January 5th, 2007 09:09 EST
Mass Merger: Death of Air Travel
Recently, while boarding a plane bound for Buffalo New York, I grabbed a copy of USA Today. USA Today is one of my favorite publications whereas, it is always an entertaining read and just enough to quench the thirst of our short attention span minded deficient world.
Some stories are so short they could be classified as a sentence fragment or byline. However, like many of us, I enjoy USA Today because ‚Äúa little bit of something is better than a whole lot of nothing‚Ä".
On this day, I did not have to open the paper before my attention was quickly drawn to a topic of my interest.¬† The headline read:¬† ‚ÄúSkies Clear for US Airline Merger‚Ä".¬† After settling in my seat, I determined that on a clear day one can see ‚Ä¶ yet another air merger.¬† It was not too long ago that US Air and America West‚Ä¶ well now US Air and Delta merged.
This merger can be looked at kind of like the game of monopoly.¬† Play the game long enough and what you have is one person smiling and the others just waiting to be picked off by the evil slumlord holding the title to Marvin Gardens.
Both US Air and America West are based out of Phoenix, AZ and if these mergers go the way of current discussions they might just make there first flight with all there employees to Sky Harbor‚Äôs the new headquarters in the mid west leaving Arizona terminally ill. Air mergers normally mean fewer workers, less flights, higher rates, and MORE profit for the big boys leaving the consumer with very few extras.
In my experience when it comes to past airline mergers i.e.; US Air and America West. The average day unfolds as the following:
First, you try to log on from your PC at home or office to get your Eticket.¬† However, you cannot because the airlines have not yet merged their databases and their website is down. Once you arrive at the airport you wait in a line for the airline you thought you were supposed to be flying at which point they inform you that you have the wrong ticket and you need to proceed to the next line. Once you finally get to the checking area and the computer cannot find your name, because the database number you have is for the other airline.
In addition to this, they have half as many employees providing you with service because they laid off workers to help offset the cost of purchasing the other airlines.¬† In the world of corporate takeovers this is the best way to make your corporation look irresistible to the friendly folks who want to buy you out and then they scale down to a skeleton crew to show a higher profit margin and remain in the black.¬† To make matters worse, as you board the plane you just might notice that the plane you are boarding has a totally different name on it .None of which you have seen in the equation yet. This is practically scary when flying over seas. Anyhow, when you land the real fun begins‚Ä¶ getting your luggage, all at once.
You are informed that they cannot locate your bags whereas they did not MERG the databases. In this particular case, my luggage was sent to New Mexico and I had no intention of going there to fetch it anytime soon. I was informed that it would take a few days to get it back.¬†
However, for my convenience, I could call this number to check the status at any time. When I called, I was informed that they would be closed until the next morning.¬† The next morning when I awoke, I phoned the airline again.¬† This time I was able to speak to a very nice person that really did not have a clue where my bags were.¬† They did ask me why I was calling at 2 in the morning in which I replied, I am not, it is 2pm and so the only thing I can gather is that it was 2 am wherever they were at.
Merging now days has VERY little to do with how many eggs you have in the same basket. It is kind of like having a family reunion, you all get together and everyone know who you are related to, you are just not sure what your other family member do for a living.
Back during the infancy of air travel it was said that the rope-spinning humorist Will Rogers paid his weight in stamps to get where he wanted to go. Maybe he had the right idea.¬†¬†¬†
Okay, so here is my plan. We can cut a deal with Federal Express. UPS or any of the other express folks to hitch a ride with them.
Here are three simple reasons why:
1. ¬†The traveler would get a tracking number and if they did not arrive, the friendly folks on the ground would be able to log onto the Internet to see where you are at any given time.
2. If your luggage was to get lost or damaged during the trip.¬† They would offer compensation just as they currently do for the express packages they currently ship everyday.¬† 3. If you do not make it in time, you get a full refund.
In conclusion, it is my feelings that as a result of 911, no one actually thinks they are flying the friendly skies.¬† Frankly, they are driving us all to drive.