Gifts From Above: 7 Presents We Wish Airlines Would Give Us
This was supposed to be a feel-good column, where I asked readers what kind of presents they wanted from the travel industry, and all of the resulting good tidings left us warm and fuzzy.
And then I talked with you.
And here's what you told me: First, your list begins and ends with the airlines; and second, you do not feel warm and fuzzy. Not at all.
"I wish they'd stop treating us like idiots," says
I'll get to what's vexing Marbury in a minute. But let's just say for now that you're not happy with the airline industry, and you don't think making a wish will make you any happier.
I respect that. I think the airlines know it, too.
The airline industry is a popular target. The
Who is better qualified to write this column than me, then? I understand what it's like to be the object of ridicule. If your wish has a chance of being granted, I'm the guy to tell you. I'll give it to you straight.
Take Marbury's gripe. "My long-term love affair with Southwest was
seriously damaged by their announcement of Early Bird Check-in for an
I WISH THEY'D ELIMINATE FEES FOR THE FIRST CHECKED BAG.
"I would ask that they would take away the extra charges for
luggage," says Canadian videographer
I WISH THEY'D LET FAMILIES ON BOARD FIRST
"Why can't the airline industry reinforce or reinstate pre-boarding
for families with young children?" asks
Well, that may be, but there's another reason why elite-level business travelers, first-class passengers, dignitaries and other members of the "me-first" class must be boarded before the littlest passengers: They're more profitable. Not to be mean, but babies don't make the airlines much money.
I WISH THEY'D GIVE US MORE ROOM
"Wouldn't it be nice if they recognized the growing size of the
American general public and helped super-sized ladies and gentlemen
enjoy travel?" asks
I WISH THEY WOULD EASE UP ON THE CHANGE FEES
"Why don't they have a more flexible cancellation or change policy,
along the lines of
I WISH THEY'D CHARGE US ONE PRICE FOR EVERYTHING
"Stop nickel and diming us," says
Of course, the technology exists to quote an airfare that includes everything we want -- allowing us to opt out of things we'd prefer not to have, like checked luggage or the ability to make a confirmed reservation. But airlines won't do that either, because our confusion is ... well, profitable.
I WISH THEY'D BE NICER TO THOSE OF US IN THE BACK OF THE PLANE
"Pay attention to your economy passengers," says
We've faced new fees and security hassles, survived health scares and high fuel prices and connected to the rest of the world through amazing innovations in online technology. The past decade may have changed the way we travel, but nothing could stop us from going.
Like I said, I don't want to ruin the mood here, but it's kinda already ruined. In a way, most of us would happily give up any of these wishes to be treated with just a little decency when we fly.
"Most people just want to be treated fairly and with respect," says
Yes, it does.
Respecting the customer isn't just free, but it can make up for a lot of the other terrible things that are happening in today's airline industry.
I can't think of a more appropriate gift.
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(c) 2009 Christopher Elliott
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