American Airlines unveils new look

The airline isn't sitting on its hands while it works to emerge from bankruptcy protection.

On the morning of Jan. 19, the airline sent an e-mail to its AAdvantage® customers unveiling the airline's new look and talking about the carrier's plans for modernizing its fleet.

In a four-minute video titled "Becoming a new American," the airline's chairman and CEO Tom Horton gives a brief history of the airline, shows the evolution of the logo, previews the new livery the airliners will sport, tells of "hundreds of new airplanes on the way," and features the two new 777-300s that are set to enter service in "just a matter of weeks."

He also shows off new technology the airline's employees will be using to make their jobs easier and make them more efficient. All of these actions have been taken, Horton says, "with one thing in mind: to best serve our customers."

In the video, Horton says little about the Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization the airline entered in November 2011 except for a brief mention about "complet[ing] an evaluation of whether a merger could build on our strengths" -- a reference to a merger being considered with US Airways -- and a remark about "big decisions that need to be made about our future."

As one who has flown American for more than 50 years, literally since preschool, I sincerely hope it doesn't go the way of PanAm, Braniff, PSA, TWA, and dozens of other carriers that are no more.

But Mr. Horton apparently needs to listen more to the voice of his customers.

When he speaks of "how the modern travel experience is going to feel," he needs to understand that "how it feels" is less about putting us in new seats aboard new airplanes than treating passengers well. Making the customer the airline's top priority and providing excellent service every step of the way from reservations to baggage claim will make us feel good about American Airlines, and that will have far more to do with how our travel experience "feels" than riding in a new aircraft.

If passengers continue to be treated like livestock, it won't matter that you pack us into pretty, new pens. Customer service has to be the airline's top priority. After all, "We ARE why you fly!"

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Photos by Carl Dombek
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