Thursday, May 22, 2008

Worst Executive Decision Ever? American Airlines goes for broke

When your industry is in trouble and times are tough, the time may come for an executive to make tough decisions. After all, that's why they've been paying you the big bucks all these years, right? So how much is the following idea worth? Charge people who choose to travel on our planes $15.00 for every bag they check.

Consider the following top ten ramifications:

  1. The toll it takes to collect the $15 per back toll (time, resources, aggravation, goodwill).

  2. The strain on gate agent staffing and potential fraud in handling the cash, check or charges.

  3. The chore of promulgating and enforcing rules and arrangements for travelers who arrive with a ticket but say they can't pay for the bag check.

  4. The carry-on baggage explosion? Mayhem in the boarding area as passengers battle to be first onboard in order to grab overhead space.

  5. The regulation of the secondary market in cabin luggage space? For example: "I'm traveling light, I'll put your bag under my seat for $5?"

  6. The added flight delays because it already takes a long time to figure out that the overhead is full and there are three bags that are going to have to be checked. Now we will argue about whose three bags it will be, because the losers have to pay.

  7. The longer security lines and times as more passengers try to get more stuff into their carry-on quota (there's a whole bunch of stuff that is verboten in carry-on bags like more than 3 fluid ounces of most liquids, baseball bats, golf clubs, pool cues, ski poles, big screwdrivers, etc.).

  8. The number of flight attendants who decide it's not worth the aggravation and quit, or worse, carry on working with an even sourer attitude than before.

  9. The effect of people packing more stuff into a single checked bag, leading to more weight surcharges and the resulting time spent arguing and collecting, followed by more muscles pulled by ground crew, health insurance and disability claims, not to mention errors in load distribution as average per checked bag weight shifts.

  10. The lasting damage to public perception of your airline as the one who started this whole mess.


Wouldn't you love to have been at the meeting when they decided this was a good idea? And who supplied the research that said Americans will continue to fly in large numbers regardless of how unpleasant the experience becomes. I already see people doing the math on journeys you can do in a day of driving, like New Jersey to Detroit or Chicago, which is cheaper than flying if there is more than one person in the vehicle. Plus you can pack anything you like in the trunk, no hassles, no surcharges, no security lines. Heck you can even have a 32 ounce big gulp in the passenger cabin. With executive decisions like this one, American Airlines could single-handedly revive the Great American road trip.

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