Don''t Blame the PAX

Dea Certe

Aug 20, 2002
It''s not the pax who are the problem with the airline industry. It''s airline management. Since deregulation Management created a monster with fare structures so complicated no one can fully understand them. The business traveler, our real bread and butter, has been gouged and abused by the system. They''ve paid through the nose so old Aunt Agatha can fly maybe twice a year to visit family on a cheap fare. Don''t misunderstand, I''m glad Auntie can visit her family and I''m just as pleased to serve her as I am my favorite cockroach-US 1.

However, it has created a perceived value that''s not sustainable. In my opinion, that''s the trouble. Once someone has paid $99 to fly cross country they are not interested in paying much more. They will wait until management panicks and starts a fare war. The seats are filled without making a profit, or not much of what''s needed to keep the airlines running.

Add to that the expectation of CEO''s to reap huge bonuses regardless of performance and you''ve got the perfect storm.

Traveling is not fun or even comfortable these days. Long lines, TSA pawing through ones luggage, cramped seating and few inflight amenities leave everyone frustrated and cranky.

Understaffing of mechanics, flight attendants, utility and customer service agents add to the exhaustion of good cheer so very necessary when dealing with the public. Everyone is on edge. Most of us take pride in doing our jobs well and it''s maddening when we can''t because we don''t have the people or resources to do so. Who''s at fault here? Management. They''ve never figured out how to manage. They''ve taken the easiest route of cutting costs by slashing pay, benefits and jobs of the very people who actually perform the labor intensive aspect of an airline.

Management solves the revenue side by gouging our most frequent flyers and taking away the rewards for their loyalty. That''s just bad business, if you ask me.

So instead of blaming the passengers, the ones who pay to fly with us, let''s find a way to hold management accountable. Let''s not allow them to get away with handsome bonuses for failing to produce favorable results.

Good Post Dea,
I declined to return to US from furlough in March 2003 and it is the best decision I have made in a long time. I am in my third semester of school and loving it. U''s pax are their support and bread and butter. It is sad to see the name calling and petty insults between employees and customers. I agree that management is totally to blame. The employees by their givebacks and the pax by their loyalty are the only reasons U is still around. It has reached the point that alot of my former co-workers do not even like to acknowledge working for U. How sad. I do not know what the answer is, but infighting between employees and pax is not the answer. I wish the best to all the employees at U still giving their all and thanks to the pax that hang in there in support. Good luck to all. Also, lets not forget what Memorial Day stands for, it puts alot of other things into perspective.
You said it GIRL!!! Too bad airline management doesn''t get it.

As for the PAX, we are getting increasingly cranky and it shows. I know it''s not the fault of the flight crew I am with and I would never take it out on them. But I am shocked at the fellow PAX that do.
Oh I do PineyBob. I may have an I" don''t care" mantra now but whenever I see rude behavior directed at the people who can''t control it I open my big fat mouth. I love embarassing those types that cause problems.

But it is also directed at other PAX. I had an incident on my PHL to PIT flight this past Thursday. How hard it is to put a small briefcaase on the floor infront of you when you heard the F/A''s announce that the flight was full and any overhead space should be for bags only?? Well this jerk next to me made a rude comment to me and the entire FC cabin heard my reply. Along with the first few rows in coach. I may be small but I''m scrappy.
Great post Dea!!! And to you frequent flyers good for you!!! I just hope I get a chance to talk to a few of you when you fly out west. You see, retired from US and just couldn''t stand the nasty treatment of a manager of a travel agency so am working from home for tours and cruises, but low and behold there is an airline out west--no not WN---that is hiring in Res, and I truly miss it sooooo I go on the phones tomorrow. The management out west--trying to hint as to the airline--seems to be doing things right to make the agents happy. MERIT raises, lots more buddy passes, contests with really nice prizes and money, and a seemingly friendly work place. Anyway, if you get me you''ll know--a little slow on the new puter system but still my happy helpful self--and I''ll be happy to help you.
Good luck all of you still at US. You''re still my first love of agents and will always have a special place in my heart.
Nice post Dea. Thanks.

I do wish you''d refer to us as "customers" rather than "PAX" -- I sense affectionate use of the term on your part but I can''t help but think that a lot of people in CCY have completely lost sight of what a customer is and could use a reminder...
Thanx Dea...great post and topic. I can only respond to my side of dealing with the public via the phone. I have gotten so many cranky people who have been waiting on hold just trying to make a reservation. Even had some preferred pax complain of the wait. But alas it seems to be an industry wide problem. Tried to protect a pax on DL a week ago and for 20 minutes could not get through to them. It seems that all management in this industry is trying to get by with the bare minimum to make a profit and that is not even happening with the major carriers. The old biz saying "To make money, you have to spend money" has seemed to be forgotten. I for one cringe when I hear the word passenger. I do prefer the word customer. You are correct Dea, flying now is no longer like it was pre 9/11. Long lines due to minumal staffing, long lines going through TSA check points due to the flying public not understanding on what can and cannot go on the aircraft on the carry on and not being prepared with the copy of the etkt and government ID that they have to dig for. The one difference that I have seen especially when I have non reved on us is I have always recieved a smile from the flight crew when I board, so if I am recieving that smile so are the other customers. Makes all the difference in the world after going through the tkt ctr and TSA check points. Yes the "perks" have been scaled back, but some perks are priceless. Amazing how a smile changes the pressures of checking in!!! Keep it up my fellow flight crews employees it is a nice touch. And for my fellow res employees keep the smile in your voice when you handle each call, it does make the do defuse most anger in regards to a long phone wait.
On 5/26/2003 6:37:21 AM TomBascom wrote:

Nice post Dea. Thanks.

I do wish you''d refer to us as "customers" rather than "PAX" -- I sense affectionate use of the term on your part but I can''t help but think that a lot of people in CCY have completely lost sight of what a customer is and could use a reminder...

Congratulations, you''ve finally gotten it... lol How long did it take you to realize that this managment could care less about you, the customer? It happened right after they put the screws to the employees....then they put the screws to you. They only care about upper magament and the stoc holders. They may not even care about the stockholders. They aren''t done with any of us.
On 5/26/2003 8:32:31 AM Twicebaked wrote:
   Congratulations, you''ve finally gotten it... lol  How long did it take you to realize that this managment could care less about you, the customer?  It happened right after they put the screws to the employees....then they put the screws to you. They only care about upper magament and the stoc holders.  They may not even care about the stockholders.  They aren''t done with any of us.


August 27th, 2002.

To truly serve the stockholders (which is their only job...) they have to also serve customers. No business can succeed if it believes that the customers are the enemy. Unfortunately far too many people in this industry believe that -- or at least act that way. The poster child for this attitude, of course, is B. Ben Baldanza.

To run an effective business they must also treat employees properly. "Putting the screws" to either may bring short term benefits -- but it''s no recipe for the long run.

Which isn''t to say that change isn''t needed or even welcome. The revenue side of the equation (customers) has been changing dramatically for quite some time. The longer management and labor tried to pretend otherwise (and fix it by demonizing customers) the worse the situation has become (and it will continue until the new reality is accommodated). These changes didn''t need to be so draconian and dramatic and if they had been done sooner and with some thought everyone would be a lot better off.
The fact that AA is offering fares at 299 is nice, but they are not doing it out of godness, they are doing it because of competetion. Were it not for jetBlue and the other LCC, you would not be ableto get a 299 fare on AA.

As far as more room on coach on AA, that is about to disappear, since the customers were not willing to pay more for it, depsite always asking for it. Almost makes you feel sad for AA, think they tried, but it did not work.

More amenities on full service carriers, well, mostly I fly short haul on the "big boys". Not many amenities there, a two ounce bag of "smetzels" and a glass of Coke.

What is cattle class, anything other than first? Or does it refer to seat pitch? Just curious.

As far as complaints are concerned, not sure if the customers on WN or jetBlue has more complaints than on the "majors", as a matter of fact, I think if you check the DOT stats, you will see that WN and jetBlue receives less complaints than U, UAL, AA. Perhaps because they do offer a good service at a great price. I think the customer would be much more apt to complain, if they paid top dollar for bad service. I know I would.
As some previous poster shows, it seems, that Mr. Ultra Deluxe Super Mileage Plus Exec Platinum Gold Preferred Elite cause more problems than Old Aunt Agathe.
I posted this message the other day on a thread which appears to have vanished into thin air, but here goes again.....

There are many travelers like myself who would not mind paying A LITTLE more for flexibility and added comfort. The assumption that most passengers want nothing more than price is probably true more about the leisure traveler or occasional business traveler than the frequent flier such as Piney, Trvlr or myself.

To be honest, I say let the people who want $99 fares go to the WN''s and B6''s of the world. They usually are the most unhappy and complain the most when there''s a problem.

There is no longer a need for 48 different fares in one market. 5 or 6 should do it. I have long maintained if you raise the bottom and lower the top, the AVERAGE will go up. The post the other day about millions spent on yield management software being the reason they won''t abandon the current system, while making valid points, is more proof of management''s head in the sand mentality.

Here''s my example again: Next week I am flying from ISP to LAX, as well as LGA to FLL with my family. The family trip is costing about $280, and the LAX trip is only about $25 more. In each case I have a first class seat. Were I to stop the trip in PHL and not continue on to LAX, however, the fare would jump to almost $800!!!! This is just plain stupid.

The ISP-LAX market ranges from a low of about $260 r/t to a high of $2300 for a full Y fare. WN does provide 3 or 4 stop service from ISP to LAX in cattle class, so for those who want the $260 fare, there you go. If you were to make the least expensive fare, let''s say, about $350, and your most expensive walk up fare about $800-900, I believe you''d see the AVERAGE fare on a given flight go up substantially, resulting in better revenue. I also think you''d see happier customers--which brings me to my next point---

The fact is that we want VALUE for our money---something we don''t get when paying $900 from LGA to CLT (and that''s only a B class fare!), or $2300 for a Y fare to LAX. There is no justifiable excuse for these and the ISP-PHL fares to be so high other than greed (we charge that because we can get it).

American has taken the lead and has offered a maximum one way fare of $299 on some of their transcons from JFK to LGB or SNA (a shot at B6). They are also offering paid first for about $599. This makes sense. It is a fair price AND it offers services not available on no frills air carriers (MRTC, First Class, etc.)

It''s time for someone at U to be brave enough to bite the bullet and rationalize fares--and STOP taking from the employees. The employees are the jewel in the crown--without these wonderful people manning the front lines, U wouldn''t have loyal travelers like Piney Bob, Trvlr, and myself. Think about that.....

Enough ranting for now--just my 2C (or $2)....

To all my friends at U, thanks for what you do!!!!
On 5/26/2003 11:55:50 AM Art at ISP wrote:

The ISP-LAX market ranges from a low of about $260 r/t to a high of $2300 for a full Y fare. WN does provide 3 or 4 stop service from ISP to LAX in cattle class, so for those who want the $260 fare, there you go.-----------​

Art, I enjoy reading your thoughts about our industry, but I gotta call you on this one. I know of at least one 1 stop that I see everyday #783 ISP-BNA and #115 from BNA-LAX. And also, I know of one direct (one stop, same plane service) that goes ISP-BWI-LAX. Aside from that I agree with the bulk of what you had to say.

take care
I stand corrected regarding the fares-the numbers I quoted were not meant to reflect WN--but US. My point is that I don''t think they should have to offer those low low fares--in the long run they can afford to lose that customer. My definition of cattle class is WN--no pre selected seats and having to wait on line after line is an absolute deal killer for me-- I will never fly WN.

That being said, my experience has been that whenever there have been irregular operations, such as misconnects or cancellations, it is usually the $99 once a decade flyer who yells and screams the loudest and who causes the majority of the scenes. Although there are a few Mr. Supreme Gold Platinum Enhanced Super Frequent Fliers as described above, I think the majority of us who fly every week just roll with the waves and deal with issues as they arise. I too have tried to help calm situations by helping address uninformed customers'' needs while waiting on lines. This usually calms them down and makes it easier for the agent to deal with them when they get to the podium.

As for myself, if there is a major problem, I try not to bother gate personnel unless necessary, and just call the Chairman''s Desk to do what I need to do. I can usually then go to the club and get new boarding passes, etc. It just makes for one less person on a never ending line.

All in all, I think you folks at U are the best in the industry (sorry to repeat myself), so keep up the great work!

So sorry to miss a chance to meet you! No, I haven''t seen Renee in ages. She''s a great gal and used to love working with her when we were based in LAX.

I don''t know Lea but I''ll keep an eye out for her name.

Hope your trip is a good one and let me know when you have transcons planned. They aren''t always available from PIT, due to the reduction of flying out of PIT but I usually can get the red-eyes. We are hoping management will bring a few transcons back to PIT. Doubtful, but we can still dream. I''m seriously considering a transfer to PHL but hope that won''t be necessary.

Take care, fly safe and hope to see you soon!
On 5/26/2003 12:33:27 PM Diesel8 wrote:

What is cattle class, anything other than first? Or does it refer to seat pitch? Just curious.

Have you ever flown on Southwest? Well, the "cattle" class is simply boarding by "cattle call". They give you a number (like a deli)...."passengers with number 1-30 may board now"........ Then it becomes a "free-for-all". Everyone sits anywhere. They push, the shove, and the act like damn animals. Obviously, Southwest is doing something right, I would never fly that "ghetto" airline again.