The State of Airline Travel

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Thanks to a challenging travel environment, smart phone cameras and social media, we have been able to see an increasing spate of anger from both airline employees and the flying public.  The more recent mishandling of passengers on flights, with a few turning violent, has grabbed the headlines and attention across the Nation.  A sad state of affairs for sure.

Certainly air travel took a turn downward after 9/11 with the addition of the TSA security layer.  General demeanor of some passengers and airline personnel as well have gone south at an accelerated rate or so it would seem.  A lot of the ease and fun of flying has been eliminated for many for sure.

Reality, airline travel remains the safest and most preferred mode of travel over distances whether it be for business or pleasure.  Booking travel and at the best prices has never been easier plus the carrier and flight options are very accommodating to individual needs. One thing which has not changed is that passengers must adhere to a rigid departure time and the check-in processes have added significant time to the entire process.  Tension easily builds for a flying experience before one even approaches the gate check in podium.

The more recent headline grabbing situations replete with video of the incidents are thankfully not the norm though the media and some government officials portray airline travel as dangerous.  Mindless rubbish.  But that said, the few incidents on flights which have grabbed headlines and social media could have been avoided with better training of airline personnel and modifications to some archaic customer service processes.

Who was at fault with these situations – well it starts at the very top of airline management.  In the case of CEO Munoz at United, he obviously is clueless about managing an airline keeping in mind they brought him in from the train industry where his track record was not the best either.  Then it trickles down the chain of command to the managers at individual airports for each carrier.   It was obvious from each incident that chaos prevailed and customer service, common sense and good judgment were no where to be found.  Yes, a few passengers can be PIAs for sure and can be part of the problem.  One can blame the individual customer service agents and crews for the fiascos though IMO, the blame indeed lays more with their management.   Airline crews and staff do their utter best to provide courteous and efficient customer service in a very challenging travel ecosystem and they succeed as the norm.  Delays for unavoidable reasons will always occur and there will be some inconvenienced passengers for whatever reasons, but changes must be made to avoid escalation of events such as we have seen in more recent months.

It starts with changes at the top of the management stack. Top management must be concerned with the preservation of the reputation of the brand for starters. Priority one should not only be focused on making as much money as possible with each flight as a goal, but rather providing best possible customer service should be at the top.  By so doing – more money will be made.  Management must assure that everyone in the company is in sync with customer first and that means knowing what to do in all situations.  Ongoing education for customer service staffs and cabin crews must be viewed as just as important as the rigid ongoing education for flight crews.

A simple characterization of the more recent serious incidents can be found in the Paul Newman movie Cool Hand Luke.  The pronouncement that ‘ what we got here is failure to communicate.’ Video Clip – how appropriate.

 

 

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