Wednesday, April 09, 2008

The American Way?

There's been a lot of buzz here in DFW this week about the cancelled American Airlines flights that are happening this week as the carrier grounds many of its planes for re-inspections after the recent brouhaha with the FAA:
Patience wore thin Wednesday as American Airlines passengers tried to figure out how to get home on the second consecutive day of massive cancellations at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.

Their success varied dramatically by experience, as frequent travelers who know the drill worked to get seats on other carriers or on American flights that didn't use the narrow-bodied MD-80 airplanes the airline had grounded. For casual travelers, the effort was more frustrating as they puzzled over still more cancellations and trickled out, some making do without the luggage they had checked.

Late Wednesday American had more bad news: at least 900 additional cancellations are expected for today. About 100,000 passengers were affected by the delays on Wednesday, according to a spokesman for the airline.
To me, the most surprising thing about all this is how these flights seem to have been cancelled randomly, with the information not even appearing on the company's website. It sure seems as if they'd want to treat their customers a little better, as I imagine that a lot of people (when they have a choice, which I realize isn't always the case with business travel) will use another carrier after this week's experience. This just seems like a rotten PR move on American's part; yes, the inspections are required, but it seems like they could have had a better backup plan in place.

This also got me to thinking: What is it about some big companies that causes some people to dislike them so intensely, while other companies of almost equal size inspire a lot more loyalty? To wit: I love Southwest Airlines, but I really don't care for American at all. I love Apple (my current woes notwithstanding) and can't stand Microsoft. I love Target and loathe Wal-Mart. I'm not sure, but I think it has to do with the fact that the companies I like tend to at least put out the appearance of caring about people (not to mention a certain "fun" element), while the other ones seem to go with the "you probably have to use us no matter what, so we can treat you any way we like" mentality.

Do any companies that inspire either love or loathing like this for you? Please discuss, as it's getting lonely over here in Musings-land.

(UPDATE: D'oh--didn't have time to finish the original post till just now, two days later. Discuss anyway, if you like.)

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