Commercial Travel Trouble

These days, commercial air travel can be challenging. As world standards shift towards stronger security measures, and both domestic and international travel become casual commodity, people and airlines need to find a middle ground regarding what’s acceptable, what’s necessary, and what’s frankly too much to ask.

A major customer complaint is that airline seats seem to be getting closer and closer together. Legroom is shrinking as fast as overhead compartment space. While this complaint is indeed valid, unfortunately, due to high traffic volume and industry economy, air travel requires higher density. Although airlines are constantly searching for new ways to improve customer experience, they must also give in to the demands of high volume traffic. In the United States alone, approximately 1.73 million passengers fly domestically per day.

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International airlines like Air India, Singapore Airlines, and Emirates receive government sponsored subsidies that stabilize quality control. Unfortunately with the rising price of gas, United States airlines typically run on such low profit margins that on some routs, total profits can be as low as a single business class ticket. Services like Expedia and Travelocity allow customers to purchase tickets as low as $69 for a domestic flight giving them the ability to travel thousands of miles for the price of a long distance Uber ride.

This isn’t to say that patrons don’t deserve high quality in-flight service. An optimistic flight crew definitely helps ease an already tense atmosphere. Cleanliness and attentiveness also change the way individuals feel about their in-flight experience. While amenities differ from company to company (as well as quality of meal service), it’s clear that airlines with the most funding receive the better perks. As a customer, you have the right to feel comfortable (within reason) on the way to your destination. However, it is important to keep in mind that some flight attendants and crew members are treated poorly by their airlines and thus may not present the best service.

At the end of the day, the commercial airline industry can be akin to a dog chasing its own tail. Constantly behind the curve, airlines are receiving lists of upgrades faster than they can take flight. While the answers may not lie here, customers and airlines have to find a way to fix attitudes, change expectations, and work together to make commercial flight a more enjoyable experience.