Saturday, November 15, 2014


Untied Airlines

IPLawGuy tipped me off to this great story in the New Yorker about the decline of United Airlines after its merger with Continental.  The story is a familiar one: Airlines promise great service and low prices after a merger, and none of it is true:

Modern American corporations rarely degrade service in bold, attention-getting ways. Rather, it is a kind of suffering by a thousand cuts, each individually unnoticeable but collectively defeating. On the “new” United, seats got smaller as the airline jammed more people into the same tube; upgrades, to escape the sardine effect, seemed to become harder to book. The number of boarding groups began to resemble something like a caste system; “change fees,” which have always been outrageous, grew higher (two hundred dollars for domestic, three hundred dollars for international), while baggage fees soared to as high as a hundred dollars. The cross-country flights somehow seemed to all be on old, broken-down planes, while gate agents and flight attendants all just seemed crabbier. 

The only truly equal way to charge for air fare is by weight - so much per pound of passenger and luggage. If you are a fatty with lots of luggage, you pay a lot more! The extra seat width over a certain space could also be sold by the inch width - there again, the fatty pays more. Extra leg room would also cost more, past a certain point where a seat fits a 6" ft person comfortably. this would lead to a fat section on the plane, but that's a small price to pay for the rest of us not being squished.

The airlines could make just as much money, and air travel could be once again better that the '70's Greyhound experience. Ugh! Those trips to college and back - beyond awful!

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