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Old 07-29-2011, 07:45 AM
 
26,590 posts, read 54,651,031 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MINresident View Post
Why don’t people respect the airline industry?

The airline industry seems to be the most criticized industry in America. They are disrespected (I have seen while in airports travelers treat customer service, flight attendants, and even pilots with disrespect). Yes, planes aren’t always on-time. Your bags get lost occasionally. But its not the airlines fault most of the time. Here starts my rant. Note: I don’t work in this industry but hearing people complain while sitting next to them on flights has set me off.
  • People complain about airfares as if they are too expensive. But lets remember that airfares are one of the only products (along with technology) not to increase in cost over the past thirty years. Post deregulation, airfares have plummeted and this luxury service (compared to slow cars or busses) has become a service of the middle-class. As a result of these airfares, many things have happened.
  1. The margins are the lowest of any industry. As a result, hundreds of carriers have collapsed over the past thirty years. So before you complain about your $200 airfare sold on a negative or barely positive margin, complain about the $2 shirt sold at Walmart for $20.
  2. You get what you pay for. People complain about small seats or no meals or no free baggage. But the airlines are doing you a favor. They are trying to win your business since the only thing Americans care about is the cheapest ticket. At one point, airlines tried to distinguish themselves by offering great service knowing people would pay more for quality service. But now, that is gone. I have no problem with people choosing the lowest fare. But when they complain about the direction of the industry (towards bare-bones service), when it is THEIR decision which airline to fly, they lose my sympathy. After all, if people truly wanted steak dinners and large seats, the airlines would give that to them. But they aren’t willing to pay for the extra costs of taking seats out of an airplane (look up American More Room Throughout Coach) or providing them with expensive meals (a meal which requires a contract with a catering company, paying extra employees to load the food on, paying by making turn-around times longer, paying in fuel burn for carrying the extra weight, paying to have extra people take the food waste off…pretty soon a five dollar meal becomes really a twenty dollar meal…again not a problem but when an airline offers this, somebody else undercuts this airline and the consumers choose that airline). Consumers, not companies, decide what will be provided to them, through their purchasing decisions.
I agree with you up to here.
  • Quote:
    The playing field is unlevel. I love when people constantly hit on the legacy carriers (American, Delta, US Airways, United). Well, these carriers have much higher costs (labor, fuel, network costs associated with convenient yet expensive hubs, operating first class). It would be like GM having the UAW workers and Ford having non-union workers then both companies trying to compete.
Southwest is one of the most unionized of all the carriers. That said, I've seen their fares climb steeply over the past six months as their hedged low cost fuel contracts have expired and they've been forced to buy at market rate.
  • Quote:
    My favorite comment was on website which said that they used to like Jetblue until they raised fares. Now, they love Virgin America. Of course, they fail to realize that Jetblue’s costs go up when airplanes get older and the employees pay goes up. Of course, in ten years when Virgin America’s prices go up, they will complain about them too and try and find a new savior.
    Agreed. I don't look at price, I stick with my carrier of choice.

  • Quote:
    Those employed in the industry, one of the few high skill industries in America, are paid little. They also work in the most volatile industry in the world.
There are plenty of unskilled/minimally skilled people in the airline industry. Those with in-demand skills are paid accordingly. The guy who loads the luggage or cleans the plane shouldn't be paid much more than minimum wage, frankly, anyone with a 4th grade education could do those jobs. And gate agents and FA's only need a GED. There simply isn't all that much skill involved. Yes, FA's know first aid, so do tens of thousands of other people in the world who aren't in the medical profession. I have the same advanced rescuer CPR/first aid certification they do, big deal.

Quote:
  1. Take the pilots, most of whom paid over $40,000 to train themselves in expensive airplanes. Many also did so at a University flight school which costs at least $20,000 a year on top of training costs. After four years, they are over $100,000 in debt. Yes, the top pilots pull in over $200,000 but most pilots these days fly for the regionals or the low cost carriers I just mentioned, making GASP $20,000 a year. Yup, they could make almost as much at Mcdonalds. Little pay given training costs which approach law school or other professional programs. No wonder banks don’t loan money to aspiring pilots.
Wrong. Most US pilots get their training for free courtesy of the US Air Force. Ongoing training is covered by the carrier. And frankly anyone who attends an expensive school like EMbry Riddle gets what they get. Their choice of profession and cost of getting that training isn't my problem. It's no different than people who go to school for social work and spend $100K on an education, then can't make over $18K a year, because that's what those jobs pay.

ETA: A pilot who joins the USAF ROTC can retire with a full pension (with "captain" as the lowest rank) at the age of 41 or 42. He or she has gotten a college education and flight training, all paid for by the taxpayers. (Don't get me wrong, I do not begrudge this at all! My point is that they have zero student loans.) They can then sign on with an airline and put in another 20 years before retiring with a second pension at the age of 61 or 62--or earlier with some carriers.
  1. Quote:
    Or the flight attendants whose pensions and pay have been cut as well. Yet, they try to smile when getting (on a good day) not yelled at by at least a few travelers.
Frankly the average FA has minimal training--all paid for by the carrier. The days of FA's all being RN's ended 40 years ago. These days anyone with a GED can become a FA. It's not particularly difficult work, other than dealing with the public--and you'd have to do that for the same money or less working at a store in the mall with no pension or benefits.

While I'd say most of the FA's I encounter are pleasant, I've run into some really surly and/or obnoxious ones as well. There have been more than a few that I would have liked to have given a good brow-beating. I don't expect much, but to get the drink they offered me without it being slammed onto my tray table isn't an unrealistic expectation. Some people just shouldn't be working with the public, and some FA's aren't exempt from that statement.
  1. Quote:
    Or airplane mechanics, who are very skilled yet have seen pensions and pay dramatically reduced. Many work overnight shifts.
The overnight shift thing is a "so"? Many people do. If they didn't figure that one out prior to being hired, well, shame on them. The whole pension and pay thing is ironic, because it's market driven. If they think they are underpaid, no one is holding a gun to their head, they are free to leave for a better paying job.

We have similar skilled workers at my company, and sometimes they leave for another opportunity. Sometimes it's a different shift, sometimes more money, sometimes just a change of scenery. Those who we really want to keep we'll offer an incentive to stay, but for the most part, if they want to leave, we wish them well. I'm just not sure what your point is here. If they don't want to be an airline mechanic anymore, tell them to apply for a mechanic position at one of the gas companies drilling in PA. They are all hiring mechanics.
  • Quote:
    There are a lot of layers in this industry that work for your air travel. There is the management and the corporate people like any company. Then, there is the people checking you in, the people at the gate, the customer service people for lost luggage, the airline people who help those who need it (finding a gate, disability, children), the baggage handlers, the flight attendants, the pilots, the cleaning crews (if they aren’t outsourced), the mechanics…A little more complex than the person behind the counter at Starbucks who pushes a button, coffee is made, and then they hand it to you.
Do you not think that there are upper management people at Starbucks as well? Let's get real here. Any organization has people at the top capable of driving the organization towards profitability and people at the bottom who wouldn't know how to open an spreadsheet let alone read one. We have executives, engineers, skilled blue collar labor, sales people, administrative people, and general labor people who don't have the qualifications to do anything else. My guess is that 99% of the companies on the earth have similar structures. I'm just not sure what your point is.

(And I know a few people who work as "wheelchair pushers/cart drivers/general customer service people in airports. Frankly they just aren't qualified to do much more than what they are already doing.)
  • Quote:
    Much more can go wrong in this industry than say Starbucks. Weather can hit, airports delayed at “rush hour,” bags fail to make it on the flight (it could be the airlines fault if they screwed up a connection but it could be the travelers fault, who checks in twenty minutes before the flight then expects everything to work out)…
I don't get upset about weather related delays, but lately 50% of my flights--especially on regional jets--have been delayed due to "routine maintenance." I also get a bit annoyed when my bags tagged "Priority" are the last ones to come onto the carousel (I just mutter under my breath about that, it's certainly not enough to give someone a hard time about--especially because the only person you can complain to really has no control over it to begin with.) That is all sheer incompetence and/or poor planning, nothing more, nothing less. Granted the delays are usually short enough that I can make my connection, but I have to run to do so--which is inconsiderate on the part of the carrier.
  • Quote:
    Many fail to realize that the air travel is safer than being in a car! It would be nice if we could thank the highly trained pilots, mechanics, air traffic controllers, and airline dispatch. But most don’t care until something happens to them.
I always thank the flight crew on my way off the plane, just like I think the cashier at 7-11. But in ANY organization there are "behind-the-scenes" people who work in "thankless" jobs. That's just the way it is. I'm not sure what you expect the public to do about it.
Quote:

I’m not asking you to love this industry. But at least understand how hard it is to be make money in the airlines, how many people work for your flight, how truly affordable air travel is, and how many things can go wrong. So before you hate on the airlines, look at the industries that have it easier...

Next time a thunderstorm occurs, don’t yell at the customer service agent. When the flight attendant hands you no snack, don’t give them a look. They are all working hard for you.
Some of your points are valid, but in all honesty, the majority of them aren't. I fly enough to be in the top tier of FF's with my carrier of choice. I've seen the good, the bad, and the ugly, and really I don't see the airline industry as any different than any other large organization. Oh, and for the record, I work in the transportation industry.

Last edited by annerk; 07-29-2011 at 09:01 AM..
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Old 07-29-2011, 08:15 AM
 
26,590 posts, read 54,651,031 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chatteress View Post
The best customer service I've received was from Southwest ... It's a shame that they do not fly everywhere
Quote:
Originally Posted by le roi View Post
Because the airline industry treats its passengers like cattle.
Ironic that these two posts were one right after the other. The cattle call is one of the many reasons I don't fly SW.
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Old 07-29-2011, 08:17 AM
 
26,590 posts, read 54,651,031 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lcole07 View Post
As an airline employee I'd like to encourage dissatisfied customers to take the time to write to Customer Relations or the executives and let them know about your bad experience(s). Be specific, give date(s), time(s) and facts so they can investigate the situation and try to make improvements. In many cases that's how policy changes take place, by hearing from the customers.
Agreed, although I did this after a particularly problematic set of circumstances with CO and never got a response until I filed a complaint with the government after six weeks of waiting. Amazing how that works, eh?
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Old 07-29-2011, 08:25 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chilaili View Post
So you're saying because people can't afford to pay for first class they deserve to be treated like cattle?! That the airline industry is perfectly right to despise and ignore the MILLIONS of people paying the basic cost simply because they are being frugal or because they are business travellers whose company won't allow them to buy a more expensive seat?! WTF?
I think they are saying that those who complain about tight seating are the ones who shop for the lowest fares. There are options like buying economy plus type seats with more legroom, but people have become so driven by the bottom line that carriers are forced to maximize volume in order to keep prices in line with what the public demands.
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Old 07-29-2011, 08:28 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lcole07 View Post
My wife doesn't own or know how to use a cattle prod, and She treats everyone with "LUV". Try Her airline!
But she knows how to use a cattle call.

I'm a business traveler. What am I supposed to do, stop a meeting at the 24 hour mark to check in so I don't end up sandwiched in the middle seat of the last row between a lady with a 40 pound lap baby and a sumo wrestler?

No thanks, give me the legacy carriers where I can get a seat assignment and a f/c upgrade based on my status.
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Old 07-29-2011, 08:30 AM
 
26,590 posts, read 54,651,031 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chatteress View Post
Uh ... Even coach tickets are expensive to the average passenger and first-class seats are just out of their price range ... Does that mean we deserve rude treatment by airline personnel especially when there are flight delays or lost baggage?
Coach tickets are expensive? As long as you book in advance, they are actually very reasonable--often cheaper than driving.

If you can't afford to travel, stay home.
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Old 07-29-2011, 08:32 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John23 View Post
The whole airline experience is just ridiculous for the average person.

1st - Not knowing what to expect when you get there. Imagine going to a mcdonalds or walmart, and never knowing what to expect? Wouldn't that be tiring?

The whole airline experience wears people out.....i.e., you're treated like a criminal, "the cattle mentality", they charge for this meal, they charge for this pillow....this movie is free. They don't take credit cards? It's all so arbitrary, none of it makes any sense.

Imagine going to mcdonalds. One time, they charge you for water. When you go a month later, you have to pay 50 more cents to sit in the front. Another time, they dont take credit cards, cash only for food or drink. Wouldn't that get tiring?

Or McDonalds charging one price for SUV's parking. Another price for regular cars. Like the bags. An extra bag is $50? and it use to be free? What if you went golfing or on a ski trip every year. Would you know what to allocate for luggage charges? I know what to expect from a walmart or mcdonalds (with reasonable certainty) in 9 months or a year. The same certainty just isn't there for airlines.

2nd - The problem with the airlines, they've spread themselves too thin, trying to be all things to all people. They end up excelling at nothing. Whats the difference between delta or united?

3rd - The "food" (I use that term loosely) is ridiculous for a consumer use to choice and variety. A ham sandwich or chicken? I dont expect a gourmet meal. What about pizza or a burger? Why are those never on flights?

Why don't they have different levels of a menu. I.e., 1st class. Then economy. Then another rung down. Then a fourth level (like for kids). Thus, parents can enjoy something. Different for the 15 year old. Different for the 8 year old. There's no imagination.

I think the test for airline food quality, could you sell it off the airline. Would people really buy this if they had 10 other places to choose from? In many cases, no.
Actually if you spend five minutes reading the carrier's web site, you will know what to expect.

And do you really want a microwaved pizza or burger? I don't. And the thought of having four different menus? What a cluster that would cause. If you don't like airline food, bring your own. I do--and I always fly FC.
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Old 07-29-2011, 08:39 AM
 
26,590 posts, read 54,651,031 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MINresident View Post
Actually quite a lot. There are frequent flyers who spend hours trying to figure out which airline to go with as they often fly upward of 50,000 miles a year. They look at mileage program benefits for elites, access to flights where they live, quality of first class seats, and chances at upgrading. Although most Americans consider Delta and United to equally suck, most frequent business travelers have a preference. And quite to the contrary in coach class, there is a revolution going on in first class as airlines try to revamp meals, add lie flat seats, upgrade entertainment, and improve the frequent flyer program. The airlines will reward you if you fly with them a lot.
I fly over 100K miles a year. I chose my carrier of choice based on the fact that 95% of my travel takes me to the Northeast, and there is only one carrier that services every single podunk airport up there as well as all of the major ones with very regular service. I also very much like their main northeast hub airport--great restaurant selection and convenient Club locations, even in "The Dump."

And speaking of the Club, they have reciprocity with two other legacy carriers, so there is a Club I can use in almost every airport that actually has a Club.
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Old 07-29-2011, 10:53 AM
 
Location: The Chatterdome in La La Land, CaliFUNia
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Quote:
Originally Posted by annerk View Post
Ironic that these two posts were one right after the other. The cattle call is one of the many reasons I don't fly SW.
In my experience .... Southwest seats are roomier and their personnel is pleasant to deal with. When I indicate that I have a hearing impairment, they bend over backwards to assist me and allow me to preboard. I've never had a bad experience with them which is why they are my first choice.
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Old 07-29-2011, 11:16 AM
 
Location: The Chatterdome in La La Land, CaliFUNia
38,894 posts, read 20,190,651 times
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Originally Posted by annerk View Post
Coach tickets are expensive? As long as you book in advance, they are actually very reasonable--often cheaper than driving.

If you can't afford to travel, stay home.
Sorry Annerk but the tickets usually are not reasonable for the average traveler which is why I don't travel as much as I'd like to.
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