John Feehery: Speaking Engagements


Come Fly With Me (Not)

Posted on May 27, 2008
I just got back from Belfast, Northern Ireland.  I spent four days there, going to a conference on the Irish Peace Process, meeting up with some friends in Dublin, and then flying back.  My ticket was not inexpensive to fly overseas.  The flight attendants were very nice, but the plane was packed to the limit.  I flew coach because it was too damn expensive to fly business class.  Oh, and I should tell you that I flew Continental.  My principle beef with the flight was that the plane, a 757, seemed to be about thirty years old.  It might have been the same plane both ways.  Did I mention it was packed?  My seat on the way over was miserable.  For this kind of experience, and for a 7 hour flight, I spent close to a grand

Imagine my surprise when I came home to see on the television a Continental ad bragging about its brand new fleet of planes.  What a crock!  The only thing new in this plane were the screaming kids who made it such an enjoyable experience.  Not to blame the kids (I have one of my own who has done his share of crying on planes).

Taking care of the customer seems to be the last thing on the minds of the airlines.  The flights are all packed.  It cost you five dollars to get a beer.  You have to just about strip to get through the security line.  And for all of this experience, you pay through the nose.  What happened to the fruits of deregulation?

I am a free market guy.  I believe in deregulation.  But let's face it, the government regulates the hell out of the airlines, especially since 9/11.   To say the government's hand has stayed out of the business of flying is to engage in fantasy.

One  of the reasons that people hate the government so much comes with the average person's experience at the airport.  It starts with those lovely TSA people, who confiscate without fail your deodorant, (not to blame them, but some discretion would be nice).  And it just gets worse from there, from the crowded airports to the crowded planes.

The airlines have scaled back everything.  Some airlines even make you pay more for an aisle seat.  Pretty soon, they will make you pay more for your flotation device (should I chance it or should I play it safe) and charge you a buck for each visit to the can.

The government needs to step in.  They need to stop the madness, or at least give some relief to these airlines.  It is driving me crazy.

And another thing.  Continental needs to stop running those commercials.  What good are those new planes if you don't use them for overseas flights?

My theory tonight is simple.  Take a miserable experience with the TSA, add in penny-pinching airlines that seem to screw the customer at every turn and you get an unhappy American populace that is ready to turn the clock back on deregulation.  The airlines better take note.  Stop screwing your customers.