I ran across an incisive article on Forbes.com that describes how it’s better for airlines to have lots of unhappy customers than to have just a few happy ones. This is not only true, but it’s true in a way that completely explains what’s been going on with air travel.
Desperate to reverse years of losses, the airlines have cut capacity, staffing levels, salaries and amenities. That’s why we’re all flying around in packed aircraft with cranky crews and no meals. And it’s why the major airlines are starting to make money again.
So gripe all you want. Do it on camera. Testify before Congress. But if you keep buying the tickets and the airlines keep packing their planes, they have no incentive to change the way they do business. In their view, it’s working out quite nicely.
It’s as if you had an ice cream stand and you were selling as much ice cream as you could scoop. Every customer complained that it was lousy ice cream. But the line of customers just never ended. Why would you change?
I’m as cheap as the next guy. Cheaper even. But I’m starting to think that I might just pay a little bit more for a better experience in the air.