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Letter from the Editor –Airlines’ airheads

Prince Frederick, MD - It happened several days ago and yet people are still shaking their heads over the incident involving United Airlines. To recap, the incident occurred Sunday, April 9 aboard a plane at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago. The craft was prepared to embark on a flight to Louisville, Kentucky. The passengers had boarded and were in their seats when airline officials determined they needed to free up space to transport crew members. One thing led to another and a passenger, whose only offense was that he didn’t volunteer to give up his seat, was physically dragged off the plane. As with most things in our age of information, the entire ugly incident is viewable on the Internet. Several passengers recorded the fiasco. When given the opportunity to offer a much-needed apology, the United CEO poured jet fuel on the incident and lit a match when he expressed regret for having to “re-accommodate” customers. Then he came to the defense of the perpetrating employees and called the victim “disruptive and belligerent.” So now company stock is plummeting like a jet with cement wings. The CEO subsequently issued a real apology. Appropriately, The U.S. Department of Transportation is investigating the incident.

The most mind-numbing aspect of this occurrence, in my view, is this--almost all airlines are businesses normally worth emulating. Seriously? Well, look at the way they handle logistics. It’s amazing when you stop and think of it. They book thousands of passengers who are traveling to various locations at various times of departures and arrivals. They provide special accommodations, food service, places to keep luggage plus the employees working aboard the flights manage to allay fears and anxieties of many passengers. “You observe logistics in action anytime you travel or purchase a product,” writes the College of Business, citing airlines as perhaps a prime example of this.

No, an airline is not always the most comfortable way to travel. It’s not cheap either. But it also should be noted that commercial air travel has an impressive safety record. To frequent flyers it’s as uneventful as an elevator ride. The entire industry should not be harshly judged by this aberration.

Back in the 1960s, a now long-defunct airline asked the question and gave the answer, “is this any way to run an airline? You bet it is!” Clearly, the recent incident at O’Hare proves that mastering logistics, while impressive, might be overrated. In an industry driven by the best technology and masterful logistics, the human element on this one day truly failed spectacularly. Was this any way to handle this situation? You bet it wasn’t.

Opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of TheBayNet.com management.

Contact Marty Madden at marty.madden@thebaynet.com

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