Are all mainstream airlines run by morons?

That’s what I think, especially when it comes to the “flying standby” thing.  Let me lay the groundwork here.

First, there was 9/11, and nobody wanted to fly.  Airlines parked planes in the desert.  Then more economic downturns, and again, more planes parked in the desert.  Things were steady for a little while, and then the idiots who play with derivatives trading ruined the economy, and wow, more planes got parked, airlines stopped buying planes, yadda yadda yadda.

So, we have a few less people flying, with a DRASTIC reduction in the number of airplane seats available.  Thus, more people per plane.  Fares went up, but that wasn’t good enough, so airline executives came up with “charging for checked luggage”, did away with free food, and even did away with free drinks (thank you, US Airways! They wanted to charge $2 for a cup of soda or coffee until people rebelled).  So one of the last things they did was get rid of the free standby flights.  You know, like if you have a four hour layover, and there is an earlier flight going out to your destination, you used to be able to get on it as long as there were seats.  Not anymore.

I was flying on an Alaska Airlines ticket with my MVP Gold status (gotta love Alaska/Horizon!), but had a connection on American. Now I’m Platinum on American, but traveling on my Alaska frequent flier number.  I get to Chicago early (ODD, I know!) and see that there’s a flight leaving in 30 minutes for my final destination.  I roll up to the counter and ask to get on it, hoping it’s not full.  The gate agent looks at me and says, “I’m sorry but we have a new policy; you’re not allowed to board.”  I asked if he had seats, which he said yes.  I then told him I was American Platinum.  His face totally changed, and he instantly printed me a boarding pass, so I go to get on the plane.

The plane was an EMB145, which seats about 50 people.  There couldn’t have been more than 12 people on that plane when I boarded.  WTF, American?  You’d rather a plane go out mostly 75% empty rather than let someone on?  Who in the hell came up with THAT business model?  Thing is, that later flight that I was supposed to be on was A) the last of the night and B) was packed.  They very well could have left other passengers stranded in Chicago for the night.  I was doing them a FAVOR by offering to go early.

The only airline that did this whole “standby” thing correctly (post 9/11) for any non-elite status holding PAX was the old NorthWest (though JetBlue and Air Tran are doing a good job today).  See, if you wanted to go standby, you would give them your credit card number and if you got on the plane, it was $15.  They only charged you once your plane landed in your destination city.  You weren’t charged if not.  Such a deal!  But carriers these days are totally screwed up.  United is changing their policy as of today, probably to match American.  Southwest is horrid – if there’s a fare difference, you have to pay it.  There was a famous scene in the Southwest reality TV series where they wouldn’t let a PAX change their ticket until they paid $1.  ONE SINGLE DOLLAR.  Nice, eh?

So you moronic people who run airlines these days.  Your PAX already pretty much hate you as is; stop giving them more reasons to hate you more!

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