Back during the heydays of airline travel one of the most exciting things to do was to purchase an airline ticket and fly the friendly skies. Back then, men and women that flew on the aircraft of major US airlines were treated like royalty and their every comfort was always satisfied with an exception level of customer service. Fast forward to today and hardly anyone wants to fly on a US airline aircraft because most of the time their flight is running late and the people that work for the airline could care less about how the customer feels because of they are concerned that their job might be eliminated soon because their company might go out of business. Not only are US airline flights running late, most of the time, but customers bags are being lost at an ever increasing rate and thousands of people are routinely being trapped inside of jet aircraft for hours at a time while their flight sits on the ground rather than heading to the nearest runway to take off for it's destination.
In some ways, the problems that are facing US airlines resemble what is going on in general with the US economy. Millions of Americans are stressed out because of job loss fears and this added stress is just making economic problems in the US worse because stress usually leads to bad customer service and bad customer services leads to job layoffs and business failures. I think the lowering of the level of service provided by US airlines can be traced back to when they were deregulated by the federal government. At one time US airlines were given the right to make a certain profit because the government would not allow ticket prices to fall too low. However, when the US airline business was deregulated, Wal-Mart types of airlines were created that focused only on one thing and that was providing cheap seats on airlines to everyone. While the price of an average airline ticket declined rapidly, the level of customer service that was provided to the customer went down, as well.
I am old enough to still remember many great American airlines that once were household names in the United States that are no longer in business. The biggest airline I remember from my childhood back in the 1960's and 1970's was Braniff. Forty years ago, Braniff Airlines was the picture of what a well run and well managed airline looked like in the United States. I remember traveling on this airline many times when I was just a kid and my biggest memory when flying Braniff Airlines was how nice the flight crew were and also how that airlines pilots and co-pilots would routinely come out of the cockpit and visit with passengers aboard their flights. In recent years, if a passenger can even get the pilot or copilot to say hello when they are boarding the plane it is considered a miracle. While it is easy to blame these pilots and the flight attendants for what is wrong on American airline flights these days, that would be the wrong place to point the finger of blame because these fine people are just a small cog in the wheel of what ails US air carriers.
When I was young, I idealistically believed that a US free market would solve most of the problems of business if allowed to work it's magic without government interference. However, with the experience of time and hindsight I have learned that not all businesses work well once they are deregulated by the federal government. At the top of that list of businesses that do not work well without government regulation is the American airline industry. While there is no mistaking that average airline ticket prices have fallen dramatically since the US federal government deregulated US airlines, the level of customer services has fallen through the basement at the same time - which is not the way deregulation and free markets are suppose to work. Right now, no US airline is making a consistent profit except Southwest Airlines and they are also the airline with the fewest customer complaints about on time arrivals and bad customer service. I think the federal government should consider re regulating the US airline business because deregulation has been a total disaster to a once proud industry that placed customer service at a premium in their business models.
Airline Complaints Soar Along With Prices/Delays