Do You Remember When the Airlines Needed YOUR Help?

Photograph ©istockphoto.com by milla1974.

During the past five months, I have written article after article for The Gate documenting changes which airlines have been implementing in the products and services they offer — as well as the costs of those products and services, the policies of their frequent flier loyalty programs, and airport lounge memberships.

The unbridled, frank and blunt responses posted by FlyerTalk members in reaction to the changes — many of whom perceived the majority of these changes as devaluations considered unfriendly to the customer and especially the frequent flier — have also been documented.

Airlines are businesses, and businesses must profit however they can and by any means necessary in order to survive — right?

While doing some research for an article for The Gate, I stumbled across a short article I wrote back on July 9, 2008 called An Open Letter to All Airline Customers.

The letter — which basically asked for your assistance to restore and enforce regulations and limits to “control excessive, largely unchecked market speculation and manipulation” pertaining to oil contracts which supposedly fueled a rise in oil prices per barrel — was signed by the chief executive officers of 12 domestic airlines based in the United States at that time. You were to have contacted the members of Congress who represented you, letting them know that you are joining other Americans and the airlines in a unified front to pull together as a nation “to reform the oil markets and solve this growing problem.”

So — did you do that?!?

FlyerTalk members were divided on that letter — ranging from those who were willing to jump in head first and help the airlines, to others who would not join in on the effort for a variety of reasons. It is not important to go into detail about the debate here, as it is detailed in this FlyerTalk discussion.

It is interesting to note that the commercial aviation industry was still suffering financially in 2008 before the advent of ancillary fees, as FlyerTalk member lancebanyon posted, “The fact that the CEOs of so many major airlines don’t understand the economics involved in oil pricing is just plain scary. It is no wonder they can’t turn consistent profits.”

How times have changed — or, at least, are changing.

Do you agree with the statement posted by FlyerTalk member StayingHomeIsBetter that “Perhaps the airlines can now understand what it is like being a consumer”?

I do wonder this: in light of all of the recent “enhancements” being planned or implemented by commercial airlines based both within and outside of the United States, what would be your initial reaction if the chief executive officers joined together once again to ask for your help? Would you do it?

More importantly, I remember when some FlyerTalk members would pledge to support their favorite airlines without hesitation during the lean years. Of course, airlines offered plenty of incentives for their customers to be loyal. Some would argue that the airlines “gave away the store.” Regardless, frequent fliers enjoyed the benefits, perks and amenities at that time — as well as the “mileage runs” — before they were “enhanced” to what they are today where:

 

…and those are just some of the “enhancements” which occurred this year alone.

Things usually happen in cycles. What if the commercial aviation industry suffered another economic downturn and needed your support? Would you gladly support your favorite airline — or would you remember the days when it seemed that stakeholder profits blatantly outweighed the wants and needs of customers such as you, even if justifiably so?

What are your thoughts?

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Comments (Showing 4 of 4)

  • duniawala at 11:59am May 31, 2013

    If Southwest can remain profitable without all these fees, it tells me that other airlines are mismanaged which is causing them to fail. So why should the consumer pay and support these airlines. Just to pay millions of dollars in severance pay to a CEO (AA in particular) who brought the airline down? No thanks.

  • BlueEyedDevil at 4:56pm May 31, 2013

    It’s just a business cycle. The better the airlines do, the worse for the high value flyer – they don’t need us as much. The airlines are doing great so they’re cutting our benefits. When the market turns they’ll come crawling back with new presents to swoon us.

    It’s just how it is, don’t cry about it. Ride the wave in the good times and take what you can get in the lean times. But lean times never last long because in the end the frequent flyer always has the upper hand in the long run because airlines can’t stay profitable. Anytime they have a bit of success they run themselves right into trouble and right back into the arms of the high value flyer.

  • Asiaflyguy at 7:59pm May 31, 2013

    Airlines are some of the worst managed companies in the country IMHO.

  • CDKing at 8:20pm June 03, 2013

    @duniawala. How well do you think WN would do if they jumped into the long haul international market? Ever notice how the most successful US carriers do not fly globally?

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