It's resolution time again and if ever there was a business in desperate need of resolve and change, it's the airline business. So as you ponder your resolutions for the New Year, here are a few thoughts on what the airline industry ought to consider. Some of these resolutions are similar to last year's, but so too are probably a few of our own.
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1. Let's be clear
Every year we hear horror stories of marathon delays, endless cancellations and flights stranded on the runway for hours on end. What exactly are the passenger's rights? Apparently there is a Passengers Bill of Rights in the works — but even that is suffering from a delay. The state of New York is voting on such a measure, but the airlines are crying foul. I say: Finish it and get it out to the passengers, employees and management, and then let's all adhere to it.
2. Pay attention to employee morale
The gap between management and the frontline worker is widening at a frightening rate and I fear civil wars in the form of strikes are on the horizon. Frontline workers have lost their pensions, endured pay cuts and stricter work rules, while upper managers have been showering themselves with bonuses and profits. Contract talks for many unions are coming up and believe me when I tell you: Many workers are ready to bring the house down, and the government can't protect airline management from work actions forever.
3. Give to the economy
Most airlines are sprucing up their offerings in first class and business class. They are introducing new lie-flat beds, personal video and other state-of-the-art technologies. Meanwhile, economy class is often falling to pieces. Yes, airlines make more on the premium cabins, but they shouldn't forget that their bread-and-butter customers are sitting in the back of the airplane deciding whether or not to fly their airline again.
4. Love the one you're with
Passengers, if you are content with your current airline, stick with it. Don't change your whole itinerary because Sam's Airline is $20 cheaper. In the end, you will have a smoother experience with an airline you can rely on, and your loyalty sends a message to other airlines about what is really important.
5. Let's try some attitude adjustment
We all have our personal, work-related or social problems, but we need to be less rude to our fellow man. Employees, if you hate your job then look for other means of employment. Passengers, if you expect courtesy, extend some first; you may be surprised what you get in return. And everyone, try to smile and be a bit more understanding. In the grand scheme of things, small inconveniences are not that big of a deal.
6. Keep it in the U.S.
There has to be a limit to the outsourcing that is taking place. Did you know that your airline is probably planning to move 35 percent of its mechanics' slots outside the country? This isn't your TV being assembled in Mexico; this is your loved ones' lives and livelihoods on the line.
7. Take a back seat
Airline chief executives and top management need to know what it is like to be a passenger. I don't mean flying in first class, nonstop; I mean the very back of economy class, Friday night, connecting through Chicago O'Hare or JFK in the peak of winter or summer. Try it, fellas: No special treatment. See what it's like to really fly on your airline — then make your business decisions.
8. Go green
Airlines need to recycle more and do their part when it comes to the environment. No excuses. Just do it.
9.Stop the madness
Executive airline greed has to end. If you take pensions, salaries and work rules from frontline employees when the company is in bankruptcy, you have to give some back when the company returns to profitability. It's plain and simple: Play fair or you will have civil war on your hands. (See Number 2.)
10. Shorten the lines
At check-in, security, the boarding gate — even at Starbucks — airport lines are getting ridiculously long. Airports need to spend more time analyzing line management. Either put more employees on the job or devise other solutions. And passengers, practice patience because on this item, I think we are going to have to wait in line a little longer.
Most of these resolutions were sent to me by readers. Do you have any more? Send them to me as I will most certainly be compiling another list for next year.
Happy New Year. May you keep all your resolutions — or at least come up with good reasons not to!
James Wysong is a veteran flight attendant who has worked with two major international carriers. James recently released a new book, “Flying High With A Frank Steward: More Air Travel Tales From the Flight Crew.” For more information about James, visit his Web site or send him an e-mail.