In March I shared an experience I had with American customer relations. I was flying business class on American from New York to Los Angeles, and the power ports weren’t working, which meant I couldn’t be productive. I emailed American to express my dissatisfaction, explaining that the power ports on the entire plane were broken, and that it wasn’t specific to my seat.
They responded to my email in less than 20 minutes, though completely failed to address my concern. The crux of their response read as follows, suggesting that there wasn’t actually anything broken, but rather just that another seat was using the power (which wasn’t the case, since the power ports on the whole plane were broken!):
We are sorry to hear that there was no power to the power port when you plugged in. Each set of outlets in a row can provide up to 225 watts of power, combined, with a maximum of 150 watts per plug. If one device is pulling its maximum allotment, this leaves only 75 watts for the second plug, meaning there are times where there may not be enough power to run 2 devices. Regardless of the reason why there was no power, we are sorry that you were inconvenienced.
I was extremely frustrated by the response, especially since this was the second time in a row I emailed American where they didn’t respond to my actual feedback (the previous interaction was almost a year prior, when I simply wanted to compliment a great crew I had).
After I wrote about the situation, a senior analyst in American’s customer relations department reached out to me, and said the following:
In short, we didn’t get this one right. Again. While I’m pleased someone responded to you quickly, our response didn’t quite meet the bar. I wanted to assure you that your feedback, like last time, did reach the right people so that it could be addressed. That said, we could use some improvement in the precision of our response. We want to get it right every time and I apologize we didn’t quite deliver this time. We’ll do better.
He also called me, and basically emphasized the same points, that they were embarrassed by the response, and that they’ll do better. I appreciated him reaching out, and took him at his word.
So, is American doing better? Reader Christopher reached out to me yesterday regarding a flight he recently had where the power ports were broken. His email to customer relations read in part as follows:
My companion and I were booked in Business class as we needed to work on our laptops during the flight. However, neither of the power outlets at our seats was working. I brought this to the attention of a crew member but they were unable to get them to function. As a result, the battery power on our laptops was depleted mid flight and we were unable to continue working for the remainder of the flight. Having power at our seats was one of the primary reasons why we purchased business class tickets, so this was very disappointing.
How did American respond? With the same exact irrelevant response which I got:
Thank you for your interest in American Airlines, more specifically, the use of powerports during flight. We are sorry to hear that there was no power to the power port when you plugged in. Each set of outlets in a row can provide up to 225 watts of power, combined, with a maximum of 150 watts per plug. If one device is pulling its maximum allotment, this leaves only 75 watts for the second plug, meaning there are times where there may not be enough power to run 2 devices. Regardless of the reason why there was no power, we are sorry that you were inconvenienced.
Chris clearly wrote that both power ports in the row didn’t work, meaning that the problem wasn’t that one of the power ports was using all the power. If they bothered reading the email they would have known that.
I’m not surprised that American customer relations still isn’t reading the actual content of their emails. In this case it’s rather embarrassing, given that I spoke to a manager at customer relations who said the feedback reached the right people, will be addressed, and that they’ll do better.