Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Airline Service

Sorry about the long delay between postings. I was finishing up the manuscript for my next book, and then I flew here to Tokyo to teach an executive program. I did have an interesting experience on the flight over here. I flew from Boston to Dallas, and then from Dallas to Tokyo on American Airlines. I've flown this route every year now for the past five years, and I always fly American Airlines as I have elite frequent flyer status with them. I was quite surprised, though, when I landed in Dallas. As I walked off the jetway into the gate area, a woman from American Airlines stood there with a placard with my name on it, as well as the name of one other passenger. She offered to drive us to our gate for the departure to Tokyo. Now, Dallas is a huge airport, and it was quite some distance between the gates. However, we had plenty of time before our next flight. I had never been offered this type of service on prior flights to Tokyo. I think it's interesting that American Airlines appears to be going that extra mile to provide service to its best customers, even while cutting back in many areas. While we have read so much about labor reductions, here we had a person driving us through the airport. It seems clear that the airlines are very focused on trying to enhance service to their core customers. It's always been tough for the airlines to differentiate their products. Flying has simply become a commodity product. Yet, here we have an airline trying to make sure that it offers a small amenity that may help it retain its best customers. It will be interesting to see if more attempts are made at differentiating their products and services, and if these efforts are any more successful than they have been in the past.