Earlier this week the members of the Allied Pilots Association (APA) overwhelmingly rejected American Airlines last best contract offer, throwing their situation and the reorganization of AMR Corpopration into uncharted areas where no one quite knows what to expect next.
American’s initial offer to the APA several months ago called for layoffs, reduction of benefits, cutbacks in pay for the pilots. AA later made their last best offer which said there would be no layoffs, a 13% pay increase over the next 5 years, and the union would get an equity stake in the newly reorganized AMR Corporation. APA leadership immediately rejected it. However, the next day they asked the bankruptcy court for time to review it and, a few days later, narrowly approved it. When the time came for members to vote 61% of those voting said no to the offer. The main reasons given for the rejection were that it was too long a contract (6 years), pilots brought in to fly the new narrow-body aircraft (A-319) would be paid less than other pilots, and finally, years of bad will between the union and the corporation also played a major role. As a result of the vote, Union President David Bates said in a letter to the pilots on Thursday that he agreed to step down late on Wednesday at the request of the board of the Allied Pilots Association.
So what happens now? As we used to say, that is the $64,000 question.
Without a contract with the pilots union, it becomes more difficult for AMR to tell the bankruptcy judge that they have a solid plan in place for reorganization. How will the judge react to that? We’ll know when he makes his ruling on August 15. He could grant the airline additional time to reach an agreement with the union, or he could say they have had enough time and it did not work. At this point he could ask for others (such as other airlines or creditors) to present their proposals on how to reorganize the company.
He also has the power to negate the current pilots contract and put American’s original proposal into place. No bankruptcy judge has ever negated a pilots contract, but it is an option for him.
The flight attendants union is voting on AA’s final offer to them, we should know the results in approximately 10 days. All of the other major unions, except the pilots, have voted to accept AA’s proposals. Three unions (Allied Pilots Association, the Transport Workers Union and Association of Professional Flight Attendants) have also voted to accept a proposal from US Airways for a merger between the two airlines.
By rejecting AMR’s last best offer, the APA has taken a tremendous gamble.
They are gambling that the bankruptcy judge does not negate their contract and force them to accept a more onerous offer from AA.
They are gambling that American Airlines will not survive as a stand-alone airline.
They are gambling that AA will be forced to merge with another as yet un-named airline. While US Air has been most vocal in expressing its desire to merge with AA, it has not, as of this date, signed the Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) that AA sent to it and all other airlines last week. I received a letter from a member of the APA stating that they had been told that AA planned to merge with Jet Blue.
They are gambling that this new -un-named airline will give them a better deal than they would get from AA. Can they get a better deal from a combined US Air / American Airlines? It’s worth pointing out that the flight attendants and US Airways pilots have not had new contracts since the 2005 merger of US Airways and America West. The dispute centers on integrating the seniority lists. So, US Airways has had seven years to combine the pilots from US Air and American West into one union group, and has still not succeeded. IF I were a member of the APA, I don’t believe that would fill me with confidence or make me anxious to join the fray.
Some may say that I am not an APA member and do not have access to all the information that they had prior to the vote. That would be a correct statement. But I’d reply that union management did have access to that information and did vote to accept AA’s offer.
We’re now going into a grey area where no one can yet say for sure what will happen. The APA took a huge gamble by rejecting the contract. Were they incredibly bold or absurdly stupid? Time will tell if they made the right move or not.
Disclaimer: I own stock in AMR Corporation, American Airlines’ parent company. Total value of my holdings is less than $80.
For the past several years, American Airlines’ advertising slogan has been “We know why you fly.” To be honest, it never excited me very much. And given how long it has been since I have seen an AA commercial, maybe they have retired that slogan.
Last week AA came out with a stunning video entitled “I Believe in American.” It features both American employees and passengers and I really like it — I’m just not sure who the target audience is. It has not gone viral on the internet, less than 14,000 views on You Tube as of August 5, and at 3 minutes it is too long to be a television commercial. Perhaps this was done to motivate AA employees as the company goes through reorganization. I don’t know.
But I do have a suggestion as to where they should show this outstanding video: on every AA flight. Passengers currently see a video that says “We know you have a choice when flying, thank you for flying American,” followed by many AA employees saying “Thank you for flying American.” Nice thought, but the video is getting old — replace it with this one.
There is a new American Airlines: they need to show their number one asset, their passengers, this story of the new American Airlines.
We’ve know for almost a year that American Airlines had placed a massive order with both Airbus and Boeing, their goal being to give AA the youngest fleet of any of the five major American carriers. Some of those aircraft have already made their way into the fleet, the 737-800s with the Sky Interior are joining at the rate of three per month.
We also know that the first 777-ERs will start to arrive this year, while the first Airbus product will appear in 2013. We know all that . What we did not know was what the aircraft interiors would look like, what features they would offer. With the release of this video, we now know.
I have to admit I am excited by this and am looking forward to flying on these aircraft. Passengers in coach will have their own TV screen with hundreds of hours of content, a 110 volt AC socket to plug things in, a USB connector, iPhone compatibility,. That is great stuff and should make a trip much more pleasant.
The front of areas of the plane will feature luxury accommodations not currently available, I believe, among domestic US carriers.
As these new aircraft join the fleet, American will not only get a younger fleet, they will get aircraft that offer more features, comfort, and luxury to their passenger than their current aircraft do. I look forward to my first flight on one of them.!
Disclaimer: I own stock in AMR corporation, American Airlines’ parent company. Total value of my holdings is less than $90.
I knew I had earned Executive Platinum status, my boarding passes for my Chicago Flights listed me accordingly. But when I got home from the trip I found my Executive Platinum kit from American Airlines had come in the mail — now it was official!
The first thing I noticed was my EXP booklet.
I’ve received Gold and Platinum booklets from AA in the past — they were both printed on standard glossy paper. This booklet however was different, printed on a thicker, textured paper that helped to give it a more luxurious feel. No doubt AA wants to make its highest level elites feel very elite.
I also received a set of two EXP luggage tags and an ID card which not only identified me as an EXP, they also had a logo in the upper right-hand corner that showed that I also have Million Mile status with AA.
I look forward to traveling and taking advantage of the EXP benefits (which run until February 2014), but so far I only have one trip booked, our vacation in Asia in October.
I have only one problem on the account. An EXP starts with 8 system-wide upgrades (SWUs). According to AA, I have already used one of those and have 7 remaining. I called to ask about that, maybe I had used one without realizing it?
AA Customer Service checked, gave me the name of a lady I do not know, and said the SWU was used to upgrade her ticket for a flight from Heathrow to JFK last month. Obviously, someone screwed up somewhere, I am the only person who can request upgrades on my account and I did not do this one. AAdvantage Customer Service said they would note that and conduct an investigation to see what happened. They told me it might take two weeks, that was 10 days ago. In the meantime, my SWU balance remains 7.
This might be a huge deal if my wife and I had several trips planned, but we do not, nor do I see any coming soon. The best use of the SWUs is on a long trip, such as Hawaii or Europe. and we are not planning that right now. Still, I’d like to know that my account is correct, and hope they can fix this soon.
One week later the SWU was put back into my account, I now have eight,the correct amount. Thanks to AA customer service for helping with this!
Disclaimer: I own stock in AMR Corporation, the parent company of American Airlines, The total value of my holdings is less than $90.00.
My wife and I wanted to get out of town for a few days, and thought my birthday weekend would be a good opportunity. Now that we knew the when, we had to decide the where.
Last year my wife came along with me when I went to Chicago for a frequent flyers seminar put on by some of the experts from FlyerTalk. We were staying at an O’Hare hotel, but took the train to downtown Chicago one afternoon, saw some of the sites and ate some great pizza. We had such a good time that we decided the Windy City would be a perfect destination for us.
I began the planning process and found one problem with our choice of dates: the NATO summit was taking place in Chicago at the same time we’d be there. That might not only make it difficult for us to find a room at a downtown hotel, but there would also be thousands of protestors,, street marches, etc. We had enough of that in Rome last year and did not want to deal with it again. so we moved the trip back a week, arriving in Chicago the day after the end of the Summit.
We had an easy trip from Austin to Chicago, taking a non-stop flight that departed at 11:30 a.m. This was my first trip after earning Executive Platinum Status, my wife and I were both upgraded to first class. We had an uneventful flight (uneventful = good!) to O’Hare where we took a van to our hotel, the Chicago Wyndham, located downtown, just a block from Michigan Avenue and the Magnificent Mile.
Although I had no elite status with Wyndham they treated us well, giving us a room on the 16th floor looking out on downtown.
I’ve seen some reviews of the property on TripAdvisor where people complain about the hospital next door and the noise from the ambulances. All I can say to these people is that if they want a room with no noise, don’t stay in downtown Chicago. The noise of cars, trucks, and sometimes ambulances is constant — that’s what happens when you stay downtown in the middle of one of the world’s great cities. After the first night, we did not even notice the noise any more.
A Corner Bakery Café was located across the street from the hotel, and provided a n easy source to affordable food.
The location of our hotel could not have been better. We were one block from Michigan Avenue, just a few blocks from the John Hancock Tower, and walking distance to the Navy Pier.
We visited the Hancock Tower on our first day. The views are stunning.
We were fortunate to visit the Hancock Tower on a day with clear skies and breathtaking views. My goal, on our next visit, is to be in the tower at sunset and then see all the lights of the city come on.
We soon left the tower and took advantage of the wonderful weather to walk along Michigan Avenue, the Magnificent Mile.
That evening we went to dinner at Gioradano’s Pizza. Chicago is justifiably famous for its pizza, and Giordano’s is an excellent practitioner of the art. Chicago has two major styles of pizza: deep dish and stuffed crust. While the former is good, we much prefer the latter.
The pizza at Giordano’s is delicious but very filling. We ordered their smallest pie, it came with six slices. Between the two of us we were able to eat three. The rest came back to the room and into the refrigerator. They were great leftovers the following day.
The next day we took an Architecture History Cruise of Chicago. This 90 minute cruise along the Chicago River highlighted the many architectural styles of the buildings along the river. That may be interesting to some, but not to us. We simply enjoyed a nice cruise around town on a beautiful day.
After the cruise we visited the Navy Pier for dinner then returned to the hotel.
Our final day in Chicago was a quiet one. We visited Millennium Park to see the Bean.
We also had the chance to visit the Crown Fountain, which consist of two 50 foot towers, each covered with LEDs, which make is possible for them to display images of people’s faces.
We waled back to our hotel along Michigan Avenue. The NATO Summit Conference had taken place in Chicago a week earlier, but there we still saw reminders of the conference.
We got back to the hotel and started to pack for our departure the next day.
We got up early the next morning, ate breakfast at the Corner Café, then checked out. We took the advice of the concierge — he told us it would cost less to take a cab to O’Hare than to pay for two tickets on the Shuttle and he was right. The cab was $5 less than the two Shuttle tickets had been, and were were not crowded into a van that had to make stops at several hotels along the way.
We arrived at O’Hare, checked in, and then spent a few hours at the Admirals Club before boarding our 4:00 flight to Austin.
We were both upgraded to first for the flight on an MD-80. We would not arrive in Austin until after 6 p.m., so I assumed we would get a meal in first class, but I was wrong. We were served beverages, heated nuts, and a cookie. It was not the meal I hoed for, but was certainly better than anything we woudl have gotten in Coach.
We landed in Austin on time and as we got off the plane I left one of my bags in the overhead bin and did not realize this until after I had left the terminal. Fortunately, great service from the AA staff in Austin helped me to get my bag back promptly.
All in all, our trip to Chicago was a lot of fun. We agreed that our time in Chicago was much more pleasant and less hectic than our trip to Rome the year before. We’d be very happy to visit Chicago again, as long as it is not in the middle of winter. If you are looking for a city that is fun, easy to get to, lots of public transportation, and many fabulous sites, take a look at Chicago. You’ll be glad you did!
Why do airline ticket prices change so much?
It’s not unusual to find one fare on Monday, a different fare on Tuesday, and a higher, or maybe lower fare, on Wednesday. I thought prices changed on a daily basis — I never realized they changed on an hourly basis!
The American Airlines’ Revenue Management team is constantly reviewing and updating fares. This video from AA explains their daunting task and how they make it all work.
Disclaimer: I own stock in AMR Corporation, the parent company of American Airlines. The total value of my holdings is less than $70.00.