Dead Pool Redux
I am so very disappointed. I asked a very important question — one that I am sure is of great importance to most InsideFlyer readers (“Dead Pool,” Letters to the Editor, June 2005). But Randy ducked the question. He just didn’t answer it! My question was “Do you have any idea which of them (the big airlines) will be closing up shop?” Come on, Randy, give us your best guess.
United has been in bankruptcy for 29 months, and deserves a look. Delta is not exactly making a big profit, or any profit that I’ve heard of. If an airline keeps losing money, year after year, something must happen, right? Either there is a “merger,” or the airline sells off routes, or something. But they just can’t keep on losing millions of dollars, year after year, with no light at the end of tunnel. Can we agree on that, Randy?
And the soaring oil prices can only further stress some airlines that are in trouble. Personally, I think the situation with the Big Six is very serious. Come on, Randy, give us the honest scoop — your best analysis of financial balance sheets and income statements. We pay our hard-earned money to buy your magazine, and we’re entitled to that, I think. We don’t want to earn a lot of flyer miles only to see them go out the window because an airline stops flying. And you, Randy, wouldn’t want to see us get stuck that way. So give us some advance warning, if you can. And I have enough respect for you to believe that you can! I just know that you can do this, and I think you care about us so as to give us advance warning of any problem for our flyer miles. So let’s try it again: Which of the Big Six (we all know they are sick) may be the first to close up shop? That’s the question, Randy. I’m trusting you to answer it in an intelligent way!
Now let’s talk about that phrase, The Big Sick Six, a phrase possibly begun by Joe Brancatelli, one of the great men of the past century. First of all, we’re talking about the biggest six airlines. Are they big? Absolutely. Are they “sick?” Well, they lose millions of dollars, year after year, and they could die if they keep it up long enough. So, yeah, they are “sick.” Are they six? Wait a minute, let me count…yeah, there are six of them. So they are big, sick, and six. That’s simple enough, and very clear. So what part of “Big Sick Six” does anyone not understand?
I haven’t predicted which one of them will fold up next, or when any of them will fold up. It is possible that more than one will actually survive (firing all their management and hiring competent management would help). But even if they renegotiate their labor contracts and cut other costs, they could be fatally stricken by oil costs. We all know that China is rapidly growing, and the use of autos is exploding in China. So China will need lots of oil. And India has a billion people or so, and many of them are starting to get cars. So India, too, will want lots more oil. The result: much higher prices for oil. And you know what that means for our airlines: big trouble. If the Big Sick Six have been weakened by years of financial losses, what do you think will happen if they are hit by much steeper oil prices? It could be the final blow for them. Goodbye Big Sick Six. Too bad — they weren’t all bad. There are some wonderful people at every one of those airlines, and they don’t deserve this. But if our weakened airlines are hit by further increases in oil prices (due to demand from China and India), some airlines may be put out of business. That’s plain and simple — how could anybody argue against that scenario?
Editor’s Note: Mark, Can you hear me now? I think if you will re-read my words since 9/11, you’ll see that I have written several editorials commenting on whether to hold or fold your frequent flyer miles based on what I perceive to be the survival of the airline industry. I think the difference is that I only comment when I think there needs to be something said, or to pacify some of the anxieties I feel my readers may be having. I don’t write words of doom and gloom or sunshine and roses if the situation does not warrant it, though I am aware that others make a career of this practice. In my way of thinking, there is a practical sense to commenting.
But this matter is important to you, and as a reader, it becomes important to me. So, here goes, and if you don’t mind, I’ll leave out the clever words like “big six”, “sick six,” etc. I just think they get in the way of the message, sort of like window dressing.
I do not believe that you or any other reader of InsideFlyer magazine should have any current concern for the survival of any of the larger airlines in America. I fully understand that my position is in a very small minority compared to those you might read elsewhere, but however dour the industry is right now, and however steep the challenge it is to have fuel prices as your leading expense, I am as convinced as I have been since 9/11 that this industry — despite its ability to survive even with less than stellar management in some cases-will continue to find ways to transport you from point to point, even with an active peanut gallery.
No AAdvantage Here
Beware of American’s new policy for family emergencies. My significant other was diagnosed with colon and liver cancer on May 24. I commute weekly on American between San Francisco and New York, and had several tickets already purchased which I could not use. In spite a letter from the doctor about the seriousness of the medical problem, American refused to waive any of their penalties or change fees. In addition, they charged me an additional $200 to redeposit miles for two award tickets which we couldn’t use. I have been an Executive Platinum on American for five consecutive years, and have over 2 million miles on American. Is this any way to reward my loyalty?
On the Lighter Side
Editor’s Note: The following letter, allegedly written by a Continental passenger, has been making the rounds on the Internet. A copy of the handwritten original, complete with diagrams, is available online at http://www.i-am-bored.com.
Dear Continental Airlines,
I am disgusted as I write this note to you about the miserable experience I am having sitting in seat 29E on one of your aircrafts. As you may know, this seat is situated directly across from the lavatory, so close that I can reach out my left arm and touch the door.
All my senses are being tortured simultaneously. It’s difficult to say what the worst part sitting in 29E really is. Is it the stench of the sanitation fluid that is blown all over my body every 60 seconds when the door opens? Is it the woosh of the constant flushing? Or is it the passengers’ (posterior regions) that seem to fit into my personal space like a pornographic jigsaw puzzle?
I constructed a stink-shield by shoving one end of a blanket into the overhead compartment. While effective in blocking some of the smell, and offering a small bit of privacy, the (posterior region)-on-my-body factor has increased, as without my evil glare, passengers feel free to lean up against what they think is some kind of blanketed wall. The next (posterior region) that touches my shoulder will be the last!
I am picturing a board room full of executives giving props to the young promising engineer that figured out how to squeeze an additional row of seats onto this plane by putting them next to the lav. I would like to flush his head in the toilet that I am close enough to touch and taste from my seat.
Putting a seat here was a very bad idea. I just heard a man GROAN in there! This sucks!
Worse yet, is I’ve paid over $400 for the honor of sitting in this seat!
Does your company give refunds? I’d like to go back where I came from and start over. Seat 29E could only be worse if it was located inside the bathroom.
I wonder if my clothing will retain the sanitizing odor … what about my hair? I feel like I’m bathing in a toilet bowl of blue liquid, and there I no man in a little boat to save me.
I am filled with a deep hatred for your plane designer, and a general (un)ease that may last for hours.
We are finally descending, and soon I will be able to tear down the stink-shield, but the scars will remain.
I suggest that you initiate the immediate removal of this seat from all you crafts. Just remove it, and leave the smoldering brown hole empty — a good place for sturdy/non-absorbing luggage maybe, but not for human cargo.