American Airlines operated its first-ever flight crewed solely by Jamaicans on the weekend. The flight, of course, was to Jamaica.
An all-Jamaican crew on AA2370
American Airlines flight AA2370 flew from Kingston to Miami on Sunday, 23 February 2020. There were two pilots and four flight attendants on board. They were all Jamaican.
“American Airlines has a long history in Jamaica, with 43 years operating in the country, and this is the first time that we’ve ever had an all-Jamaican crew operating one of our flights.”
She went on to say how American Airlines values diversity and how this flight demonstrates that. She did not say why it took American Airlines 43 years to demonstrate that diversity.
One flight attendant told the Caribbean National Weekly;
“Being a part of the all-Jamaican crew was exciting, to say the least. We were shocked and excited when all four cabin crew were all-Jamaican but when we found out the cockpit crew both are Jamaican as well, we realized it was an unusual and special occasion.
“The passengers were also excited…we were all able to speak to them in Patois. It made for a very upbeat, fun flight and you could feel the pride and excitement of the passengers.”
It only took 43 years to happen
While the flight is great publicity for American Airlines, you do have to wonder why it took so long for it to happen at all. After all, if diversity is at the heart of everything AA does, then surely an all-Jamaican flight would have happened naturally at some point in the last four decades?
Nevertheless, American Airlines clearly takes a stance of ‘better late than never’ and finally operated this landmark flight from Jamaica. It’s progress, albeit slow progress. First Officer Shaun Nelson said it best;
“Jamaicans are a proud set of people and when passengers hear the Jamaican accent coming from the cockpit it makes them feel good. You get a lot of ‘Respect Mon’ and ‘Big Up’ when we greet and say goodbye to those passengers.”
AA’s diversity at the top
This got me thinking. American Airlines makes a big deal about diversity and inclusion, calling it a way of life. Which is great. The world is a diverse place and any business, including an airline, should reflect the makeup of the world around them.
Where better to check out AA’s diversity in action than at the top, at the board of directors. There are 10 directors, including two caucasian women, two African American men, and six caucasian men.
Now, I’d argue that any board should recruit based on ability and talent rather than any affirmative action quotas. But 60% of the current board are caucasian males. My guess is they are not former blue-collar workers either – these are your bog-standard upscale professional director types. I’m happy to be corrected but this board and its bias towards upscale professional director types seem not to reflect the wider mash-up of markets American Airlines serves, both at home and abroad.
Anyway, this might help explain why it took 43 years to get an all-Jamaican crew on a Jamaica flight. Here’s hoping it won’t take that long to see it happen again. And maybe soon it won’t be news. It will just be normal, or to quote AA, a way of life. That would be good.