Hold on to your Seats!!! We’re Going Down!!




If the airline industry can’t properly maintain the inside of a plane, how can we trust them to take care of the outside of the plane?


Recent financial troubles have not been the only source of difficulties for American Airlines.  The airline is now experiencing complications with their seats.  “A Boeing 757 from Boston to Miami carrying 175 passengers diverted to New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport on Saturday when three seats in row 12 came loose shortly after takeoff.  A second American Boeing 757 returned to JFK on Monday morning after a similar seat issue was discovered” (CNN).  This kind of quality oversight could be the straw the broke the camel’s back for American Airlines.

Initial claims pointed at the saddle clamp “improperly installed on the foot of the row leg” (CNN).  Due to this improper diagnosis, American Airlines inspected a total of 47 Boing 757 Airplanes that were using this type of clamp.  Through this inspection, American Airlines found “that six — including the two involved in the recent diversions — had seats that were not properly secured” (CNN).  It was later discovered that the clamps were not the source of the problem.  Even though this problem was misdiagnosed, it led to a discovery of improper equipment.  Would the faulty equipment been discovered if the problem was diagnosed correctly the first time?   Or did this error lead to a great deal of lost revenue, time, and labor.  These are the types of things that are not in excess for a company dealing with bankruptcy.

The financial implications of mismanaged time and resources are pretty severe for a company with major financial woes.  American Airlines had to ground almost 50 of their Boeing 757 planes.  This is on top of the problem American Airlines is having with their labor force.  American Airlines is in a difficult battle with their pilots union.  The airline suspects that pilots have been filing frivolous reports to cause massive slowdowns.  This slowdown is composed of 12,000 delays and 1000 canceled flights within the month of September.  The question here is whether or not the pilots have been leveraging false safety concerns to improve their union position.  Regardless of the validity of these claims, the airline must address each concern to avoid an even bigger situation.   Being a major airline, American Airlines must deal with problems coming from all directions.  Not only must American Airlines worry about the problems of their own employees, they must also worry about their manufacturers and the partners of their manufacturers.

More and more companies work with various manufacturers to supply them with the parts and pieces required to complete their final product.  It is almost impossible to find a major manufacturer that creates all of the pieces in house that are needed to complete an intricate product.  Many reach out to other manufacturers that specialize in that specific part/piece.  With all of these various pieces, it is very difficult to insure the quality of every one of these different parts.

The seats in question were manufactured by Weber Aircraft.  This Texas based company “manufactured the seats for American’s 757 planes, also made seats for 25 other airlines, including Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, Air Canada and Korean Air Lines”(Martin 2012).  To prevent future problems and issues, the FAA has essentially demanded that the various airlines rigorously inspect their planes using the 11 Weber seat models.  Over time we have learned that in this global economy it is necessary to make manufacturing partnerships.  However, in this case, it is evident that there is a complete lack of quality management.  How can an industry with so many moving parts avoid situations like this?





12 thoughts on “Hold on to your Seats!!! We’re Going Down!!

  1. This one made me laugh. When I first heard that AA had “trippy” seats I wondered how many lawsuits would follow. This can tie back to our discussion in class of the supply chain strategic importance. AA most likely tried the low-cost strategy where the supplier’s goal was to supply the demand of these seats at the lowest possible cost, not really thinking of how the assembly will turn out at the end of the production of the Boeing 747s. Great post thanks for sharing…definitely going to tighten the screws on my next AA flight.

  2. This was very interesting article and I’m not surprised at all that customers had problems with AA seats. I like AA I usually like to fly with them but recently I have noticed that they are not taking care of their airlines at all and the seating is not comfortable I feel unsafe in them. I recently flew with AA and I had problem with my seat and I felt uncomfortable. You pay so much money for a ticket and you expect to get normal comfortable seats but that doesn’t happen so I think AA needs to do major changes on there seatings. I agree with the previous comment that they thought of making money by selling more seats but didn’t think about how the assembly of the seating would turn out and that could really hurt their business.

  3. I’m not at all surprised with American Airlines having this problem. From the trouble associated with their employees to this problem to the seats, it seems like they will have to do a better job picking their suppliers. Being an avid traveler, I almost never travel with American Airlines because of the lack of customer service and traveler comfort. Now after reading this article, I will never fly with them again. I prefer to actually be seated when flying and just knowing that some seats could possibly come loose leaves one to wonder what else is wrong with aircraft. Very interesting article and title.

  4. American Airlines has a lot of work cut out for them if they hope to regain customer loyalty. AA has decided to let their ambitions for profit out weigh their desire to have customer loyalty. If AA cared about loyalty such issues with their planes would not result as frequently as they are now, in building loyalty the return is in the long-run which would be more profitable for the firm. Instead now the company is losing customers who will remember 20 years from now the current issues.Being from the East Coast I use air travel frequently, and I would never fly AA. Flying to most is a nerve racking experience to begin with, having a company with such failures doe not make me want to fly with them. I would rather pay a little extra to settle my nerves. Hopefully the company will realize and learn from their current strategy.

  5. I found this article really interesting and informative and it has provided with me one more reason (of the many reasons I had before) to never fly with American Airlines ever again. After reading this article, I believe that in order for American Airlines to continue to grow as a company, they must improve their employee morale, improve quality management and have stronger quality control. For the amount of money that people pay to fly with an expensive airliner like American Airlines, there is NO reason that seats in an airplane should be defective. The airline should also think about reevaluating their hiring process for pilots and ask candidates more ethical questions to get a better sense of their morale. It sounds like a lot of the pilots are unethical and are willing to put themselves and hundreds of passengers every day in order to receive a bonus. I think the seat issue combined with the unfortunate unethical behavior of the pilots is a huge red flag for this company and they really need to get their priorities straight because if they don’t it will be detrimental to the company.

  6. You make a really good claim about how companies use numerous varying manufacturers to supply them with the parts they need to complete/build thier products. The only way to ensure that total quality within the parts can be acheived is having quality inspectors who take their jobs seriously and inspect every single part to make sure all pieces follow the standards in which they are meant to work. Something as small as unfastened clamps or loose bolts can potentially cause major harm to customers aboard the plane. As stated in comments above, customers pay hundreds of dollars to reserve a seat on an airplane – the last thing a paying customer wants to deal with mid-air is having their seat fall apart on them. Therefore, quality inspectors need to make sure everything is working/secured properly to ensure the safety of their customers.

  7. By employing the low-cost strategy they were leaving many passengers in dangers way by not properly inspecting each of the seats on their aircrafts. Quality inspectors are necessary to make sure that everything is secured. When human lives are at stake, airlines cannot afford to cut financial corners. American Airlines used to be one of the leading airline carriers internationally and now they seem to be going down a slippery slope. They need to establish some sort of quality control if they plan to recover in the future.

  8. I agree with the comment above about Airline companies cannot afford cutting corners finically. A company that puts human’s lives on the line should have top quality management for safety. They should have vigorous tests every flight inspecting the inside and outside of the plane. Not doing this could lead to many lawsuits and individuals being afraid to use their services.

  9. I agree with the comment above. The airlines companies should be thoroughly inspecting each and every plane. The most minor flaw like, like the seats, can cause huge problems, both in safety and finically. The laws suits and loss of business from a mishap like this can cost them a lot more than it would to just spend the money and have the job done correct.

  10. I guarantee that the malfunction of the seats was due to low-cost, low-quality seats, as airlines will do anything to save a buck. Safety should be a priority for all flights, but it is apparent that the only thing that matters is cutting costs and nickel-and-diming the customers. It is unacceptable because AA was most likely aware that the faulty seats were not well-constructed. Sooner or later, people are going to stop flying because airlines are pretty much pushing their customers away. Whether it is due to ticket prices, security lines, the baggage fees, or an uncomfortable flight, people are fed up. Airlines, like American, need to step up and make a service that people want to use, and maybe that will involve airlines spending more money to make airplanes more robust and appealing to travelers. Also, maybe get a new supplier that does not make seats that fall apart. That might help.

  11. American Airlines has never given me trouble in the past and I am an avid traveler. More tahn likely, American airlines got cheap parts for their seats and they were trying to cut costs obviously but I believe that they are a strong company on the verge of having a comeback year. But either way, American Airlines should spend more money to satisfy their customers.

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