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

Airlines aren't always good at understanding human beings.

The latest example is American Airlines and the colossal disruption that it's engendered at one of its most important hubs, Charlotte.

Last week, around 675 American Eagle flights, operated by subsidiary PSA, were canceled. 

The airline explained:

PSA Airlines, an American Airlines regional carrier, experienced a technical issue that caused them to cancel their flights for the remainder of the evening. Our team is working hard to resolve the issue as quickly as possible and accommodate customers.

When I think of technical issues, I think of momentary disruptions.

In this case, many passengers were left stranded and say they were given no reason at all.

On Friday, American admitted that the problem began at its Dayton, Ohio office. It claimed the issues had been solved

Yet here we are again, on Monday, and American is canceling even more flights at Charlotte. 

Some reports say that 70 have been disappeared, as passengers are again left fuming.

This is how, on Monday morning, American explained itself

We understand recent cancellations have been frustrating for customers and are doing everything in our power to get things back to normal as quickly as possible. American is working to contact all those impacted, but please check your flight status before going to the airport.

It's entertaining how little airlines want to tell their customers. Especially about their computer systems.

Many are at the level of a MacBook from circa 1998. 

I asked American why it hadn't revealed what the problem with its systems might be. 

I understand that it's the airline's crew scheduling hardware that's on the blink. Worse, though, the airline still seems to have no idea when the problem will be fixed.

Yet a basic essence of these things is to give passengers as much of an understanding as possible. 

Be truthful and you'll maintain some sort of relationship with your customer. Be obfuscatory and the opposite happens.

Last week, I wrote about JetBlue Mint Class passenger and renowned media figure Jason Hirschhorn. He'd been sold a seat even though, he says, the airline knew it had been broken for six days.

He told me: "The issue is never the issue. It's about how you deal with the issue."

It's not as if American is alone in having IT issues. 

Not so long ago, Delta's systems melted down to such a severe degree that the airline appeared completely hapless.

It canceled thousands of flights and even its own employees vented their anger.

In that instance, too, Delta offered bland platitudes instead of straightforward communication.

As Hirschhorn says, it's the way the issue is handled that matters.

This is something that, of all carriers, United Airlines has come to realize.

It's been testing a new system called Every Flight Has a Story. The idea is to, well, tell passengers the truth about what's going on, as soon as is possible.

For American to tell passengers merely to check their flight status simply isn't good enough.

The truth can go a long way.

Much further than many of American's planes have been going lately.

Published on: Jun 18, 2018