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March 20, 2008

Stuck in Atlanta 24 Hours - Airline Says Too Bad For You

-- by Dave Johnson

My flight from Washington DC to Atlanta landed late. The connection to San Francisco still wasn't due to take off for a few minutes but the airline (AirTran Airways) didn't hold it.

So I go to the counter and ask what I can do? They only have one flight to San Francisco a day, and the next one is in 24 hours.

Can I get on another airline? Try Orbitz, she says.

Can you get me a room? She gives me an 800 number of a discount service.

Can I get some food? There are concession stands in the airport.

Too bad for you. We've already got your money and you're on your own.

There is nothing I can do, they already have my money.

Welcome to the New America. Welcome to the You're On Your Own (YOYO) society. Welcome to corporate domination. Did you know that it used to be illegal for airlines to treat their customers like this? But now it is expected.

We, the People used to be in charge. We set up the legal, financial and physical infrastructure that enables corporations to serve our interests. You know, that pesky "We, the People" thing. Why else would we have set up corporations except to serve us?

But now it is the other way around. Now the corporations are in charge of us. A select few grew fabulously wealthy from the system we set up to serve all the people, and have used that wealth to manipulate the system to bring all the benefits to themselves at the expense of the people.

When are we going to do something about it?

(Note - the airline employees were not nasty, considering who they have to work for and the policies they have to work under. They seemed resigned to having to tell people this stuff. That's another part of this system -- if you want to have enough money to feed your kids and pay the rent (but not get health care) you're forced to serve the corporation, and be their agents in telling people "too bad." There is a harm that comes to people from being compelled to treat others this way. And if you think you have too much integrity to do that, well we can find someone in India who is hungry enough.)

Posted by Dave Johnson at March 20, 2008 8:09 AM

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The airlines are one of the most socialist markets in America:

The federal government handles the following:
1. Security
2. Air traffic control
3. Bailouts for bad airlines that should have gone out of business long ago (this is the biggest problem).

The problem is that we have a Soviet-style central planning in air travel in this country. It sucks because it's pretty-much run by the government. Eventually air travel is going to look like Amtrak (that other government-run option for travel.)

In Europe, they have more choices and lower fares. They put us to shame.

Maybe you will agree that the government should get out of the airline business.

Posted by: Jay Muntz [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 20, 2008 6:43 PM

Soviet-style central planning in air travel? No way! Airlines can still come into business, and airlines can still establish their routes. We had something closer to this before President Carter deregulated the airlines. And it's idiotic to blame Soviet-style central planning for an airline that decides to treat its customers badly.

Posted by: John Morrison [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 21, 2008 10:13 AM

I didn't say things weren't ever worse. They were worse before deregulation. However, with so many parts of the airlines' business being run by the government (nationalized, is what it's called), I'm just not surprised that air travel sucks.

With the government bailing out airlines who should have gone out of existence, it's no surprise that all airlines provide poor customer service. Their existence as airlines does not depend on pleasing their customers. They may think that they merely have to please the government.

When the government decides that it won't let airline companies fail, this is central planning.

Posted by: Jay Muntz [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 21, 2008 12:22 PM

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