American Airlines Responds to Loose Seats

After reports of seats coming loose during flights, American Airlines is investigating the situation and inspecting 47 planes. American admits that six planes each had a row of seats that weren't properly clamped down. Some became dislodged while in flight.

American spokeswoman Andrea Huguely issued a statement including these excerpts:

"Originally, American planned to evaluate the seats on eight Boeing 757 airplanes, but out of an abundance of caution, the decision was made to proactively evaluate a total of 47 Boeing 757 airplanes that have the same model Main Cabin seats with a common locking mechanism."
"American's internal investigation has focused on one of three types of Main Cabin seats on the 757s and how the rows of these three seats fit into the track that is used to secure the rows to the floor of the airplanes. Our maintenance and engineering teams have discovered that the root cause is a saddle clamp improperly installed on the foot of the row leg."

"Safety is -- and always will be -- American's top concern."

The seats are the latest in a series of issues plaguing the airline. Now under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, American has been grappling with labor relations issues that airline management blames for recent flight delays and cancellations.

According to a Washington Post article, the airline spokeswoman Andrea Huguely said that airline employees last touched the seats, but a labor union representative took issue with the accusation: "Our workers were the last to touch the seats only in the sense that after the seats came loose, we were dispatched [to fix them." Because seat installation is handled by a third-party, the labor union denies responsibility and blames management for the outsourcing decision. Indeed, Timco Aviation Services installed the seats. 

Regardless of where the responsibility lies, this is more bad publicity for American Airlines.

Discussion Starters:

  • How can American Airlines manage this latest bout of bad news?
  • How do you assess the airline's response?
  • If you were the president of Timco Aviation Services, what would you do now?