Robert Crandall

Former American Airlines CEO

Corporate Innovation, Premium Service, Employee Pensions

When customers, employees and shareholders ALL benefited

90 Seconds With Robert Crandall

Robert Crandall was a trailblazer when he was at the helm of American Airlines in the '80s and '90s, pioneering aviation innovations such as frequent-flier miles, electronic reservations and yield management.

Yet when asked about the best idea he ever had during his tenure as president, CEO and chairman of the airline, Crandall credits his wife, Jan, with coming up with the inspiration of putting his name in the phone book to show that he truly cared about customer service.

She told him, "Don't get a big head, you're not that famous, you're not that good," Crandall says during a #90SecondsWith video with Free Enterprise.

He also discusses the importance of encouraging the entrepreneurial spirit, saying any leader who fails to "dig around" could end up losing to the competition.

Bob Celebrating the Acheivement of a 30 Year Employee

Bob Crandall visiting ORD to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of an American Airlines Aviation Line Maintenance Technician.

Bob Loved American Airlines as this Interaction with Employees Shows

Bob Crandall visiting ORD to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of an American Airlines Aviation Line Maintenance Technician.

Tales from the Beat: Robert L. Crandall

Bob Crandall does an interview with The Dallas Morning News to talk about his years running American Airlines.

Crandall had to have been the most driven person I've covered. And he gladly admitted that he was driven. He summed up his approach to life as he talked to a group of travel executives at a Dallas conference in 2011.

"In times past, reporters sometimes would say to me, 'Have you had a balanced life?' I said, no. I haven't had a balanced life, and I didn't want a balanced life. I wanted a successful life. I had a wife who took care of the balance of life," Crandall said.

"I went to work early and I got home late and I worked most weekends. That's what I wanted to do because I really wanted to be successful. And I was pretty brave, I said things that needed to be said and I got very, very angry if I ever lost."

On weekends, he'd go to work and leave notes on other executives' desks, along the lines of "I was here. Where were you?"

In his 1994 book Hard Landing, journalist Tom Petzinger called Crandall "the most feared and powerful man in the global airline industry. His very appearance intimidated people."

Crandall embraced a concept of "competitive anger" in his management at AMR and American, an idea he explained in a 2000 deposition that was part of a U.S. Justice Department lawsuit against American. (Read Dallas News Story)

Say Hello to Bob!

Have a Question? is not affiliated with Robert Crandall, American Airlines, or any of American's labor unions. It's simply a reflection on a time when American was a leader in corporate innovation, which benefited customers, employees and shareholders alike.