David J. Danto


Travel thoughts in my own, personal opinion




eMail: ddanto@IMCCA.org††††† Follow Industry News: @NJDavidD on all †††††††††


The Picard Facepalm And Travel, Pt. 1 Ė February 2024


Those of you familiar with Star Trek likely already know what Iím about to write about. For the few of you who donít, the second Star Trek TV series (Star Trek Ė The Next Generation) starred Patrick Stewart as Captain Picard, and he would often cover his face when faced with sheer lunacy.If you Google ďPicard FacepalmĒ you will likely see dozens of memes, as well as find t-shirts, mugs and an actual bust that you can buy honoring the gesture.Us frequent travelers run into such lunacy so frequently that Iíve now decided to collect and honor some of them in an ongoing blog Ė this one being the first.

Letís start with Boeing.After a scathing scandal over the 737 Max and the destruction of their reputation for quality, they promised to make changes to their culture and atmosphere.So there is no greater candidate for the Picard Facepalm in travel then the Einsteins at their plant that simply ďforgotĒ to put the door-plug bolts on the fuselage of the most recent Max aircraft that suddenly added mid-cabin, mid-air ventilation on an Alaska Air flight.If we needed any more proof that their promises to be better were hollow Ė well, there you go.

The facepalm doesnít have to rise to the level of the plane flying apart in mid-air.It can be unbelievably simpler than that.Take my recent experience at the Avis facility at FLL airport.I returned a car there (amazingly after the first really great rental Iíve had with Avis in a few years where they actually reserved a car for me that Iíd want to drive) to find no one at their facility to take the return at 6am.People were just parking their cars neatly in lines, leaving the keys and heading to their flights.OK, I figured, this is just what the app is for.I went to ďreturnĒ the car using their app and got this cool note:

Their car is parked in their lot at the airport, Iím standing next to it, and the GPS (no matter how many times I refreshed it and double checked that Google maps knew I was at the airport rental garage) could not verify that I was at an Avis location.Iím COMPLETELY convinced that no one from Avis ever actually tries to use their own app.

And then we have the now well publicized incident of Air Canada and their AI Chatbot.They and other airlines have been continually trying to replace people and support with automation, but when it does something they donít like they want to disown the responsibility.In this case, the AI quoted a passenger a bereavement fare policy that was not correct, and Air Canada wanted to deny responsibility for the promise and blame their own bot, but the courts essentially said that it was their bot so they must make good on the promise.Sure, the airlines think job-killing automation is a good thing, as long as they donít have to do the right thing when it hallucinates.††



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Those were my initial Picard Facepalm and Travel moments.Iíd love to tell you I wonít repeat this blog theme for a while, but Iím nearly positive that these incidents will keep coming-up more often than anyone would like.


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.

Copyright 2024 David Danto


As always, feel free to write and comment, question or disagree.Hearing from the traveling community is always a highlight for me.Thanks!