Dan comments on the airline debacles over the weekend. (Actually, he breaks the news as far as I am concerned – didn’t read this anywhere else.)
Having just spent an unreasonable amount of time travelling between San Jose and Kansas City I have little sympathy for troubled airline employees. They are the root cause. Lousy service, lame marketing and appalling attitude come together to make this possibly the worst service experience one can pay for.
While checking in, my bag made it all the way to the conveyer and was heading nicely to the plane. Now my wife had filled it with Christmas loot so it was pretty heavy (Thomas Keller’s new book, Bouchon, weighs a ton). Anyway, I pointed out to the AA employee at the desk that she might want to tag it with one of those heavy labels – I didn’t want anyone getting hurt lifting it. She promptly grabbed it and pointed out that I need to pay $25 more due to the weight. That’s the Christmas spirit! That’s the way to treat a multi-million mile, Exec Platinum member! That’s the way to treat someone who is actually looking out for you. That’s the way!
Tom also points to the fact that few of these employees show any kind of initiative.
I’m thinking that what we need is a virtual fine system. You can select your airline and virtually fine them for their behavior. Other players would watch that the fines are reasonable and the system isn’t being manipulated. Then we announce each month the worst violators. Anyone want to help me code it?
The good news is that two market forces are at play – choice and convienence. Two signals of commoditization. Now that the big airlines have lowered the bar so much there is little to keep me from fleeing to Jet Blue and Southwest (and soon Virgin – yeah!) other than all my miles. But here is the rub with them. Once you get as much as I have, you actually don’t care.
If the Government inisists on bailing out airlines, lets also throw out the execs that got them in this mess. And let’s take a hard look at the Unions protecting such appalling employee performance. Better still, lets suffer through a period of time in which Darwin gets to swing the axe and this mess gets well and truly sorted out.
It’s time for a change.