Normally I’m a very passive person when it comes to shit bothering me but over the last few years as a consultant I’ve had the mis-pleasure of having to fly the airlines that grace our domestic skies. Can’t say I’ve flown everyone but I have flown all of the major carriers and in my opinion and the opinion of many people that work with me or that are family, American air carriers are the worst for flying domestically and internationally.
Let’s go through this shall we?
1) Typically the service is sub-par on every front from cleanliness of the plane, competency of the employees over the phone, the prices charged, meals served, etc.
2) You definitely don’t get what you pay for these days. The days of getting everything for a single price are gone, now you have to pay to check bags, get food, get headsets, etc.
3) The inconvenience compensation is woefully under funded and insulting to paying customers. Even reward customers deserve better because of all the flights required to get a reward ticket these days. Offering “Airline Money” s pitiful, you might as well give me Monopoly money, at least with that I can have some fun and not have to pay even more money out of my pocket just to use the funny money you gave me as weak compensation
4) Lets face it, the fleets look OLD. For being an airline in the most powerful country on the planet, relying on ever smaller aircraft to shuttle us around like cattle is terrible. Fleets are at least 10 years old on average and some are even older because you can’t even fit a roll aboard in the overhead bins. American Airlines and US Airways probably have the oldest fleets. American still flies planes that they acquired from TWA, US Airways flies 737-200’s which were manufactured in the 80’s.
Those are just the highlights but I think where airlines have really failed is in the customer service department. Long lines to wait for a $6.00 voucher for food at an airport is terrible. You can get a bag of chips and maybe a soda for that price. It’s even worse when it’s a weather related delay, you get nothing at all. I remember being offered a room in Atlanta when my flight was canceled due to mechanical failure. It was the only time in my life where I was scared to actually lie down on the bed and I waited an hour for this voucher.
To me, the domestic market in the US is not competitive at all. There needs to be a huge shake up in order to get these airlines moving in the right direction. More competition from foreign airlines might be the best thing to give them a good kick in the ass. And if an airline fails and goes bankrupt, oh well! It’s been seen time and again and I don’t agree with using my tax money to bail out private companies. Someone somewhere will always be there to fill the void, whether its someone domestic or from abroad. I look to successful airlines like JetBlue as a pioneer in what airlines can do given the right leadership and corporate culture and actual realism in the goals that they set for themselves as as company.
I look at the big airlines and how they are trying to survive while expanding their networks. They’re almost like banks that are “too big to fail” which to me is another piece of bull shit. If the banks are too big to fail, don’t encourage mergers to make the bank BIGGER! Start breaking them apart, let them form alliance networks and limit their capabilities to make money in risky endeavors. Maybe the regional airlines should just be regional and not wholly owned subsidiaries of the big dogs, that might be another way to start building some competition. If we want things to get better, we need to let competition in. If competition doesn’t exist because someone is always ahead,
that means we’re getting lazy and can’t innovate anymore which would be a sad thing.
Although getting through airport security is a pain, it really is the airlines that are making flying more of a chore than a pleasure. The dude on the video or the pilot can thank me for my business all they want but I only give them business because I don’t have an alternative.