The graph (above) comes directly from data provided by the authoritative American Customer Service Index. Don’t confuse it with one of those incomprehensible charts posted on an airline fanblog. This is the real deal — it’s the last decade of service scores. [continue]
Rules are meant to be broken, right? Well, you might be forgiven for thinking so if you’re a regular reader of my work.
As a consumer advocate, I routinely help people bend rules when circumstances warrant it. Of course, that brings out the usual chorus of rule-lovers, trolls and haters, who accuse me of threatening the foundations of Western civilization by convincing a company to waive its often ridiculous policies.
But rules are important. Just ask Congress, which is on the verge of shutting down half of the U.S. government because of disagreements over the budget and healthcare reform. As I write this, I’m in Washington sitting next to a government executive who is worried sick that her office will be shuttered tomorrow. It probably will be.
The law-and-order folks have a valid point, once you get past their often angry personal attacks. Some rules are not meant to be broken.
For example, here’s a request I received from Mary Anne Fontaine on behalf of a friend who flies once a year and had found an inexpensive ticket on Allegiant Air. [continue]
It’s been five short years since the airline industry, led by an ailing American Airlines, quietly stripped the ability to check your first bag at no extra cost from the price of an airline ticket — an act given the antiseptic name “unbundling.”
At about this time in 2008, passengers were beginning to adjust to a new reality, as other airlines eagerly joined in separating their luggage fees from base fares. Now, they’ve finally accepted the fee revolution, according to most experts.
An airline ticket doesn’t have to include a “free” bag or a meal, no more than a hotel room should come with the ability to use the hotel’s exercise facilities, or your rental should cover the cost of a license plate. And that’s the way it should be, they say.
If you think the outsourcing and off-shoring of American jobs has gone too far, you might think twice before flying on United Airlines.
The carrier recently fired 220 airport employees and as of Oct. 15 will be contracting its ramp and customer service jobs at airports from Albany, N.Y., to Tucson, Ariz.
“While these were difficult decisions, we must continually look for new opportunities to run a more efficient and financially sustainable business,” United spokesman Luke Punzenberger says.
But is outsourcing really so awful? The reflexive answer among consumer watchdogs is: of course. They say it creates shoddy products, frequent service failures, and, naturally, forces you to speak with incomprehensible agents in offshore call centers. [continue]
If Jody Clark’s recent United Airlines flight from Houston to Vancouver had been a scene in a movie, it probably would be the one where the protagonist is finally pushed to the brink of a nervous breakdown.
“There was a family with two extremely disruptive toddlers seated in the row behind me in first class,” she says. “In the seat directly behind was a two-year-old who, without any break during the entire five-hour flight, continued to utter high pitched screams, cry and carry on yelling instead of talking, clanged together loud metal toys, and, worst of all, kicked at the back at my chair.”
But Clark’s flight was no disaster movie. It was real life. (Fortunately, minus the breakdown.)
It’s the time of year when the travel industry likes to play the weather card. Couldn’t check into your hotel? Blame it on that distant tornado. Flight canceled? It’s the hurricane’s fault, even though it’s hundreds of miles away. A big repair bill for your rental car? Thank last week’s hailstorm.
Usually, the weather — often referred to as an “act of God” in a ticket contract — is a perfectly legitimate reason for a delay or a service interruption. But not always.
Shannon Duane remembers a recent US Airways flight from Jacksonville, Fla., to Charlotte on a holiday weekend. As she prepared to board, she saw a bolt of lightning across the airfield. The airline announced that it would delay boarding for another 15 minutes because of the thunderstorm. [continue]
No two ways about it: The travel industry loves fees. Airlines in particular.
A few days ago, Canada’s Porter Airlines slapped a new $25 checked-baggage fee on all flights between the USA and Canada. The carrier, which promises to bring “dignity and refinement back to flying,” said it needed the extra money to stay “competitive.” And of course the US Department of Justice cited the rise of airline fees as a reason it sued to block the planned merger of American Airlines and US Airways.
Porter has a long way to go before its passengers storm away from the ticket counter in disgust. Other travel companies are light years ahead of the airline, whether it’s hotels that charge mandatory “resort” fees on top of their room rates, airlines that make you pay for your carry-on bag or car rental companies that add nuisance “tire disposal” fees to your bill. [continue]