Boycot American Airlines

Posted: May 2, 2008 in Current Affairs

Boycott American Airlines.  I usually don’t write on topics unrelated to CRM but this is different.  Again I say boycott American Airlines.

It won’t inconvenience you much and it might do some good for a whole lot of people.

In the country at large American is still having to deal with the SNAFU a couple of weeks ago related to grounding a large portion of their fleet for repairs that had not been performed in a timely manner.  In Boston there are labor issues as well.  The company recently lost a suit by its skycaps over lost tips.

Apparently when American went to charging $2 to check bag at the curb, customers complied but were then reluctant to tip the skycaps for the service.  In effect the airline was horning in on the skycaps earnings.  The sky caps sued and a federal court in Boston agreed and American was ordered to repay the skycaps for the lost wages. 

At the time these hard working people were being paid only $5.15 per hour so tips were an important and necessary part of their income.  Undeterred by the courts, the corporation just put up signs at its Boston airport location informing customers that they were restricted from giving tips — read the news story here.  The airline also boosted the wages of the skycaps to the $12 to $15 range but according to sources, that doesn’t make up for the lost income. 

I think it’s entirely reasonable to tip skycaps and, at all other airports I have ever been, it is an accepted custom, like tipping a waiter (but not the counter help at McDonalds, for example).  Skycaps handle a lot of jobs at curbside — checking bags, issuing borading passes and performing the first line security check.  True counter agents inside the terminal don’t receive tips but they don’t help you with your bags or stand out in the heat and cold all year either.

All this is happening only in Boston, by the way, so the intent of punishing the skycaps by the airline could not be more obvious.  So my response to this to boycott the airline.  There are enough alternatives that it won’t inconvenience people and it might teach the airline how to deal with a very important constituency — its employees.  As a wise man once told me, the inconvenience would be like being deprived of rutabagas.

Safe flying.

  1. David says:

    I am ready to boycott American Airlines. They have instituted unreasonable extra charges now where they are nickle and diming their customers for making reservations over the phone, for checking baggage, for food on the plane… This stuff has got to stop, and if customers turn away, it certainly will send them the message that they don’t seem to understand.

So, what did you think?

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