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.