Archive for December, 2006

Airlines are dumb

Wednesday, December 20th, 2006

Well, really, it’s computers that are dumb. Actually, it’s not even that, it’s the people who program the computers that are operated by the airlines. They’re probably smart people, but they just don’t think about how people are going to use their systems. Specifically, they don’t think about how people want to book flights on line. I logged on to the website of a company which shall remain nameless, but in my opinion are the worst of the European airlines (don’t even start me on the US ones), on the off chance that they might (for once) be able to help me out.
I wanted to book a (fairly) simple schedule. I just wanted to do was to go from London – San Francisco – San Diego – London. Pretty straight forward. A couple of US airlines managed to give me that option on their websites, at fairly eyewatering prices (which is why I was looking elsewhere).
The airline in question has a code share with a US based airline, so there shouldn’t be a problem. In fact, there wasn’t a problem, unless that is you actually didn’t want to have to fly through London Heathrow and back via Chicago O’Hare to get from San Francisco to San Diego, which cities, while admittedly worlds apart culturally, are approximately 8 hours drive apart – in the same state.

Not surprisingly, I won’t be taking that option, but it just reinforces how dumb some airlines are (or how little they care about their customers).
In a similar vein, I received a mail tonight from an ailing US based airline (aren’t they all) begging me to sign a petition promoting its remaining independence against a hostile takeover from a rival. It’s not an airline I particularly dislike, and the airline doing the hostile takeover bid is one I frequently use (though I’m sure I don’t know why). But, it seems to me, that if you’re bankrupt, there’s not much point in bleating about how you can turn it around by spending more money and being independent. Why not do that before you spent all your cash? Quite frankly customers will be better served by a slimmer, leaner US airline market, the days of the independents are fast fading.

On the subject of travel, and more specifically airline travel, and the often surreal aspects thereof, interested parties are invited to visit the blog of my friend and colleague Randy at http://randyab.blogspot.com/ as I’m sure you’ll enjoy his commentary.