The friendly skies aren’t so friendly anymore

This is one of the main reasons I decided to do consulting – I can determine if an opportunity is worth me flying or not.  On my scale, very few of them are.  I figure if I can’t make money in one of the largest cities in the US, then I can’t make money.  For some reason employers expect me to travel.

The first time I was in an airplane was flying to Boot Camp at the Great Lakes Naval Training Facility in December of 1979.  I didn’t enjoy it much them – and I was treated very well.  The flight was on time.

I’ve flown all over the world since then, and the experience has gotten progressively worse. 

It’s not unlike how gas stations changed in the late 60’s and early 70’s.  It used to be that you would get a plate, or a bowl.  Maybe a fork or spoon.  And S&H Green Stamps.  And full service.  With every gas purchase – you didn’t even need to fill up.  You still got air in your tires, your windows washed and your oil checked.  And someone else pumped your gas. If it was raining, you didn’t get wet.

So just like gas stations the airlines have stripped everything out of the flight experience except for the actual flight itself.  No more free headphones.  Fat chance on getting a pillow.  Don’t hang your suit-bag in first class, because that is ONLY for first class.  Don’t expect to eat.  Don’t expect friendly skies.

But you SHOULD expect to arrive with everything you started with – like your luggage, and your sanity.  You SHOULD expect to arrive on time.

At least gas stations still pump gas (even if we have to do it ourselves) – they meet their minimum requirement.  Airlines don’t.  They can no longer get us where we need to be when they promise us they will get us there.

And that’s why I do everything I can to avoid flying.  I would rather drive a day then take a 3 hour flight.  Because a three hour flight is a 6-8 hour ordeal.

And that gas station?  Even though the gas costs more and the service is non-existent I’ll still use the gas station.  They deliver what I need – gas.  When I need it (now!).

Airlines don’t deliver much anymore.  And they deliver very little on time.

 

When Marion C. Blakey took over at the Federal Aviation Administration in 2002, she was determined to fix an air travel system battered by terrorism, antiquated technology, and the ever-turbulent finances of the airline industry. Five years later, as she prepares to step down on Sept. 13, it’s clear she failed. Almost everything about flying is worse than when she arrived. Greater are the risks, the passenger headaches, and the costs in lost productivity. Almost everyone has a horror story about missed connections, lost baggage, and wasted hours on the tarmac. More than 909,000 flights were late through June of this year, twice the level of 2002. And if you think the Summer from Hell is over, fasten your seat belt. The FAA predicts 1 billion passengers a year will take to the skies by 2015, a 36 percent increase from the current level. FAA officials say this year’s Labor Day crunch could become an everyday flying fiasco within eight years, costing America’s economy $22 billion annually.

Fear and loathing at the airport – Travel News – MSNBC.com

Comments

  1. @Paul – I can’t argue with your recent experiences – beyond picking up and dropping off people at airports I haven’t flown in several years. There just isn’t anywhere I need/want to be that much.

    But I did need to go to Houston recently – something that used to take me about three hours on a plane. It takes me about that to drive it. But a friend of mine that travels from Houston to San Antonio frequently tells me the entire ordeal now takes her about 7 hours from getting to the airport in Houston to getting out of the airport in San Antonio. I would rather spend ten hours on the road than 7 in the air.

    By the time I rent a car, find it, load it up and get to my destination I’ve added enough more time and stress that I would rather just drive. I like driving, I like being in control, and I like stopping when I feel like stopping.

    As for the costs of flying – I actually think it is TOO inexpensive. That’s part of the problem – if airlines can’t afford to operate at a level that they can give me free peanuts then why would I assume the tires on my plane are properly inflated, or the doo-hickey adequately lubed? If your business model causes you to severely curtain services to customers that are quite visible to them – what things are you curtailing that I am *not* aware of?

    But simply put, there isn’t anywhere I want or need to be bad enough to add to the mayhem at our airports. You can thank me later 🙂

    Rob

  2. I don’t like flying either.
    But I must say, I’ve flown quite a bit recently, and always was reasonably on time. And quite frankly, I’m MUCH more concerned about my safety (outdated or malfunctioning air traffic controller equipment!), than getting somewhere 30 minutes behind schedule.
    As for stripping everything down to the bare minimum (and chargin $5 for a beer): truth is that that SAME flight you made back in 1979 still costs about the same amount of money (if not less). I have a sister who is coming to visit me: She’ll be making a transatlantic flight from the Netherlands with Continental, via Houston, to Orlando.
    It’s gonna cost her 325 Euro! Back in 1979 I made my first transatlantic flight. And I can assure you that it costed a LOT more than 325 Euro! (more than twice that).
    So yeah, the drinks may not be free anymore and the blankets a bit thinner and the cabin personell can get nasty if they don’t like how you dress… but the airlines still DO deliver what they are for. They DO get you from A to B, and despite the idiotic fuel prices, still for a reasonable price. I fully realize that something has to give in order for me to be able to afford flying. Quite frankly .. I don’t know how they do it!
    It’s not the airlines! It’s the FAA that’s the problem (and that was what the article was about). Blame the FAA, not the airlines.