This is what happens when an airline doesn’t care

US Airways, the dysfunctional result of a bad acquisition by an equally horrible airline, America West, can’t seem to get it right.

Both airlines were deeply in the red. They probably didn’t deserve to stay alive. They did. And we’re paying for it.

News item from KGET in Bakersfield, CA: A wheelchair-bound woman flying out of Bakersfield was left on a cold Las Vegas tarmac while on a connecting flight en route to Florida. (Please click on the link for the complete story including video.)

It seems that the passenger, Jeanne Grettum, who finally arrived in Florida with tearful greetings of her family 12 hours behind schedule was forgotten by the airline when the USAirways flight touched down in Las Vegas.

Airline staff got her a wheelchair, wheeled her out of the plane, and parked her on the tarmac. And she sat, and sat and sat.

US Airways said a communication breakdown likely occured because the plane was delayed getting to the gate in Vegas.

US Airways is a disaster. It’s what happens when mergers or take-overs, in this case, go bad. And most do.

The airlines are so busy cutting costs, they really don’t care about the customer. We’re just numbers and if we don’t fill the seats, the airlines drop the rates to fill them. Or they replace larger aircraft with smaller ones. Then, they convince the media that they’re filled to capacity.

United Airlines is still recovering from last weekend’s Midwest snow storm, cancelling flights at Chicago O’Hare International Airport. However, market leader Southwest Airlines cancelled one at Chicago Midway. Why is it Southwest Airlines always gets it right?

My friend, Geoff, aptly stated:

“US Air understands, no one is flying them because they want to! So you’re there because there’s no one else. Screw the customer.”

It doesn’t clean its airlines. Actually, none of the US carriers do, either.

The CEO, Doug Parker, appears to be totally incapable of running the airline. It took almost two years to merge the airline systems.

The airline loses bags faster than the Chicago Cubs loses baseball games. And when they can’t find it, try calling them on the phone to get an answer.

Recently, Parker went on a PR offensive. Articles appeared in “The Wall Street Journal” and “USA Today,” regarding how Parker is trying to get closer to his disgruntled employees. And Parker brought in his old Northwest Airlines pal, Robert Osom, an “operations specialist” to help turn around US Air. A guy from Northwest Airlines? Another trophy American carrier.

All this as the larger carriers are battling to see which one can improve their upper class cabins faster, as international airlines like British Airways and Singapore Airlines, are on their third or fourth modernization in-cabin program since 1996 when BA launched the First Class bed.

One of these days, the US carriers might get it right. But, they need capable managers and CEO’s, who guide airlines and innovate and not immitate. And then and only then, will passengers not be left on the tarmac.

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