In the dead of winter i flew from one coast to another without one delay. After this winter of discontent, that was a miracle. The impacts of weather to air travel this winter will be felt soon, as airlines discuss their quarterly results as the first buds start to bloom on spring.
I have been watching with great interest the managment of airlines over the past twenty years - and the changing models. We have seen:
a) Charging for bags because more bags means more weight and more expense - so I get that.
b) Charging for seats with more legroom - or for advance boarding - I get that.
c) Charging for meals because not everyone wants a meal - I get that.
d) Charging for changes to your itinerary - because it takes time and effort to change - I get that.
e) Charging for entertainment - like TV's and Movies - I get that
But at what point does it not make any sense? At what point does the passion and obsession with creation of new revenue sources effect long term prospects? An example:
On a recent flight my son took, he arrived in his connection city to find there were two flights ahead of his booked flight to his final destination. Upon checking availability on his phone he realized there were seats on both of the earlier flights. As he spoke to the gate agent he was told he could get on either earlier flights if he agreed to pay a change fee of $200. For a student, that was not going to happen. He declined and waited. Four hours.
When his flight approached he heard the announcment that they were oversold and were offering $400 vouchers for five passengers willing to spend the night. Plus Hotel. Plus meals. So while they could have at least eliminated one passenger by accomidating him on an earlier flight, they were not equipped to handle such logic. Thus they created an angry customer because their quest for revenue exceeded the logic only a PhD student could grasp.
Today there are moves afoot to start charging for any assigned seat. Thus there is now ideas afoot that suggest when you purchase said ticket on an airline, that does not guarantee a seat assignment to your liking. This one is very interesting to me as I refuse to fly in a middle seat. In fact, I will not fly in a middle seat. Catch an earlier flight home but have a middle seat? No thank you. I have a trip leaving tomorrow and all that is left is a middle seat? Nope. Will not go.
Jeffrey Smisek the President of United airlines gave a brief preview of the Dreamliner on a recent flight I had, and while he said the plane was a game changer, he realized that in fact the plane meant nothing unless there was exceptional service within it. I think that is really an important realizion for him and his airline - understanding where the line must be drawn on service fees is very important - I get it - and I understand it - but be careful. Reaching the edge of the cliff could have long term effects on how happy or unhappy your customer really is.
I propose a position in the airline titled Chief Logic Officer. They participate in various meetings all over the organization, making sure logic holds true. They implement changes in the organization to ensure logic and common sense are always considered when implementing changes. And If you are interested in having my services for such a position, let me know.