Monday, December 21, 2009

Airlines fall victim to their own arrogance

The federal government recently passed new regulations aimed at eliminating the practice of stranding passengers on runways for hours at a time. The new regulations impose steep fines of up to $27,500 per passenger if passengers are delayed on the tarmac for more than three hours.

I'm not a big fan of government regulation, and this will likely cost the airlines dearly in canceled flights and longer delays. However, this is not a new problem. The airlines have exhibited the same brand of arrogance that doctors had before they started losing lawsuits. Namely, that their time is solid gold, and your time isn't worth squat. Airlines and airports could have researched and addressed this problem on their own. Maybe they could have arranged stand-by "hospitality RV's" or something, so that passengers could at least get off the plane, stretch their legs, get a snack and check their email for a while, rather than being held hostage in an uncomfortable chair for who knows how long.

The fact that they didn't come up with their own solution shows just how disconnected they have become from their customers. Evidently, they expected the flying public to simply accept that spending 7, 8, 10 hours sitting on a tarmac with no idea when they might take off, was just a part of flying. The powers that be within the industry found that acceptable because it was more convenient for them.

Consider this a wake-up call for the "too big to care".