American Airlines and US Airways have recently merged into one company, making it the largest airline in the world. While it may be the biggest airline, no one could call it the best with all of the recent customer service issues travelers have faced.

 

Here are the three main contributing factors that have set American Airlines back from having stellar customer service:     

 

  1. Mistreating customers

In October, an American Airlines flight attendant ejected passenger Tiana Fough off of a plane before the flight because she wasn’t responding to his orders to make room for other boarding passengers. Fough says she was talking to another passenger, so she didn’t hear the flight attendant’s request. The flight attendant started yelling at Fough for not doing as he said, which caused the confused passenger to start crying.            

 

 

While Fough was crying, the flight attendant told her, “I’m going to kick you off this plane,” and then proceeded to force her off of the flight. Passengers started booing the flight attendants for how he treated Fough over the misunderstanding. Had the flight attendant tried another method of getting Fough’s attention, like tapping her on the shoulder or moving closer to her to be within earshot, then this situation may have been avoided. Since customer service problems like this can be damaging to a company’s image, more training should be given American Airline employees to better train them to handle these types of issues.          

 

  1. Poor satisfaction scores

According to a recent American Customer Service Index, American Airlines only scored a 66 out of 100 points, which is the same as their 2013 score. The average score within the airline industry is 71, putting American Airlines 5 points below average. In 2014, the Department of Transportation received over 3,000 complaints about American Airlines, which was over 540 more than 2013. The increasing number of complaints is likely a big factor in the airlines low customer service score.  

 

“We answer every complaint — most within a couple of days, and each one is categorized so our executives can see where the problems are, and fix them,” said American Airlines spokesman Joshua Freed.

 

American Airlines’ executives may be looking for big picture problems to solve, but what is the customer service staff doing to help individuals? If a passenger has had a poor experience and goes to customer service with a complaint, their small issue needs just as much attention as the big problems being brought to them. Customers that feel ignored after they are facing issues like a long delay, loss of luggage, or mistreatment by American Airline staff are likely to take their future business to another airline.    

 

  1. Mishandling social media

Social media is an important tool for responding to customer service complaints, and American Airlines is facing more negative comments online than any other airline. According to a study done by Crimson Hexagon, 56 percent of all tweets targeted at American Airlines are expressing a negative sentiment. John Donnelly, Senior Vice President of Global Sales and Marketing at Crimson Hexagon, believes that companies need to do more than just apologize to angry customers on Twitter.

 

 

“What airlines need to understand is that every tweet from a disgruntled customer is an opportunity to also connect with that customer and strengthen the relationship,” said Donnelly. “Simply replying to a tweet with a canned corporate apology isn’t enough anymore.”

 

American Airlines hasn’t had the best track record when it comes to responding with helpful tweets, but recently they have been greatly improving. Now, when a customer tweets to the airline that they are facing an issue, the company looks into the problem and tries to help online or by phone. This simple act shows that they care about the customer’s experience and that they will do what they can to help.      

 

 

Will American Airlines have better customer service now that they merged with US Airway? What positive or negative interactions have you had with American Airlines? Leave a comment or talk to me on Twitter @Karbowski_Devon.