thoughts in my own, personal opinion
eMail: ddanto@IMCCA.org Follow Industry News: @NJDavidD
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To Fly Today”
Twenty years ago I’d have
said the above sentence with joy and excitement – not today. I have a couple of business trips in
the next two weeks that will take me to Atlanta, Raleigh and then Reston. All relatively easy cities to get to and
navigate from my home airport at Newark.
The airports there are in decent shape; the airfares are not ridiculously
expensive; I have plenty of time to get to the business meetings; I have some
family I can also visit – all in all these are some of the easiest destinations
I could pick. Nowadays however, I say
“I’ve got to fly today” with more of a realization of dread than joy. As a lifetime elite / million miler you’d
have thought that by this time in my career I’d have earned some special
treatment from my airline, and that should make the travel more enjoyable, but
sadly it’s the exact opposite. Each trip
serves only as a reminder of how much I’ve been screwed by my lifetime airline
ago I’d have checked my email or the airlines website to see how I’d likely
have been upgraded by now. Today I look
to see where on the ‘you’re never gonna get it’ upgrade list I fell. Years ago I’d have asked that the airline
block the seat next to me so I could have a more comfortable flight – they’d
usually do that for me in a heartbeat.
Today the airline runs so few aircraft that there are never any empty
seats on the planes. That way they can
always keep the prices at a premium level.
Years ago, popular destinations like ATL and IAD would have service almost
on the hour. If I wanted to take an
earlier or later flight it’d be no issue.
Today my choices are limited, and I’m hassled if I want to make a change
with a confirmed seat (and forget about any chance at an upgrade.) Years ago I’d have no worries about making
the flights and my meetings (unless there was a blizzard or something.) Today I watch the weather forecast with
dread, knowing if there is rain I may not make it my meeting – even if I’m
going-in the night before – as the now ubiquitous regional jets may not fly if
the weather isn’t perfect outside.
need to go into detailed questions about “who has gained” from the last few
years of changes in the US airline industry – that’s known. Airline C-Suite employees are the
‘overentitled’ ones now, as are the airline investor communities. Everyone is making out great – like the
bandits they are – except the customers.
With the government’s misguided permission the airlines merged,
competition was removed from the system, and tacit collusion now exists. As a result, flying today presents very few
options from any given airport. We the
passengers have been screwed in the process.
tell my business associates and managers I have to fly today, they no longer
look at me as if I’m trying to grab a prestigious perk – they’re
apologetic. ‘Sorry you have to go…we hope
you get lucky and it turns out OK…’ They
know I’m likely to be hassled, delayed, abused, crammed-in and insulted – and
they know that any one of dozens of potential incidents can stymie the trip –
like airport blackouts, security lapses, beat-up passengers, and who knows what
tell my family that I have to fly today they no longer think I’m being rewarded
or honored by my firm – they’re sympathetic – like I’m going in for
surgery. ‘Sorry you have to go…we hope
it’ll be OK…maybe you’ll be lucky this time and the airline won’t screw you too
badly…’ They know the hassles have
exploded exponentially; the airlines treat you like dirt; the clubs are closed
or smaller and generally a shadow of what they used to be; and the US airports
are generally miserable places to be.
when I tell people “I’ve got to fly today” it comes out completely differently
than it did years ago. Instead of saying
it with the emotion of the sentence “I just won my scratch-off lottery ticket,”
I now say it with the emotion of the sentence “my sick dog just went to the
animal hospital.” It evokes the
anticipation of dread, not joy; pain not pleasure, risk not loyalty
got to fly today. Wish me luck, I hope
it won’t be as bad as it probably will be.
watching my Atlanta flight’s identified incoming aircraft listed as on-time all
day, and having it arrive on time, I left for the airport. As I was in my taxi, United changed the
assigned aircraft to one that had not left for Newark yet, and would be causing
a 1 hour 40 minute delay. When it
actually departed for Newark, United again changed the assigned aircraft (a
third time) to another aircraft that not only had not departed for Newark but
had not yet even arrived where it will be coming from. The new expected delay is 3 hours and 35
minutes. Mind you, this is all just
because it’s raining. If all goes as
planned I’ll arrive at Atlanta at midnight, get to my hotel at 1am, wake up at 5am,
and see my client at 8am – but again, that’s baring any other United screw-ups. I told you, I’ve got to fly today. It’s always a sad prognosis nowadays.
This article was written by David Danto and
contains solely his own, personal opinions.
All image and links provided above as reference under
prevailing fair use statutes.