27 October 2009

How Air Travel Can Be Made Less Annoying

Hello All BlkAv8tor2003 Checking In!!!

Time to break down how to make your airline travel experience and make it a little easier. This time I went to another blog to get some info so alot of what you will be reading is from the Editors at the NY Times. They have also included some other expert opinions and I have listed their input with there pics.

I will be inserting my comments and they will be in Italics so you can get my input too! If your a first time reader of my blog then I suggest you go back and review my tips on making airline travel a little more pleasent from beginning to end!

Take note because there is a wealth of information and I don't want you to become an airline travel victim completely lost, frustrated and at a loss for information especially when you can control alot of what happens when you fly the airlines in todays economy!!!

Remember, "Be Proactive Not Reactive and Enjoy Your Flight!!!"


Travelers at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago Tim Boyle/Bloomberg News

How Air Travel Can Be Made Less Annoying

The airline industry is suffering through one of its worst summers ever, with travelers pulling back on spending and fuel costs rising. Passengers who can still afford to fly are facing higher baggage fees, fewer flights and less and less contact with airline staff (though there appears to be a limit to how low-service an airline can go).

Granted, the airline industry is struggling for survival and customers are accustomed to cramped seats, no food and long delays. Still, we asked some airline and travel experts what might done to make air travel less miserable.

Patrick Smith, commercial airline pilot
Benét J. Wilson, Aviation Week
Brett Snyder, crankyflier.com
Holly Hegeman, PlaneBusiness.com

Overhaul Security, Consolidate Flights

Patrick Smith,

a commercial airline pilot, is the author of Salon.com’s weekly Ask the Pilot air travel column; his book of the same name was published in 2004.

Let’s begin with an overhaul of airport security. Certainly it’s important to screen for bombs and firearms, but the majority of what goes on at the concourse checkpoint is wasteful, tedious and does nothing to improve security — from the senseless I.D. checking to the three-ounce container rules to the confiscation of butter knives from crew members ( it happened to me). The amount of money and time spent on this absurd theater is stupefying.

The existing protocols are designed to prevent an attack that already happened and for all intents and purposes cannot happen again. The hijack paradigm changed forever on Sept. 11, 2001, rendering the inflight takeover concept all but unworkable for a potential terrorist. Not to mention, there are limitless ways to smuggle knives and other dangerous materials past guards, and a deadly weapon can be fashioned from just about anything, including no shortage of materials found on an airplane.
Frequency of flights is a huge selling point for airlines, but it’s an illusion when a high percentage of flights run late.

Second, airlines ought to better rationalize their schedules to help reduce delays. Yes, our air traffic control system is outdated and in need of upgrade, but that’s only part of it. There are more people flying than ever before, and they are doing so in smaller planes making more and more departures, snarling our skies and runways.

Carriers should consolidate flights with bigger aircraft and reduce their dependence on regional jets. At some large airports, regional jets comprise more than 50 percent of the total number of flights. That’s half of all traffic carrying about 20 percent of the passengers. Frequency of flights is a huge selling point for airlines, but in practice it’s an illusion when a high percentage of flights run late.

Third, carriers need to become better communicators. U.S. airlines have become arguably the most loathed and distrusted entities of the post-industrial American economy. Much or even most anti-airline sentiment is undeserved, but airlines have made it worse on themselves through their own reticence and poor communications skills on the front lines.

Airlines do not, as policy, intentionally lie or mislead. What people often take to be lies are more accurately garbles, caused by the faulty transfer of information within a compartmentalized airline structure, where specifics of a circumstance are passed from department to department, each with its own priorities, vernacular and expertise. Carriers need to be more forthright, punctual and accurate in the information they provide to customers. Both airport staff and crew members have to grow better at this.

Comfort? It’s Up to You

Benét J. Wilson,

is the online managing editor for McGraw-Hill’s Aviation Week business aviation channel. She has covered aviation since 1992, and has worked for two airlines and an engine manufacturer.

With the financial struggles airlines have gone through since 9/11, short of a large cash infusion, I doubt there’s really much the airlines can do to make air travel less miserable.

Airlines have had to deal with issues including record high oil prices, the current global recession and customers refusing to pay the higher prices carriers need to survive. This survival mode has made it much more challenging to improve the travel experience.
If I can get friendly airline staff, I consider that a bonus.

I am an aviation journalist, but I’m also a mother with a toddler who travels regularly to visit family and friends across the United States. I’m looking for a flight that will get me from point A to point B safely, quickly, on time and at a reasonable price.

If I can get friendly airline staff, I consider that a bonus. So I feel it’s up to me to enhance my own travel experience. I have a video iPod for me and a DVD player/books/toys for my daughter to cover inflight entertainment. I bring my own food/snacks so my child is not trying to eat the seat covers. And I pray that I have an empty seat in our row to have just a bit more room.

The airline I fly the most is Southwest, because it covers all my basic requirements, plus there are no baggage fees. My back-ups are AirTran — which has Wi-Fi and XM satellite radio — and JetBlue, which has LiveTV and XM.

The legacy carriers I prefer are Continental, which actually still serves food, and Delta. Again, airlines can only do so much during these difficult financial times, so it’s up to travelers to control the experience themselves as much as possible.

Lower My Expectations

Brett Snyder,

is the author of the consumer air travel blog, The Cranky Flier.

What can be done to make air travel less miserable? I’m sure many people will argue that airline employees need to be nicer or airlines need to reduce their fees. Some will say that the airlines need to give us more legroom, but I think there’s a simpler solution. Airlines need to do a better job of communicating and setting expectations.
The airlines should give me a 360 degree virtual tour of my cramped coach seat — at the very least, I will know what I’m getting.

When I go to book a ticket, what information does the airline give me about my flight? I know the time it goes, how much it costs, and sometimes what type of plane I’ll be on. That’s about it. If airlines did a better job of presenting the full package to me at the time of booking, then my expectations could be set appropriately.

I may know that flying out of J.F.K. at 5 o’clock is a guarantee for a delay, but why not tell me how many times that flight has actually been delayed in the last couple months? And while you’re at it, let me know how long the delay has been on average. The data is there, and anyone can find it (at FlightStats.com), but the airlines don’t usually like to share that information themselves. That’s a mistake, because if I come expecting a delay, I’m going to be an easier customer to please.

Instead of showing aspirational cartoons depicting people sleeping on clouds (yes, a certain Chicago-based airline actually does this), maybe you should give me a 360 degree virtual tour of my cramped coach seat. That alone might get me to pay the price to upgrade to Economy Plus; at the very least, I will know what I’m getting.

The problem isn’t just at the time of booking, of course. I might run into surly customer service agents, lost bags and mechanical delays, but these hassles are easier to endure when the communication is frequent and detailed. Bottom line: Keep me better informed during all stages of my trip and I will be a more satisfied customer.

Things Aren’t So Bad

Holly Hegeman,

is founder of PlaneBusiness.com

It’s a given that passengers like to gripe about the state of air travel, but there are a few myths that should be dispelled.

Myth No. 1: Air travel is miserable.

Personally, I don’t think it’s miserable. “Miserable” is dealing with my cellphone company.

Stressful? Sure. Annoying? Oftentimes. But for the most part, passengers who fly in the U.S. enjoy relatively unexciting, uneventful flights, which are exactly the kind I like.

Myth No. 2: Passengers don’t like to pay fees.

It turns out passengers apparently don’t mind paying fees. In June, “ancillary” revenue for the U.S. airline industry was up 37 percent over June 2008. Ancillary revenue is airline industry codespeak for fees — baggage fees, change fees, fees for a better seat, whatever.

All the major airlines now charge for the first checked bag in the U.S., except for Southwest Airlines. The major players have recently upped this charge to $25 per bag per flight. For more than a year, however, Southwest Airlines has hung on, refusing to tack on a fee for the first checked bag. The airline has probably left hundreds of millions of dollars on the table — all in an attempt to “do the right” thing in terms of their passengers.

Passengers have had a choice. They could either grumble about bag fees, but pay them, or vote with their money and fly on Southwest instead. Yet, from all indications, Southwest hasn’t won more market share as a result of trying to “do the right thing” for passengers.

Myth No. 3: Fares are too high.

Fares, even with the recent fare increases the airlines managed to put into place in June are still historically low. Average fare levels now are running at levels as low, if not lower, than after 9/11.

1 comment:

Matthew said...

Cranky Flier

Midwest Airlines has already begun posting 360 degree virtual tours of the interior of their planes. Each virtual tour includes three scenes. Each scene captures the different seating options (Signature, Exit Row and Saver). So far, the 717 and E-190 feature these virtual tours and the rest of the fleet will eventually be complete.

Here's a link to the Midwest E-190 virtual tour:


(I produced the tours)