Saturday, January 16, 2010

All hail air travel

Why does the airline industry fall on it's ass year after year? Has commercial air travel become suddenly unsustainable? Here is an industry that on every level, is just riddled with problems.

Let's start with the obvious. On an airplane its o.k. to have a baby on your lap during take off and landing. But you can't have your tray table down. You can get on the plane drunk, get drunker as they sell you booze, but you can't text during take off, because somehow this might bring the plane down. Me texting "hey honey, they delayed my flight again, so don't leave for the airport yet" is somehow more harmful than the drunken ski team I had seated behind me. Hey FAA, if my 750 mhz, 1/100th of a watt, 3kb text message can bring down a 757 then why are we screening for weapons? The FAA really needs to yank its head out of its ass.

Which brings me to airport security. TSA. Transportation Safety Administration. First let me say, that they have gotten more efficient and learned quite a bit. But boy do they still have a long way to go. I got a pat down search because I was wearing a hoodie, and the guy missed half my body. I could have had a chainsaw strapped to my back and he wouldn't have known. And because we still don't have the stones to target people ethnically for extra search methods, I get to watch old white ladies strip, with no explanation as to why it is required. They could sniff everyone for bombs. The technology does exist. I use it at my job. This would solve a lot of problems. At Newark I watched about 5 people slide past the first security guy checking ID's while he chatted up a young girl. The rest of them he didn't even stop to do any kind of comparison. He was just looking to make sure you had the right "looking" one, and waving you by. At Cincinnati we had extra screening at our gate. Gee they compared your I.D. to the name on your boarding pass, again, you ask to see my papers? What does this do exactly? One guy even had his shoe untied with laces flopping everywhere. How's that for attention to detail? No regulations, no standard procedures, and rules that are completely open to interpretation. Just some vague guidance and knee jerk reactions set to regulations that really just helps to screw with your entire travel experience. Why would that be you ask? Because....

The airlines have given up most any semblance of customer service, good business skills, and common sense in general. I won't even try to rank them. Overbooked flights, rising ticket prices, the very fact that you have to pay for your luggage now, carry on restrictions, and the fact that once they totally screw you over if you show anything resembling normal human emotions at the customer service desk, out you go. In September as soon as our flight got delayed and people started to grumble, the deputies showed up at the gate. Really? Your going to use the increased security posture as a club to replace good old-fashioned customer service? Why deal with someone's complaint when they can just be escorted out of the terminal? And do you really need a "Bill of rights" for passengers to be crammed down your throat by the government? How about you just not leave people sitting in hot airplanes at the gate for several hours with no food or water. That would be a start. Or when weather shuts down an airport, and you strand thousands there to get your schedule back on track, you do something for them? Something more substantial than giving them a toothbrush and a t-shirt to sleep in if they choose to pay for a hotel room because even though you chose to strand them there, it was originally the weathers fault so you tell them you won't cover the room. But hey you saved $60. Good job. And while your at it, tell your baggage handlers that they are not trying out for the Olympic luggage hurling team. I left 3 days ago for Florida with a brand new suitcase. I got it back 3 days later and it looked like they threw it out at 10,000 feet to lighten the load and had someone pick it up and drag it it back on a leash tied to a car bumper. This thing is hosed. Do I need to insure my luggage so I can get slightly less screwed so you don't have to force your luggage monkeys to be more careful with other people's property?

Really. What has happened to the industry as a whole? Deep seated organizational, regulatory and cultural issues from top to bottom. Someone help them please, before we accidentally waste m0ore tax dollars on them.

No comments:

Post a Comment