It was back to business as usual on Sunday for American Airlines parent AMR
But is it really business as usual? How many times do you think displaced passengers have muttered the phrase "I will never fly American again" over the past week?
This situation goes beyond the obvious financial hits of reimbursing passengers or paying any potential FAA fines. AMR had bounced back from years of losses that stung most of the legacy carriers post-9/11. But even if Wall Street is looking for a loss out of AMR when it posts its first-quarter results come Wednesday, the company has now rattled off positive earnings in six of the past seven quarters.
The saving grace for AMR is that stranded customers are running out of options. Several smaller carriers, including ATA, Frontier, Skybus, and Aloha, have all filed for bankruptcy protection recently, even though Frontier continues to operate. Higher fuel prices are also pinching profits in the industry, but it's not as though hitting the open road instead is going to be any cheaper for travelers.
Grumbling is relative. There are things far worse than delayed flights. AMR just has to make sure it responds properly to the venomous ire, even if it means working to win back every fuming flier who had to snake his or her way to the AMR customer-service airport counter this past week.
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