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Cedric Rockamore was just named vice president of American Airlines’ hub operations at Dallas-Fort Worth, the airline’s largest hub.

Consider just how busy American Airlines’ travel hub at DFW is: The company transports about 2 million pounds of freight daily, and accounts for 83% of the traffic out of DFW airport.

 

(Cedric Rockamore. Image: American Airlines)

 

Owning the Customer Experience

 

Rockamore was an obvious choice for the position. He has been in the aviation industry for decades. He started his career while serving in the United States Navy where he learned air traffic control.

The enlisted seaman earned a bachelor’s and his M.B.A. while in the military. After working as a manager at a trucking company upon leaving the Navy, Rockamore became an entry-level manager at Northwest Airlines (which merged with Delta in 2008).

“I ended up making it through the merger,” says Rockamore. He stayed on with Delta until an opportunity arose in Philadelphia with US Airways, which was acquired by another airline.

“We merged with American,” he explains and that was the start of Rockamore’s prestigious career at American Airlines.

As VP of the DFW hub, “I am the guy who owns the customer and employee experience,” he says.

Rockamore says that a typical day includes analyzing customer pain points. For example, “meeting with the team and reviewing what happened yesterday,” he says.

“Did we meet our service levels? What kinds of employee issues are happening? How do we continue to move forward? How do we make sure that Dallas is aligned with the company’s direction?”

Tackling Allegations of Racial Discrimination

 

And there has been a lot of focus on the customer experience at American Airlines, lately. Social justice activist Tamika Mallory posted to social media that she was kicked off an American Airlines flight by a pilot and considered the incident an act of “white male aggression.” American Airlines has since contacted her to set up a meeting, reports The New York Daily News.

The NAACP also just issued a travel advisory to black passengers about traveling with American Airlines.

“The NAACP for several months now has been monitoring a pattern of disturbing incidents reported by African American passengers, specific to American Airlines. In light of these confrontations, we have today taken the action of issuing national advisory alerting travelers—especially African Americans—to exercise caution, in that booking and boarding flights on American Airlines could subject them [to] disrespectful, discriminatory, or unsafe conditions. This travel advisory is in effect beginning today, October 24, 2017, until further notice,” reads part of the statement on the NAACP’s website.

When asked about navigating through these allegations of racial discrimination by the airline as an African American man in a high-profile position at American, Rockamore says, “I would not be part of a company that would tolerate any discrimination or against folks of any protected class.”

“We are investing in our folks to de-escalate situations and not escalate. I want you as a customer to walk away feeling that I did all I could to help you,” he says.

American Airlines also sent its official statement via email on the incident with Mallory:

Our goal is to do everything we can for our customers and team members to ensure a positive travel experience. Anytime there is a breakdown in communication, we listen and learn. Through the conversations we’ve had with Ms. Mallory, we believe it is time to engage in a face-to-face dialogue.

We have also heard the voices of customers responding to Ms. Mallory’s social media posts, sharing experiences with us inconsistent with our commitment to treating all customers with equality and respect. That is why we have extended an invite to Ms. Mallory to meet with key members of our team at our headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas.

At American Airlines, inclusion and diversity is part of our DNA from the team we hire to the customers we serve.  Every day, our team members work to create a community where people from all backgrounds feel welcome and valued. We are committed to providing a positive, safe travel experience for everyone who chooses to fly with us.