January 25, 2008
Well, well, well. Airport and airline officials from around the country finally got together last week to see what they can do to make delays and layovers at airports less interminable.
What ever took them so long?
It’s not like the delays, which months ago reached record numbers, were showing signs of ebbing. And it’s not like coming up with ways to make the delays more bearable for travelers would have taken that much effort.
Just look at some of the common-sense ideas the officials floated last week: Keep airport shops well stocked and open late so stranded travelers can get diapers, medicines and food; free up cargo-plane spots so commercial jets backed up on runways can more easily arrive at terminals; provide extra chaperons for unaccompanied minors.
Rather, what took them so long is that the airlines’ obsession to maximize profits following the post-9-11 bankruptcies focused on filling fewer planes along proven routes and at higher fares. Thoughts of improving service were put on stand-by or canceled.
It’s likely airport and airline officials wouldn’t have even met last week in Washington if federal officials hadn’t announced they might take action to stem the delays.
Unfortunately, the airlines’ focus still seems trained elsewhere: Talk of mergers again is in the air. And more mergers, travelers know well, will mean less service, higher fares and more delays.
Keep up those delays, though, and fewer travelers will choose to fly — no matter how well the airports stock their shops.
Source: ORLANDO SENTINEL