The Glory Days and the Fares Within

By | January 19, 2009
Flight attendant, circa 1949-50, American Over...
Image via Wikipedia

We were catching up on our reading when we discovered a comment made by the Cranky Flier on the subject of an Op-Ed piece from the New York Times about the ‘good old days’ of travel.

We have to agree with Ann Hood, the bygone age of air travel does seem glamourous by comparison to today. We’ve bemoaned the loss of services, the loss of certain courtesies. There are things the airline industry is allowed to get away with that we would not put up with in any business.

But Cranky points out the flip side. Planes were half full, more flight attendants were onboard per passenger, schedules for them were less demanding. When the industry was deregulated, instead of competing on service, airlines could compete on price.

To use his examples, in 1962, a plane could get one from New York to LA in roughly the same time as today for $290.62, which is around $2000 in today’s dollars. At those prices, service could be wonderful. Unless people today are willing to pay more for better service and vote with their wallet, things will stay the way they are. We would love to see airlines competing on both price and service….Continental has tried this, with their ad campaign featuring all the things they have kept that other airlines have cut.

A few guidelines for airlines to consider.

  1. Your labor force makes the airline experience. They are your representitives. Overworking and underpaying them will certainly lose you business. And stop going after them every time you have problems.
  2. People can live without food and other frills such as in-flight entertainment or internet, but the last thing you want is for them to focus on the rest of the travel experience.
  3. Lots of luggage is a privilege. A single bag in our current security environment is a right. You can benefit with faster boarding times by not encouraging people to cram everything into a single carryon and bring it on board.
  4. Accept your mistakes gracefully. If you accidently sell some seats on a plane for free instead of $3000, as happened several times recently(more on this here), take the publicity rather than the negative pubicity of refusing to honor the fare. If you mess up, apologize and keep us updated on your efforts to fix it(like JetBlue did after its Valentine’s Day meltdown). We’ll respect you for it.

Do you have any more of these thoughts? Why not share them with us? By comment, by email, even by Twitter. We’d love to hear from you.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]
Author: Guru

Guru is the Editor of Flight Wisdom and a long time aviation enthusiast.