Air travel has always been a part of my life. The moment my Indiana-born dad met my California-born mother and fell in love, my flying destiny was sealed.
I used to love to travel. The excitement of traveling thousands of miles in one day is intoxicating. I couldn’t wait to pack my bags, find a good book and board the plane. I initiated my own daughter into the world of air travel at the tender age of 6 months. (Yes, I was one of those annoying passengers with a screaming baby.)
I always felt so sophisticated boarding the plane along with busy businessmen and women and honeymooners on their way to paradise. Before the average car came equipped with entertainment systems, only airplanes offered the luxury of watching television while traveling. And where else could you traverse the country while ever-friendly attendants brought you drinks and snacks and a pillow and blanket when it was time to nap?
Yes, it was heavenly; however, this air travel bliss is a thing of the past.
The changes started after 9-11, but that tragic event has nothing to do with the lack of common courtesy that airline employees exhibit today.
My daughter and I recently traveled from San Francisco to Indianapolis. We flew on four different airlines during our journey and all of them had apathetic to rude employees. I remember in travels past being entertained by airline employees with the corny jokes they told throughout the flight. Apparently, the recent plight of the air travel industry has had a direct affect on the customer service of each airline employee.
At first I was somewhat understanding of the employees’ situations. Airlines are struggling to survive and in the process have reduced a significant portion of their workforce or cut salaries. But then I read an article on CNBC with the headline “Airline Profits Rise on Strong Travel Demand.”
Yes, it seems all the major airlines turned in their best quarterly performance in years this month.
"The industry is doing unbelievably well in an environment where they've right-sized their fleet, they've been able to maintain costs and they haven't been affected by rising oil prices," Morningstar analyst Basili Alukos said in the CNBC article.
The article went on to report that the record revenues were helped in part by the new bag fees — $275 million in bag fees in September alone.
This just burns me up. You would think that an industry that is making more money than it has in years would in turn pay their employees more money and launch a new customer service campaign to keep the customers — and dollars — flowing in.
But no, the greedy airlines are not reinvesting their new-found revenues into their businesses. They are banking on the customers’ need to travel and their corner in the market. This is a flawed mentality.
There are many other ways to travel and to get business done — it’s called videoconferencing.
I am calling on all those fed up with the lack of customer service by airlines to invest in high-speed rail, hybrid cars and trucks and hot air balloon travel. There has got to be a better way to get from A to B.
To contact Kristina Hacker, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 634-9141 ext. 2004.