Is American One of the '10 Most-Hated Companies'?

According to Marketwatch, the 10 most-hated companies in America, ranked from most to least, are as follows:

  1. J.C. Penney
  2. Dish Network
  3. T-Mobile
  4. Facebook
  5. Citigroup
  6. Research in Motion
  7. American Airlines
  8. Nokia
  9. Sears
  10. Hewlett-Packard

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American Airlines? Among the country's most despised companies? Since when?

Or, more to the point: How were these companies identified and ranked? How is it that American is on the list and Spirit, for example, is not?

According to the article, the "most hated" designation is based on a company's failings in three areas: "Corporations can anger their customers, fail their shareholders, and mistreat their employees."

And here's how American fared:

AMR, parent of American Airlines, has, in a remarkably short period of time, ruined its relationships with shareholders, bondholders, pilots, customers, suppliers, and most of its other employees. The November 2011 Ch. 11 bankruptcy filing of AMR virtually wiped out shareholders. Recently, American was also able to cut financial obligations to airplane manufacturers and holders of the corporation's debt, harming the financial status of these. The company has been bickering with its pilots for months over compensation. The mass layoffs that often accompany bankruptcy proceedings began long ago. American's image with passengers has also taken a beating. It was recently named the U.S. carrier with the rudest employees.

Granted, American's bankruptcy has soured the airline's relationship with its shareholders and debt holders. And the company's dealings with its employees, pilots in particular, have been contentious.

But among American's customers, I find that the defectors continue to be far outnumbered by the loyalists. (For an example of such pro-American sentiment, see the comments following this Who's in Favor of a US Airways-American Merger blog post.)

It can be argued that such loyalty is delusional, based more on American's storied past than on its troubled present. But whatever its source, the goodwill persists, in spite of the company's operational lapses and its disgruntled workers.

There may be a place for an airline on the list of most-hated companies. But to the extent that customer satisfaction is a factor, it's much more likely to be Spirit or US Airways than it is to be American. At least for now.

Reader Reality Check

Which airline would you nominate to be included on a most-hated list?

This article originally appeared on FrequentFlier.com.

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