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American Airlines Has Too Much Baggage

American Airlines
(Image used under: Creative Commons 2.0 [SRC])

As usual with any airline that's not Southwest, boarding is a pain. People rush the line, desperate not to be the last on the plane and have to search for overhead space that might not be near their seat. That is, that's how it used to be.

Moving from inconvenience to outright abuse, American Air has started "gate checking" your carry-on baggage if you're boarding near the back of the plane (group 7 and up). Assuming they have competent engineers, there should be plenty of room for everyone's carry-ons even without their new practice of asking everyone to put their "personal item" under the seat in front of them. There's no excuse for American to not have plenty of overhead room for every passenger… but it gets worse.

The bags taken during the boarding process aren't guaranteed to be there when you land. They didn't lose them between the walkway and the tarmac, they deliberately separated them to go on a later flight. How do I know? Because the "lost luggage" counter where a full staff of 5 employees was ready and waiting told me so just before they handed me the "sorry, not sorry" toiletries bag (nicely embossed with the American logo).

Sorry not sorry pack.
It's well stocked which I suppose is easy when you've perfected the process of customer inconvenience.

It's pretty easy to put the pieces together. There's no legroom, there's no baggage room, and they won't even put the bags in the hold of the plane that was already there and had the baggage door open and waiting. This is about maximizing people on each flight and spreading the luggage weight around. Or, put simply, profit before service. Of course, I got my bag the next day because their contract-delivery service (which I imagine is busy every day), delivered it as promised, but that's no excuse for getting it right in the first place.

Besides my own two instances of issues, the other attendees of my business trip reported late luggage and cancelled flights; always on American. I will definitely be looking to fly with someone who doesn't play stupid games with passengers.

Update: My wife and daughter heard me ranting and presented an alternative that I didn't think possible: what if they literally screwed up? What if, though they took the bag and dropped it down a chute from the walkway to about where the nose of the plane was, the employees loaded all the bags on a cart and took it back to a terminal by mistake.

It's always a tough choice when determining if a problem is due to maliciousness or incompetence and normally I would never assume malicious, but that's pretty incompetent… too incompetent to believe. Which brings me to a third possibility.

My wife found an article talking about how the execs at American had implemented a new policy of punishing the employees for being late for any reason. Under the policy, employees were desperate to get out and made decisions that inconvenience the customers because they don't have much choice. And now I think we found the answer that makes sense.

Basically, execs who make spreadsheet decisions didn't realize the actual effects of the new policies and rules on the actual business. As I assumed from the start, this is NOT the fault of the employees or pilots or flight attendants – this is all due to American Air. Though I may have been wrong about the "why", the reality is that a company putting (theoretical) profit before customers and employees makes everyone lose… including them. It may take some time, but the losses from rushed employees and customer frustrations will become apparent and they'll have to make adjustments.

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Are You Listening?

A book about avoiding business failure by listening to your workforce.

This is a place-holder for the book I'm writing about the importance and power of listening to your workforce. By treating employees like allies instead of adversaries, you can find and eliminate waste, improve operations, and save massive amounts of money.

It's going to take some time and effort to complete, but stay tuned! I guarantee it will make an impact!

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Are Your Co-Workers Incompetent or Master Espionogists?

(Image is in the Public Domain)

Someone I know of who works at a three-letter agency forwarded me this CIA Simple Sabotage Field Manual from 1944 that was recently declassified. If you every wondered if someone was TRYING to get in the way at work, maybe they are…

Here's the full list in case you don't want the pdf:

  1. Insist on doing everything through "channels." Never permit short-cuts to be taken in order to expedite decisions.
  2. Make "speeches" Talk as frequently as possible and at great length. Illustrate your "points" by long anecdotes and accounts of personal experiences. Never hesitate to make a few appropriate "patriotic" comments.
  3. When possible, refer all matters to committees, for "further study and consideration." Attempt to make the committees as large as possible – never less than five.
  4. Bring up irrelevant issues as frequently as possible.
  5. Haggle over precise wordings of communications, minutes, resolutions.
  6. Refer back to matters decided upon at the last meeting and attempt to re-open the question of the advisability of that decision.
  7. Advocate "caution." Be "reasonable" and urge your fellow-conferees to be "reasonable" and avoid haste which might result in embarrassments or difficulties later on.
  8. Be worried about the propriety of any decision – raise the question of whether such action as is contemplated is within the jurisdiction of the group or whether it might conflict with the policy of some higher echelon.
  9. Demand written orders.
  10. "Misunderstand" orders. Ask endless questions or engage in long correspondence about such orders. Quibble over them when you can.
  11. Do everything possible to delay the delivery of orders. Even though parts of an order may be ready beforehand, don't deliver it until it is completely ready.
  12. Don't order new working materials until your current stocks have been virtually exhausted, so that the slightest delay in filling your order will mean a shutdown.
  13. Oder high-quality materials which are hard to get. If you don't get them argue about it. Warn that inferior materials will mean inferior work.
  14. In making work assignments, always sign out the unimportant jobs first. See that the important jobs are assigned to inefficient workers of poor machines.
  15. Insist on perfect work in relatively unimportant products; send back for refinishing those which have the least flaw. Approve other defective parts whose flaws are not visible to the naked eye.
  16. Make mistakes in routing so that parts and materials will be sent to the wrong place in the plant.
  17. When training new workers, give incomplete or misleading instructions.
  18. To lower morale and with it, production, be pleasant to inefficient workers; give them undeserved promotions. Discriminate against efficient workers; complain unjustly about their work.
  19. Hold conferences when there is more critical work to be done.
  20. Multiply paper-work in plausible ways. Start duplicate files.
  21. Multiply the procedures and clearances involved in issuing instructions, pay checks, and so on. See that three people have to approve everything where one would do.
  22. Apply all regulations to the last letter.
  23. Make mistakes in quantities of material when you are copying orders. Confuse similar names. Use wrong addresses.
  24. Prolong correspondence with government bureaus.
  25. Misfile essential documents.
  26. In making carbon copies, make one too few, so that an extra copying job will have to be done.
  27. Tell important callers the boss is busy or talking on another telephone.
  28. Hold up mail until the next collection.
  29. Spread disturbing rumors that sound like inside dope.
  30. Work slowly. Think out way s to increase the number of movements necessary on your job: use a light hammer instead of a heavy one, try to make a small wrench do when a big one is necessary, use little force where considerable force is needed and so on.
  31. Contrive as many interruptions to your work as you can: when changing the material on which you are working, as you would on a lathe or punch, take needless time to do it. IF you are cutting, shaping or doing other measured work, measure dimensions twice as often as you need to. When you go to the lavatory, spend a longer time there than is necessary. Forget tools so that you will have to go back after them.
  32. Even if you understand the language, pretend not to understand instructions in a foreign tongue.
  33. Pretend that instructions are hard to understand and ask to have them repeated more than once. Or pretend that you are particularly anxious to do your work, and pester the foreman with unnecessary questions.
  34. Do your work poorly and blame it on bad tools, machinery, or equipment. Complain that these things are preventing you from doing your job right.
  35. Never pass on your skill and experience to a new or less skillful worker.
  36. Snarl up administration in very possible way. Fill out forms illegibly so, that they will have to be done over; make mistakes or omit requested information in forms.
  37. If possible, join or help organize a group for presenting employee problems to the management. See that the procedures adopted are as inconvenient as possible for the management, involving the presence of a large number of employees at each presentation, entailing more than one meeting for each grievance, bringing up problems which are largely imaginary, and so on.
  38. Give lengthy and incomprehensible explanations when questions.
  39. Report imaginary spies or danger to the Gestapo or police.
  40. Act stupid.
  41. be as irritable and quarrelsome as possible without getting yourself into trouble.
  42. Misunderstand all sorts of regulations concerning such matters as rationing, transportation, traffic regulations.
  43. Complain against ersatz materials.
  44. In public, treat axis nationals or quislings coldly.
  45. Stop all conversation when axis nationals or quislings enter a cafe.
  46. Cry and sob hysterically at every occasion, especially when confronted by government clerks.
  47. Boycott all movies, entertainments, concerts, newspapers which are in any way connected with the quisling authorities.

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Hillary Clinton Uses Yahoo Answers to Get Data

Reaching out to the public openly is a good leadership trait
(Image is in the Public Domain)

I've seen this before with other famous people like Shigeru Miyamoto, but this is the first member of Congress I've seen. Perhaps this marks a shift in our leaders to using technology to help us interact with them. We can hope.

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