David J. Danto
Business travel thoughts in my own, personal opinion
Choices – August 2023
One of the conferences I was planning to attend in September was cancelled this week. It was the third stop on a longer business trip. Because I had to make a change to the last flight on my multi-city itinerary I picked a flight that had plenty of good seats available. I’m wondering if I did the right thing. Is my new flight more likely to be the one cancelled due to a lighter load, or is the more comfortable flight a generally safe choice?
No one has trusted the US airlines for decades – and for a good reason: they lie as much as you and I breathe. They’ll blame the weather somewhere in their route network for a problem nowhere near it, they’ll announce delays in 10-15 minute increments when they full well know it will be hours before a flight will leave (if at all) and they’ll make draconian changes to their policies/routes/perks/etc. and claim that they did it ‘in response to customer requests.’ Anyone who doesn’t realize they are lying almost all the time hasn’t been paying attention.
What I don’t know is how often the airlines will cancel a flight rather than send an aircraft with a light load. I’d bet a boatload of cash that they’ve done this many times before, but I don’t know how common the practice is. Certainly the need to reposition aircraft to where they need to be provides some safety, but how much? Should I have rebooked to one of the flights (in this case LAS-EWR) that was nearly full because it has a better chance of leaving, or did I do the right thing booking a flight that had lots of open seats for a better chance at more comfort / more upgrades? Should I have checked how light the load is on the aircraft coming from EWR?
I’m asking myself because it’s important for all of us frequent travelers to reexamine all of our strategies and beliefs about traveling, mostly because many past ‘rules’ are just no longer applicable. Loyalty programs – once a solid value – are now mostly worthless. Getting ‘better support’ inside airline clubs is a perk that’s long-gone. Booking aisle and window seats for two in the hope the middle will be empty never works anymore. The travel industry has been using computer algorithms against us for years, optimizing their profit at the expense of the comfort of their customers. If you’re continuing to follow 1980s rules for travelers then you’re making a terrible mistake.
It’ll be about a month before I know if booking the lighter flight was a good thing to do or a mistake…unless I get frightened and make another change before then.
There’s a decent chance that I’m overthinking all of this. Any passing rainstorm could cause more havoc than the airlines themselves – especially with this summer’s track record.
This article was written by David Danto and contains solely his own, personal opinions.
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Copyright 2023 David Danto
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