Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

It isn't always easy when you know your product is generally viewed as inferior to that of others.

It's isn't always easy, therefore, to be an American Airlines executive.

Somehow, the airline's image for customer service and general excellence has slipped of late.

Somehow, this might have something to do with CEO Doug Parker seeming to believe that by far the most important thing is to get passengers to their destination on time.

Parker likes to compare American to Delta. Which isn't necessarily wise, as the latter enjoys a much more robust brand image.

It must have been moving, therefore, for American's Executive Vice President for People and Communications, Elise Eberwein, to find herself on a Delta flight last week.

She was miffed not to receive a pre-departure beverage or a blanket, despite being in First Class. Critics suggested this is something American doesn't always manage either.

Would Eberwein be as critical of Delta? No airline is perfect, after all.

Just as with the United flight, she took to Twitter to offer her observations.

They began:

Trip report time! @Delta to SLC. So far pretty smooth. Face recognition on their app is slick!

Delta's recently unveiled facial recognition developments haven't been universally pleasing. Until, I suspect, people decide that you can't do anything about snooping anymore and, gosh, this might be quicker.

Surely, though, Eberwein, being an executive vice-president for people, would note some sort of people failure.

Well, her next tweet offered: 

Boarding uneventful. Interesting pause about midway thru, anyone volunteering to check the bag free of chg invited 2 board. Good idea, not many takers.

Goodness, praise again. Couldn't she have observed at least one surly Delta face, one Flight Attendant reluctant to help a passenger, one errant announcement?

Sadly not. At least, not on Twitter. 

The only other tidbit she offered was that, remarkably, she wasn't in the front of the plane: 

Window seat 4 rows from back. Fare was between wn [Southwest] and dl routing PHX-SLC. DL was the lower of the 2. @AmericanAir sked didn't work.

It is, of course, wise and commendable that Eberwein flies other airlines.

I understand she looks at these trips much more exclusively as a consumer paying full fare, than as an executive of a big airline.

Given her past tweeting about United, many might have expected at least a tinge of criticism.

Perhaps, though, Delta didn't give her anything to criticize. Or perhaps, since her United tweeting garnered a little publicity, she's become more generous publicly.

I confess that in my own recent experience with Delta, I couldn't find too much wrong with it either, even if the service was slightly mechanical. Then again, I also had a recent experience with American that was a strange and uplifting throwback to better times.

Delta believes that its positive brand image has given it a singular advantage and even allows it to charge more for fares. 

The airline does, though, also boast an efficient operation, despite a much older fleet.

Recently, Delta announced that it broke its record for the number of days in a year without a cancellation. 

It must take a lot of work to achieve, as Eberwein describes it, pretty smooth. At least on a consistent basis.

I wonder if American will get there. And, if it does, when.

Published on: Dec 30, 2018
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.