(…just ask United Airlines)

There was a time, not really so very long ago, when flying even for frequent-flyer warriors was a relatively pleasant way to travel.

Not so today. If anything, the entire process of making arrangements to do so which will reasonably match one’s requirements for convenience, cost, and comfort, has become an almost impossible one.

The airline industry has apparently become a global rip-off conglomerate which considers travelers as so many “units” from which to milk as many bucks as possible from them. The concept of providing the best possible service at the least cost has all but disappeared. Now, of course, travelers also face the overlaid burden of a security processing system all have to endure today. It’s enough to make folks dream of reviving those grand old Trailways and Greyhound bus services of yore.

This latest incident at Chicago’s O’Hare airport where a passenger was forcibly removed from a United Airlines flight for refusing to voluntarily do so further shows how the quality of airline travel has declined. While the systemic practice of overbooking flights has long been in place (ostensibly to offset potential loss of revenue from last minute cancellations) it’s really no excuse for what happened there, even when “bribery” in the form of cash chits and other incentives didn’t work. The only way that approach can work is if the “bribe” to volunteer oneself off an airline’s aircraft because of an overbooking/loading problem…is to make it really worthwhile to do so. Trying to do it on the cheap just won’t cut it.

But this incident put the spotlight on the one glaring deficiency which brought it about, and that’s what’s termed the – 4 P’s – in military parlance whenever an operation goes wrong. That is to say…piss-poor-prior-planning…and in this case…that’s what happened here with United Airlines. They had to have known beforehand of their need to have four of their personnel travel on that flight, at least long enough in advance so as not to fill the four seats they would need for them to do so, thus, a clear case of 4 P’s.

Well, since travelers are more and more facing the probability of getting “bumped” off their hard gotten flights thus having their own travel plans or needs screwed up, perhaps it’s time all of us make up our minds from here on out that whenever we go through the hassle of having to travel by air and face one of these “bumping” situations, unless the bribery offer to volunteer to help solve an airline’s deficiencies in prior planning is not at least $2000, for the inconvenience it’s causing us, versus the alternative of a lawsuit and an incredible amount of bad publicity all over Social Media, and that we’re prepared to force the issue if need be. We’re certain that there’s a swarm litigators out there just drooling at that prospect.

Who knows, the prospect of having to shell out at least two grand whenever that happens, or face costly litigation, and extremely negative publicity each time they screw up in their forward planning like that…it just might change their ways…but don’t hold your breath. So, if you’re wondering how unfriendly your skies can get…just asked United Airlines.

Meanwhile, to offset these depressing events involved with air travel, here’s an old slightly raunchy GI joke about air travel…a young hippy couple has to fly from San Francisco to Chicago, but they’re slow in booking for a flight, and the only flights available are on American Airlines. So they ask their travel agent if they can have two seats side by side because, they want to travel united together, if he knows what they mean…shaking his head and grinning the agent says…sorry…you’re not allowed to do THAT on American Airlines.