The Problem with the Airline Industry

commercial airlinesIt’s time for me add my voice to the blogsphere on this topic after a conversation I was involved in on a flight from Dallas to Sacramento last week. WTF is the airline industry doing?

On this flight, the guy sitting next to me was buying the sandwich and chips. The flight attendant says, “are you sure you want it? It’s $10.” (What a great salesperson, huh?!) He was hungry, it was lunch time, and yes, he did want it and was putting it on his company expense report anyway. Then he commented how the airline should really just add $10 to the price of his ticket and give a sandwich meal to everyone. I had to add my two cents and say while they’re at it, add the price of checking a bag to the ticket price too. The flight attendant says she hears this constantly from passengers who are tired of being nickel and dimed to near death. However, she added, flying is cheaper now than it was 20 years ago.

Cheaper maybe, but everyone dreads it. And everyone I know would pay MORE to have a better experience.

So why aren’t the people running the show listening? How can airline execs possibly be so completely oblivious to how bad the flying experience is for their customers? Yes they need to find new ways to generate revenue but every move they make these days just further alienates passengers, like let’s take these checked baggage fees that everyone’s complaining about and make them HIGHER!

If airlines cared at all about the customer experience, they would make decisions based on creating a better experience for their passengers. They would take a page or two from the Disney playbook, which is all about creating magic and making people love being in their “care.” Cost doesn’t matter so much (have you seen the price of a ticket for a Disney park? And somehow they‘re always packed) and profits follow because people like doing business with companies that treat them with respect.

Now that more and more people are understanding the power of social media, airlines can expect to see even more publicly expressed outrage at their treatment of customers, like this video created by musician Dave Carroll after United Airlines baggage handlers broke his guitar. He was subsequently given the runaround by customer service for nine months and denied compensation, so he creatively shared his experience with the world. His  “United Breaks Guitars” video has gotten almost 7.5 MILLION views. Great public relations for the airline!

The takeaway lesson for you as a businessperson is every business is a SERVICE business. Listen to your customers and give them what they’re asking for. Use their feedback to improve your offerings. That’s how you make money and stay in business.

One Response to “The Problem with the Airline Industry”

  1. Sacramento DJ Says:

    Not sure if Disney is such a good example any more:

    When the Euro was hammering the US dollar, foreign tourists were filling the Disney Theme Parks. Now that the Europeans are hurting as much as we are (economically speaking), there are less tourists coming from overseas.

    NOW– if you go to Disneyland or Disney World on a week day (Monday thru Thursday) — there are NO LINES and you can basically hit all of the rides in one day!


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