Monthly Archives: July 2010

What customer loyalty gets you (or why AVIS sucks)

Okay, this is frustrating. Hotel loyalty, and you get the best rooms.  Airline loyalty, and you get free upgrades and frequent flyer miles.  But car rental loyalty?  Here’s what 7+ years of renting SOLELY from AVIS at least 45 weeks per year has gotten me.

Take a look at the pics below.  This is the car they gave me in Kalamazoo.  Mud-rally dirty on the outside, and trash on the inside.  And not only that, but I was to feel “appreciative”, because this was a FREE UPGRADE.  It’s harder to see with the clouds, but this car is covered in mud.

Anyway, I take the car (the Kalamazoo AVIS is deadly slow, and they won’t even do the Preferred program, so it’s 15 minutes to get your car – and there were people waiting behind me).  I’ll get it washed myself and take it back to them.

But tonight, I had to stop by the AVIS in Grand Rapids, because they found my TomTom GPS.  In June.  June 10th, to be exact.  I called today when I realized it was not in my bag, and they said they indeed did have it.  They’ve had it for six weeks, My phone number is on the GPS.  My phone number is in my AVIS profile.  They called me when they found someone’s iPod – six times – to make sure it wasn’t mine.  But when I needed them to actually do something for me, they do squat.

Last straw.  I actually send a message to AVIS First customer service.  It’s ignored.  What does one of their best customers have to do to get a response from a company they use?  Well, I guess this is a first start.  The second is to start renting from Hertz.

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You want to know why I fly Southwest as little as possible?

Read this.  It’s a story on Today in the Sky about a short & thin woman who paid full fare to fly standby on Southwest, from Vegas to Sacramento.  She got the last seat on a plane – and was immediately berated AND told to get off. Why?  Because there was a large passenger on the plane that needed both seats.  Thing is, they didn’t make the pax purchase two seats, as is their “policy”.

I know how airlines treat larger customers differs.  I’m larger, but I certainly don’t need either a seatbelt extender OR a second seat.  But Southwest is showing their true unprofessionalism in their reaction to the story.  A quote from the story/Southwest:

McInnis adds to the Bee that the airline’s staff also may have been reluctant to put the teenage girl into a possibly embarrassing situation.

I’m sorry, what?  Yes, it was an unaccompanied minor.  But that minor had a parent or guardian that dropped them off – they didn’t just show up at the airport.  Southwest KNEW about the large teen at one point.  And when they had the chance to do something about it, they chose not to.  Then the decide they didn’t want to put the girl into an “embarrassing situation”.  Bullshit.  They’re diverting the subject of the debate from their own poor business practices on to an unsuspecting girl.

Director Kevin Smith had an issue with Southwest that didn’t go well for them.  I’m trying to find the story about a woman who flew PDX -> SMF just fine, then was not allowed to fly back SMF -> PDX because Southwest refused her boarding because she was “too fat”.  That was probably 2006 or the like.

Inconsistent business practices create inconsistent business.  Screw you, Southwest!

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There HAS to be a story here!

I HAVE to find the story about this. An Alaska Airlines B737-800 at PDX with one of the emergency exit doors popped. Has to be on purpose, though, because there’s no slide deployed.

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Another special plane

Forgot to post this last Thursday. President Obama landed in Grand Rapids about an hour before I took off. Curiously enough, security wasn’t bad. You can’t make it out much, but here is Air Force One, and the military transport that carries Marine One.

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SAFER?

Senator Bennet (R-UT) introduced something called SAFER AIR Act, which mandates full body scanners in every US airport by 2013.  Fully body RADIATION scanners.  These things are NOT safe.  One of the best writeups on them is over at AirlineReporter’s website (click here and add a comment; they’re being sent to the Senators!), including the link to the UK article based on scientific input about how the amount of radiation is potentially much worse than being reported.

This is Senate bill S.3536.  I’ve already called my two Senators and told them that I fly 100 times per year (50 round trips), and my family is prone to genetic mutation.  I would be at risk for cancer, were I subjected to this monstrosity twice per week.  A list of Senators on the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee is below, and each name is an active link to their contact form.  Contact each member and give them your opinion on these horrid machines. And even if your Senator is not on this list, contact them and tell them to throw out S.3536, for all of our health and safety!

Members: Members:
Rockefeller, John D. (WV) , Chairman
Inouye, Daniel K. (HI)
Kerry, John F. (MA)
Dorgan, Byron L. (ND)
Boxer, Barbara (CA)
Nelson, Bill (FL)
Cantwell, Maria (WA)
Lautenberg, Frank R. (NJ)
Pryor, Mark L. (AR)
McCaskill, Claire (MO)
Klobuchar, Amy (MN) – NOTE: CO-SPONSOR!
Udall, Tom (NM)
Warner, Mark R. (VA)
Begich, Mark (AK)
Hutchison, Kay Bailey (TX), Ranking Member
Snowe, Olympia J. (ME)
Ensign, John (NV)
DeMint, Jim (SC)
Thune, John (SD)
Wicker, Roger F. (MS)
LeMieux, George S. (FL)
Isakson, Johnny (GA)
Vitter, David (LA)
Brownback, Sam (KS)
Johanns, Mike (NE)
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A whole new way to lose your luggage

Okay, so there have been some bonehead business ideas.  The Microsoft “Kin” phone, which was supposed to be an iPhone killer, but lasted all of about 4 weeks.  When Dell decided to fire the Dell Dude and get rid of that ad campaign, because he was caught with marijuana.  Spirit Airlines wanting to charge for carryon baggage.  Ryan Air wanting to install pay toilets and standing-only “seats” to pack more people on to flights.

But this one mostly takes the cake.  UPS wants to start sending your luggage to your destination instead of you taking it on the airplane.  And not just your luggage, but actual cardboard throwaway boxes.  You pack your stuff in them, they’re not as protected as if they were in a real suitcase.  You have to pack and send them out WAY in advance, because if you send them the same day, you might as well plan on vacationing with no clothes or necessities.  And just think of the extra carbon being created, extra fuel being wasted, etc because you chose to send via UPS instead of in the belly of the plane.

But here’s what gets me.  A quote from the article:

She conceded that airlines can usually deliver luggage faster than UPS but said luggage shipped by UPS can cost $30 to $80 less per package, depending on the route and the weight of the box.

$30 to $80 less?  Per package?  I mean hell; if you don’t have status, first bag is usually $25.  Second bag another $25 so $50 in fees total.  The plane goes with you to the airport, goes through fewer hands (and thus is harder to lose – and less options for it to be stolen), arrives with you at your destination, and is ultimately convenient.  No packing a week ahead of time.  What, when you use this service, you pack your stuff, then realize that the weather is going to be drastically changed, but you’re going to be stuck with jackets and skis when all the snow will be melted and you’ll want shorts when you show up.  Is that how it goes?

Oh but there will be suckers that fall for it.  There’s one born every minute.

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Almost nose to nose

Almost nose to nose here at the N terminal at SeaTac. What a big, beautiful girl, despite the livery.

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BLAH! I say to ground based internet service!

Okay, so we’re going SEA -> ORD.  That route TYPICALLY takes us over the United States.  I mean it’s not like we’re detouring over the Yukon Territories or anything.  So I go to check my Facebook page and I get this:

No Internet Available

100 miles from the US Boarder?  No…  Below 10,000 feet?  No, we’re at 32,000 feet.  Ooh.  Because we’re of bumfuck Montana, where there only exists sheep and other beasties, and not a satellite tower in place.  sigh This is why ground based internet services, like GoGo Inflight Internet, ultimately suck, and satellite based internet services, like Row44, don’t suck.

Oh, and once it did come back, 10 minutes later, I finally read GoGo’s welcome message:

No Porn Please!

Like that?  Read it again:

Please be aware that the content you browse may be visible to passengers around you.

Translation?

No porn please!

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Tarmacs

I love taking smaller regional carrier for one reason – the ability to take pictures of aircraft from the tarmac!

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Beating a dead horse

In between my real job, I was catching up on headlines for the airlines today.  There’s a new one out there on Alaska Airlines, talking about capacity, outlook, etc.  Something struck my eye:

Alaska is 23% of their capacity. On the cost side, labor contracts are resolved through the end of this year, whereas almost every other airline is negotiating with labor. Alaska has 16% of their capacity in Hawaiian markets. They also have 6% of their capacity in Mexico.

Okay.  So 23% capacity in Alaska, 16% capacity in Hawaiian, and 6% capacity in Mexico.  That adds up to 45%.  That means Alaska’s decision to NOT equip their planes with Row44 satellite based internet and instead go with land based AirCell’s GoGo service is guaranteed to – at most- be available to 55% of their markets.  What the hell kind of business decision is this?  And yes, AirCell has promised to add Alaska coverage in 2011; do you believe them?  Or in this market, will it get put off?  And even with it available in Alaska, flights from Seattle/Portland/Chicago/LAX/SFO to Alaska have to fly over Canada – where AirCell has absolutely no coverage.

Again, Alaska Airlines, I ask, “WHAT were you thinking?”.  Sure, you’re a good airline.  Sure you’ve got some of the best customer service in the industry.  But you’ve made some crappy business decisions as of late.  And we won’t even go into what’s going on with Alaska Air Group’s Horizon subsidiary.  Nine of their CRJs are gone, which takes them closer to a unified Q400 fleet.  But there’s 40 pilots, 40 mechanics, and at least 120 flight attendants that have been laid off, and there is talk of not only pulling out of California (Cranky had a good read here), but also having another carrier sub for Horizon on several of the California routes.

For God sakes, ALK – do you want some help making decisions?  I think your traveling public would help you out better than your executives are helping you at the moment.

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