Ground Clutter

The very first column I wrote for FBO, the predecessor of AIRPORT BUSINESS, in 1986 lamented the fact that the airline industry was
falling apart. It’s amazing to me how long they have survived thereafter. The industry does seem determined to shoot itself in the foot on a daily basis.

Employees hate the airline, the airline hates employees, customers hate both of them, and they all hate the guvmint because it has (check one) too little control of the industry or too much.

On some issues pilots stand together to fight airlines. On others, such as the “age 60 rule,” some pilots fight other pilots with the help or discouragement of the union. Airlines fight other airlines (can you say ‘Wright Amendment’?) The guvmint fights and attacks most everybody.

Sometimes it seems everybody forgets that the customer is the customer — the very fact that the customer is called a passenger instead of a “customer” seems to be designed to place customers in a separate, lower category than customers.

Even aviation consultants/financiers seem to be joining those who sneer with curled lip at customers. Just recently Bill Hochmuth, senior research analyst at Thrivent Investment Management, told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that “passengers better get used to flying in regional jets...” Let’s give the man credit for his candor, and for exposing us to an attitude rampant throughout the industry.

Older pilots dislike regional jets, claiming that, because of the hated two-tier pilot system, they are flown by newer pilots with less experience who are paid less. I must admit that “less experience” hits home with me, a customer — uh, I mean passenger.

Pilots seem to be mad at passengers just because they want cheap tickets. “If you want cheap tickets,” they say, “you gotta put up with some bad stuff [I cleaned that line up a bit]. We can’t provide all that nice service on what you’re paying us for tickets.” That’s odd. Don’t they know that the deepest discounts are provided by airlines with the friendliest service?

Primarily, I think the industry must someday finally accept that the so-called “deregulation” of the airlines that took place in 1978 is here to stay, and that means nobody is going to return to the (relatively) cushy job they had when the guvmint protected their fiefdoms.

As for me, as the old song sayeth, “I don’t like anybody very much.”