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  • Writer's pictureThe Hammonton Gazette

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The ‘Spirited’ airline industry

The airline industry, once filled with magic and wonder, has undergone a dramatic transformation. In the early days of commercial aviation, flights were enchanting adventures that captivated passengers from takeoff to landing. Uniformed stewardesses, charismatic pilots and the sheer marvel of flight created a mystical ambiance that made the journey as exciting as the destination.

Many of us eagerly anticipated our first flight as children, marveling at every detail meticulously crafted by airlines for an optimal customer experience. However, as we fast forward to the present, the once-spirited airline industry has succumbed to a corporate mindset that prioritizes efficiency over enchantment.

Let’s fast forward to today’s airline experience. The adventure that once was commercial flight is now relegated to the sardine mentality of corporate aviation. Once pampered with stellar accommodations and service, consumers now face lesser appeal.

While technological advancements have made operations more efficient and profitable, they have also led to a decline in the passenger experience. Today, consumers often find themselves packed into planes like sardines, with comfort and personalized service taking a backseat to cost-cutting measures. Sure, one can fly the friendly skies for as little as $49 one way. However, such low rates mean shoe-horning people into a steel can with seats often two-thirds of a normal size—seats so tight that those sitting beside you will need to take turns holding their breath so you can inhale.

A recent “Spirited” experience with a particular airline, which shall remain nameless, exemplifies the current state of commercial aviation. On a rather routine trip to the Midwest, this particular company was chosen for two reasons, cost savings and the fact that no other carrier would provide return travel from the destination on the day needed.

Upon approaching the ticket machine three boarding passes for the return home printed, three boarding passes, not two as booked online. Upon closer examination, not only was an extra layover now required, but it was for Los Angeles, as far from the east coast as possible. The flight path had changed from New Mexico to Nevada to Philadelphia and now went from New Mexico to Nevada to California to Philadelphia.

Being able to wrangle up an actual human, they explained that a flight had been canceled a month ago, creating an additional layout requiring overnight accommodation at the luxurious LAX airport terminal. Inquiring as to why there was no hotel voucher, the answer was that the airline sent three emails informing of the change.

Not receiving or seeing the emails was not relevant to the airline as they expressed that spam should have been checked daily, even though there was no reason to expect such changes. Arriving in California at 1:30 a.m. left an impossible task of securing accommodations independently. The middle of an airport terminal offered little more than marble slabs or worn-out waiting area seats as bedding.

Technology had now offered this airline a defense, an excuse really, to avoid a warranted expense due to poor customer service while maximizing profit. The once magical and awe-inspiring adventure of flying has transformed into a mundane business transaction, where consumers are left to navigate through a sea of corporate indifference.

While attempting to establish a bit more class than the airline, it would be unsavory to specifically name the particular airline encountered above, therefore let’s close on this fundamental truth… So, Personally encountering IRresponsibilITy and indifference of corporate conglomerates policies affecting customer service will fall upon the consumer to bear.


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