Monday, November 16, 2009

The joy of flying.

The airlines deserve to go out of business.

Because they are insane.

Having worked at an Inn in the past, I know how things work. If the room is empty, that equals zero dollars. If someone comes in at three in the morning and wants a nice room, you can sell them the bridal suite for sixty bucks and make a profit. See, I know this is hard to comprehend, because math is hard, but sixty bucks is greater than zero bucks. It doesn’t matter that the bridal suite usually rents for over two hundred bucks. 60 > 0.

Airlines have some insane business practices that I will never understand. It seems like they want to go out of business. For those of you who do not fly often, let me enlighten you to some of the crazy things they consider smart business practices.

It costs more to fly ONE-WAY to Madrid than it does to fly round trip to Madrid and back again. Actually, it is cheaper to fly round trip ANYWHERE than it is to fly one-way. How does this make any business sense at all? When I flew from Miami to Madrid I booked a round trip ticket, knowing that I was never going to show up for the return flight home. They lost a seat on that trip. They probably paged me, holding up the flight back to the states. I hear it all the time in airports, paging people for flights they will never show up for. They could have sold that seat if they didn’t demand that I be smart and book a round trip ticket and save myself five-hundred dollars.

Another thing they do is overbook flights, taking their cue from inn’s and hotels. Except, see, people might get caught in traffic or find a nicer place to stay at the end of the day and not make their hotel reservation, freeing up space for other people. But NO ONE is going to spend a thousand dollars on a trip across the ocean and then NOT SHOW UP. What? You think they’ll decide not to FLY ACROSS THE OCEAN? You think they got a better offer and just blew off a thousand dollar reservation? You think on a whim they decided not to see their family on the holidays? What the hell is wrong with you? If you overbook a flight – ALL of those people will show up and you will have to pay them to take another flight and have pissed off customers.

There is no other outcome.

This rant is brought to you by Wendy trying to use our miles to upgrade us to first class this morning. In order to do that, we need to spend an additional $2500 a piece AND use a thousand bonus points from our frequent flyer stash.

How stupid is that?

We could buy first class tickets for LESS THAN THAT. Somehow, they seem to think that once you have tickets, it is smart business sense to charge you more than canceling your ticket and buying a new one for first class than simply upgrading you.

Wendy always asks when we get to the counter “Can we upgrade to first class for this flight?” And is always told it will be some insane amount which we immediately decline. Then we get on the plane and notice they have ten free seats in first class; seats that we would have given them money for. Remember our earlier lesson?

Sixty dollars is greater than zero dollars. But the airlines have a blissful, almost happy ignorance to this fact. Smiling desk clerks will tell us “You cannot upgrade your type of ticket” or “It will be two thousand dollars to upgrade you to first class.” (I’m not kidding or exaggerating, first class, even on the day of the flight; with extra seats, is thousands of dollars more.)

Really? It’s better to fly across the Atlantic and pay your pilots less than a high school teacher than it is to upgrade us for a reasonable amount and fill those seats? That’s your business model?

You deserve to fail.

Whoever runs you is an idiot.

Sadly, this is not the example of one airline, but every airline we have ever traveled.


  1. Thank you for flying the Bizzaro skies. It's a wonder any of them still exist.

  2. I used to work for American Express Business travel and yes airlines do have some strange and stupid practices. The one that annoyed me the most as a travel agent was the one were if you did a return trip and stayed less than 3 days in the country the price would be lets say 1000 euros and if you stayed at least 3 days the price would be 200 euros. Czech airlines were experts at this.

  3. Have to add though that the existance of lowcost airlines have to some extent made the bigger airlines start to rethink their pricing strategies.