Creative (Airline Management) Thinking
Airline executives must stay awake at night thinking up new ways to make air travel less appealing to everyone. Every business traveler is aware of the state of the economy, the price of oil and all the other pressures that every business (not just airlines) operate under today. They also know that airlines, with their sensitivity to the market price of fuel, are subject to these spiraling costs even more than most other industries. So any reasonable person is going to expect that the cost of air travel will be on the increase.
What we cannot understand is why the airlines insist on recouping these increased costs in new and unique ways which not only add to the price of flying but make every stage of the process increasingly frustrating to navigate.
Thinking back, one of the first things to be eliminated was the full service meal on flights that took place during breakfast, lunch or dinner hours. Sometimes the flight was so short that attendants had to run down the aisles collecting trays while on final approach. I don’t believe that most business travelers really miss those “meals” all that much. They were a poor substitute for real food and only served to disrupt a couple hours of downtime or meeting prep time.
The ease with which this cut back was accepted had the unfortunate effect of empowering the small minded penny pinchers within the airline industry and their “creative juices” suddenly took off at a tempo rivaling that of a hormonal teenager.
Their increase in operating costs suddenly became the rationale for a barrage of inconvenience fees.
Use their agent to make a reservation? Extra Fee.
Change your itinerary? Huge Extra Fee. (if permitted at all)
Use their agent to change your itinerary? Extra Huge Extra Fee.
Check a bag? Extra Fee.
Carry on 1” too big? Extra Fee.
Select your seat when booking on line? Extra Fee
All this under the guise of “poor us, we have all these extra fuel costs and aren’t profitable”. Never mind that virtually every flight already has a “fuel surcharge” tacked on which, in the case of international flights can amount to hundreds of additional dollars.
Somewhere (early on) along the line they forgot that what they really are is a “Service Industry”. The only reason they exist is to provide transportation service to individuals wishing to travel from point A to point B. They have totally lost sight of the fact that individuals are people, not a load statistic.
Individuals make the decision of what airline they will use. They can also understand the increase in cost factors that the airlines are under but cannot understand why the increased costs are not simply passed on through higher ticket prices and (heaven forbid!) possibly an actual increase in customer service to make their customers feel less unhappy about paying the higher prices.
I am not suggesting that airlines bring back in-flight meals (they have done enough to test our patience without having to endure that again). Just quit with the nickel and diming rules and regs that slow us down and turn an otherwise simple trip into something to be dreaded.
File this under “Wishful Thinking”.
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