American Airlines pilots have a disturbing suggestion that may make customers sigh

American Airlines plane on the runway

Incitement to jump ship. 

Bloomberg/Getty Images

You’re running a profitable business.

You’ve managed to avoid the sort of customer service and PR nightmare that has bedeviled one of your biggest rivals.

Things are going well. You’re telling CBNC that things are going great.

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Then along come your employees to tell you that you may be full of wind. Then along come those employees expressing themselves in public about your alleged windfulness.

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This may be an inner cogitation currently enjoyed by American Airlines CEO Robert Isom.

You see, as he was extolling American’s excellence, his pilots were offering a disturbing suggestion.

As reported by airline newsbreaker JohnNYC, an American Airlines pilots association based in Philadelphia mused that newer pilots at American — those with five years experience or less — should apply for jobs at Delta.

Why on earth, I hear you wail, would pilots at American do that?

Well, to quote an email to the association’s members, these pilots believe that management bathes in an “unwillingness to improve work rules/quality of life.”

It’s true, we’re in an era where few bosses want to do that. A little recession over here, a little inflation over there, and bosses leap upon their ability to gain more power. But these American pilots believe they’re in a particular situation.

They observe: “Not that we want to rub it in, but pilots at Delta will make substantially more than pilots here at American.”

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It’s clear they don’t want to rub it in. It’s equally clear they believe — and, more importantly, want younger pilots to believe — that things look grim. After all, Delta’s pilots will likely get substantial raises.

Say the pilots: “This is even before Delta’s industry-leading pay rates take effect. This disparity is only further worsened by this management’s insistence that all wholly owned employees be included in the total profit sharing pool, which reduces the profit sharing payout for American Airlines pilots by about 10%.”

When a customer stares at all this, they might be tempted to conclude that American’s pilots are merely heaping pressure on management to agree to a new contract.

Then again, the pilots’ email resorted to capital letters to exclaim: “APPLY TO DELTA NOW AS A PLACEHOLDER.”

As any decent human, you look to the future with a touch of trepidation. You want the person flying your plane to be happy and skilled.

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Yet this isn’t the first time American Airlines pilots have cast an envious eye toward rivals. Less than a year ago, there they were, with little subtlety, suggesting customers should fly Delta or United. Their reason? These, apparently, are airlines with finer management teams.

Perhaps most customers won’t ultimately care about this. Price and schedule are likely far more important to them. Yet the pilots know such emails are likely to leak because they want customers to care very much.

Those customers just might take note in years to come when certain airlines become clearly superior to others.

Oh, what am I saying? That’ll never happen. Not when the flying market is so neatly divided between just four big airline groups.

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