I need to use this time and space to offer up a little rant. I’m sorry if you came here today looking for some uplifting words. We have those too, you just need to look through our archive. Today, however, is going to be a little different. I need to complain and I’d like you to listen, or not, either way I’m gonna complain.
When I was with one of Canada’s largest international airlines back in the eighties and nineties, I worked hard to please the passengers in my care. Those were the days when passengers were given a hot meal on almost every flight; even those that lasted only 1 hour. I used to regularly work the flights between Toronto and Montreal. The planes were at full capacity and on the morning flights we cooked and served a hot breakfast to all 200+ passengers, complete with juice service first and two servings of coffee or tea. Those flights were less than 1 hour long. On the 4 to 5 hour flights I worked between Vancouver and Toronto, we would start with a full bar service (everything was free of charge back then too), followed by a hot towel service, followed by a full hot meal of which passengers had a choice of entrée served on real china and complete with red or white wine (again, complimentary), passengers then sat back to enjoy a full feature film or two, followed by another full bar service about an hour before the end of the flight and finally juice and water were offered just before landing. Don’t get me started on what the passengers flying overseas would get!
Sprinkle in the fact that we handed out headsets to every passenger and offered everyone a magazine or newspaper and then offered each and every passenger a clean (well that may be a stretch) folded blanket…all of which had to be collected again at the end of the flight. It was a pretty gross job to refold those spilled on – drooled on – and
God knows what else on – blankets, but we did it with a smile (most of us – well the younger of us did for sure). Oh and we pleasantly greeted each passenger and helped them store their carry on which was pretty much unlimited in size and shape back then too and then helped them to retrieve it again when the flight was over while still smiling widely and thanking them for flying with us.
There are other parts of the job, like cleaning up the puke off the galley floor when someone just couldn’t quite make it to the bathroom, and dealing with the cloud smoke from the smokers in the last 6 rows that I am happy are behind me for sure.
So fast forward a few *ahem* years and what “service” do I experience on a 5 hour flight between Atlanta and Seattle which began before breakfast time and ended after lunch time? Nothing that’s what! Oh, actually that’s not quite true. I was given some tomato juice and a very very small bag of pretzels. Yum! Then to remind me of how lucky I am, my “gourmet” (ya, they actually called them that) pretzels offered this gem on the back:
Think about our wonderful low fares at ____ as you open packet.
Place a pretzel in mouth. With each crunch, be reminded of our low fares.
As you swallow, remember again just how low the fares are.
Repeat until pretzel packet is empty. (within seconds)
Keep empty packet to remind yourself to book at ____ where you’ll always find our lowest fares. (or to blog about how ridiculous they are)
BITE ME! And you can take your “gourmet” pretzels and _____.
Were they the lowest fare you ask? Yes, for that day, but I just booked another flight with a competitor who beat them on the fare, so no, not always.
I am really saddened that every other business that I can think of improves it’s service over the years, except the airline industry. They just keep taking it lower and lower. The narrow little seats that recline a whole inch will probably be looked back on as a luxury one day while we all stand holding on to a hand strap from the ceiling for 5 hours or more.