Thursday, July 7, 2011

Why Do People Hate Airlines So Much?

From the guy on the ramp loading bags onto the plane, reservations agents, ticket and gate agents and flight attendants, it's a thankless job working for an airline. That's the immediate impression I get from this new survey done by The Atlantic.
Four US airlines were listed as the most hated companies in our country, Delta, US Airways, United and American. One might think of appalling safety records or some ghastly goings-on in their procedures was what the public saw as being so terrible to "hate" them. Delta Airlines, recently listed by Fortune Magezine to be the most admired US airline, was placed at number two, yes #2, on the list because of extra baggage charges and people having to pay for food and alcoholic beverages. Yup, the exact things that every other airline in this country does.

That listing really blows my mind, but at the same time it doesn't surprise me at all. Flying has become one of the less glamorous experiences out there. It's a lot like taking a Greyhound bus, but with more TSA frisking in the process. The customer comes into contact with a lot of unpleasant variables long before he or she even steps foot onto the airplane. There is also a slight twist in my comparison to bus travel.

You see while flying has become a lot like bus travel, so has it's ticket price. Right now on Delta I can fly round-trip from the Great Lakes State to Los Angeles for $309 total. Do you know what jet fuel prices are right now? I'll give you a hint, they ain't makin' a profit off my sorry ass flying me near-transcon for $309. So if you think you're gonna get a three-course meal on china and alcohol included in that you're nuts. The airlines simply can't afford to do it, so they need to find other ways to compensate for the fact that the average vacation traveler in the US nowadays wants a $200 fare to Vegas for the weekend. They need to make a profit to, well, survive and pay their employees!!

On the topic of poor customer service, well, you get what you pay for. Why do you think the front-cabin is so sought after by frequent flyers, genius. As I said, people need to understand that when they want rock-bottom fares and then show up at the airport in a tanktop, cut-offs and lacking sufficient amounts of deoderant, you're simply creating your own situation. The public's expectations are not in line with what they demand. If you want it to be like 1975, go look up the price of a round-trip trans-con fare on Pan Am or TWA in that era. Betcha it's completely off the charts in comparison, inflation included.

What's ironic about all this? The four airlines listed are the four remaining "legacy" carriers in the United States. That being that not a single LCC (low-cost-carrier i.e. Southwest, AirTran, JetBlue) was included. Could it simply be all in the customer's head? The stats are interesting.

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