American Airlines Social Media Rocks!

May 6, 2013

Note: This posting is based on my weekly “Thank God It’s Monday” that helps you and your company thrive!

This week’s focus: social media


I had to fly from Silicon Valley to Austin this past week and decided to:

  • Fly American Airlines for the first time in a few years (other airlines currently offer non-stops on this popular route that American pioneered back in the early 1980’s)
  • Use American’s mobile app for check-in, boarding passes and getting through security

I was really disappointed in the Android mobile app. I needed to get paper boarding passes for 3 of the 4 flights as I could not retrieve them via the mobile app. I did manage to get through security both times using the mobile app–it could have been a disaster to be sent back to the ticket counter to get a boarding pass!

I knew this result wasn’t up to American’s standards and wanted to speak to an executive about my experience. I believed that my insights could help them improve a situation I was convinced they weren’t aware of. I won’t bore you with all the details, but, here’s an executive overview:

  • I emailed customer relations who put me in touch with the web services team within one hour. Great!
  • The web services team told me I needed to speak to the third-party developer of the mobile app and gave me a phone number to call. This wasn’t what I wanted and I find it impossible to believe American would want me to speak with their technology vendor. I called as instructed. When AppleCare answered the phone, we both got a quite a chuckle as I knew Apple hadn’t built the Android mobile app on my Motorola Droid 4 phone.
  • I was then told to call the travel desk. I was given the main phone number for American. I tried 3 times and was never able to connect with a human being via their automated call system–hello?
  • I sent a Tweet: @AmericanAir I’ve invested nearly an hour to try to reach a human today to provide feedback about your Android mobile app…no success.

The social media team reached out to me within minutes. I provided more detail and my contact information. Within an hour or so, the gentleman responsible for the Android mobile app called me and I was able to give him information about my mobile experience. He learned about issues he was completely unaware of. He was very appreciative for my insights. I am confident my input is going to help them get closure on these issues. I’ll be watching and listening. And, now I know how to follow-up with him should I have issues in the future.

There is good news here. One, I was able to accomplish my mission to help American Airlines learn about usability issues with its Android mobile app and two, American Airlines restored my faith in them via their social media team who really shined! The social media team rapidly connected me to the right person and got that person to call me the same day.

There are lots of lessons in this short piece IF American chooses to go through this blog post carefully. Perhaps the social media team will help by making sure the executive in charge of customer experience sees this. Frankly, it would have been a lot easier for me to just give up on this issue, but, that’s not what I am all about.

For my readers, I ask you to consider do you really know what it’s like to contact your company should a customer have an issue? It is easy? Or, hard? If it’s hard, it will be hard for your company to thrive.

Thought for the week:

“Being defeated is often a temporary condition. Giving up is what makes it permanent.” — Marilyn vos Savant


What do you think? I welcome your blog comments!


Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting

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