Unhappy Jack! American Airlines’ Meowing PR Headache

jack the cat Unhappy Jack! American Airlines Meowing PR HeadacheDon’t worry kitty, they’re coming for you. The search for the fugitive long-haired tabby was still on in Far Rockaway when we checked in with American Airlines this week. “We continue our efforts to search for Jack and we remain hopeful that he will be found,” said Ned Raynolds, a representative for the company, from whose care the cat escaped about six weeks ago in the jungle of J.F.K. International Airport. “We haven’t given up.”

Neither have the fans of the “Jack the Cat is Lost in AA Baggage at J.F.K.” Facebook group, 15,282-members strong as of Monday, who continue to retweet, comment on and blog about the fluffy orange feline who went missing when his owners attempted to move with him to California.

Melody Turner, a concerned Friend of Jack, or “FoJ,” emailed The Tramson Saturday to plead Jack’s case. “He is still missing and they are having a Jack Awareness Day today and also next Saturday at J.F.K. and surrounding areas,” she said.

“The chances of Jack surviving or being returned readily get minimized each and every day,” a former communications representative for United Airlines who has experience with social media-fueled public relations crises told The Transom. “But it’s a very dangerous place, an airport. Lot of moving parts and moving vehicles and moving machinery.”

After clearing security, owner Karen Pascoe received a call from an American Airlines employee who told her Jack was missing. After a search turned up nothing, Ms. Pascoe and her family boarded their flight, assured by American Airlines that they would find her cat, contact her again by the next day and presumably return the cat to her the way they would any other lost baggage.

It took 66 hours for a baggage manager named “Andy” to call. He told Ms. Pascoe the hunt was still on, although “the last time this happened, it took about a month to find the cat.”

The delay was the airline’s first public relations mistake, said the former United flack.

“They may never find him, or if they find him and he’s dead already—whatever happens is going to be more news,” he said. “Is it a huge problem? Will people stop buying tickets? Probably not. Will it lead to a boycott? Probably not. It’s just the airlines’ business has always been competitive. It’s a terrible business model. Airlines can’t make money, so these little things do matter.”

Customer complaints have an impact on airline regulations, he said, referring us to the Federal Aviation Administration’s recently enacted penalties for extended delays. “A lot of that was driven by cellphones and even by that time Twitter and Facebook of the passengers, the customers sitting on the plane, raging. ‘We’re stuck here for four hours! No word, no free drinks! We can see the gates are open but they won’t let us back in!’”

But airlines also have plane crashes and shoe bombers to worry about, we noted.

“It started off certainly before Twitter and before Facebook,” he said. “It was the online travel internet sites. The business travelers, they’re aviation wonks. We loved our wonks because they loved aviation and everything about it and these people are very adamant about service.”

Would the aviation wonks care about Jack the Cat? we wondered.

“I think they would,” he said. “Only because of brand loyalty. ‘That’s my airline that came through and found a German shepherd,’ or ‘that’s my airline that not only got the cat lost, but didn’t seem to care.’”

Comments

  1. Lexi Lexi05 says:

    Correction, he did not escaped he was lost by AA!!!  They don`t care at all about this cat!

  2. Mwgfizz says:

    American Airlines devoted far more attention, money and manpower to this than to assisting the families of the Victims of American Airlines Flight #191.  Not surprising because 32 years have gone by and they just want the families to go away. 

    In fact, people working on the memorial were told to “get over it” (I am not making this up) by an AA representative.  Talk about poor business model.

    While I continue to sympathize with Jack’s owner (take heart – Delta lost a mastiff of mine a number of years ago and I got him back!) it seems that a cat takes precedence over people. 

    Although we did fly AA since the crash, needless to say, we no longer do.

    1. Nicole DiBona says:

      I am sorry for your loss however, if you think this cat takes precedence you are very mistaken. Just as you were told to “get over it” the owner has been told “it’s just a cat.”  American Airlines dosen’t care. Do not believe what you read. They have done minimal to nothing to look for this cat. It’s the FoJ’s that are looking for this cat. NOT AA.

    2. Mary Ann says:

      If they tell you to get over a human love one, they can’t care anything about a cat.

  3. Nicole DiBona says:

    American Airlines please think again! There are over 15,000 people that will never fly AA. There are over 15,000 people that have told all thier friends and family how little you cared about Jack and the situation you have put him in.  You are lucky after 9/11 that anyone flies your airline at all. I for one would never take AA. I use Jet Blue and if they don’t fly there I don’t go there. Shame on you.

  4. Mary Ann says:

    Karen, Keep praying that you will find your Jack in one piece and happy.   Please keep the faith and be assurred that all are routing for you and your Jack.   He is so beautiful.

  5. Rose says:

    Look – American Airlines needs to tune into the current state of affairs in the united States. The economy is teetering on disasterous which makes many more people have to look at and accept relocation positions. That means that their WHOLE FAMILY, including DOGS and CATS have to move to the new location so the number of traveling pets is on the rise. A serious, thorough review of the current process and handling of pets needs to take place post haste. New guidelines and processes need to be implemented.  What are cated animals doing on conveyors??!! If the private sector doesn’t do it on their own I guess we have to hand yet another problem over to our government and get them involved.  

  6. Evan says:

    I’ll fly AA again. Who is to say the owner didn’t properly secure the cat? It escaped from the container. Assuming it was AA’s fault, you think all the other airlines haven’t lost animals and worse? It’s just what happens when you transport billions of pieces of cargo. It’s unfortunate and sad but I don’t really think it’s an organizational issue.

    1. ELM says:

      The specifics are that Jack’s carrier was stacked on top of the other carrier. It fell and broke open, and Jack escaped. It was the baggage handler who decided to stack the carriers as if they were luggage.
      The point is that pets should not be handled like baggage or cargo. They are not inanimate pieces of luggage. They are important to the people who own them, and due care and caution should be taken in their treatment and transport.

    2. Linda Reese says:

      You sound like someone who has never been a catlover..! I for one will never fly AAever again.