TIS THE SEASON
Ahhh the holidays and the joys of commercial airline travel! That time of year when all good people who used to take a sleigh and head over the river and through the woods to Grandma’s house now flock to the airport. It was bad enough dealing with that certain subset of the population that fly but once a year, but now we get to add to it the tortuous check-in and security experience that of full body scans and TSA groping. Whatever possesses people to bring wrapped Christmas packages in a paper bag and expect for it not only to fit in the overhead bin, but to be treated as if it were a live animal? Hello? Ever hear of UPS or FedEx?
How about commercial airline’s preemptive cancellation of flights this season? What’s up with anticipating Mother Nature and deciding well in advance of any visible signs of a threat to travel to cancel flights and strand thousands of passengers? I guess airlines calculated the cost of feeding and housing passengers that got stuck midway to their destination was cheaper versus the loss of revenue associated with simply calling off the flight at the point of departure. Or paying those fines associated with stranding passengers out on the tarmac for hours on end. I contemplate this and more as I sit by the fire on this cold winter’s night finding ways to continue to entertain my stranded guests and their six month old baby. Yup, good ol’ Delta thought themselves quite wise in canceling Christmas Day flights on Christmas Eve Day thinking Hartsfield would be impassible only to find the day dawn clear and remain for the most part precipitation free. Their thinking backfired as they found they had to continue with this strategy the following day when the weather really did arrive. I bet there were more GA movements in and out of the Atlanta area than scheduled airline flights that day.
Every time commercial aviation opens their mouth and inserts their foot, private aviation is given an opportunity to highlight flexibility and adaptability to a situation. Par example…I was witness to a positioning flight to the east coast the morning of the big northeastern U.S. blizzard that moved up its departure schedule so as to make it in and out of HPN before the weather arrived. Even when a mechanical slightly delayed the departure, the regional fractional share provider stepped right up and substituted another jet. How often and then how quickly can any airline offer that option to the traveling public? My guests were invited to ride along on another flight dead-heading east, but since it was not their final destination and knowing how airlines work to penalize you for changes, they opted to take their chances and reschedule. How helpful and generous is the business jet operator though? Meanwhile these Delta Medallion customers were kept on hold for close to two hours only to speak (read: hold) with a surly agent for all of ten minutes. It’s a wonder that the airlines aren’t fueled by coal this year given how naughty the experience has been for so many.
So for those of you who found a plane or jet card in your stocking this year, congratulations! How nice is that?