What is up with all the airlines’ nickel and dime-ing consumers? United Airlines announced today that it is cutting 1,000 employees and 100 flights. What the heck is going on? Just last week they had a free-for-all sale of $300 round-trip flights to Hawaii from certain hubs. Will these purchased tickets still be valid come August if they are cutting flights so soon after the sale? Will United also be jumping on the charge-for-a-bag bandwagon that American Airlines is implementing come June 15?
I flew American last week and for a short-haul flight I could purchase a blow up travel pillow for $5. I chose to roll up a sweatshirt to use as a pillow. My longer portion of the journey was eight hours and only offered complimentary soft drinks and juice. If I was hungry, I could purchase a turkey sandwich for $10. What a deal. All this and you can pay for your checked bags, too.
No wonder American Airlines is cutting back on flights to the Caribbean. Word throughout the travel industry grapevine is that American will be eliminating 300 jobs in San Juan and cutting back to 18 flights per day there, as well (come September 2008). We’ve also heard that American Eagle may be reducing flights into the Caribbean by up to 70 percent for some destinations.
So what does this mean for American families wanting to travel by air? I say look to airlines such as Air Jamaica to take up the slack and profit from the US-based airlines’ lack of customer service, because that is what it all boils down to. They can cry crude oil prices all they want, but when you treat your customer poorly ($5 pillows, no more peanuts, $15 checked bag) the customer then shops elsewhere.