20 March 2011

The next Airline bailout

The next time US-based Airlines ask for a bailout or for increased fees and tariffs, I think we need a little collective bargaining for the passengers.

So Congress passes the Passenger Bill of Rights, but ultimately that's window dressing on the core problems.

Running an airline supposedly means that you're expertise is logistics.  Logistics, in this case, of moving human beings and cargo around America and the world.  Supposedly.

Well, people, we're an ornery bunch and since we all have brains in our heads we can pretty much make sure that we're getting on the right flight and usually end up in the right place.  But our luggage, well, those poor bastards don't even have a brain.  They are helpless bug kill on the windshield of airline transportation.

As you can guess, my luggage has been lost on a relatively important trip to New York City.  I have no idea how one bag, checked in at the AA Premium Status desk at the 2nd busiest airport in the world (ORD) on a direct flight to LGA doesn't make it there.  In fact, all the bags made it except mine and another poor fella.

How can people who are supposedly masters of logistics be so poor at it?  How, in a day where someone's blow-up doll being shipped by FedEx or UPS can be scanned and tracked multiple times across this fine land of ours with almost GPS-like precision, do the airlines who make infinitely more money have no clue where my bag is after it was put on the treadmill at O'Hare?  They just don't give a rat's ass AND you have to pay for it (unless you have status, are flying business class or flying Southwest!)

I watched with amazement how, in almost Third Reich fashion, people were getting their carry-ons pulled out of line when boarding this afternoon.  In fact, even I thought a few of them were questionable.  But the airlines are forcing people to go this way.  Since a carry-on bag stays with it's owner (see above where I mention that we have brains and make sure we get from one place to another in spite of the airline) it too makes it to its destination and there's no careless behavior going on behind the doors we're not allowed in.

It's truly a catch-22 of travel.  Can't bring that huge carry-on that you know will make it there, so you have to check it where it'll get lost, so then you'll have to bring carry-on again.

What I can't fathom is that they put stickers on every piece of luggage that have bar codes and unique bag-tag numbers.  When I check out in ANY retail store nowadays, they have hand-held scanners that are wireless and they can scan the UPC codes on larger, awkward items in my cart.  There are numerous softwares that can be used to manage logistics.  How, in the millions of dollars they charge for flying can an airline not afford to put these all together?  If I had the wherewithal, I'd be banging on boardroom doors proposing a new system and charging a fair price for it.

Our government can detect whether or not I have 4 oz of shampoo in my carry-on but a big logistics company has no f*@&ing clue where a 38lb bag is??

Oh Wilbur and Orville, why have you cursed us so?  Flight was BORN in this country and the current US entities are doing everything they can to kill it a very slow, painful death.  Please note in the following graphic, there is not ONE instance of a bag going astray due to the customer/passenger.  And they want to know why everyone is cramming on their carry-ons?????

This is likely where my bag is, although I highly doubt US-based airlines would even know how to get above the Earth's atmosphere.

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