Not long ago I wrote a letter to the editor at the NYT about airline service. It didn’t get published. No surprise there, but I’m going to share it with you anyway because I think it speaks to something important not only about airlines but about any form of engagement with customers, clients or worshipers. So here goes.
Once again the airline industry has been taken to task by yet another release of poll data (Peter D. Hart Associates and the Winston Group) representing the views of travelers who are deliberately foregoing travel that they might otherwise be expected to take. According to what has been reported, it adds up to billions in needless airline revenue losses. But like other reports of late, this one also blames “the system,” whatever that is. I think they are only partly right. The problem ignored by the polls is the on board treatment of customers. Cramped seating bordering on torture, dirty equipment, poor quality food products (for sale yet), and unhappy flight attendants will continue to make flying unattractive and raise customer ire no matter what kind improvements are made to “the system.”