November 10, 2007; Day 387. Last night, we returned from GROUP in Florida (GROUP is a conference on social computing and not a convention of groupies). Good conference and good weather. Now, here in New York, it is COLD! Our plane, of course, was late, as usual these days. But what is scary is that it seems as though the airlines are on a kind of suicide mission. There are these little hints…such as, if you get stuck in the cattle car (coach), they offer you only fat-filled, sodium-filled snacks. What’s with that? If they really care about your “safety” as they claim to do when they are taxiing to the gate at .06 miles per hour and tell you to be sure to keep your seat belt fastened for your safety, then why would they feed you only such crap? One reason is simply economic. The stuff that is filled with fat, sugar, salt, BHA and BHT will last for about a thousand years so they don’t have to worry about trying to control inventory levels or throwing stuff out because it is out of date. It is NEVER out of date. But check this out. They have us get on the plane as though they are only going to be a half hour late. Then, they give everybody water. Then they make everybody sit on the tarmac for another hour. And, then, when we finally take off, get up to altitude, and have a smooth ride, and the seat belt sign SHOULD be turned off, the pilot gets on the horn and asks everybody to please stay seated for another half hour so the flight attendants can serve the snacks. And, of course the booze which now costs $5.00 for 1.5 ounces when it used to be the merely outrageous price of $3.00 for 1.5 ounces. Let’s see, “A pint’s a pound the world round.” So that means, a pint is 32 ounces and there are 21 1/3 drinks in a pint. Or, 42 and 2/3 shots in a quart. A quart of the medium quality vodka they have on planes is generally what? Maybe 25$? But instead, they are, in effect, charging 42 2/3 x 5 or more than $213 for a quart of Finlandia or SKYY or Smirnoff’s or that Swedish one? I want to say “SAAB” but that’s obviously not it. My God. I’m forgetting the brand names. Anyway, you can see why they are so eager to get that disservice cart out into the aisles. They are making a KILLING on the booze. Well, not with me, they aren’t!
Now, mind you, this is a three hour flight, so there is plenty of time for the flight attendants to perform the cart disservice after people have had a chance to use the toilet. So, here they are POing their clientele left and right if not down right ruining their customers’ health not to mention their budgets…and meanwhile, we discover that pilots fall asleep at the wheel; that passengers who get upset about being late get beaten cuffed and left to die. How much longer before they start just taking a purposeful nosedive? Well, it’s something to think about, isn’t it? Some fresh young MBA from Wharton or Hahvahd, eager for the fast track to CEO, will probably figure out some mathematical formula to prove that it is more cost-effective to simply crash the planes than finish the trip. Of course, it won’t really be more cost-effective, but he or she will find a way to make it appear to be cost-effective “on the books” and that’s all that matters these days when it comes to stock price. It’s all about manipulation and perception. It used to be, at least a little, about making good products efficiently and providing superior service. Now, however, you simply put customers on hold for approximately thirty years while playing messages that advertise good service or tell you that, “Your call is important to us. Please stay on the line. All of our service representatives (all = one here) are busy helping other customers (right, or, more likely, smoking pot in the lavatory). Your call is important to us. Please stay on the line and use your other cell phone to call for medical help in case you need IV’s to stay alive while you wait. Don’t hang up! Our accounting department is having an important betting pool on just how long we can get suckers to stay on the line before they commit suicide. Your call is important to us.” And so on. You know, maybe ten or twenty years ago, this “Your call is important to us” crap may have actually worked because there were still a few companies that actually seemed to care. But does anyone put any credence in anything that is said by any PR department or advertisement any more? Or, for that matter, does anyone even believe the FDA when they say some food or drug is “safe?” If you do, please write me because I have a really good deal on beach front property on the moon.