I wanted to let you know that I’m experimenting with a new format at Thoughtful Thursday—one where there will be fewer links but more analysis on my part. This should not only save you time but make your lives easier. I hope you enjoy!
Week of April 13, 2017
Article of the Week:
‘How Technology Has Failed to Improve Your Airline Experience’ by Farhad Manjoo
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve noticed that United Airlines had a bad week. After video of a man being forcefully removed from a United flight this past Sunday went viral, the public became outraged and the airlines stock dipped dramatically.
There are a number of reasons why flying has become about as pleasurable as watching the New England Patriots win another Super Bowl—regulatory failures, little competition, etc.—but according to Farhad Manjoo of the New York Times, technology should also accept some of the blame.
According to Mr. Manjoo, while Uber and AirBnB have brought about a number of positive changes in ground transport and accommodations, the airline industry has used technology to increase profits at the cost of customer service. For example, travel search engines rank flights based on price rather than quality, and online check-in means that airlines can higher fewer workers to help customers.
Yet, there may be some hope. Last year TripAdvisor began rating airlines. Unsurprisingly, United did not meet the minimum threshold to warrant a TripAdvisor seal of approval. Perhaps, as Mr. Manjoo contends, airlines could go even further, changing the entire industry in the process. Perhaps they could move to a subscription-based model, much like Netflix.
I share Mr. Manjoo’s belief that technology has played a big role in today’s customer-service-free airline industry. Yet, I also put this at the feet of consumers. Time and time again the masses have said that they are willing to undergo great discomforts to save a few bucks while flying. I even know people who have decided where they are going on vacation based on a price difference of under $10.
Still, maybe technology will ultimately be our savior. If this past week has been any indication, many consumers won’t stand for the blatant de-humanization of passengers—something publicized and protested almost exclusively through the internet—on the part of United. Perhaps this lead to enough outcry to force the government’s hand or adjust basic airline practices. Perhaps we’re entering a new age of customer-centric air travel. Or perhaps things will be business as usual.
What do you think?
-So you want to avoid getting bumped off your flight? According to MileCards, JetBlue is the airline least likely to overbook, with Delta and United on the opposite end, forcing 1/1,000 of customers off their flights. To put that into perspective, if you took one flight with Delta every month for the next 5 years, you’d most likely be forced to leave the airplane at least once.
-Speaking of air travel, some good news: JetBlue is giving away 1,000 flights free to anyone who owe’s money on their taxes! The Tax Return Return Flight giveaway started on April 11, and runs until April 25. Not a bad offer!
-A new study reveals that using Facebook diminishes your well-being. Color me unsurprised. According to Yale researchers, the more time users spent using Facebook, the worse they felt about themselves. Perhaps it’s time to get off the computer and into the real world!