They're Nice to Everyone, David

Lets start here: I have mentioned in the past that I've noticed AA flight attendants providing better service to celebrities sitting in first or business class than they provide to regular folks sitting in the same class of service. In other words, the FAs fawn over the celebrity ("Oh Keanu, let me get you another chainti...") and ignore the rest of their customers who also deserve hot nuts and frequently-refilled beverages.

But I disagree with NY Times columnist David Pogue's readers, who suggested to him that the excellent service he received recently on an AA flight (and from AA customer service reps) was good only because he was recognized as a famous person.

First of all, Pogue correctly points out that the FA who thoughtfully turned on a light so he could read better while waiting for the bathroom (I'm not making this up... this is what a NY Times columnist writes about, my friends) did so because she was a thoughtful person. It wasn't like she recognized him as famous and then decided to turn off the light, or that she would have declined to turn on the light had the bathroom-waiter been a non-VIP.

Second, I suspect his readers are flat out wrong that customer service was "nice" to him because they recognized his name from the PNR and therefore went the extra mile to help. I don't know the specifics of his situation. All I know is what he tweeted:

During my CA roundtrip, American did 3 nice things (ex: free rebook for missed flight). Did I get lucky 3 times, or is AA always like this?

So we know he missed a flight. We don't know any of the circumstances... Why did he miss the flight? What kind of ticket was he on? (Full fare F/J? Deep-discount in economy? Reward?) What kind of availability was there on future flights? Clearly, there are numerous reasons that AA may have done exactly what they would have done for a mere non-NYTimes-columnist mortal. Maybe AA's customer service is actually pretty decent, and Pogue should not have been surprised that the service was good, nor should he have only assumed that it was due to his recognizable fame.

My experience is that AA's front-line service is excellent. With the exception of my issues with flight attendants on redeyes, AA flight attendants (the ones left who haven't been involuntarily furloughed) are professional, courteous, and service-oriented. AA's phone reps are also awesome, a fact that is very possibly related to the fact that AA phone centers — even for non-elites — are all in the U.S. I've had phone attendants (and I'm not talking about the EXP desk) spend hours on the phone with me trying to find a creative routings to meet my needs.

And it's kind of funny that his readers think he got good support from a customer service rep who recognized him as someone famous. If he was really famous, he wouldn't have been calling... he'd have an assistant for that.


Hunter October 27, 2009 at 08:57 pm

The New York Times: where real news goes to die.