American Eagle, what are you thinking?!


New Arizona, Il Duce/Warlord
Staff member
I found this on a public forum but I thought I'd repost here so you can have a look at poor employee appreciation can manifest itself-

Doug Taylor

-------------------------Post Starts---------------------------- - CEO American Eagle Airlines - Vice President Of Inflight Services - Employee Relations - Employee Counsel - Regional Managing Director

Dear Senior Management Of American Eagle Airlines:

I am writing to you on behalf of one of our Chicago Based Flight Attendants.
Her name is Debra McDougald. This is a name that I would like for you to
remember very well. It is a name that has weighed very heavy on my mind in
recent days.

Debra has fallen victim to one of the most horrific displays of this company's
lack of compassion and loyalty to it's employees that I have ever seen
displayed in the airline industry.

Debra was flying a 4-day sequence with a temperature of 104 degrees. She did
not call in "sick" for fear of the repercussions that would take place because
of American Eagle's sick policy and attendance control.

Upon the completion of her trip sequence, and her obligations to her employer
ended, she was admitted into the hospital in Richmond, VA. (Her home)

During her overnight hospital stay, she received a telephone call to inform her
that her son was murdered in Seattle, Washington.

Before I continue, I want you to think how horrifying of an experience that
this must have been for Debra. In the hospital, sick, and finding out that her
child has been murdered.

Debra immediately checked herself out of the hospital, against her Doctor's
wishes. She contacted Melissa Hendrickson, ORD Flight Service Manager. Debra
requested A9 Travel for herself and some family members to go to Seattle to
identify her son's body in the morgue.

Debra had to return to Richmond to take care of funeral planning, travel
arrangements for her son, and other pressing family matters while still dealing
with serious health matters.

She contacted Melissa Hendrickson again a week later to request another A9 Pass
to Seattle for herself and her daughter to attend the funeral. Melissa refused
to give Debra and her daughter an A9 Pass because she had already used her A9
the week previously.

Debra was not in the right frame of mind to argue the point. So, she decided to
D2 with her daughter to Seattle via Dallas. Only, it wasn't that easy. Upon
their arrival in DFW, all of the flights from DFW to SEA were oversold.

Later, Debra found out that in fact a flight from DFW to SEA had left with 22
empty seats with no nonrevenue passengers onboard.

Debra contacted Melissa again to request assistance. Melissa offered none.
Debra had to arrange for a hotel room for her and her daughter. The next day,
the flights were still oversold. Debra contacted Southwest Airlines and they
accommodated her on an ID-90 status.

Moreover, during her trip to Seattle from Dallas on Southwest, one of the
stopovers created an oversold situation and all of the non-revs were asked to
deplane. When Debra explained the situation to the agent for Southwest, the
airline PAID $200.00 to two revenue passengers to deplane so that Debra and her
daughter, two NONREVENUE passengers can get on the flight to Seattle.

It is pretty sad when you have to go to an airline in which you don't even work
for to be accommodated during such turmoil. To be perfectly honest, I don't
understand how American Eagle can be so incredibly heartless.

Debra has brought this to the attention of the Union. There were no contractual
violations. No grievance will be filed. But, unlike the company's display, her
Union is here for her to support her and offer assistance.

This tragedy that Debra has had to endure will not be out of her thoughts for
years to come. She is permanently scarred from what she has been through. No
employee of AMR should ever have to go through this.

Debra and myself have talked many hours about this. I asked her what she would
like to see come out of all of this. Her selfless and unselfish response to me
was "I want to make sure that this never happens to another employee ever

I'm going to help her.

I would like to request the following:

1. An immediate investigation to begin on Melissa's behavior towards Debra
McDougald. Her lack of compassion to this situation makes me seriously doubt
her ability to be in management and lead by example. Furthermore, her inability
to assist Debra when it was so desperately needed has left herself with a
reputation of someone who cannot be trusted.

2. A revamping of company policy on A9 Travel to include Union Representation
for input on issues that we have learned from this tragic event. As a result of
this incident, I have searched JetNet to find no information available to
employees in need of emergency assistance.

3. A letter of commitment to every employee that American Eagle is dedicated to
it's employees and will think outside the box for extenuating circumstances and
will assist their employees whenever possible.

4. A letter of apology to Debra McDougald for having to endure such a lack of
compassion on the company's part. While this will not erase what has happened,
it is certainly a way to show that the company seriously does care for it's
employees and identifies and acknowledges that there is room for major

5. A letter of recognition to Southwest Airlines Director Of Customer Service
for showing such compassion to a F/A that is not employed by SWA.

6. A meeting with the recipients of this e-mail so that Debra can share her
story with you firsthand. It is important that you put a face to the name. It
is important that you hear how she was treated.

The requests that I have made are not unreasonable. The company is accountable
for it's actions, as we, the employees are. I will await to hear from you in
regards to the requests that I have made.

In closing, I would hope that this e-mail speaks for itself. You are the senior
members of management for American Eagle Airlines. The rule makers so to speak.
You have the power to ensure that this never happens again. Now that you know,
I hope that you do something about it diligently. There are thousands of
employees in this company and we count on you to do the right thing. Now,
here's your chance.

Debra McDougald - a loyal employee of American Eagle. Remember her name well.

Bill Hennessey
MEC President
American Eagle Airlines

---------------Post Ends--------------------------------


Well-Known Member
Wow. That is just plain heartless. I can't believe anyone could show such a lack of compassion for anyone, much less someone who works for them!


Well-Known Member
That is really amazing. How selfish and uncompassionate can a person be?

I think some heads need to roll after some crap like. I wouldn't want people like that working for me or the airline I work for (someday).

High Five to Southwest though. Now that was a class act on part of the airline and the rev passengers that got the boot.


Staff member
Been browsing the Eaglelounge boards eh?

I know the supervisor mentioned in this article, in fact, we were both up for the promotion to base manager at the same time. She got the job, I got fed up with Eagle and that's when I left for AA.

Hmm, I guess I just wasn't American Eagle management material!
That is really amazing. How selfish and uncompassionate can a person be?

I think some heads need to roll after some crap like. I wouldn't want people like that working for me or the airline I work for (someday).

High Five to Southwest though. Now that was a class act on part of the airline and the rev passengers that got the boot.

[/ QUOTE ]

Go Southwest!
and what a show of compassion by the passengers that deplaned too
. As for melissa, I am not a really religious person, but every time I think of hell, I picture people like her in it


So what do you think this is (not a rhetorical question) ... one person severely lacking people skills and unwilling to offer even advice, or one person so browbeaten by the company that they're afraid of extending a courtesy to an employee?


New Arizona, Il Duce/Warlord
Staff member
Been browsing the Eaglelounge boards eh?

[/ QUOTE ]

Actually, I got it off the ALPA forum.

I remember when my dad was dying and my brother called the Delta Emergency Crew Line and they called me in flight and instructed me to call crew scheduling on arrival to ATL. At the arrival gate, the agent had me call on the companies dime home to see what was going on, sent me space positive from ATL to FAT (Atlanta to Fresno) and told me to call them when I was ready to fly again, and I was fully pay protected and even sent my family flowers to the funeral.

And I remember the crew scheduler telling me not to worry about the rest of my trip because they were going to take care of that and my priority was to get home and see after my family.

So this Eagle thing floors me, that's the most chickensh*t thing I've heard for years.

I'm so pissed about how they treated this lady, I can't even express.


New Member
Wow, so if I get hired on as a future FO for American Eagle, I can look foward to slave wages and being treated like sh*t.


Sitting in the median
I can't even put into words how this makes me feel. This is why I'm glad I work for a company with some heart! I couldn't imagine being treated this way!

Also, GO SOUTHWEST! That was amazing what they did. It just makes me want to work there even more!


New Member
How about we try and arrange a mass boycott between all current and future pilots, along with f/a never to become Eagle employees, just wish there was something I could do...This story is a friggin' outrage, just goes to show the low standard of ethics alot of the corporate world has nowadays. Like Doug said, there's really not much you can put into words...


New Member
Flychicaga -

I'm with you man!! If I ever get the chance to fly with a major, one of 'em has got to be Southwest. To show that level of support is awe inspiring!


Well-Known Member
People used to ask me why I left Eagle for Mesa (which was considered a "lateral move") and I had several reasons. Now you know just one of them.

However, this behavior is typical in the industry, particularly towards flight attendants, but it spills over to pilots as well.

Please remember that people like Melissa hear amazing stories every day as creative flight attendants come up with ways to avoid work. I had it explained to me by one of our FAs at Mesa one night. "Hey this isn't our career of choice for the most part. Most of us are just doing this to have some fun and then move on to something else. Several of us are just looking for husbands, sadly. So yeah, the sick call and family emergency call rate is really high among FAs."

I'd like to hear Melissa's side of it. Perhaps CA Hennesy is exaggerating a bit? Maybe the son wasn't murdered? Maybe he didn't even die? You never know. I know that MEC Chairmen are human and they also make mistakes from time to time.

There are always three sides to every story. Side A, Side B and the truth!

Still, it is typical in the airlines that you get treated poorly by your own. I noticed that AA and AE always treated me horribly as a non-rev or jumpseat pilot, but would let some Gulfstream puke go right up to the jumpseat (or first class! shah!) and make me wait for the seat next to the toilet, but USAirways always treated me like a VIP.

Then I went to Mesa as USAirways Express and the situation was reversed! USAirways treated me like a dirty non-rev and AA would always put me in first class! Go figure.

Southwest has always treated me very well (they let jumpseaters pre-board, for example - awesome!) but I have never worked for Southwest. I hear, and again this is "I hear", that employees are treated better at Southwest than at other airlines, yet their MEC Chairman told me one day they get more grievances per pilot than AA!

I guess pilots will complain no matter how good it is


New Arizona, Il Duce/Warlord
Staff member
The whole thing wouldn't suprise me if it's 100% true.

At a previous airline I worked for (well, the airline that we were owned by and flew connecting passengers for) , a pilots father passed away the morning of his checkride and he was told to either "A" continue with his DC-9 checkride or "B" leave, fail the checkride and retest upon his arrival back at the training facility, but the failure would count against his "Two strikes and you're out" policy.

On the other side of the coin, one of my friend's wife had a heart attack during his new hire ground school and Delta sent him home positive space to take care of business, told him that they'd retain his seniority number and ask him to let them know when he was able to come back to ground school. He was out for a month, was put back into ground school and kept his original hire date. This guy was on his first week of indoctrination training.

I've always believed in the policy that if you take care of your people, they're going to take care of the aircraft and the passengers, thus taking care of the company.


New Member
You got it right in you post Doug. If the company takes care of the employees then inturn we take care of them. But unfortnately companies have forgotten that and seem to worry about the bottom line and not who can help get the bottom line out of the red and into the black.


New Arizona, Il Duce/Warlord
Staff member
But unfortnately companies have forgotten that and seem to worry about the bottom line and not who can help get the bottom line out of the red and into the black.

[/ QUOTE ]

*wink* oh yeah!

We need fewer "bean counters" and more "leadership" these days, don't we Tim?


Staff member
The more I read this article, the more it troubles me. I know Bill (the AFA MEC president who wrote the article) and Melissa personally. It just seems so out of character, maybe things have changed, but that's not the Eagle I remember. The problems with Eagle management I found were always with the top management in who hid in their offices at Centre Port and never saw daily operations. I had 4 different immediate supervisors during the 6 years I was at Eagle, including the head of our training department. Never did I ever see anything like what happend in this article. I believe every word Bill wrote, he would not make up nor embelish a story like that. Guess I'll have to give a call to some of my friends who are still working there and see what they have to say. Eagle was far from perfect, but this was just too much.


Well-Known Member
I've always believed in the policy that if you take care of your people, they're going to take care of the aircraft and the passengers, thus taking care of the company.

[/ QUOTE ]

So when you start Jetcareers airlines...


New Arizona, Il Duce/Warlord
Staff member
So when you start Jetcareers airlines...

[/ QUOTE ]

...the quickest way to make a small fortune in the airline business is starting with a big one!


Staff member

Peter Bowler Responds To Employee Outrage Regarding F/A Debra McDougald's Tragic Injustice:

"Debra's loss is tragic. I have children and can only imagine how she must feel. She has all of our sympathy. Before you rush to judgment about the assistance provided by American Eagle I suggest you get the full story. Have you spoken to with any of those people accused of such poor and insensitive behavior ?

Like so many issues at Eagle and American, a few facts, combined with an equal or greater amount of falsehoods, makes for great rumors. Rumors designed to elicit just the kind of immediate/gut responses you have articulated.

Please try to get the facts before you conclude that your company is as disrespectful of its people as you apparently believe.

Peter Bowler"

Bill Hennessey Responds To Peter Bowler:


How do you sleep at night?
Bill Hennessey"

Bill Hennessey
AFA MEC President


September 11, 2003 @ 1:09PM (Received Via E-mail)

Bill Hennessey
MEC President
Association of Flight Attendants AFL-CIO
17349 SW 142nd Court
Miami, FL 33177

Dear Bill,

We received your letter describing the tragedy endured by Chicago based flight attendant Debra McDougald and your assessment of American Eagle's responses to her requests for assistance.

Out of respect for Debra's situation, we don't intend to broadcast a detailed response to all of the accusations you outlined. However, upon receipt of your letter we immediately began an investigation into the statements you made and the facts presented regarding Ms. McDougald's situation and will continue that work so that we understand exactly what occurred. Clearly, if all the statements in your letter are accurate, we should have done a much better job of responding to Ms. McDougald's plight. To this point, however, we have been unable to verify at this time that events unfolded as you say.

I assure you that every manager at American Eagle is committed to assisting our employees in any way we can when tragic, emergency situations like these occur. In fact, the company's A9 policy will be re-iterated to our flight managers within the coming days.

Ms. McDougald's situation is indeed tragic and we are extremely sorry for her loss. We have reached out to her directly, and will assist her in whatever way we can.

In the meantime, I encourage you to call me directly so that we can both get a better understanding of what happened and how things could have been handled better.


Linda Kunz
Vice President - Flight Services

Bill Hennessey
AFA MEC President