Talk Talk Talk Talk Talk Myself to Death: Any Common Sense in the Air?

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Any Common Sense in the Air?

We're back in Chicago after spending Thanksgiving with family in Jacksonville. We had rain yesterday, and the temperature was dropping (the area is under a freeze alert tonight), but for the most part, the weather wasn't an issue. Returning to Chicago, though, was another matter. We've got snow, and the temperature's in the 20s. Just in case we'd forgotten, it is December. Fortunately, the weather didn't cause us any problems coming in (which wouldn't necessarily have been the case yesterday), but that doesn't mean everything was smooth in the friendly skies.

If you've flown recently--or listened to the complaints of those who have--you realize that the airlines have started to charge for baggage. As I understand it, this was initially a response to skyrocketing fuel prices, but once you institute a charge, it's hard to rein it in again, so don't expect the airlines to let up just because fuel prices have recently sunk. Not surprisingly, making it more expensive to check baggage had a simple--and pretty predictable--result. People want to check less baggage. Unfortunately, that doesn't mean that they bring less luggage. They just cram it in to bags they can carry on. And when you've got more carry-ons, the overhead bins become more jammed, and it takes more time to force bags into a tighter space. All of this would seem to go with the territory, but on our flight today, the flight attendants started complaining that passengers were taking too long to get their carry-ons settled and pointed out that the plane couldn't leave the gate until everybody was seated. So we're all kind of stuck, aren't we?

Will the airlines realize that their actions have set up the current situation--and if they actually do, will they do anything to remedy it? Don't count on it. As American automakers have already demonstrated, why bother to serve your customers when alienating them is so much easier?


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