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Old September 3rd, 2004, 08:23 AM
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Default Fly the Friendly Skies :( NOT!

As I watched the today show this morning, with Peter Greenberg, I got so angry , and when I came online I got an email from American Airlines, it made me even madder...grrr. It seems, that Northwest, started this 2 days ago, United, and now I see Amercian has jumped onboard.. If you choose to speak to a actual human being when you call the airlines, you will be charged a $5.00 service fee.If you go to the airport to make your reservation, you will be charged $10.00 to buy a ticket. The only way to book free of a fee, is to do it online.

For many, this will be no big deal, this is how they do it all the time, but I like to speak to a real person, in real time, to ask a specific question, NOW, and get that answer, when I ask it. Peter said this will be a public relations nightmare..I agree..So, that small amount they took off to BOOK online is now gone...Expect this to go quickly across all the airlines..He also said that within 6 months, expext to see one major carrier, GONE.
How do you feel about this?



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Old September 3rd, 2004, 08:33 AM
AR
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Default Re: Fly the Friendly Skies :( NOT!

Maybe it's maddening, maybe it makes your blood boil, and maybe it will be a PR nightmare for the airlines.

But we still have the cheapest air travel in the world, by far, bar none. The legacy airlines have been plagued by mismanagement and an inability to break free from their pre-deregulation operating paradigm, no doubt about it.

But they're also victims of the crippling blow of 9/11, which was none of their doing, plus now ridiculous fuel prices, and they're still trying to keep fares low, compete with the low-cost carriers, and survive.

So try to keep this in perspective.
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Old September 3rd, 2004, 08:40 AM
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Default Re: Fly the Friendly Skies :( NOT!

Trip:
It is a major cost savings to the airlines who are trying to pinch every penny. However, they are being penny wise and pound foolish. They think it is detrimental for them to raise fares by $5 or $10 because of public opinion but then they do this.

A few years ago Wells Fargo, before they were bought by Norwest, began charging people for using a teller; even when they made a deposit. This was met with such a backlash they stopped it and issued refunds to all customers who were charged.

When booking regular air I book online and I rarely speak with a representative except when using FF miles to upgrade. I quit trying to book a ticket with FF miles because you can only hear "No seat available on that flight." so many times.

Take care,
Mike(Who wonders when the cruiselines will try this one.)

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Old September 3rd, 2004, 08:42 AM
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Default Re: Fly the Friendly Skies :( NOT!

Europe has very cheap airfare -- it seems cheaper then the US.
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Old September 3rd, 2004, 09:02 AM
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Default Re: Fly the Friendly Skies :( NOT!

Maybe this will go the same way the "new Coke" did back in the 80's!
Angela Z.
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Old September 3rd, 2004, 09:03 AM
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Default Re: Fly the Friendly Skies :( NOT!

Maybe this will go the same way the "new Coke" did back in the 80's!
Angela Z.
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Old September 3rd, 2004, 09:04 AM
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Default Re: Fly the Friendly Skies :( NOT!

that is just plain stupid, a public relations nightmare, i suppose that it could be a good thing for the travel agents, frustrated travelers call up their TA with questions about air and have the TA's deal with it.
What's next? loading your own baggage onto the plane???
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Old September 3rd, 2004, 09:20 AM
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Default Re: Fly the Friendly Skies :( NOT!

I once wrote an article called.. I'd rather join AA, than fly AA (though the piece was never used<G>).

Personally I think the airline industry is overall one of the worst run industries in existance in regard to it's "front end" (staff interacting with passengers). Call centers, check in agents, and flight attendants in many instances are disinterested, and undertrained.

Think the fact that in the majority of cases the passenger's experience with the airline is of such sort duration, is the only reason these companies aren't overwhelmed with complaints.

Cost of air travel in Canada is much higher than in the U.S., but that does not translate to better service. The problem is obviously something about the basic business model that the industry as a whole follows.

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Old September 3rd, 2004, 09:27 AM
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Default Re: Re: Fly the Friendly Skies :( NOT!

Trip- Would you be as enraged if they said that they were giving the same amount in a reduction for online booking? I hate dealing with them on the phone because I always get the rep with the IQ of a turnip. Online is just fine with me.

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Old September 3rd, 2004, 10:24 AM
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Default Re: Fly the Friendly Skies :( NOT!

Doug,
For me, I have, for the most part, had very helpful people willing to give me attention ...I need to book a bulkhead seat, and have had courteous and helpful experiences. That's why I like to speak to a person, not a machine... Will the internet be able to expedite this for me , we shall have to see, but for me, I want to speak to a person, who can give me an immediate response.There was a small incentive to book online, didn't you get it? According to what was said, this is gone now...

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Old September 3rd, 2004, 10:52 AM
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Default Re: Fly the Friendly Skies :( NOT!

I hate booking anything on line and refuse to do it, charge or no charge. I hope the airlines get a huge backlash from this. They deserve it.

J.
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Old September 3rd, 2004, 11:31 AM
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Default Re: Fly the Friendly Skies :( NOT!

I would rather talk to a computer, personally. It's more efficient.
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Old September 3rd, 2004, 12:30 PM
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Default Re: Fly the Friendly Skies :( NOT!

I book online too, for the most part.

The airlines estimate this fee will generate about $20 million per year. It is no secret they are desperately trying to find alternative revenues but at some point you have to wonder if customer service is one area it's wise to curtail?

Regards,
Thomas
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Old September 3rd, 2004, 01:04 PM
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Default Re: Fly the Friendly Skies :( NOT!

Trip, I read about this on the AA site yesterday as I was checking out fares. I was pretty sure we would book AA for the SEA-MIA/FLL-SEA flights for our cruise in Jan. Now I am afraid-what if the airlines is the one to go under????
We could book Alaska, but I see they use AA on some of their flights as part of the connection. Plus I ended up signing up for the AA number, as I could not access prices when I researched by schedule;still does not work all the time. I guess that means if I had a question I would be charged $5?!!
I am now going to look at Alaska Air;we have flown them a bit to SDiego/Lax/OrangeCounty and are hoping for their seat sale or $10 off for booking online-although that is not looking too likely now!!!

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Old September 3rd, 2004, 02:07 PM
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Default Re: Fly the Friendly Skies :( NOT!

Personally, I prefer to book online anyway, but if the situation arose where I had to book via phone, I just don't see $5 being a big deal. I waste a lot more than that every week on all kinds of things. It's in our interest for the airlines to survive. Every time an airline goes down, that's one step closer to a monopoly or reduced competition and higher prices. I'd rather give them $5 now instead of $50 later.
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Old September 3rd, 2004, 02:15 PM
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Default Re: Re: Fly the Friendly Skies :( NOT!

Of the legacy carriers (which include American, United, Continental, Delta, USAirways and Northwest), American is in the best shape. You have no worries about them going under at this point. The ones in trouble Are USAirways, United and, to a lesser extent, Delta. The only one that seems to be in any danger of liquidation at this point is USAirways. Remember, bankruptcy does not mean that service is suspended. Liquidation does. American actually turned a small profit in the second quarter. Just read the business pages.

Kuki--

The reason service stinks is because that's what the public has told the airlines they want--rock bottom fares and safety. Everything else is secondary. So the old established airlines are moving more and more toward what's called the Southwest model, which means bare-bones service and an implicit contract that says, "Look, you want a cheap ticket, so we're delivering it with as much of a smile as we can muster, but these ain't the old days when fares were high and service was good. Do we understand each other?" The low-fare airlines in Europe (like Ryanair) are adopting something of a scorched earth policy in this regard, with extremely low baggage allowances, extremely high overweight charges, incredibly small seat pitches (distance between rows), and all sorts of other non-safety-related corner cutting in order to keep fares low. It seems to be what the people want.

Well, actually, the people "want" everything. Low fares, great service, safe operations, bulkhead seats and exit row seats for all, empty planes so they can stretch out, and gourmet meals. But as somebody at USAirways said the other day to a frequent flyer who asked that drinks be served in crystal glasses rather than plastic cups, "The Lord answers all prayers, but sometimes the answer is no."
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Old September 3rd, 2004, 03:27 PM
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Default Re: Fly the Friendly Skies :( NOT!

AR... talk about cutbacks!

Two weeks ago we flew back from Seattle on Alaska Air (Horizong Air actually). Went to the washroom, and found there was NO sink. Only moist towellettes.

I was shocked that this would even be legal on an airplane...... no wonder Noro Viruses spread as quickly as they do!!

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Old September 3rd, 2004, 04:45 PM
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Default Re: Fly the Friendly Skies :( NOT!

I agree with the OP. The airlines contiue to give crappy service, and the public accept it. When will enough be enough?
This is very unfair to those that don't have computers.
$5 may not be a lot, but watch out, something else will come down the pike soon enough!
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Old September 3rd, 2004, 05:00 PM
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Default Re: Fly the Friendly Skies :( NOT!

AR:thanks for the info re:AA
Kuki:that is a disgusting thing-no sink!! I know the antibacterial wipes are good, but NO sink!!! EWWW! (Note to self:do not use washrooms on Horizon Air little planes.)

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Old September 3rd, 2004, 05:01 PM
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Default Re: Fly the Friendly Skies :( NOT!

All airlines are in deep trouble. American made a 6 million dollar profit, which is good but it has not made an annual profit since 2000. Northwest has major labor issues looming and an underfunded pension plan that will need an influx of cash. At least they will be able to ride it out for a couple more years but all of the major airlines need to change their management paradigm and flying isn't going to be what it once was.

The scary thing is that short selling of airline stocks is up drastically. Short selling is when speculators are betting that the stock prices are going to go down. All airline stocks have seen an increase in short selling with the largest increases in short selling are with Jet Blue and Air Tran. Most industry analysts agree that USAir will be in chapter 11 bankruptcy by year end and Delta has very good chance of following them.

United Airlines has yet to file their reorganization plan and chapter 13 (liquidation) may become a reality.

I think 5 years from now most airlines will become Southwest look alikes with some niche airlines providing a more upscale experience at a much higher cost.

The other thing that needs to be looked at is the taxation that airlines are subject to.$19 of a $200 ticket is for excise and security taxes. There may be a better way to tax the air lines. There are also FAA regulations that have nothing to do with safety that require airlines to spend 100's of millions of dollars a year that could be better spent.

Don't add the charges at the customer interface. Add a fuel charge, Northwest has reversed it's $7.50 fee for tickets that weren't booked on their website. Travel agents using Sabre, the largest online booking engine, sued them and forced the reversal.

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Old September 3rd, 2004, 08:59 PM
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Default Re: Re: Fly the Friendly Skies :( NOT!

Kuki--

You must have been in first class.

In coach you have to put a quarter in the slot before you can get in. When you do, there's a sink, but no toilet.
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Old September 3rd, 2004, 10:36 PM
AR
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Default Re: Re: Fly the Friendly Skies :( NOT!

Heck, Trip, I would think that $5 to be able to get a bulkhead seat every time is a cheap price to pay. Actually it's $2.50 because the fee is for a roundtrip ticket. Theoretically, of course, you should be able to do the same thing online, since the agent is looking at the same seat maps we see on the web. But we all know it doesn't always work that way.

I'll bet you shop the cheapest fares like most everybody else. If so, paying a small additional fee to get yourself a primo seat--for whatever reason--looks like a bargain to me.
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Old September 4th, 2004, 08:04 AM
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Default Re: Fly the Friendly Skies :( NOT!

hello all,
right, on why we airline employees are so miserable. We get paid a pittance, work long hours with little or no thanks and get to work with the general public all day long. Some, no make that most, are the rudest people i have had the misery of ever meeting. We haven't had a pay rise in two (now coming up three years) so our cost of living is going up but our wages aren't. We are constantly being hit with more and more stupid and pointless cost cutting measures, whilst our CEOs give themselves 35% pay rises and take their friends on flights for cheap, but they are embargoed to normal staff!! AAARGH!!
But I love my job, my co-workers are some of the finest and highly trained people you could ever wish to meet and that one passenger who says, "thank you, I love to fly your airline" makes my day. So next time you speak to "one of us" (we are a different breed btw, you have to be) and we are a bit grumpy, just a smile and a thanks, will cheer us up no end.

On bulkhead seats, we have a only at the airport policy, which means we allocate them to people who need them most, not on who booked first. We check for bassinets and medical requirements, before the flights open. It's much fairer.

thanks rant over
lexxity!!!!!!

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Old September 4th, 2004, 10:11 AM
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Default Re: Re: Fly the Friendly Skies :( NOT!

lexxity makes a good point.

As with everything in life, you get what you give. Now, I'm sure everyone who posts here is unfailingly polite to airline staff, but if you hang around airports at all, you'll see that many passengers are not. It reflects the demise of a kinder, gentler time when people were more considerate, slower to anger, and had more of a perspective on what's important.

Part of the reason service has declined is that those being served are generally more surly, demanding and unkind. Again, nobody on this board would ever fall into this category, of course, but the attitude of passengers--constantly wanting more for less--has clearly become more vicious.

You could argue the chicken-and-egg question for hours (has bad service made angry passengers, or have angry passengers made for lousy service), but the fact is that it's a loop. They feed on each other and the situation is spiralling into a very bad scene.

When I started to fly frequently in 1963 male passengers all wore coats and ties, airline staff were respected and treated as trusted allies in moving us about the world, and they performed that role admirably. Going the extra mile for passengers was commonplace, and passengers were quick to express their appreciation. And, oh yes, we paid relatively high, regulated fares to move around in this world.

I'm not looking at this through the fog of nostalgia; I remember these things clearly and specifically.

In 1963 it cost $90 to fly roundtrip between Chicago and New York. I remember this because I used to fly that route a lot. Everybody paid the same price. I just put that number through an inflation calculator and that's $523 in today's dollars. Yes, you CAN pay that much to fly that route, but almost nobody does. Most people pay in the $200 range and feel ripped off if they wind up paying more. So we're paying less than half what we did 40 years ago and complaining our heads off--mostly to beleagured airline staff.

I'm not employed by an airline, never have been. I'm just fundamentally grateful to an industry that has helped me do my job well and that has taken me to see most of a fabulous world safely and usually efficiently. No previous generation has had this glorious opportunity.
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Old September 4th, 2004, 06:28 PM
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Default Re: Fly the Friendly Skies :( NOT!

The airlines have to operate mean and lean these days to stay in business. I don't have a problem with them making a few extra dollars to stay in business. Airline fares aren't that unreasonable anyway, if you check the prices for several weeks before you need to go and pick and choose your flight. As for anyone who doesn't have a computer, they can get a free library card almost anywhere and use the computers available to the public.
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