We were flying home from Kona, HI to a small town in Texas -- which means it's going to take some time and several connections. First leg KOA-LAX was pretty uneventful, I got two hours of work done, and watched a good movie the rest of the way.
We had a scheduled 3 hour 27 minute layover before AA2254 was scheduled to leave LAX for DFW, so we did our best to stay occupied in a busy airport on a Friday night.
We arrived at the gate about 10 minutes before boarding was to begin, and were there to see the flight crew arrive and a couple of flight attendants. "Good sign" I thought to myself, we should be on time... meaning we would arrive in DFW at a little after 5AM Saturday morning.
Boarding time came and went. No announcements, no boarding. 10 minutes, 15 minutes, and then I saw a gate staff supervisor arrive and thought "this can't be good"...
The supervisor spoke with two of the gate staffers... I was 15 feet away but could hear things like, "yeah, she's in the terminal, but nobody can get her to answer her phone..." "we can't locate her..." and things like that.
A few minutes later, one of the gate keepers got on the microphone to announce: "We just wanted to let you know that as soon as the missing flight attendant shows up, we'll get you all on this plane and on your way to DFW."
Whoa Nelly! Don't throw the gal under the bus! Say something like, "We're sorry for the inconvenience -- one of our flight attendants is making their way to the gate, and we'll be getting you in the air very soon..." or something that didn't paint a target on her back.
So - all the passengers start looking for a female in flight attendant-wear hoping our flight will get up and away.
Tick-tock. Tick-tock. Tick-tock.
I don't know how much later said female did arrive and moved straight through the crowd to the gate and badged in and disappeared down the corridor towards the plane.
Within a few more minutes we began boarding and once on board there was no further adieu made of her late arrival. Uneventful flight. Arrived a little late to a 5AM-Quiet DFW.
What troubles me... I've flown on competing airlines where, when they have a delay, they have an (unwritten or written - I can't say) agreement that works like this: every 5-10 minutes a staff person will get on the mic and let everybody know what's going on and what's being done to fix it. If there are no changes, they'll tell you, "Folks, we're still working to fix the problem, and we will keep you posted."
With American Airlines it's like there is an agreement to not say anything... Just let people create their own scenario. That way AA doesn't have to affirm or deny anything.
But it sure is a lousy way to create a company culture that breeds customer loyalty.
We got to DFW about 30 minutes late. We still had to wait for our final flight to our small town. It was delayed as well, so what was supposed to total 20 hours of flights was over 21 hours.... You could say, "Hey just be thankful you're home safely." True. I am.
I only wish I could say, "American Airlines cared about each passenger, and wanted to be sure we felt that they cared." That was not the case on our trip.
I hope they'll figure out how to fix their culture, and come into the realization that happy passengers are the force that makes an airline viable and long-lived.