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

It's heartening, in its way, when an airline CEO tells it like it is.

One such truth-teller is American Airlines CEO Doug Parker.

In his regular chats with employees, he tries to give them honest answers -- even if some of those answers are a touch too honest for any sort of public consumption.

For example, when he admitted he'd never flown the airline's splendidly uncomfortable new planes.

Oh, and when he claimed that taking things away from passengers was an example of "Going for Great."

His latest plain speaking came in another chat with employees, captured by View From The Wing's Gary Leff.

This time, the questioner was a frustrated pilot who wondered why there's too often no gate available when an American flight lands.

Parker explained that most American passengers aren't flying non-stop. They're connecting.

Ergo:

Our ability to sell connections is key to our having an airline that works. So we try to sell as much as we can, we don't have any excess gates at peak times. We're using all those because that's how you maximize connections.

Well, yes. And whoa.

So American is selling as much as it can and uses every single gate at all times?

Parker went on to admit that the airline might have been overly enthusiastic in trying to use every gate possible, leaving absolutely no room for error at all.

Planes have to leave on time and arrive on time or else the system immediately starts to fail.

But we're talking about flying here. And we're talking about airlines.

How likely is it that on any given day there won't be some snafu -- controllable or otherwise -- that will knock the system out of sync?

Yet what Parker seems to be saying is that there are no contingencies. None. 

Airline staff -- at United, as well as American -- have recently been complaining bitterly that they're being held to the so-called D0 standard. 

This means you have to pull back on or before departure time -- or else you'll likely have to explain yourselves to your superiors.

Yet Parker freely admits that if one or two flights get behind for some reason, the knock-on effect is a little like that of a critical Donald Trump tweet about a company on the blood pressure of that company's CEO.

The concerned pilot told Parker that he and his colleagues measured these delays in "dog minutes." Each minute is like seven.

And you have to wonder how and why the airline tolerates such an apparent mess.

Perhaps, though, Parker answered it himself: "We try to sell as much as we can."

Published on: Apr 15, 2018