speedbird52
Topic Author
Posts: 768
Joined: Sat Nov 26, 2016 5:30 am

What was American Like Before the Merger

Thu Nov 16, 2017 3:49 am

Recently I have read a lot about how American has lost quality because it has adopted the USAirways business model. Yet per my memory everything I heard about American before the merge was bad, and all of a sudden they seem to be a half decent airline. Are any of those sentiments true?
 
Varsity1
Posts: 1955
Joined: Mon May 02, 2016 4:55 am

Re: What was American Like Before the Merger

Thu Nov 16, 2017 3:59 am

PM AA was the last "true" legacy I feel. It had a stoic TWA/Pan AM/Eastern vibe to it.
"PPRuNe will no longer allow discussions regarding Etihad Airlines, its employees, executives, agents, or other representatives. Such threads will be deleted." - ME3 thug airlines suing anyone who brings negative information public..
 
User avatar
zelalemon
Posts: 18
Joined: Sun Sep 03, 2017 5:51 pm

Re: What was American Like Before the Merger

Thu Nov 16, 2017 4:02 am

A lot of that in my opinion had to do with the pre-merger livery/marketing vs post merger.
 
User avatar
FoxtrotSierra
Posts: 368
Joined: Wed Aug 30, 2017 7:06 am

Re: What was American Like Before the Merger

Thu Nov 16, 2017 4:13 am

There is some truth to this, but the reality is, bad management can ruin anything. I'm not a DL fanboy or UA basher by any stretch of the imagination, but anyone that has been in this industry for more than a few years knows that DL under Anderson worked out remarkably well and UA under Smisek was a spectacular failure. That said, both DL and UA were able to eventually reap the advantages of acquiring a full service Int'l airline where AA got stuck with the cheap spoils that no one wanted. Despite its troubles, even UA was able to somewhat improve the overall state of the airline despite the rocky merger with CO simply because CO brought a better airline to the table in some aspects than UA itself was. The same cannot be said about AA that was also in a similarly bad state, but instead let the LCC mentality of US management take the reins which was a disaster waiting to happen, not to mention the disadvantage of trying to integrate two completely different business models, an inferior product, an awful reputation with the public, and gaining a MUCH smaller Int'l network from CLT/PHL than from DTW/MSP or IAH/EWR. To its credit, AA has rebranded to effectively give itself a clean slate, which is probably why AA/US went much better than UA/CO, fulfilled its promise to not dehub any city, and is actually taking advantage of CLT/PHL and leveraging their Int'l networks. That said, AA is still run by DP, and when you start out so low, you would think you can only go up, but US was even lower, and when you combine the worst of the worst with even worse, the result is not pretty. AA was bad before the merger, but it was still better than US, and putting them in control of AA basically ensured that the situation would become even worse, which it has.
 
User avatar
zelalemon
Posts: 18
Joined: Sun Sep 03, 2017 5:51 pm

Re: What was American Like Before the Merger

Thu Nov 16, 2017 4:25 am

FoxtrotSierra wrote:
There is some truth to this, but the reality is, bad management can ruin anything. I'm not a DL fanboy or UA basher by any stretch of the imagination, but anyone that has been in this industry for more than a few years knows that DL under Anderson worked out remarkably well and UA under Smisek was a spectacular failure. That said, both DL and UA were able to eventually reap the advantages of acquiring a full service Int'l airline where AA got stuck with the cheap spoils that no one wanted. Despite its troubles, even UA was able to somewhat improve the overall state of the airline despite the rocky merger with CO simply because CO brought a better airline to the table in some aspects than UA itself was. The same cannot be said about AA that was also in a similarly bad state, but instead let the LCC mentality of US management take the reins which was a disaster waiting to happen, not to mention the disadvantage of trying to integrate two completely different business models, an inferior product, an awful reputation with the public, and gaining a MUCH smaller Int'l network from CLT/PHL than from DTW/MSP or IAH/EWR. To its credit, AA has rebranded to effectively give itself a clean slate, which is probably why AA/US went much better than UA/CO, fulfilled its promise to not dehub any city, and is actually taking advantage of CLT/PHL and leveraging their Int'l networks. That said, AA is still run by DP, and when you start out so low, you would think you can only go up, but US was even lower, and when you combine the worst of the worst with even worse, the result is not pretty. AA was bad before the merger, but it was still better than US, and putting them in control of AA basically ensured that the situation would become even worse, which it has.


AA premerger was bankrupt. AA postmerger is profitable. I would make the argument that the US leadership has been great for the success of the airline.
 
User avatar
FoxtrotSierra
Posts: 368
Joined: Wed Aug 30, 2017 7:06 am

Re: What was American Like Before the Merger

Thu Nov 16, 2017 4:36 am

zelalemon wrote:
AA premerger was bankrupt. AA postmerger is profitable. I would make the argument that the US leadership has been great for the success of the airline.


So were DL and UA. Both are profitable now, it's a zero sum game. The economic situation of DL, UA, and AA before and after the merger is basically the same, but the state of each airline is very different.
 
AA737-823
Posts: 5457
Joined: Wed Mar 01, 2000 11:10 am

Re: What was American Like Before the Merger

Thu Nov 16, 2017 6:26 am

zelalemon wrote:
AA premerger was bankrupt. AA postmerger is profitable. I would make the argument that the US leadership has been great for the success of the airline.


Measuring the profitability of a carrier in the BEST TIMES the US airline industry has ever known is hardly a useful benchmark.
And, the reduction in competition virtually guarantees the success of a carrier that has even a remote clue and the capital to run a flying company. (that excludes startups like Eastern)

In spite of the arrogance of the AA CEO in saying that they'll never make a loss again, let's just wait until the next big downturn in the industry, and see how AA (and others!) start crying.
 
cheapgreek
Posts: 566
Joined: Mon Feb 13, 2017 3:57 pm

Re: What was American Like Before the Merger

Thu Nov 16, 2017 3:16 pm

The old AA was great, very customer oriented. US attitude was take it or leave it. Very bad morale among US employees especially going through two chapter 11's within a few of years. Bad leadership in Stephen Wolf, Rakesh Gangwal, and especially David Siegel, who said he was in it for the long haul then bolted with 5 million in severance pay.
 
chrisair
Posts: 2046
Joined: Fri Sep 01, 2000 11:32 pm

Re: What was American Like Before the Merger

Thu Nov 16, 2017 3:36 pm

PMAA had tons of food in First, much of it was quite tasty, and it was found on a lot of shorter ~2 hour flights.

cheapgreek wrote:
Very bad morale among US employees especially going through two chapter 11's within a few of years.


On the inflight side, my anecdotal observations are: Cactus crews are generally excellent, customer focused, and always working in the cabin during the flight. US-East crews are a mixed bag. The older (true USAir) ones generally do the minimum and not much more, the younger ones that were with Cactus trainers are not bad. The legacy AAL FAs are also a mixed bag. I've had exceptional older ones and younger ones that make me wonder how they have a job.

Again, totally anecdotal. But I do think the PHX based Cactus FAs, especially the ones that started in the 80s and early 90s generally have the Cactus spirit.
 
Cubsrule
Posts: 13992
Joined: Sat May 15, 2004 12:13 pm

Re: What was American Like Before the Merger

Thu Nov 16, 2017 3:40 pm

chrisair wrote:
On the inflight side, my anecdotal observations are: Cactus crews are generally excellent, customer focused, and always working in the cabin during the flight. US-East crews are a mixed bag. The older (true USAir) ones generally do the minimum and not much more, the younger ones that were with Cactus trainers are not bad. The legacy AAL FAs are also a mixed bag. I've had exceptional older ones and younger ones that make me wonder how they have a job.

Again, totally anecdotal. But I do think the PHX based Cactus FAs, especially the ones that started in the 80s and early 90s generally have the Cactus spirit.


Among older LUS flight attendants, the last merger made a huge difference. Most legacy PI folks are great. Legacy AL/US not so much.
I can't decide whether I miss the tulip or the bowling shoe more
 
stlgph
Posts: 10976
Joined: Tue Oct 12, 2004 4:19 pm

Re: What was American Like Before the Merger

Thu Nov 16, 2017 3:53 pm

Man, those olives were great.
if assumptions could fly, airliners.net would be the world's busiest airport
 
User avatar
IrishAyes
Posts: 2402
Joined: Sat Jan 26, 2008 6:04 pm

Re: What was American Like Before the Merger

Thu Nov 16, 2017 4:21 pm

Remember that it takes years to change a culture.

For many of these AA, US and HP employees, they had to weather the worst of the worst when it came to the recession of the late 2000s, the aftermath of 9/11, layoffs, everything.

While some may say that AA was the last carrier to be like TWA, PanAm, Braniff, Eastern, etc. what is a common thread among the latter four of those airlines? They are no longer around today.

The new AA has managed to resolve the East vs. West discrepancy between US and HP employees, and also been able to allow the airline to hire more people, retain jobs, grow hub operations, add profit-sharing, revamp the fleet, revamp the in-flight products.

AA is re-investing in its people, processes and technology and that takes time. Lots of time. Just be patient and acknowledge that there is a lot of good that is going around, and there are some kinks that need to be worked out, but at least AA has the time, money and resources to fix them. We can't say that was the case 10 years ago...
 
User avatar
CV990A
Posts: 1455
Joined: Sat Sep 04, 1999 6:04 am

Re: What was American Like Before the Merger

Thu Nov 16, 2017 5:08 pm

Pre-merger AA? Nothing but MD-80s. As far as the eye could see, MD-80s.

I do feel the in-flight experience has gotten stingier, but can't really say they are better or worse than any of the other legacies. I'm loyal to them because they offer the only non-stops on the routes I need to fly for work and to visit family and they haven't screwed me over (yet).
Kittens Give Morbo Gas
 
EddieDude
Posts: 6975
Joined: Fri Nov 14, 2003 10:19 am

Re: What was American Like Before the Merger

Thu Nov 16, 2017 5:12 pm

FoxtrotSierra wrote:
both DL and UA were able to eventually reap the advantages of acquiring a full service Int'l airline where AA got stuck with the cheap spoils that no one wanted.

You could see it the other way around. US was able to also acquire a full service international airline called AA. They simply stuck with the AA brand.

Many in this forum will not recall but a long time ago AA had MRTC and that was definitely a competitive advantage.

I must say I don't fly AA much. When I do, I find them to be hit or miss, with a bit of a tilt towards "hit", both pre- and post-merger. In January 2010, I booked pretty much a last minute YYZ-ORD. It was an Eagle ERJ-145. I was dreading the flight. It turned out to be brilliant. The friendliest flight attendant, very professional. The flight was a pleasure mostly thanks to her. In 2015 I flew MEX-DFW-MEX for work in Y. The outbound leg was again brilliant. The crew was fantastic. The return was kind of miserable. I don't recall well, but there was some boarding pass mix-up issue involving another passenger caused by the counter personnel, the in-flight service was rudish, etc. Then again in 2016 I flew MEX-MIA-MEX with the outbound in Y (non-memorable) and the return in J (absolutely fantastic). I would not mind flying AA more, but oneworld really doesn't work for me very well. AA seems to be heavily advertising online their Asian services in Mexico; perhaps they are able to offer interesting fares via DFW and other U.S. hubs.
Upcoming flights:
May: AM MEX-CUN 73H (Y), AM CUN-MEX 73W (Y).
August: KL MEX-AMS 74M (J), KQ AMS-NBO 788 (J).
 
User avatar
ikolkyo
Posts: 2663
Joined: Tue Nov 05, 2013 8:43 pm

Re: What was American Like Before the Merger

Thu Nov 16, 2017 5:13 pm

PMAA honestly felt like it was stuck in the past compared to its competitors, the merger brought fresh life into everything.
 
alasizon
Posts: 1931
Joined: Sat Apr 28, 2007 8:57 pm

Re: What was American Like Before the Merger

Thu Nov 16, 2017 5:31 pm

chrisair wrote:
PMAA had tons of food in First, much of it was quite tasty, and it was found on a lot of shorter ~2 hour flights.


And some of that has began to come back and there is a systemwide initiative right now to align the catering between AA and Eagle meaning that from the catering standpoint, its all the same.
Manager on Duty & Tower Planner
 
blink182
Posts: 5368
Joined: Mon Oct 18, 1999 3:09 am

Re: What was American Like Before the Merger

Thu Nov 16, 2017 5:36 pm

ikolkyo wrote:
PMAA honestly felt like it was stuck in the past compared to its competitors, the merger brought fresh life into everything.

Pre-bankruptcy AA felt like it was stuck in the past with a stale product, low morale, and a transatlantic route structure that practically narrowed down to LHR, MAD, and CDG. Heck, AA only had one single flight to Germany at the time and seemed to throw in the towel any time a competitor would emerge. Bankruptcy before the merger, brought about AA's current fleet, brand and hard product on everything that isn't the 737Max. AAdvantage elite status also meant something then, and from a pax perspective you sensed that the company finally corrected the course.

IrishAyes wrote:
The new AA has managed to resolve the East vs. West discrepancy between US and HP employees, and also been able to allow the airline to hire more people, retain jobs, grow hub operations, add profit-sharing, revamp the fleet, revamp the in-flight products.

Was it a true resolution, or the raw majority of AAers overpowering the split among HP and US?
Give me a break, I created this username when I was a kid...
 
777PHX
Posts: 962
Joined: Tue Oct 13, 2015 4:36 am

Re: What was American Like Before the Merger

Thu Nov 16, 2017 6:24 pm

chrisair wrote:
On the inflight side, my anecdotal observations are: Cactus crews are generally excellent, customer focused, and always working in the cabin during the flight. US-East crews are a mixed bag. The older (true USAir) ones generally do the minimum and not much more, the younger ones that were with Cactus trainers are not bad. The legacy AAL FAs are also a mixed bag. I've had exceptional older ones and younger ones that make me wonder how they have a job.

Again, totally anecdotal. But I do think the PHX based Cactus FAs, especially the ones that started in the 80s and early 90s generally have the Cactus spirit.


PMUS East crews are horrendous. I've never been treated so poorly in my life than by a few of those crews. Legacy AA crews are usually pretty decent, although I've had a few elderly ones on longhauls that clearly don't give a shit and are just phoning it in for the benefits. They do the bare minimum. "Let's get this meal service over as quick as we can so we can turn out the lights and pretend the pax don't exist for the next eight hours." Cactus crews are by and large good. And the new hires are usually fairly decent.
 
MAH4546
Posts: 25750
Joined: Wed Jan 24, 2001 1:44 pm

Re: What was American Like Before the Merger

Thu Nov 16, 2017 6:42 pm

It was a far superior airline and US really ruined the culture. One can always tell, when calling AA call centers, if the employee came from PMUS or PMAA, it's night and day.

AA has improved its lounges and premium cabin hard products, but the rest - catering quality, coach product, etc. - has been in total free-fall. I largely stopped flying AA for better quality carriers.
a.
 
jeffrey1970
Posts: 1478
Joined: Sat Apr 07, 2001 1:41 am

Re: What was American Like Before the Merger

Thu Nov 16, 2017 6:45 pm

I always thought US was a very good airline, and I think American is a very good airline. On one flight I took this year I was really impressed by how the FA's treated the children on the flight. I thought they were great towards everyone on thee flight. They told me that they call themselves the "Allegheny Girls" since they started off with Allegheny airlines.
God bless through Jesus, Jeff
 
phxsanslcpdx
Posts: 70
Joined: Mon Aug 01, 2016 4:36 pm

Re: What was American Like Before the Merger

Thu Nov 16, 2017 6:55 pm

EddieDude wrote:
Many in this forum will not recall but a long time ago AA had MRTC and that was definitely a competitive advantage.


Hmmm. From everything I've heard, the extra space in coach initiatives were pretty much disastrous for both AA and TWA. A large majority of coach passengers would just go with whatever was cheapest, leaving AA/TWA unable to successfully charge a premium, and with fewer seats to sell than their competitors. The various Economy+ and preferred seating options that exist out there in the marketplace now seem to perform much better.

blink182 wrote:
ikolkyo wrote:
IrishAyes wrote:
The new AA has managed to resolve the East vs. West discrepancy between US and HP employees, and also been able to allow the airline to hire more people, retain jobs, grow hub operations, add profit-sharing, revamp the fleet, revamp the in-flight products.

Was it a true resolution, or the raw majority of AAers overpowering the split among HP and US?


My understanding is that it was something in between... plus time, and the idea that big raises and vastly-expanded flight options made settlement palatable to both sides. It wasn't a case of AAers just having the numbers and voting to screw over both HP and US.
 
F9Animal
Posts: 4243
Joined: Thu Dec 16, 2004 7:13 am

Re: What was American Like Before the Merger

Thu Nov 16, 2017 6:55 pm

PM AA was kind of boring to me. They were due for a refresh before they went into bankruptcy in my opinion. Fares were of course pretty high, at least compared to other airlines when I shopped fares.

The new merged brand is not as good as the old AA either. More can be done to better the customer experience for sure. I personally don't like the industry of today. It just doesn't have the warm and fuzzy feeling that flying used to have.
I Am A Different Animal!!
 
drdisque
Posts: 1114
Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2007 9:57 am

Re: What was American Like Before the Merger

Thu Nov 16, 2017 8:40 pm

So much misremembering.

NW and DL were not in bankruptcy when they merged. (NW had exited about a year prior and DL several years prior).

UA was not in bankruptcy when it merged. (it had exited SEVERAL years prior)
 
AWACSooner
Posts: 2448
Joined: Tue Jan 22, 2008 12:35 am

Re: What was American Like Before the Merger

Thu Nov 16, 2017 10:20 pm

PM AA was all sunshine and rainbows...and F pax got a free kitten to take home at the end of every flight. They served kobe filets and gave you unlimited Cristal champagne in F.
And then mean old US Airways came along and ruined it! ;)

Actually, the merger, imo, was a shot in the arm to an AA that was seemingly swimming in circles regarding service and overall atmosphere. Post-merger, I've really begun to see a revamp in their overall customer service and hard product...at the expense of legroom and overall seat comfort (naturally, gotta cram more seats in and compete with everyone else). However, one thing I still think they need to fix is their IRROPS, especially at DFW. It always amazes me how much of a PITA I have trying to get rebooked out of DFW when they start shutting down due to that lightning bolt 400 miles away vs. being rebooked on DL out of ATL when the storm is on top of them (the 2016 meltdown notwithstanding).
 
SurfandSnow
Posts: 1463
Joined: Sun Feb 01, 2009 7:09 am

Re: What was American Like Before the Merger

Thu Nov 16, 2017 10:52 pm

I never really understood the rationale behind the AA/US merger until recently. It's finally starting to make sense to me. Markets like ALB, AMS, BFL, BOI, CRW, GEG, MDT, PVD, PWM, SBA, SBP and YEG simply weren't possible/working for PMAA - but these markets did just fine for PMUS. The reverse was also true, of course (i.e. ASE, COS, ICT, OKC, TUL). Some places weren't feasible for either independent carrier, but seem to make sense in the combined network (EUG, MFR and RDM spring to mind). Now we are starting to see stuff like PHL-BUD/PRG added by PMAA 767s; it is doubtful that US could have taken advantage of such opportunities with only A330s and 757s at its disposal for intercontinental operations.

The dynamic between LAX and PHX has been particularly interesting. Several routes that have failed from LAX seem to work just fine from PHX, such as EWR, MCI, MSP, PIT and TPA. Others, like BDL, BNA, MSY, RDU and YYZ work from LAX but not PHX. It's not just the small regional markets where these hub operations complement one another. I think the future for this combined carrier is a bright one!
Flying in the middle seat of coach is much better than not flying at all!
 
User avatar
DarkSnowyNight
Posts: 2310
Joined: Sun Jan 01, 2012 7:59 pm

Re: What was American Like Before the Merger

Fri Nov 17, 2017 12:16 am

AA737-823 wrote:
zelalemon wrote:
AA premerger was bankrupt. AA postmerger is profitable. I would make the argument that the US leadership has been great for the success of the airline.


Measuring the profitability of a carrier in the BEST TIMES the US airline industry has ever known is hardly a useful benchmark.
And, the reduction in competition virtually guarantees the success of a carrier that has even a remote clue and the capital to run a flying company. (that excludes startups like Eastern)

In spite of the arrogance of the AA CEO in saying that they'll never make a loss again, let's just wait until the next big downturn in the industry, and see how AA (and others!) start crying.



Certainly an accurate post here. With all this balyhooing about how great legacies suddenly are, the fact remains that this is almost entirely due to the destruction of competition and the simultaneous increase in traffic volume. 1983's Pan Am and 2000's TWA would be doing just as well here and now. When fuel returns to a more reasonable price and as the labor force matures again (there's no legacy contract that starts and tops out equal or less than before any of these bankruptcies), we'll see what they're really made of. As pertains to AA, they'll probably be ok, but that's owing mainly to their network, fleet renewals and the fact that they are better integrated into their alliance than the other two.

AWACSooner wrote:
PM AA was all sunshine and rainbows...and F pax got a free kitten to take home at the end of every flight. They served kobe filets and gave you unlimited Cristal champagne in F.
And then mean old US Airways came along and ruined it! ;)

Actually, the merger, imo, was a shot in the arm to an AA that was seemingly swimming in circles regarding service and overall atmosphere. Post-merger, I've really begun to see a revamp in their overall customer service and hard product...at the expense of legroom and overall seat comfort (naturally, gotta cram more seats in and compete with everyone else). However, one thing I still think they need to fix is their IRROPS, especially at DFW. It always amazes me how much of a PITA I have trying to get rebooked out of DFW when they start shutting down due to that lightning bolt 400 miles away vs. being rebooked on DL out of ATL when the storm is on top of them (the 2016 meltdown notwithstanding).


Whoa, you better watch it there with those facts!

You're right though. I stopped flying with AA about three years before the merger was announced. As a DFW resident at the time, they were never close to the best deal to anywhere (no surprise as most hubs are like that), and the service levels were hit or miss, with way too much miss. While one could rationally make the same argument about PMUS, my experience just doesn't jive with that. PMAA morale was absolutely in the toilet those last few years and for better or worse, this merger did bring more energy to the situation at large there, with the hopeful result that better things are coming/happening. I'm not going to stick around and wait (simply way too many choices here in LA to take a chance just now), but it would be nice to see the whole show back to what the PMAA reputation suggests...

As for your IRROPS comment, I won't disagree on most of those specifics, but DFW must be a different place these days. I remember plenty of occasions watching mad dogs take off on the 18s while there was a thunderstorm on the east side of the field. Almost kind of sad if those cowboy days are over. ..
"Ya Can't Win, Rocky! There's no Oxygen on Mars!"
"Yeah? That means there's no Oxygen for him Neither..."
 
widget1580
Posts: 288
Joined: Fri Jul 16, 2004 4:14 pm

Re: What was American Like Before the Merger

Fri Nov 17, 2017 12:29 am

drdisque wrote:
So much misremembering.

NW and DL were not in bankruptcy when they merged. (NW had exited about a year prior and DL several years prior).

UA was not in bankruptcy when it merged. (it had exited SEVERAL years prior)




DL exited CH.11 April 30, 2007.
NW exited CH.11 May 31, 2007.

Merger was announced one year later on April 15th.
 
Byrdluvs747
Posts: 2500
Joined: Thu Jul 15, 2004 5:25 am

Re: What was American Like Before the Merger

Fri Nov 17, 2017 1:50 am

AWACSooner wrote:
Actually, the merger, imo, was a shot in the arm to an AA that was seemingly swimming in circles regarding service and overall atmosphere. Post-merger, I've really begun to see a revamp in their overall customer service and hard product...at the expense of legroom and overall seat comfort (naturally, gotta cram more seats in and compete with everyone else).


AA's new branding and hard product were decided by then CEO Tom Horton, well before the merger. All the new aircraft were ordered with IFE in Y before Doug came along. Notice how he's now stripping it out, in addition to degrading the meal service.
The 747: The hands who designed it were guided by god.
 
AWACSooner
Posts: 2448
Joined: Tue Jan 22, 2008 12:35 am

Re: What was American Like Before the Merger

Fri Nov 17, 2017 2:08 am

Byrdluvs747 wrote:
AA's new branding and hard product were decided by then CEO Tom Horton, well before the merger. All the new aircraft were ordered with IFE in Y before Doug came along. Notice how he's now stripping it out, in addition to degrading the meal service.


Never been a fan of Doug...and it doesn't surprise me that he's doing this to AA after some of his boneheaded decisions at US (i.e. charging for water).

But, at least for now, I believe their overall customer service standard has been a bit better than before the merger. Will it last? Well, if he's dead set about pulling IFE out of Y on the narrows, then he's really trying hard to put his company behind DL when it comes to amenities in Y...and even UA (now I'll give AA credit for NOT charging for a lot of their seatback IFE like UA has)
 
User avatar
chepos
Posts: 6782
Joined: Sat Dec 02, 2000 9:40 am

Re: What was American Like Before the Merger

Fri Nov 17, 2017 2:38 am

Before the merger, AA was your typical US based carrier. After the merge, your typical US based carrier. Let’s not get carrier away with nostalgia, five years ago AA did not resemble SQ.
Fly the Flag!!!!
 
PSU.DTW.SCE
Posts: 7319
Joined: Mon Jan 28, 2002 11:45 am

Re: What was American Like Before the Merger

Fri Nov 17, 2017 2:48 am

People tend to wax nostalgic about PMAA. The reality is that AA was an industry-leader through most of the 1980s and 1990s, but like most of the other legacies lost their way and were in shambles once the industry downturn hit and through most of the mid-2000s.

They were the last to go through the painful restructuring process primarily since they avoided bankruptcy as long as possible. Service standards, morale, operational rigor, and technology were all lagging during much of this time.

When people refer to AA's greatest, it certainly wasn't anything between about 2003-2013.
 
User avatar
FoxtrotSierra
Posts: 368
Joined: Wed Aug 30, 2017 7:06 am

Re: What was American Like Before the Merger

Fri Nov 17, 2017 3:05 am

F9Animal wrote:
PM AA was kind of boring to me. They were due for a refresh before they went into bankruptcy in my opinion. Fares were of course pretty high, at least compared to other airlines when I shopped fares.

The new merged brand is not as good as the old AA either. More can be done to better the customer experience for sure. I personally don't like the industry of today. It just doesn't have the warm and fuzzy feeling that flying used to have.


I like the US3 today much more than the pmUS3, but the biggest issue is with consistency. Delta is very consistent across its entire fleet, whether you're flying a 737, 757, 767, A320, or A321 domestically, although I will admit the MD90/717 is a glaring exception. I have been flying Delta for the better part of basically my entire life and in the last 5 years and 50 flights, I can only distinctly remember 5 or 6 out of the 50 being noticeably different from the other 45 (757/767 with old IFE and A320 with none). The rest had the same new cabin, power ports, IFE, and seats that I had come to expect from DL. When I'm not flying DL, I'm almost certainly flying UA, but I haven't flown them enough to make a fair judgement. But even then, I can't complain about UA because I see the improvements they're making on their new fleet and retrofits, and even if it's inconsistent, their current fleet is still pretty tolerable and better than average, and I don't mind at all if it means things will get better. I can't say the same about AA. AA's plane's are consistent, consistently pitiful. Full disclaimer, I haven't flown their new A319/A321T product, but I don't have to fly it to know that removing IFE on the 737MAX, reducing pitch, and retrofitting LUS planes without power ports is unacceptable and a bad sign for the future backbone of the AA fleet. AA is going in the wrong direction and it concerns me, because I already see them as the worst of the US3. I took a flight on AA for the first time in 3 years 5 months ago and when I stepped onboard, I actually thought I boarded the wrong flight because it looked like my last flight on an AA MD-80, unlike all the pictures of the new 737 cabin that I had expected to be fleetwide by 2017. Much to my surprise, it was indeed a 737, complete with the same worn blue seats, scratched windows, and yellow discoloration of the cabin. I felt like I had just boarded a plane in a third world country as it was too similar to the MD-80 to be anything less than a complete surprise to someone who has not flown AA in three years. Suffice to say, my first impression of AA was not good. For the foreseeable future, I will stick to DL and UA until AA can improve their situation. A lot of people bag on UA for their pay-per-view TV, but at least they have it. AA doesn't even have it, and they're already removing it! I like DL and UA better than before the merger, but AA is still just as bad, just in different areas now.
 
kondoo
Posts: 27
Joined: Fri May 27, 2016 4:34 am

Re: What was American Like Before the Merger

Fri Nov 17, 2017 3:37 am

The merger really ruined the greatness of AA. AA was forced to take the approaches of an LCC airline and apply those in the daily operations of a premium carrier. I am not talking about cost-saving initiatives, I am taking revenue dilution (lousy RM decisions) to network, marketing, and customer service. Part of the struggles of American lately (vs DL), for example, is the result of those philosophies.

In my opinion, the best thing that could have happened to AA after the merger was for Kirby and Nocella to go to United.

Let them go and destroy poor UA.
 
blink182
Posts: 5368
Joined: Mon Oct 18, 1999 3:09 am

Re: What was American Like Before the Merger

Fri Nov 17, 2017 3:48 am

PSU.DTW.SCE wrote:
People tend to wax nostalgic about PMAA. The reality is that AA was an industry-leader through most of the 1980s and 1990s, but like most of the other legacies lost their way and were in shambles once the industry downturn hit and through most of the mid-2000s.

They were the last to go through the painful restructuring process primarily since they avoided bankruptcy as long as possible. Service standards, morale, operational rigor, and technology were all lagging during much of this time.

When people refer to AA's greatest, it certainly wasn't anything between about 2003-2013.


This is true--immediate pre-bankruptcy AA was pitiful--but let's not forget that the color scheme, 321Ts, 77W, and the decent narrowbody IFE product, and even the reasonably humane legroom on the 321s were all legacy AA decisions. Aside from going 3-4-3 on the 777s, many of the merged carrier's product strengths were decided by Tom Horton and Virasb Vahidi. People also tend to understate how US needed this merger to happen or else be relegated to a distant fourth or fifth. People also forget how toxic AA's labor relations were prior to the merger, and Parker won them over.

AWACSooner wrote:
Never been a fan of Doug...and it doesn't surprise me that he's doing this to AA after some of his boneheaded decisions at US (i.e. charging for water).

Yeah, but technically he's legacy AA too from the Crandall era, so he's not entirely a newcomer either despite how many gripe about a supposed outsider leading AA's so-called decline. Even Parker admitted after the merger that US and HP were different animals and what might have worked at those carriers wouldn't entirely work at AA, despite some of his efforts to curtail product. Without offending any AA employees here, I admit that as a customer my interactions with AA employees are more productive now than they were pre-merger even in AA hubs where legacy US had a mere token presence.
Give me a break, I created this username when I was a kid...
 
User avatar
william
Posts: 3151
Joined: Thu Jun 10, 1999 1:31 pm

Re: What was American Like Before the Merger

Fri Nov 17, 2017 3:53 am

Pre merger, post merger, should not have been a merger in the first place. A former AA CEO named Mr Crandall (AA employees had other colorful nicknames for him but there are children on this forum) preached capacity discipline, and that was in the 80s. He must be smiling now as he sees on average 20 cents on the dollar profits the three legacies amass routinely now. Capacity discipline, what a different airline landscape it would be today if the Harvard Business Grads CEOs would have applied capacity discipline instead of market share chasing.
 
slowrambler
Posts: 138
Joined: Sat Nov 09, 2013 11:07 pm

Re: What was American Like Before the Merger

Fri Nov 17, 2017 4:22 am

LAA was an airline of tired 772s crossing the Atlantic with four looped movies on the IFE in economy, the angle-flat "Next Generation Business Class" which was way behind its competitors, and an inability to run on schedule. I remember the first time I, coming from the LUS network, set foot in one and couldn't figure out for the life of me what was Flagship about it.

The merged AA is not perfect by any means, but I don't buy that it's worse than before.
 
User avatar
FA9295
Posts: 1770
Joined: Thu Feb 25, 2016 7:44 pm

Re: What was American Like Before the Merger

Fri Nov 17, 2017 4:35 am

CV990A wrote:
Pre-merger AA? Nothing but MD-80s. As far as the eye could see, MD-80s.

I do feel the in-flight experience has gotten stingier, but can't really say they are better or worse than any of the other legacies. I'm loyal to them because they offer the only non-stops on the routes I need to fly for work and to visit family and they haven't screwed me over (yet).


MD-80s and 737-800s. That's literally all there was back in the day...
 
ADM94
Posts: 40
Joined: Sun Jul 30, 2017 9:03 pm

Re: What was American Like Before the Merger

Fri Nov 17, 2017 5:27 am

Agree with most of the comments above; sort of a faded glory. I flew AA a bunch of times a kid in the early post-9/11 years and remember really liking them for the most part, but then again I liked flying just about anything at that age. It always had a classy feel to it, and I still get nostalgic for all the times I spent in the bare-metal Fokker 100s and MD-80s growing up, but it wasn't ever the nicest experience. Even the cramped ERJs felt like an upgrade over the old cabins in the Fokkers, and my ears always hurt sitting in the back of the MD-80s. A couple years later I took my first long-haul flight on AA, ORD-FCO on a 763, and it just felt old, tired, and uncomfortable. That was in 2006, and when I flew them again just before the merger was first announced on another 763, it hadn't changed at all. Inter-merger US (post-HP merger, pre-AA merger) was pretty bad, though, in my experience.
318 319 320 321 332 333 346 359 388 AR1 712 722 733 734 735 736 73G 738 739 752 753 763 764 77E 77L 788 789 CRJ CR7 CR9 CS1 D93 DH4 ERD ER4 E75 E90 F70 100 M80 M90
 
USAirALB
Posts: 2022
Joined: Tue Sep 11, 2007 4:46 am

Re: What was American Like Before the Merger

Fri Nov 17, 2017 6:33 am

The amount of nostalgia for L-AA that some people express amuses me; flying AA back in 2006 must have been akin to flying SQ today!

In the back of the cabin, they were exactly the same. I will say though that AA provided a greater quality and quantity of food on their flights, but in essence, it wasn't a black/white differentiation between the two, especially in Y. Each airline had bad apples. I've had nice crews on both carriers, and horrible crews on both as well.

Was US cheap? Absolutely. But it wasn't necessarily the fault of the crews or the overall airline itself, and the company did what it had to do to survive. In 2000, the airline had a mismatch of fleet types (Fokkers, DC9s, MD80s, Middle-aged Boeings, and brand-new Airbuses), extremely high costs (almost every flight over 90 minutes was served a full meal), poor labor relations, a relatively overstaffed management level, and extremely high labor costs. Having the vast-majority of their flights being concentrated in the Northeast didn't help as well. 9/11 was the nail in the coffin.

Contrary to popular belief, I never saw duck-tape holding the aircraft together, nor was any aircraft I've flown on it dilapidated condition.

Even through their bankruptcies, and cutbacks, they had a lot to offer IMHO. For many years they had the second largest Caribbean network after AA, and served more destinations in Europe (albeit seasonally) that AA and UA did. They had a decent frequent flyer program, and continued to provide mainline and/or high-frequency service to many small and medium sized cities after UA/CO/DL/NW cutback service, or left, in the case of AA and ALB/MHT/PVD/PWM/BTV. Their Envoy Suite product was nice, and they were the first airline to introduce reverse herringbone seating in J.

Recall that today, the L-US A321 has the most spacious seat pitch of any AA Y seat. US had relatively decent seats in Y on all their planes, all being the more comfortable "traditional" style seating, rather than slimline.

I'm not attempting to be a US-apologist (even though I have USAir in my username), and the company made some pretty poor decisions over the years that left a mark. Ripping out the IFE and powerports on their A319/320/321 fleet back in 2008 was one, and attempting to charge for non-alcoholic beverages was another. Then again, NW ripped out the IFE on their domestic fleet and people didn't march around this site and other similar sites complaining about it. American Eagle also trialed charging for beverages sometime in the 2000s and everyone seems to have "forgotten" about it. I also feel that US should have made more of an effort in the BOS/NYC region, but they couldn't as they were hemorrhaging cash for much of the last decade.
RJ85, F70, E135, E140, E145, E70, E75, E90, CR2, CR7, CR9, 717, 732, 733, 734, 735, 73G, 738, 739, 744, 752, 753, 762, 772, 77E, 77W, 789, 319, 320, 321, 332, 333, 343, 359, 388
 
itchief
Posts: 244
Joined: Sun Dec 06, 2015 10:15 pm

Re: What was American Like Before the Merger

Fri Nov 17, 2017 5:22 pm

Byrdluvs747 wrote:
AWACSooner wrote:
Actually, the merger, imo, was a shot in the arm to an AA that was seemingly swimming in circles regarding service and overall atmosphere. Post-merger, I've really begun to see a revamp in their overall customer service and hard product...at the expense of legroom and overall seat comfort (naturally, gotta cram more seats in and compete with everyone else).


AA's new branding and hard product were decided by then CEO Tom Horton, well before the merger. All the new aircraft were ordered with IFE in Y before Doug came along. Notice how he's now stripping it out, in addition to degrading the meal service.


And the old AA was going to add IFE to all aircraft ala DL. Parker has come in and changed the airline into a quasi LCC. When Parker changed the food to the slop that LUS had been serving the complaints got so bad that they had to give in and make it somewhat better, not the old AA food but not the slop that LUS served.

I fly from DFW and I am now a free agent after many years of status and Admirals Club membership with AA. It is just not the same airline. I know it is about making money but saving a couple of $'s on some meals looks bad. Even short flights now do not serve a drink to anyone, this is nothing but going down the LCC path. Basic Economy another joke from Parker and company. When company employees apologize for the food and not being able to give you a drink you know it is not just the customer that sees it.
 
itchief
Posts: 244
Joined: Sun Dec 06, 2015 10:15 pm

Re: What was American Like Before the Merger

Fri Nov 17, 2017 5:23 pm

Byrdluvs747 wrote:
AWACSooner wrote:
Actually, the merger, imo, was a shot in the arm to an AA that was seemingly swimming in circles regarding service and overall atmosphere. Post-merger, I've really begun to see a revamp in their overall customer service and hard product...at the expense of legroom and overall seat comfort (naturally, gotta cram more seats in and compete with everyone else).


AA's new branding and hard product were decided by then CEO Tom Horton, well before the merger. All the new aircraft were ordered with IFE in Y before Doug came along. Notice how he's now stripping it out, in addition to degrading the meal service.


delete
 
UpNAWAy
Posts: 525
Joined: Thu Aug 11, 2016 12:42 pm

Re: What was American Like Before the Merger

Fri Nov 17, 2017 5:40 pm

The Domestic no in seat IFE decision was the wrong one back in 2008 it is the exact correct one today, with in seat powerports and free Wifi streaming entertainment. only a very small % of the NB fleet had them and they are already outdated tech now so it makes zero sense to go retrofit the entire domestic fleets, not to mention when they do not work (which is a lot) customers are even more upset.
 
Austin787
Posts: 387
Joined: Fri Jun 17, 2016 11:39 pm

Re: What was American Like Before the Merger

Fri Nov 17, 2017 6:00 pm

Pre-merger AA had issues, but was still better than the post-merger AA. Long haul business seats are the only post-merger AA thing that is better than pre-merger AA: 1-2-1 lie flats vs 2-2-2 or 2-3-2 angled seats.

I used to be loyal to AA, even connecting on AA over a competitor's non-stop, but now I'm a free agent. I still fly AA sometimes, but only if they are clearly the best option.
 
777PHX
Posts: 962
Joined: Tue Oct 13, 2015 4:36 am

Re: What was American Like Before the Merger

Fri Nov 17, 2017 6:11 pm

slowrambler wrote:
LAA was an airline of tired 772s crossing the Atlantic with four looped movies on the IFE in economy, the angle-flat "Next Generation Business Class" which was way behind its competitors, and an inability to run on schedule. I remember the first time I, coming from the LUS network, set foot in one and couldn't figure out for the life of me what was Flagship about it.

The merged AA is not perfect by any means, but I don't buy that it's worse than before.


It’s worth pointing out that AA was the first US legacy to come to market with a lie flat product and DL and UA also had “tired” widebodies without any IFE at that time. UA’s 744s never did get inseat entertainment in economy, it appears.

AA’s 772s did go through some improvements over the years. When AA introduced the 77E, they initially planned on having an “Atlantic fleet” and a “Pacific fleet”. The difference being that the Pacific fleet aircraft generally had a nicer product and a far superior first class product. AA eventually did away with the Atlantic fleet and standardized those aircraft to the Pacific standard including the new F seats. The 777s also got the NGBC product around 2006/2007 which itself is being replaced by the same J seats that are in the 77W.
 
User avatar
AASAP777
Posts: 174
Joined: Fri Sep 22, 2017 2:00 pm

Re: What was American Like Before the Merger

Fri Nov 17, 2017 6:19 pm

The pre-merger AA was a fine company. And even though being what it was, people still were not happy with it.

I hope the new one (I left AA before the merger) does better.
Bendiga Dios la pródiga tierra en que nací....God bless the prodigal land where I was born.
H O N D U R A S! Five star country...Un país de cinco estrellas.
 
winginit
Posts: 2555
Joined: Sat Feb 23, 2013 9:23 pm

Re: What was American Like Before the Merger

Fri Nov 17, 2017 6:31 pm

Many in this thread seem to be chopping the AA experience into simple pre and post merger categories, but I think there would be value in trisecting it given the distinct financial and managerial pivots:

1. Pre 9/11 American (Crandall)
2. Pre-Merger/Bankruptcy (2001-2013)
3. Post-Merger/Bankruptcy (2013-Present)

I've racked up between 100K and 200K annual miles on American for roughly the past decade, and have the below observations:

1. Pre 9/11 (I admittedly wasn't at this time as frequent a traveler as I am today)

Product: Fine, but never in my mind industry leading. There's nostalgia these days for the MD80s and DC10s given where the industry has gone as far as pitch and general comfort are concerned in economy, but these never came across to me as luxurious even in premium cabins

Service and Morale: It's here that I think AA really shined at the time. The carrier was clearly on top of the world at times both financially and in reputation, and I really got the sense that employees were proud of who they worked for

2. Pre-Merger, Post-911

Product: These were some obvious dark days, and it was here that I think the products themselves reached a low. What had been shiny new 777s quickly became dated with those horrible 2-3-2 angled lie flat J seats, and the domestic MD80s began to really show their age. I have few fond memories of AA's hard product during this time with the exception of the 772s F product

Service and Morale: While the product may have started slipping and employees were clearly anxious as the dark years continued, there was this sort of resilience that I think has since been lost. FA and ground staff hiring was essentially frozen, but there was a general optimism for the future as the recovery began to kick in that everything would eventually be okay, and that showed both in the air and on the ground

3. Post-Merger

Product: I really have few issues with AA's post-merger product. Sure I'm hardly a fan of the A319 configuration and go back and forth around IFE, but AA's J product across their refreshed widebody fleet is perfectly competitive. The A321 and 738 are both fine, the E175s are a welcome improvement, and the transcon A321Ts are great both in F and J (although I still don't really understand the difference between the two apart from all-aisle access). Mixed feelings on the 788/9 J product (why oh why did they not use the CX J product?), but it's a competitive aircraft.

Service and Morale: It's here that I think things have really come off the rails, and I do in part blame LUS management for what is a pretty toxic relationship between the unionized groups and Management. Unless you're lucky enough to have junior folks who haven't yet been jaded both in the air and on the ground, you quickly come to realize that morale is exceptionally low, and I have had some genuinely awful experiences with both FAs and Gate Agents that I can't remember having during any of the earlier phases. Having spent considerable time in HDQ in a consulting capacity both pre and post merger, this low morale seems to have seeped into management as well. Even though times are good from a strictly financial perspective, there seems to be a cloud reminding everyone that there's a lot of work to be done to be competitive.

Just my two cents, and in summary:

1.
Product: Neutral
Service: Good

2.
Product: Bad
Service: Neutral

3.
Product: Good
Service: Bad
 
User avatar
AASAP777
Posts: 174
Joined: Fri Sep 22, 2017 2:00 pm

Re: What was American Like Before the Merger

Fri Nov 17, 2017 7:14 pm

winginit wrote:
Many in this thread seem to be chopping the AA experience into simple pre and post merger categories, but I think there would be value in trisecting it given the distinct financial and managerial pivots:

1. Pre 9/11 American (Crandall)
2. Pre-Merger/Bankruptcy (2001-2013)
3. Post-Merger/Bankruptcy (2013-Present)

I've racked up between 100K and 200K annual miles on American for roughly the past decade, and have the below observations:

1. Pre 9/11 (I admittedly wasn't at this time as frequent a traveler as I am today)

Product: Fine, but never in my mind industry leading. There's nostalgia these days for the MD80s and DC10s given where the industry has gone as far as pitch and general comfort are concerned in economy, but these never came across to me as luxurious even in premium cabins

Service and Morale: It's here that I think AA really shined at the time. The carrier was clearly on top of the world at times both financially and in reputation, and I really got the sense that employees were proud of who they worked for

2. Pre-Merger, Post-911

Product: These were some obvious dark days, and it was here that I think the products themselves reached a low. What had been shiny new 777s quickly became dated with those horrible 2-3-2 angled lie flat J seats, and the domestic MD80s began to really show their age. I have few fond memories of AA's hard product during this time with the exception of the 772s F product

Service and Morale: While the product may have started slipping and employees were clearly anxious as the dark years continued, there was this sort of resilience that I think has since been lost. FA and ground staff hiring was essentially frozen, but there was a general optimism for the future as the recovery began to kick in that everything would eventually be okay, and that showed both in the air and on the ground.


And that's the AA I worked for (1996-2011). You truly nailed on it.
Bendiga Dios la pródiga tierra en que nací....God bless the prodigal land where I was born.
H O N D U R A S! Five star country...Un país de cinco estrellas.
 
User avatar
CobraKai
Posts: 31
Joined: Wed Oct 05, 2016 3:04 pm

Re: What was American Like Before the Merger

Fri Nov 17, 2017 10:37 pm

I think what would have been truly interesting is to see what AA would have been today had they not merged. The pre-merger product was tired because AA fought bankruptcy while the other carriers went through it and shed costs, so AA was still losing money hand over fist and not able to invest in the product. Once in bankruptcy though, all the moves that Horton and Vahidi were making seemed to be the right ones, very focused on the customer and the concept was to hold AA out as a truly premium carrier to DL and UA, but labor had enough and forced the tie up with US.

That said, I understand the concept of eliminating costs that don't drive customer decisions, as a premium carrier does fine during good economic times, but that extra cost becomes an albatross around the neck should things go south. Furthermore, I think it was more Kirby than Parker who made strategic errors, especially in RM and Network, but I never believed he was a great airline strategist, so I am probably biased in that sense. Now that he is gone, it will be interesting to see if he has enough acolytes left in the organization that his ideas stay, or will the pendulum swing back towards a more customer centered approach.

Popular Searches On Airliners.net

Top Photos of Last:   24 Hours  •  48 Hours  •  7 Days  •  30 Days  •  180 Days  •  365 Days  •  All Time

Military Aircraft Every type from fighters to helicopters from air forces around the globe

Classic Airliners Props and jets from the good old days

Flight Decks Views from inside the cockpit

Aircraft Cabins Passenger cabin shots showing seat arrangements as well as cargo aircraft interior

Cargo Aircraft Pictures of great freighter aircraft

Government Aircraft Aircraft flying government officials

Helicopters Our large helicopter section. Both military and civil versions

Blimps / Airships Everything from the Goodyear blimp to the Zeppelin

Night Photos Beautiful shots taken while the sun is below the horizon

Accidents Accident, incident and crash related photos

Air to Air Photos taken by airborne photographers of airborne aircraft

Special Paint Schemes Aircraft painted in beautiful and original liveries

Airport Overviews Airport overviews from the air or ground

Tails and Winglets Tail and Winglet closeups with beautiful airline logos