Open Letter To U.S. Airlines: Please Quit Sucking

Let's look backward to go forward.

By , Contributor

The golden days

Flying is my passion, traveling is my adrenaline and the essence of my being. But I'm tired, and on behalf of millions of Americans, I beseech most of the US-based airlines to stop, look and listen to those around you, and fix what’s wrong. Here are some tips on where to start.

Stop Being Rude

Most travelers can understand the need to downsize, and believe me -- an electronic kiosk check-in is so much better than dealing with a disgruntled employee at the airport -- but the impersonal interaction should end there. The aggravation, the patronizing looks, the unwillingness to assist and the general goom, I am over it!

I fondly recall a letter I wrote to a US-based airline, suggesting a friendlier tone of some of their cabin crew based on a recent series of experiences, with a reminder that a smile goes a long way. The response I received: “while we appreciate your business, you must remember that cabin crew’s first priority is to ensure travelers board swiftly and safely so this is why they appear to be serious and do not have time to engage in conversation with travelers.” Sorry, not buying that excuse.


Korean Airlines Flight Attendants: Only too happy to help.

Flight attendants on Korean Air will help you fluff your pillow, South African Airways will do all they can to help if you’re traveling alone with an infant, and Virgin helps just about everyone on board with a smile and an effervescent zeal.  By the way, they all flash smiles during boarding, it can be done at the same time while ensuring we’re safe. This rude attitude seems to be an issue with U.S. based carriers, they just lack customer appreciation.

Give Us Some Space, Cut Us Some Slack

airliner-cramped-0809.jpgIt may come as a shock but when I travel, I need to pack clothes, sometimes I have liquids over 3 ounces that have to travel with me too. And yes, often times if I’m embarking on a long journey, I may have to bring a few more outfits than expected. How in the world can that equate to a $450 charge for you to carry it to Tokyo?  Don’t give me that “fuel is expensive and we need more of it to carry your bags” line either.  Fuel has always has been expensive, prices have peaked before and probably will again.  And by the way, if there was room on board these days instead of all of us being made to viciously clamor for every last inch of limited overhead space for fear of exorbitant fees, I wouldn’t have to check a bag but even that is a roll of the dice if you don’t have preferred boarding.

airlinefood_DV_20100315120144.jpgWe Are Humans, We Have Needs

I get hungry at times when I fly, even thirsty too. I appreciate the drink cart, it’s quite kind of you, but if I’m going to be made to pay for snacks, at least create ones that are inviting and tasty. Or, is carrying extra food a weight vs. fuel issue too? And, this whole charging-for-blankets thing is just obscene, I can’t even comment on that (you know who you are).

Ahh, The Good Old Days

Maybe it's my fault, the recent Pan Am episodes have had me fondly recalling the good old days (though mine were the 80s) where we used to dress up to fly, we were served real meals by friendly crews who brought us wing pins and toys and dangled the promise of perhaps meeting the pilot if we sat and behaved. This is when it seemed as though both travelers and crew were equally as happy to be together, flying the friendly skies. How did it all change so quickly?

I know there are certain things that can’t be dealt with immediately, such as the staggering surcharges and taxes that appear on a ticket (which make your final fare sometimes double what you believe it to be from an advertisement), and I totally understand that there’s nothing anyone can do to make security screenings and those intolerable lines more pleasant.  But, if you want us to keep traveling, treat us as such.  It costs nothing to be nice, nor to try to explore ways in which to keep your customers happy and loyal. Just be NICE.

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A child of parents both heavily involved in the travel industry, Gabriella Ribeiro Truman was born to do her job. By day she owns and operates Trumarketing, a boutique sales, marketing and PR firm servicing tourism-related clients from around the world. Also a frequent blogger, she produces The Explorateur…

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