled up (once again slowing the boarding process).
In addition to this news, I thought there was an interesting contrast with a full page ad in USA Today from the American Airlines Pilot Association that I found about a month ago. Here’s some of what American’s pilots had to say at that time:
We’re embarrassed that so many passengers are inconvenienced and dissatisfied and hope you’ll accept our apologies for our airline’s unreliability… Due to mismanagement, our airline doesn’t have enough workers to run dependably…
The bottom line: Which airline do you think is best equipped to deliver a great customer experience?