Sunday, February 06, 2011

Horrible Management at Airlines in the USA

It is actually laughable how obvious the problems with USA airline management are. Just go fly the cheap airlines in Asia: Firefly, Tiger Air (AirAsia I haven't flown but am not sure is a good comparison, though many people like it)... Even Malaysia Air offers some very cheap short haul flights. Then you have airlines like Singapore Air which is like professional athletes being compared to primary school athletes (that the American managers are - United, Delta, US Air...).

I flew on a 30 minutes flight (something like $20), with full food service in Malaysia. A week later I fly on American from NYC to Washington DC and due to the "short" flight time and about 5 minutes of the seat belt sign being lit due to turbulence the beverage service was canceled for our "safety." The failure of the executives of American airlines is staggering. I really can't imagine how USSR style management circa 1980 could be much worse. Yet somehow none of them bother to just give up, stop their MBA lead idiocy and just hire a bunch of people that know how to run airlines from southeast Asia. They all just want the answer to be in their spreadsheets not their utter failure of management.

Singapore Airlines has amazingly attentive flight attendants. That is the system in place. It is not a personal issue. It is a management issue. Yes their on some in the west who don't want to serve others, it might be an American airline has hired a few wrong people for the job. But mainly I think they have utterly destroyed flight attendants will with their horrible management systems that create day after day of angry customers and no way to fix the issues as a flight attendant.

I believe you take most flight attendants in the USA and put them in the Singapore Air system they will be great. It might also be a few are just not cut out for being a flight attendant (I have not question the horrible job managers have done has lead them to drive away good employees and therefore make some bad hiring decisions because they can't get the people that should be in the jobs to work for their horrible system). My guess is take most of the Singapore Air flight attendants and put them in the American system and they would quit. But if they stayed, after a year they would likely be not much different than their co-workers - unable to make the poor systems provide good results for customers, extremely frustrated...

It really is staggering how American airlines have decades of horrible management yet their are obvious examples of how to do it right a plane flight away and they can't get out of their own way to adopt decent management practices.

Reaction to: Bangkok Airways and the Power of People

Most of the Asian airlines I flew had the typical chaos boarding of USA airlines but done much more effectively. I still think they would be much better off adopting a Southwest Airlines style (Southwest Air is unique but you can do something similar even with assigned seats). One kind of did. They had you go in different lines after they checked your boarding pass - quite an affective strategy I believe (they could put first class, people needing more time... arrange people in sections of rows)...

Related: Airline Quality - CEO Flight Attendant - Southwest Not Delta or United - United Breaks Guitars