Have changes to the airline passenger experience affected your willingness to fly?

Airlines are charging extra for all sorts of things, like checked baggage, adjacent seats, window seats and extra leg room. Some amenities that once were complimentary now come with a fee if they are available at all. Today’s Question: Have changes to the airline passenger experience affected your willingness to fly?

  • Chaunce Stanton

    I see by the premise that we are trying to avoid lambasting the TSA, which certainly has not made us safer as it strips us of rights and dignity.

  • NS

    Absolutely. I have to travel for work and really hate the times that I need to fly. I fly out of Duluth, so there is really no such thing as a direct flight. The territory I cover is only serviced by the tiny regional jets and the number of flights to all regional airports has slowly eroded over the past 5 years, so not only is it more inconvenient and uncomfortable but it takes longer as well. (Not to mention that regional to regional ticket prices are frequently equivalent to international fares to Europe).

    While I fly just enough to maintain elite status, the only “perk” I really get is one checked bag for free (which actually benefits my employer, since I am traveling on business anyway).

    I do get to choose a “premium” seat which on the larger planes made a difference, but again, on the RJs, except for the seats by the lav or right behind the engines there is not much difference; the size of your seatmate makes the most difference and you can’t choose that.

    I will soon no longer be able to choose to sit in the seats towards the front of the economy section on Delta multiple class flights because they now include “economy comfort” sections. Even if I were willing to pay the additional fee, my employer allows nothing except the lowest cost seats.

    On a leisure travel basis, I am also less than pleased with Delta’s choice to decrease the number of international Airbus flights from MSP to Europe. I travel via AMS (a pretty great destination airport re: the Daily Circuit conversation of a week or so ago), usually once a year, to visit my daughter in Germany and the 767s are really a step backwards.

    It is bad enough that if you want to route through MSP or DTW without having to go through ATL or JFK to CDG (ugh!) you usually pay a considerably higher ticket price, now you get a much lesser flight experience as well. This is generally the ONLY leisure flight I even look at during the year; I do not otherwise vacation anywhere that I need to fly to get there.

  • K

    I stopped flying years ago when TSA started treating everyone like a terrorist. My children may never see a foreign country (other than perhaps Canada and Mexico) because I refuse to subject them to invasive pat-downs and do not trust backscatter machines anywhere near them. Molestation, “soft” pornography and cancer risks? No thanks.

    As for the airlines, they should just raise their prices and quit the nickel-and-dime junk.

  • Chad

    I appreciate ground staff who tell you exactly what you need to do to catch a tight connection. In one instance, a LH frau swapped my flight in 5 minutes, handed me my fresh boarding pass, pointed me in the right direction, and as I left, shouted “Run!” I did, and just made it.

    I also appreciate fellow passengers who, if they have arrived early for check in, don’t mind giving way in queues if I’ve got just minutes to catch a flight.

    I would like to think most fellow travelers are kind. Now if only we can find a better, safer way to clear security.

  • Emery

    I’m a veteran road warrior and know well the service deficiencies of airlines. However, I’m also a management consultant who happen to have served a dozen airlines over the years. I can attest that, in general, airline employees go well beyond the extra mile to ease things for their clients.

    The problem is that processes are very rigid (have to be to work out properly) and the constant wash of problems and people complaining (many of them unfairly or unreasonably) can harden the heart of the most generous person. One of my clients used to say “2 years flying, 2 years behind the counter and then you’re outta here before you kill someone”.

    After my first couple of assignments with airlines, I’ve made a point of never complaining when faced with a problem – there’s no point in doing it. I just wait patiently for people to do their work and for the processes to work out a solution. It has worked well for me.

  • Steve the Cynic

    I haven’t flown in several years. Last time was after the TSA began their intense security theater operations but before the airlines moved to their current business model of putting parasitic fees on everything (following the example of the banks). It used to be relatively fun, but now I dread the next time I’ll have to go anywhere by air.

  • GaryF

    Sure it sucks.

    But that’s what happens when more and more people are shopping for tickets down to the dollar. You get what you pay for. You want the bottom dollar and buy strictly on price, you get no frills. Do you buy the cheapest car? Cheapest toilet paper? Cheapest bread?

    What gets me is that they charge for the first checked bag, which them means everyone tries to carry on that bag. The bag size limit is not enforced, and they try to jamb that large bag in the overhead, which takes time and plugs up the aisle. Then, the overheads are full, so they check bags on the jetway, and those people aren’t charged $25.

    I only fly for business, and it’s no treat.

  • Emery

    The world’s airline industry simply can’t increase fares quickly enough to account for runaway fuel bills,For the 2000 through 2010 period, US average air fares increased less than one percent.

    Passengers will continue to complain about being nickel-and-dimed, but it may be that they are making false comparisons between the years when everything was included—but the ticket prices were higher—and these current, a-la-carte times. Having to pay separately for ancillaries certainly makes flying a less glamorous experience, but it is arguably fairer.

    When a la carte shopping is successfully implemented, it’s not an evil method. Quite to the contrary, it’s the ultimate compliment to the consumer—it acknowledges their right to choose.

  • James

    Yes it has.

    Clearly flying is not a fun as it used to be and that gets baked into the equation when you choose whether or not to travel and whether to fly or drive.

    However….

    – We were spoiled. It used to be pretty sweet, but we were being subsidized by investor losses.

    – We were spoiled. Our kids only know the current model and don’t complain about it. It’s just the way it is.

    – We’re lucky to have MSP. Again it’s not quite what it was, but you can still get almost anywhere non-stop, the place runs well and it is a pretty elegant place to wait for a flight.

  • John

    I no longer fly. I know of no other industry that abuses its customers the way the airlines do, and that’s not even the worst part of flying. That would be being irradiated and molested by government employees, and knowing that my civil liberties could be thrown in the trash at any moment if some random idiot thinks I’m “suspicious” (usually code for “not white”). We are letting fear destroy our country.

  • Philip

    Without question. I will not fly commercial unless it’s absolutely necessary. If I’m going to go someplace for vacation, then it’s going to be somewhere I can drive or else I’ll see if I can do Space-A travel with the military.

  • Regnar James

    I fly commercial frequently for work, When I leave I tell my children that it is time for the gestapo bus ride in the sky.

    When the company plan is available it sure is nice to fly. Otherwise I would rather have a root canal.

    DTOM

  • Allison

    //”I tell my children that it is time for the gestapo bus ride in the sky”//

    Wow. I hope your kids are not being home schooled.

  • David Poretti

    Its better than a crowded bus in a 3rd world country. But not as interesting.

    Security is mostly for show. Airline employees have been abused for years, by customers and their mangagement, and it shows. The incremental fees are a scam. Future MBA students will be doing case studies about the airline industry for a ruined business autopsy.

  • Regnar James

    Allison, you have obviously not been through TSA lately.

    And what if I do home school?

    My kids are NOT sheeple.

    DTOM

  • bsimon

    Flying commercially is a dreadful experience. I avoid it if at all possible. I used to travel more frequently for pleasure but now choose to vacation closer to home. Airlines & TSA have a lot to do with that; there’s no pleasure left in flying commercially.

  • GregX

    I no longer buy into the theory that travel is recreation. Air travel was slowly going unprofitable – so they tried convincing us that we need to “go somewhere” and they addicted us to little perks and faux elegance. this increased their volume and allowed economies of scale to return some profits. then deregulation came along – and having “legacy” was another way saying you have old expensive to operate planes. then cargo operations really took off – but that limits how much baggage you want passengers brinking on board. then low-fare carriers came along with “fees for service” … so now… air travel isn’t elegant or entertaining or fun. Its just getting there. I fly when it is logical to do so… but sure as heck do not do it for fun or adventure or recreation. ANd Airports – talk about your captive cattle experience.

  • GregX

    regnar”Allison, you have obviously not been through TSA lately.” ……………….. regnar … TSA is a pain because the people, probably like you, fight every aspect of the process to retain your personal fantasy of how the process should operate. fine to have the fantasy – but for goodness sake politley deal with the reality. TSA – take some aspirin – chill. Yeah – it sucks – plan ahead and be better than the problem.

  • JasonB

    I used to love flying. Now I have a mild dread about it. I really don’t mind the security process. And other passengers who can’t seem to behave has always been a problem. But it is the petty little charges for service, creating a palpable drop in enjoyment, that is depressing.

    I think some airline should take a leadership position and just declare a list of services they will provide as a standard. Then let competition from other airlines for a comparative service work out the pricing.

  • Mark in Freeborn

    I have only flown a couple of times in my life, and totally hated the experience. It’s like being in a bus at 30,000 feet. And this was before 9/11, so I’m sure it’s much worse. If I can’t drive there, I won’t go.

  • georges

    Lets hope Regnar home schools his children.

    We need more citizens willing to put in the effort to reject (and defeat) the liberal government Control Machine.

    I still have letters from the local superintendent threatening to throw me in jail if I continued to refuse to send my kids to the public school.

    I replied, “If you really want to go a couple rounds with me in the legal arena, have at it. You will lose.”

    He knew I was right. He recognized my vast superiority. So, he started begging. “Please send them to school. The district loses 20 thousand dollars a year if they are not registered.”

    I said, “Good. The wasteful evil beast must be starved.”

    He never bothered me again.

    It is best to avoid the beginnings of evil.

  • GregX

    Posted by georges —— big talkin , little walkin

  • Jack

    Unfortunately this is a debate with incomplete and asymmetric information. Joe Public will never know how much the new security measures helped. And for that matter security forces will not either. The only people who will truly know if these measures have prevented security breaches are the terrorist cells who gave up on their plans after examining the security measures.

    The very same individuals who whine about airport security now. Will be the first ones to scream bloody murder when the next successful terrorist attack on an airliner.

  • kurt nelson

    Used to fly quite often, now not so much. Since the government decided to treat me (and everyone else) as a terrorist before we board a plane, I decided to pull back on how much I fly.

    The false security of the TSA is a joke. They are ill-trained weekend warriors, who think they have police authority, but in reality, they have yet to prevent any terrorist action.

    Two things made flying safer post 9/11. Locking the cockpit door, and the realization by passengers that they have the final say if someone (or a group) tried to hijack a plane again. Everything else is theater.

  • Jerry Stiff

    I do not enjoy current airline travel. Airline e-ticket check-in is keeping up with possibilities for improvement. Airline baggage charge forces folks to do too much carry-on luggage; it does plug-up the boarding and departing process; I find it very annoying. The TSA is generally cordial but I will wait years to find out if it was worth it for the delay & cost.

    In 1972, I enjoyed bus transportation to and from employment. In late 70’s I enjoyed airline travel for business. By 1995, I did NOT enjoy city bus travel to employment neither did I enjoy any airline travel.

    A lot of things have degraded since the 70’s.

  • georges

    Everyone agrees.

    Another area of our lives tainted by big liberal government.

  • kurt

    Georges,

    If memory serves, the TSA came into being under the Democ, or wait, the Republican Bush administration, which is just another example of the size of the federal government growing under Republicans. As per usual, those on the right only see what they want, rather than the facts.

    Do you want government like we had under the conservative god, Reagan, or a smaller government like we had under Clinton, or now Obama.

  • georges

    Smaller government?

    Under Clinton? And Obama?

    HarHarHar……

    Smaller than what? The entire Universe?

    Fact is, the explosion of gargantuan liberal government started in ernest during the presidency of Lyndon Baines Johnson, and has continued to grow unchecked ever since, without regard as to who is occupying the White House or the Congress.

    Ronald Reagan talked alot about smaller government, but grew the government every year he was our top employee.

    The government, at any level, in the U.S.A., is decidedly liberal.

    Conservative, as pertains to government, means to allow the government to do only its Constitutional duties, and to require those duties to be completed in the most cost effective manner.

    Liberal, on the other hand, is to allow the government to spend more than the minimum necessary to get the job done. It’s as simple as that.

    We have been allowing gross liberalism to dominate since LBJ.

    Time for the monkey to get back in its cage.

    Do you think the GSA is the only government agency abusing the public treasury?

    The Secret Service the only abusers of the Public Trust?

    Wake up. They all do, to one extent or another. From the local city and county employees, right on up to the biggest Federal conflagration of comrades.

    If we start starving the beast now, we may get it under control in a half century or so.

    Obama wants the Federal Government to spend 3.6 Trillion dollars this year. Paul Ryan, the supposed conservative, wants to spend 3.53 Trillion.

    Two peas in a pod. Two very liberal peas.

    There is a need here to learn what is conservative, and what is liberal.

    Just as an example, the Roe v Wade decision is conservative. Think about it.

    Those who are able, will get it.

  • Bart

    In the early 1980’s American Airlines sold unlimited first-class travel for life. The passes cost $250,000 (around $600,000 in today’s dollars), with a companion ticket available for an extra $150,000 and discounts for older people. My wife and I (at the time in our early 40’s) thought it was a great opportunity as we traveled for both business and pleasure.

    It illustrates how having the money to make significant investments when opportunities arise can pay off enormously in the long-run.What’s really shocking is how long American kept this deal going—it took nearly a decade and a half for the airline to realize it was getting the short end of the stick. If AA or another airline ever offers this kind of deal for that kind of price again, it’s worth considering if you have the resources and expect to live long enough to take advantage of the deal. After all, it’s way cheaper than having your own private jet—and you don’t have to pay the pilots or the staff.

  • Steve the Cynic

    Georges, your comments are so non-sensical (e.g., the idea that Paul Ryan is a liberal) that I’m beginning to suspect you’re actually a liberal posing as a rabidly conservative hothead in order to discredit the right wing by making obviously preposterous and ridiculous assertions that no thoughtful person can take seriously.