25 July 2008
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Disposing of the Airlines

But First

WSJ 24 July 2008 - McDonald's Could Order Changes to Dollar Menu Surprise!
WSJ 24 July 2008 - McDonald's article - U.S. Dollar Menu is drawing unprofitable traffic From yesterday's Wall Street Journal.  They say "The U.S. Dollar Menu is drawing too much unprofitable traffic to their locations."  I wonder if they're thinking of anyone in particular?

The Evil Airline Scum Softkey

I often joke about having a softkey that automatically types "evil airline scum" when I press it.  At least you think I'm joking.  I have been at war with the airlines ever since they instituted the Saturday night stayover rule.  Am I winning?  Most of the airlines have either been in and out of bankruptcy, merged out of existence, or have lost and are continuing to lose a fortune.  What's more, my propaganda efforts have made them hated by virtually everyone, including their own employees and all their customers.  Not bad for a softkey and a few letters to the editor, eh?

I thought that today I would perform a public service.  In addition to heaping additional derision on them (there are a few things I haven't mentioned previously in this blog,) I would also explain how to solve some of their problems.  This eleemosynary gesture was occasioned by the fact that they mayjust maybe getting a clue as to how to run their otherwise tragically flawed businesses.

The Clue

Although reviled by most, I think the airlines' charging for checked baggage is an encouraging sign.  While it seems like (and is) "nickel and diming," it also is a legitimate charge.  It costs an airline proportionally more to process and haul luggage in addition to the passenger than it does to carry the passenger alone.  Why not charge?  The airline makes a few extra dollars, and passengers are discouraged from carrying unnecessary baggage.  Besides, if one starts out saying something nice, the balance of the tirade is more likely to be considered fair.

The Tirade

Pretty much any time I read an article about the airlines, I am inspired to write a "letter to the editor" explaining, albeit in different terms, my "evil airline scum" softkey.  Sometimes I even manage to get the "evil" part in.  Some examples from past blogs:

Wall Street Journal 17 July 2007 Letters Excerpt And, speaking of the Journal, when they recently ran an article explaining how on-line retailers could enhance their profit by imitating the airline's "yield management" strategy, they got a pageful of comments from readers, myself included, who were having none of that!

Notice the phrase "downright evil policies" that somehow slipped into one of the letters.

Also recently, I had occasion to respond to Christopher Elliott, of the eponymous Elliott Blog and a travel writer for CNN.  I explained that I was on the "No-Fly List" almost voluntarily...

Travel trend: adding yourself to the ‘no fly’ list

Give up air travel altogether?  You’ve probably heard whispers about it in the aftermath of cancellation-gate. And following United Airlines’ announcement yesterday that it would bump its change fee to $150 from $100 and add Saturday-night stay requirements to many of its flights, who can blame travelers for wanting to ground themselves?

What most observers — and certainly people in the U.S. airline industry — don’t realize is how big the backlash could be. Travelers are seriously thinking about adding themselves to a voluntary “no fly” list.

Take the following e-mail from reader Richard Factor, who said he’s already on the list.

I’ve rediscovered the joys of walking around. I’ve rearranged my automobile commute so I rarely encounter traffic problems.

I can’t help wondering how many people have simply dropped out of the travel rat race just on account of the idiotic Saturday night stayover “rule” of the airlines. For all their “yield management,” I wonder if the airlines wouldn’t do better to drop ALL of that crap and look for a new business model that isn’t guaranteed to irritate and drive away their customers.

They can hardly do any worse.

Some air travelers have already had enough of the airline industry’s silly fees and substandard service. The question is, how many more are out there?

If I were a bettin’ kinda guy, I’d say a lot more travelers will ground themselves voluntarily as the busy summer travel season approaches. What do you think?

How's My Whining? 

It doesn't matter; I'm not providing an 800 number to call if you don't appreciate my whining.  As I point out in my email to Chris Elliott, the airlines need a new business model.  One that won't predispose otherwise even-tempered executives who have children and furry pets to take out their frustrations and hatred on the travelling public.  So instead of just whining about all the above, tomorrow I will propound a suggestion that would help solve the airlines', the nation's, and my problem.  It doesn't even involve threatening to shoot the executives' dogs.

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Thank you.

NP:  "Dan" - Feathermerchants

© 2008
Richard Factor

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