$2 Pringles Are the Least of Northwest Airline’s Worries

I blogged recently about a strange little incident with Northwest Airlines and a can of Pringles. Your comments indicated that Northwest has been plagued by rocky service. (Your comments also indicated that I’m a [expletive deleted] whiner, but I would argue that such comments missed the point of the post.) As Joe Sharkey reports in today’s New York Times, Northwest canceled about 13% of its scheduled flights this past weekend, with the cancellations continuing yesterday. Why? Sharkey writes that Joe Brancatelli, who runs the business travel website JoeSentMe.com, got hold of an internal Northwest memo that blamed the cancellations on “crew scheduling shortages.” Does this mean that Northwest staff is so disgruntled with their jobs that they’re playing the rolling-sickout game?


egretman

...but I would argue that such comments missed the point of the post.

Isn't that the whole point? We answer the questions that we wish you would post. Not the questions you post.

It's the blogging way!

bertrecords

The pay cuts that NWA flight attendants have taken, coupled with multimillion dollar executive bonuses would make anyone mad as hell. If you fly Northwest Airlines, you should continue to expect scowls from the service workers.

http://www.startribune.com/535/story/1172996.html

Katie

Northwest treats its employees so badly that I'm not surprised when they call in sick. It's common knowledge in Minneapolis/St Paul that Northwest is not a nice company to work at.

And it's not especially nice to fly either.

Vincent Clement

I heard on a local Detroit radio station, that the pilots are behind the delays and cancellations. Previously, they would ignore minor FAA violations. Now, they are pointing each violation out and refusing to fly until the issue is resolved. Seems the pilots are not impressed that the executives are getting bonuses and stock options, while pilots and flight attendants had to take pay cuts so the airline could survive bankruptcy protection.

bertrecords

I discovered that my Minneapolis Star Tribune link (#2 above) requires free registration. Sorry about that. Here is an excerpt:

[Workers] remain focused on the $26.6 million in stock awards for CEO Doug Steenland.

Union leaders at Northwest and some airline observers argue that the stock awards to Steenland and other top executives could make labor unrest as much a fixture of the new Northwest as it was at the airline before bankruptcy.

"Rank-and-file labor feels it's next to impossible for [Steenland] to motivate this group after basically having taken advantage of us and using the Chapter 11 [bankruptcy] process to enrich himself," A. Ray Miller, vice chairman of the Northwest pilots union, said in an interview.

Steenland's stock allocation and awards of $10 million to $13.5 million each for four other top executives "kills their credibility"...

zipper

Does this mean that Northwest staff is so disgruntled with their jobs that they're playing the rolling-sickout game?

Not at all. When you want to save money, you hire as few employees as possible. When someone at the ticket counter calls in sick, you wait in a long line to check in. When someone on the ramp calls in sick, you wait longer to retrieve your luggage. When only one pilot shows up, the plane goes nowhere. Plus, their position are very specific. 747 pilots can only fly 747's, first officers can't fly in the captain's seat, etc.

egretman

Let me recap.

America is home of,

1.)cheap goods.
2.)$6 minimum wage
2.)no service
3.)disgruntled employees (see 1 thru 3 above)
4.)overpaid fat cats

Now what part of "love it or leave it" don't you get?

On the plus side, Kent loves cats.

zbicyclist

It's not a good strategy to say "The company is in trouble, and we need sacrifices from everyone ... except me," unless your goal in life is to become a hated SOB.

Plus, there's the persistent management attitude that pilots are "labor". Sure, they belong to a union, but their job is fundamentally "management". There's a good reason the title is "captain".

Doug Karr

Check out this Delta Debacle:
http://www.2sentencesorless.com/2007/06/25/delta-delays/

CollegeCat

Little story about Northwest. I normally search for flights on expedia/travelocity/kayak etc. and then go to the home website to book the flight. I typically save a few dollars in taxes, plus other benefits like airmiles. A year ago, I tried this little trick on Northwest.com. The price was right, but when I clicked the purchase the ticket the price would jump about $200. I called and complained to company, assuming that they would take responsibility for their website. How mistaken I was! Not only did they blame me, but they hung up on me. I called back, threatened to report them to the better business bureau and threw in a few expletives for good measure. I finally bought a ticket through a different airport, but also at Northwest. About an hour after I purchased this ticket, someone from Northwest called and offered to give me a free upgrade to first class. I took it, but I'll never book through Northwest again.

If their customer service representatives can't get through a conversation with a customer without hanging up, it's no surprise to me that they have other problems. Thank goodness I'm flying good ol' Continental this weekend. ;)

Read more...

Marketing Mommy

A far cry from recent experience with Southwest Airlines. Sure, I was stuck on the tarmac for 3 hours before a 1 hour flight. But wait'll you hear how they made it up to me:

http://marketingmommy.blogspot.com/2007/06/southwest-airlines-i-think-im-in-luv.html

billyboy

As a Minneapolis area (NWA's headquarters)resident, it pains me to hear stories about NWA staff service issues. People here generally have a reputation for being educated, and nice (so-called "Minnesota Nice," which translated means polite and courteous), so these traits should serve them well in any service industry.

My question to any airline staff union person(and any other union employee for that matter) is - why gripe? Employment in "at will" at NWA, I presume. The best thing you could do for you and all your fellow employees is ask yourself, seriously, "do I want to work here?" If the answer is yes, then the best thing you can do for your long term job security is put on a happy face and great customer service, and do whatever you can do to be successful no matter what other noise is happening elsewhere in the company. The result will be more customers, more jobs, and ultimately higher wages and benefits, because people will like to do business with you.
If the answer is "no, I hate it here," then the best thing you can do is leave. This will help the remaining employees by a) getting rid of the rotten apples that drag down the company, and b) create a labor shortfall, which should help the remaining employees bargain for higher wages and benefits.
Having worked in a couple different unions earlier in my life, I've never understood the union group-think (brainwashing) that fails to grasp this extremely simple concept.

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timdog

I hear you billyboy, but it's not that simple. If you're an NWA pilot living in the Twin Cities area with your family, and you've had to take a pay cut and your morale is low and you decide you've had enough -- where are you going to work instead?

Since you live in the Twin Cities, you understand that NWA is pretty much the only game in town, airline-wise. Airline pilots have very specific, not-easily transferrable skills. If you're a dissatisfied NWA pilot and you've got kids and a mortgage and family nearby and a rich social network -- are you just going to uproot yourself and move someplace else? Not likely.

Many of them probably feel like they're stuck at NWA. So I don't blame them for griping.

I suppose you can argue that they've made their bed (by choosing such a niche career and living in an area with so few employers for that career), and now they have to lie in it. But I think that denies the human complexity of this situation.

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Jennifer

Let me recap.

America is home of,

1.)cheap goods.
2.)$6 minimum wage
2.)no service
3.)disgruntled employees (see 1 thru 3 above)
4.)overpaid fat cats

Now what part of “love it or leave it” don't you get?

On the plus side, Kent loves cats.

— Posted by egretman

Yessiree! And, who do we all have to thank for our devolution into a bunch of pathetic enslaved people? That's right, THE REPUBLICANS, nearly 30 straight years of a Republican stranglehold on this country. And, what the most pathetic part about it is this: YOU voted for them!! Of your own free-will you enslaved all of us to the corporate class >> thanks a lot dumb-dumb Americans who chose this crummy situation for all the rest of us. IN THE FUTURE, VOTE AS FAR TO THE LEFT AS POSSIBLE IF YOU EVER WISH TO BEGIN TO RIGHT THIS SHIP & SAVE OUR GREAT COUNTRY FROM THE CORPORATE FAT CATS WHO ARE DESTROYING OUR QUALITY OF LIFE!

Read more...

egretman

...but I would argue that such comments missed the point of the post.

Isn't that the whole point? We answer the questions that we wish you would post. Not the questions you post.

It's the blogging way!

bertrecords

The pay cuts that NWA flight attendants have taken, coupled with multimillion dollar executive bonuses would make anyone mad as hell. If you fly Northwest Airlines, you should continue to expect scowls from the service workers.

http://www.startribune.com/535/story/1172996.html

Katie

Northwest treats its employees so badly that I'm not surprised when they call in sick. It's common knowledge in Minneapolis/St Paul that Northwest is not a nice company to work at.

And it's not especially nice to fly either.

Vincent Clement

I heard on a local Detroit radio station, that the pilots are behind the delays and cancellations. Previously, they would ignore minor FAA violations. Now, they are pointing each violation out and refusing to fly until the issue is resolved. Seems the pilots are not impressed that the executives are getting bonuses and stock options, while pilots and flight attendants had to take pay cuts so the airline could survive bankruptcy protection.

bertrecords

I discovered that my Minneapolis Star Tribune link (#2 above) requires free registration. Sorry about that. Here is an excerpt:

[Workers] remain focused on the $26.6 million in stock awards for CEO Doug Steenland.

Union leaders at Northwest and some airline observers argue that the stock awards to Steenland and other top executives could make labor unrest as much a fixture of the new Northwest as it was at the airline before bankruptcy.

"Rank-and-file labor feels it's next to impossible for [Steenland] to motivate this group after basically having taken advantage of us and using the Chapter 11 [bankruptcy] process to enrich himself," A. Ray Miller, vice chairman of the Northwest pilots union, said in an interview.

Steenland's stock allocation and awards of $10 million to $13.5 million each for four other top executives "kills their credibility"...

zipper

Does this mean that Northwest staff is so disgruntled with their jobs that they're playing the rolling-sickout game?

Not at all. When you want to save money, you hire as few employees as possible. When someone at the ticket counter calls in sick, you wait in a long line to check in. When someone on the ramp calls in sick, you wait longer to retrieve your luggage. When only one pilot shows up, the plane goes nowhere. Plus, their position are very specific. 747 pilots can only fly 747's, first officers can't fly in the captain's seat, etc.