Dec. 14--Gone are the reserved parking spaces in the garage at American Airlines headquarters.
Jeans are now allowed in first class when an employee is using a freebie ticket to travel.
And the security officer who used to guard the executive offices on the sixth floor has been removed.
These are a few of the small changes that American's new executive team has made at the Fort Worth airline in the first week on the job.
"We're all in this together," new CEO Doug Parker told employees at a town hall meeting Monday, the day his carrier, US Airways, merged with American. "I don't have a [parking] spot, either."
A shift in culture is occurring at Amon Carter Boulevard, and it goes beyond the parking garage.
On the new company's first day, framed posters were already hung on the walls of headquarters that were essentially open letters from Parker discussing the new American's commitment to safety, customers and employees.
As Parker and his team face the daunting task of integrating two airlines with hundreds of different employee and customer policies, there is uncertainty in the air. But there is also a determined focus to get employees excited about the new American and to get the two airlines to work as one.
"We have to engage our employees ... engage them and keep them informed about what is going on," Parker said at the meeting.
Overcoming "tribal" feelings at airlines, however, is not as easy as putting up a few posters or holding an employee rally, Hudson Crossing analyst Henry Harteveldt said. Decades of cultural differences need to be bridged, he said, describing American as more traditional and US Airways as more transparent and less formal.
"Doug Parker and the other senior executives are going to have to gain or regain the trust of everyone from midlevel to lower management to line workers on all sides," Harteveldt said. "You don't want to have people saying, 'I'm ex-US Airways' or 'I'm ex-American.' You want people to say, 'I am American Airlines.' "
Old American and old US Airways
Under CEO Bob Crandall in the 1980s and 1990s, American projected a professional, corporate image to its customers, with flight attendants in businesslike pinstriped serving smocks.
In an interview last week, Crandall said his management style was methodical. He described the culture as "very buttoned-up" with "very rigorous analysis and very decisive action."
Parker, who worked in the finance department at American under Crandall, remembers the conservative business attire worn by most employees at headquarters.
"It was a white shirt in a blue suit and a red tie, and that's what you wore," said Parker, who jokingly chastised headquarters employees at the town hall meeting Monday. He said they were underdressed for Crandall, who was there to celebrate the merger.
US Airways, which took on much of the personality of America West Airlines when the two merged in 2005, holds plane pulls for employees. Every quarter, it gives 10 employees $10,000 when their names are drawn, based on submissions by customers who have received service "above and beyond."
Then there's the Halloween costume tour by all the top executives, including Parker, who just happens to celebrate his birthday on the spooky holiday.
US Airways President Scott Kirby, who holds the same post at the new American, has dressed as a woman so many times for the Halloween event -- Katy Perry and Lady Gaga -- that at this year's media day, he walked onstage to Aerosmith's Dude (Looks Like a Lady).
"Fair enough, the Halloween thing might be a little out there," said Parker, who lip-synced and danced to the YouTube sensation What Does the Fox Say? while wearing fox ears and tail at US Airways headquarters this past Halloween.
He got more laughs as Psy performing Gangnam Style in 2012.
Is change necessary?
Parker said the cultures at the two airlines aren't as different as they appear. While he understands that American's structure and process will be helpful during the integration, he also knows that the new airline needs US Airways' transparency.
Outgoing CEO will receive nearly $17 million, plus a lifetime of free flights on American for himself, his wife and "eligible dependents," and an office and support staff for
US Airways' revenue per available seat mile and stock price have soared.