Friday, October 26, 2007

The Morning's Airline News: Fresh Hell Ahead

In a year in which record delays, cancellations and passenger-strandings have been accompanied by robust profits, airlines are busily planning to pack more people in. Doug Parker, the CEO of US Airways, which reported a $117 million profit for the third-quarter, crows here that airlines need to exercise more "capacity restraint" and get rid of "excess capacity."

Excess capacity?
Domestic airlines are already flying with all seats full on most routes. US Airwars, for example, filled a record 81.6 percent of its seats in the first nine months of this year. US Air, alone among the major carriers, doesn't break out its seats-filled figures domestic vs. international, but domestic load-factors (the percentage of seats filled) typically exceed international ones.

At over 80 percent systemwide, it's considered that nearly every flight is full.
The airline industry wants us all to get used to it. The planes -- where coach cabins are torture chambers after a few hours -- are going to be full, all the time. You don't like it? Tough, say the airlines. Whaddya gonna do, drive 1,500 miles each way?

Here is what the airlines have learned in this worst year ever for customer service: We're treating them like cattle and we're making more money at it! [Of course, cattle get fed and there are laws governing humane transport of cattle]
We're in a seasonal lull right now, and the system is working fairly smoothly. But wait till the holiday season starts next month. You know, when all the cheap-ticket leisure travelers and kiddies return, now laden with packages for Christmas at grandma's?

You ain't seen nothin' yet.

By the way, Kate Hanni's Coalition for Airline Passengers' Bill of Rights now has 21,000 active members. And they all take notes.


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