Thursday, March 18, 2010

Relief From Airlines Is Spelled P.B.O.R. - My manifesto on economics, business culture and the free market

Airlines just don't get it. I've seen reports that airlines at JFK are rallying against the new 3 hour rule in the "Passengers Bill Of Rights" and that Continental's CEO is threatening to cancel flights that might subject them to penalties under the 3 hour rule. I am aghast. The bottom line of what these airlines are saying is that they WANT me to sit on the runway for 3 hours. Airlines WANT a 5 hour cross country flight to take up to 8 hours?! If Mr. Smisek is threatening to cancel a flight that might sit on the ground with me in the cabin for 3 hours - guess what? THAT FLIGHT SHOULD HAVE BEEN CANCELED ANYWAY! Or at least delayed. The responsibility for failure of airlines and municipalities to invest in infrastructure or schedule changes should not be thrust upon the people airlines wish to retain as loyal customers.

I'm a pilot and used to be a frequent flyer (albeit a non-rev) so I should say that I'm not surprised about the airlines reactions. I have found through experience that almost all airlines are greedy, bloated businesses that do not care about their customers - on paper anyway. It's not that individuals in these companies don't care, because most do - or are at least forced into apathy by the fiscal-centric logic of their companies. Sadly when companies reach the enormous size of many airlines the tangible link between consumer to the executives (who have power to quickly react to customer needs) is dissolved by the multiple tiers of management. Those who do have that interaction have almost no power to satisfy the customer or communicate those needs with the executive. As a result the companies become stagnant and increasingly willing to indulge in bullying and stubborn self-serving behavior because the machine they have created tells them it is necessary in order to stay in the black.

Sadly in this market and with these circumstances legislation like the Passengers Bill Of Rights (P.B.O.R.) becomes necessary. If there were a satisfactory free market solution I would gladly take it, but typically in these cases, the people need a way to unite and need statute to reinforce their voice. I believe this is the point we have arrived at. I would hope that airlines would take this whack on the head as a reality check that they have been abusing their customers and travel consumers on the whole for too long. However it appears they will not take the hint, and in fact, it seems that the side effect of airlines fighting the P.B.O.R. will bring about the very relief customers have been searching for.


Anonymous said...

You're a pilot? How many PIC hours you got, buddy?

Doug - The JeepCruzer said...

More than 76. What about you - buddy?