We have a lot to think about. These first two articles deal with the separation between airlines and their customers. Slowly, passengers are finding themselves treated more and more as cargo. Human interaction, compassion and empathy have been eliminated from the equation of airline travel. Customer service has all but been eliminated. At the same time airlines are foisting fees on their customers that passengers instinctively know are unjustified. However, they pay the fees but wait for a way to “take revenge.” Finally, a simpler, more enjoyable subject — round the world travel and its feasibility.
Air travel, like other facets of American life, is not what it used to be
In a remarkable article published in the New York Times, reporter Arnand Giridhardas broached a subject many consumer advocates have been discussing but that has not resonated with airline powers-that-be — the yawning gap between how airlines treat their elite and their normal passengers. It has become a caste system to rival the colonial days of India. One group is pampered and the other squeezed into smaller seats, not offered seat reservations, pay extra for bags, wait in long lines, board later, even take more time to get through customs and immigration when returning to their own country.
In the words of an airline worker, the reporter began to uncover an unsettling truth.
He saw how all those layers of corporate training and customer-service jargon separate workers like him from the human reality of what they do. Maybe they got into the business because they liked the idea of helping people get to weddings, sales meetings and funerals. But somewhere down the line, after so many utterances of “I’m not authorized,” and “unavailable right now,” and “not showing up in my system,” the heart goes numb. It becomes natural to stop imagining your customers as humans with problems and dreams like your own.
“You know what semantics is?” the United man said, when asked about all the fine print preventing him from fixing bags. The purpose of the fine print, he said, is to limit the number of people who persevere all the way to a repaired bag. “It’s designed to fend off the herd,” he said. “We’re only going to cover so much of this stuff — because this stuff happens a lot.”
The United man saw something else, too. He saw how, in a changing country, stratification is infecting domains once immune to it. Had I been traveling in first class, he said, “you probably wouldn’t even have to talk to me.” Just dial a number, and they would be right on the case.
Painful payments: your brain on airline fees
This thought-provoking article looks as the current airline treatment of its passengers from a slightly different perspective — that of bad profits. What happens when making a short-term profit works against airlines in the long run. Passengers will search for a way to take revenge on airlines for their basic unfairness. Even low prices are no salve for unfair practices and demeaning treatment.
Air travel is painful these days, and not just because of ever-decreasing leg room. Prices that we perceive as unfair or too high trigger a reaction in our brain called the “pain of paying.” Researchers have shown that this reaction activates some of the same areas as physical pain, and it’s not a good thing for the company whose products do that.
Unfortunately, most airlines are addicted to these harmful revenue-boosters. Reichheld cites one of my pet peeves – charging passengers who get to the airport early $100 to change flights, even when that earlier flight will depart with empty seats. Capacity planning logic says it’s always better to fill seats on earlier flights, as once the flight departs that inventory is lost forever. Airlines used to happily fill these seats for free – it was good for them, and good for the customer. No more.
Airline customers understand this, too – these charges aren’t justified by cost differences or a superior experience. The charges are there simply because the airline companies have been able to put them in place without losing market share to each other or to other modes of transportation.
10 ’round the world travel myths debunked
When most travelers consider a round-the-world trip, they come up with a series of reasons why the trip will be impossible. That’s the wrong way to look at such an adventure. At Bootsnall, round-the-world and adventure travel are their focus. Naturally, they try to make any hesitations go away. Here is a well considered article about the major reasons why a trip around the world may actually be very possible. Click through to see why each of these following problems are not a deal-breaker when it comes to a trip around the world.
1. It’s too expensive
2. I don’t have time
3. The resume gap will ruin my career
4. It’s too dangerous
5. I’m too old
6. I have kids
7. I’m a single woman
8. I’m American, and everyone hates Americans
9. My health insurance won’t cover me
10. It’s too hard to plan/I’m not spontaneous enough