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October 26, 2007

US Airways: Our Philadelphia International Flights Were "Very Bad"

It's rare to hear airline execs (or executives anywhere, really) talk openly about problems they're experiencing, which is why this is rather refreshing:  A US Airways president said that the operation of their international flights from Philadelphia have been "very bad" because of congestion at the airport's gates.  Sure, he was saying it because the airline is annoyed at airport officials for not helping them expand their (profitable) international operations there, but still - rare to hear someone say that they provided terrible service.  On the plus side, US Airways had a great quarter.

October 26, 2007 | Permalink: US Airways: Our Philadelphia International Flights Were "Very Bad"


Not aviation related but: there seems to be a strong correlation between "truth/openness/communication" and "success". When you share the true situation with people, the word spreads and people learn about it and try to help fix the REAL issue (not some made up half-truth from corporate lawyers). In this case, people will know about it and suggestions will abound. Think wikipedia, tivo user-extended features, facebook, etc. Being open works out great (sometimes counter-intuitively)! I hate when airlines blatantly lie. I know just how often they do because I have many friends at one particular airline and when a flight is delayed, my friends at AOG, technical services, etc. often tell me a totally different story. Sometime it's just that the gate agent just doesn't have any information and tells us that's it's because of the weather. I often learn that a flight is canceled before the pilots [who are sitting with us in the waiting area]. Because my friends call me and the pilots don't have properly placed friends I guess, ehehehe. Anyway, COMMUNICATION, trust, telling the truth and saying sorry plus a sense of community goes a long way!!!

: Gangloff at Oct 26, 2007 11:09:38 AM

The USAirways management culture is interesting because it's a little younger, entreprenurial, laid back and "Western" than most airlines. It's the culture of America West Airlines, which is where the managers come from. Needless to say, they're having a hard time grafting that culture on to the larger USAirways system, which was none of those things.

That said, there are limits to airline honesty, even with this team. In Airline PR 101, they apparently teach you NEVER to volunteer information about "problems." If the reporter doesn't ask, you don't tell. You just hope the issue fades away before you get bad press. After the fact, maybe you can admit the truth.

For example, I remember US Airways' operational meltdown last spring in the days following their "rez migration," where they combined their two reservation systems. It was obvious almost immediately that things were going badly and airport delays would be extensive. But management chose to put on a brave face and provide less than candid information about what travellers could expect. It was only months later that the admitted the size of the problem. Not sure I would have done things differently, but that's how they do it.

: iahphx at Oct 26, 2007 7:46:19 PM

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