So we had another year of increasing fares, decreasing service, paying extra to bring your luggage, paying for peanuts and chips or a soft drink. Enduring delays, being bumped, consistently overbooked flights and getting stuck, yes it was a great year.
Flight Stats tracks all airlines, not just the major ones, utilizing a search from from 26 Nov to 26 Dec in the US alone there were 6,797, cancelled flights with another 118,676 flights delayed. Even though that takes in major holidays that is way too many in my opinion.
Airlines have lost any and all customer service skills they ever had. Why? because they don’t need any. What are you going to do take a 10 day trans-Atlantic cruise to Europe? They know we need them so they really don’t care how crappy the service is. Take these examples.
On 20 Dec a 9-year-old Tennessee girl heading to New York City to spend Christmas with her grandparents was left stranded in the Baltimore airport for five hours. Southwest had rerouted the plane due to weather and then rebooked her on another flight without notifying the parents.
Oct 2011 Air India flight from Mumbai to Heathrow diverted to Gatwick and passengers were stranded on plane for 8 hours while a new crew was assembled to fly 20 minutes to Heathrow.
In 2011 a JetBlue flight from Ft. Lauderdale to Newark was diverted to an airport in Connecticut and stranded for 8 hours with no food, water or toilet facilities.
Also in 2011 a Comtel Air flight from India to Birmingham England stopped in Vienna and demanded payment from passengers for fuel and other charges, sending people to ATM’s to get cash. The flight refused to depart until $31,000 was raised or about $200 per person.
Where one time people turned their heads because a sharp dressed Captain and flight crew walked past, now you have to look to make sure they are fit to fly.
This year a Delta Co-pilot arrived drunk at Heathrow and during questioning told authorities he was flying to New York when in fact his plane was headed to Detroit.
In March the cabin crew of an AeroMexico flight stopped the pilot and copilot from entering the flight cabin because they were too drunk to fly from Costa Rica to Mexico City.
In May an AirTran flight Captain was stopped and given a breathalyzer before boarding the plane he then proceeded to blow a .05 blood alcohol level. He was also a federal Flight Deck Officer which meant he can carry a firearm on board. What is even crazier is someone has determined that the legal blood alcohol level is .04 for crew. I guess just a little drunk is okay.
India’s airlines are some of the worst Between January 2009 and November 2010, as many as 57 drunk pilots were discovered during random tests but they did do something about it, they fired 11 of them. I assume the rest are still drinking and flying.
Poor customer service, airlines that don’t care, planes being jammed with more seats so the flying cattle cars can cram a few more people aboard and there isn’t much we can do about it. There are some Airlines I refuse to fly because of the way they treat people and the fact they consistently overbook flights. Usually you wind up paying a little more for a better experience but if that’s what it takes then so be it.
The Department of Transportation does have a consumer protection and enforcement division that has rules and certain rights. Like any government entity it is a little convoluted but if you search the pages you can find out certain rights an rules.
Whether legislation is the answer or just consumers boycotting bad airlines, unless you make your voice heard we are just going to get treated worse.
Did you have any bad experiences flying this year?