Can't We Have a More Civilized Flying World?
Several media outlets picked up on a study released by the Travel Industry Association last week that indicated that 41 million Americans are forgoing air travel due to the hassles involved in doing so today.
If the average American is fed up, I and other consultants must really be fried.
Recently, Southwest Airlines has run advertising mocking the penny-ante actions of competitors who are nickel and diming flyers to death. I think they've done a great job of identifying where a lot of the frustration is coming from. Just look at their home page.
I've got almost 3 million miles on American Airlines and I really appreciate any little extras they throw my way as I know how bad things have gotten on other carriers. These days, I fly either American or Southwest unless I have no other choice. I really appreciate those clients who give me enough lead time to book either of these carriers as flying on a carrier with no status is a real downer.
When I fly today, I sense that someone is trying to pick my pocket for the duration of the pre- and post- flight experience. My favorite pet peeves in flying these days include:
- charging flyers for a soft drink - This is criminal. We can't bring a drink through security and some airports charge usurious rates for food and beverages purchased after security. Why don't you just take my wallet during check-in and be done with it. - charging extra to sit a bit more forward in the aircraft - The logic of this apparent but it still feels like the airline is mocking me. It's like they're saying "We sucked you in with a competitive fare and now we are going to make your life miserable unless you give us some more money. Pay up or we're putting you in the tail of the plane right in front of the lavatory in the row whose seats won't recline". - charging for in-flight entertainment - I use the word 'entertainment' loosely as most of the junk they air includes infomercials, really old sitcoms I wouldn't watch before the series was mercifully cancelled or an excerpt from that day's early morning gabfest show. Worse, they prematurely cut off the show well before the 'entertainment' has completed so you don't get your money's worth. That material is only slightly better than the crying babies on the planes with absolutely no on-board entertainment.
No discussion of flying of late would be complete without a quick closing comment on flying to my least favorite destination: Orlando. Here's an airport without a clue how to move people through the TSA security quickly. This is a destination where you absolutely can't miss your scheduled flight as every flight there is oversold and under-sized. That also means you'll never get a upgrade or fly standby at an earlier hour. Please software vendors, can you book your user conferences somewhere else? Please!!!
Well, I need to put up my laptop. The person in front of me has just cranked back their seat into my face. I can't see my laptop anymore as I will need to study the top of their head. Let's see if they'd like to get acquainted with my knees....