“Every on-time departure, every bag and every customer interaction really counts”

US Airways ranked number one in on-time performance, baggage handling and customer satisfaction among the major network carriers for May, according to the latest Transportation Department report — a rare trifecta. It’s even more impressive, considering that just a few years ago, the airline consistently ranked near the bottom of the list. I asked Kerry Hester, the airline’s vice president for reservations and customer service planning, to shed some light on the numbers, and what they mean to passengers. You can read a related interview about US Airways fixation on numbers with Robert Isom here.

How did you do it?

Our employees did it. I am very proud of my 31,000 colleagues who have worked hard to run a safe and reliable airline, while focusing on taking great care of our customers. They deserve the credit for achieving this important milestone.

OK. How did they do it?

This was a significant achievement for us that only a handful of other airlines have shared in the past decade. It has taken a lot of hard work to get to this point, but we’ve done it by institutionalizing a culture where our employees understand that every on-time departure, every bag and every customer interaction really counts.

We beat United in on-time performance by just a half percentage point, and bettered Continental by just 10 bags and eight complaints. Simply put, every contact that we have with our customers really makes a difference.

Leading the industry in on-time departures is the key to our success, and we do it without padding our schedule like some other airlines do. Our Express partners also contributed to these results, with record-setting performances in April in on-time departures, on-time arrivals, and completion factor (the percent of scheduled departures that actually departed during the daily schedule) followed by strong results in each of these measures again in May.
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