“Wrong on so many levels”

By | January 2nd, 2016

Wrong on so many levels.

That’s what commenter Mary Graham called this week’s top story about Frontier kicking a minor off a flight not once, but twice, on Christmas Eve.

She not only succinctly described our sentiments about the arbitrary and capricious behavior of a Frontier agent, but indeed, how we feel about an industry that seems accountable to no one.

The counterpoint? This heartwarming story about an Endeavor Air pilot who turned the plane around so a family could make it to their father’s funeral. Delta is taking credit for it, but make no mistake, this was one of those little regional airlines with an underpaid crew and every reason to stay on schedule.

People love stories like that because, like a life preserver thrown to a drowning passenger, they give us hope that there’s still some humanity left in air transportation.

But what if the ship itself is sinking? What if the Frontier employee who called a customer an “idiot” was speaking not only for her airline, but for the entire airline industry?

Do they hate our cheapness? Do they think we’re naive to expect high service levels with their unsustainably low fares? Do they really believe we’re idiots?

It doesn’t matter. The solution doesn’t lie with them, but with us. We have to elect representatives who will not allow a poorly-regulated industry to give us “you-get-what-you-deserve” service, unconscionable fees and toxic hatred toward the very people who pay their bills. We have to stop offering these companies, whose business models are deception and disdain for their customer, our hard-earned money.

Perhaps a good start is to recognize the companies that take care of their customer. Our 2016 Reader’s Choice Awards are out this morning, and you can find the companies you like on the list. No, you won’t see Frontier or Spirit there, but the winner’s circle is not without a few surprises. (Also hot off the presses today is my FAQ section on money and travel, which is also kind of appropriate.)

Related story:   "Misunderstanding" leads to partial hotel refund after volcano

I’m not going to call this a New Year’s resolution, because I’ve stopped making those. But maybe in 2016, we can find a way to stop blaming everyone else for the awful service we receive and to start doing something about it.

Come on. It’s an election year in the United States. The Department of Transportation is on the verge of another landmark rulemaking on airline passenger rights that needs your comments in order to succeed. And you still have a choice when it comes to transportation and accommodations. Vote with your wallets.

Don’t let the bad guys win this year.

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