Sunday, June 22, 2008

Another Editorial About Who is at Fault for US Airline Failure

Today in the Washington Post I was reading yet another editorial, this one written by the CEO of American Airlines, who was trying to figure out whom is to blame for the failure of the US Airline Industry.

Surveying the decline of the airline industry, retired American Airlines CEO Bob Crandall said something this month that both presidential candidates should take to heart: "The United States used to be good at solving problems. These days, we don't seem up to the job."

So according to Bob Crandall, it is the fault of the U.S. Government for de-regulating the airline industry. This is why carriers go bankrupt, customer service is lousy and flights are cut back.

Crandall was talking specifically about our national failure, in the 30 years since deregulation, to build an air transport system that works. What we have now is a complete mess -- a system that bankrupts carriers, embitters workers and infuriates the traveling public. But hold off on airlines for a moment and ponder his larger point.

Crandall argues that the critics' worst fears have been realized. "Our airlines, once world leaders, are now laggards in every category, including fleet age, service quality and international reputation. Fewer and fewer flights are on time. Airport congestion has become a staple of late-night comedy shows. . . . Airline service, by any standard, has become unacceptable," he said in a speech on June 10 to the Wings Club in New York.

Sharply rising jet fuel costs, the airlines' latest catastrophe, have prompted new desperation measures, such as charging for checked luggage. That's a stunningly bad idea because it will encourage customers to bring ever-larger carry-on bags, making flight attendants even crankier and travel more unpleasant. But that's where this industry is -- in a perpetual downward spiral.

For me, this is where the argument doesnt hold water. I am not sure how raising gas prices, airline de-regulation and government oversight is the failure of government to act.

No one can explain to me why the airline industry is incapable of providing anything close to customer service. You would be amazed with what people will put up with if they are given quality customer service. Mr. Crandall is a symptom of why airlines fail, CEO's of American air carriers have failed to do their job, provide their customers will value for the ticket they buy. He is also symptomatic of the majority of airline workers who feel that it is someone else's fault of their own problems. How does raising gas prices explain why airline employees cant be nice to people.

Passengers understand weather delays, traffic delays, ticket prices and fees better then anyone gives them credit for. If you surveyed everyone in my office if they would pay more to fly on an airlines that provided great customer service, all of them would say yes.

I am part of a business, if I provided the same service to my customers that the airline provide to me I would be fired, no question about it. My company would fail, people would quit doing business with me and I would go out of business or be fired. Is their any particular reason why the airline CEO's don't hold their own employees to the same standard. If you want to cure the airline industry, start with something that doesn't cost you anything, customer service. If your employees aren't capable of providing that, well there are plenty of jobs elsewhere for them and plenty of people who love a shot at doing the job right.

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