Way past the point you imagined the nation’s airlines couldn’t get any more disdainful of the traveling public, they have managed to do exactly that.
In case you missed it, here’s the headline: American Airlines has just re-configured the schedule at its Miami hub to put its hundreds of daily landings and departures closer together, what is called delicately “peak scheduling.” The airline says this will enable it to put more passengers from connecting flights on board and thereby earn more money. “An additional person per flight will make a difference,” a spokesman for the airline told The Wall Street Journal (whose reporter Scott McCartney does a terrific job of keeping up with these shenanigans).
Think about the meaning of this for passengers this for a moment, please. There now will be much less time for passengers to make connections (imagine how bad weather will complicate that throughout the entire system). It’s not enough that American crams passengers into tiny seats on crowded flights, now they want more. You can bet that additional rows of minuscule seats in the generously named coach section will soon be a part of all of their flights. Do you have some sense of how difficult this is going to make the process of transferring bags from one flight to the next? Less time means more bags won’t make the connecting flights. Enjoy.
And this incredibly irresponsible corporate decision means that the airport will now have periods of intense activity followed by periods of not much. How wasteful is that? Vendors in the Miami airport are already unhappy, reducing employment because passengers no longer have any time to stop. On a cheerful note, however, Americans says it will be hiring more people to deal with those hectic scheduled moments. Wow.
This is happening at Miami, but other airlines are apparently planning the same thing for their hubs. Mmmm, makes you want to climb on a plane, doesn’t it?
Last year when I wrote about the awful idea of merging of American and USAir — which of course is now a fact of life — I didn’t see this coming. The crowded flights, crappy seats, rising airfares and increased fees I did correctly forecast (being right still doesn’t feel very good) at the time. But this was a bad surprise, sort of like the sushi that leaves an unpleasant aftertaste.
Frankly, I can’t think of another corporate entity in this country that has so little regard and respect for its customers, that treats them as animals. Unless, of course, they have lots of money and are willing to spend it. I think it’s shameful, and I think we need a serious dose of federal regulation of the industry, in spite of my lack of faith in the federal process.
I’ve said for well over a decade that the airlines are not your friends. Don’t be deceived by anything they do. They are not on your side unless you are wealthy. And if you’re smart, you’ll do everything possible to avoid giving them your money. Think about it.