American Flight Attendants Will Soon Be Able To Issue Compensation

Different airlines have different ways of empowering their employees to deal with service issues when they arise. For the most part the major US airlines are doing as much as they can to empower employees to provide better service and be proactive (just because they’re empowering them doesn’t mean it’s happening — I feel like that’s an important point to make).

For example, all American flight attendants now have tablets to use onboard, so they can better recognize and assist passengers. It looks like American will be rolling out a new functionality on these tablets later this month. The Chicago Business Journal reports that American flight attendants will have new software called iSolve, which will allow flight attendants to offer on-the-spot compensation in the form of AAdvantage miles when specific inconveniences happen inflight, including things such as inflight entertainment issues, broken seats, and meal shortages. I suspect bad service from the flight attendants won’t be one of the options for generating compensation. 😉

This will only work for AAdvantage members (since it sounds like the only compensation offer is mileage), and presumably there will be some pre-set compensation amount, as the flight attendants will just select the service issue and the passenger details (status, class of service, etc.) in order to generate the compensation.

American is really playing catch-up here, as several of their US competitors, including Delta and United, already have similar systems. Of course like everything at US airlines, we’ll have to see whether employees actually use the systems they have access to in order to make things right when things go wrong.

It’s similar to how American offers Executive Platinum members in economy free snacks & drinks. This is such a nice gesture that’s made even better when a flight attendant offers it proactively, and says “thanks for your business.” Yet half the time I find that I awkwardly have to remind them of my status, and then they often don’t say anything.


  1. Dude, Gary would have found a way to put in links to two citi AA credit cards in this article.

    Learn from the master, kid! 🙂

  2. This is a horrible idea. Rather than having to issue compensation to someone who calls in now they’ll have to issue compensation to me and probably everyone sitting around me who hears a conversation. I’d certainly chime in. Or maybe better yet, if I hear someone getting onboard compensation I’ll keep my mouth shut and then call in to complain and get more. Either way this is going to force AA to issue more compensation than they currently do and will, in the end, create a need for another devaluation.

  3. Several airlines offer proactive service recovery. If there is an incident involving the entire cabin such as an IFE failure, psgrs may get miles or a voucher. The miles are generally only for the operating carrier’s own loyalty programme since it’s not possible for crew to credit miles to partners. If an individual customer has an issue eg broken seat / no special meal the crew offer a voucher , miles or a gift.
    Some airlines may notify ground staff and have a gift waiting on arrival or lounge access for transit passengers

    Not everyone is looking for big bucks here. Just recognition and the fact they are offered something

    This is service recovery to avoid customers being told the only thing they can do is to contact customer relations

  4. You referenced Delta, but as a DL diamond I’ve never seen or heard of this being done in-the-moment… it always requires escalation. Would love to see this come back.

    Related, in the good ole days, they’d also have drink coupons to give people. Especially at check in desks. Would appreciate seeing that revived.

  5. I’m more interested to see exactly what sort of latitude they’ve been given to award compensation, and whether there are any internal metrics associated with it.

    This IMO is more important than just issuing some new hardware because if internal policy discourages the dispensation of compensation, then it won’t matter to the passengers since they won’t get anything.

    OTOH, if they’re too generous then this could turn into a way for underperforming FAs to basically “buy off” passengers. Or maybe certain FAs might just be “too nice” and give out more compensation than AA thinks is appropriate.

    So I’m just wondering what the policy is on this compensation, and whether the FAs have quotas or limits in terms of how much compensation they can hand out per flight or per month or w/e.

  6. On Virgin Atlantic in Business Class last spring LHR to IAD: they no longer had the main course I asked for, so I had to put up with an alternative. A couple of hours later, the purser arrived and (unsolicited – I don’t expect everything will turn out perfect every time) offered me 10000 Virgin Miles (or points, or whatever). “I’m not a member” I said. “Well, join and you’ll get the points for the return journey and we’ll add 10000 more: that’ll be enough for another LHR to IAD flight.”

    So I did, and they did, and it wasn’t.

  7. On AA in F and seat back Entertainment won’t work (just my seat) and FA asked if I wanted to go back to coach and watch the entertainment there….uh, not really, so maybe Doug has a point….but no joy on instant fix.

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