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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F’d Up Issue of the Week ending 04/24/10

This week’s winner for f’d up issue of the week is actually something behind the scenes.  Let me paint the picture, using my own horror stories from the past weekend, and you’ll understand what I mean.

Chicago O’Hare. Famous for delays and such, right? Move in a little bit of weather, and one of the worlds busiest international airports comes to a crawl. Same with Atlanta. Same with many other airports.  Why?  Because it turns out that most airlines don’t use the most accurate system for takeoffs and landings.  You know that TomTom or Garmin hand held GPS system that you can get with car rentals?  Yeah – that’s more advanced than some of the planes that you fly on.

Airlines know this, as do airports.  Alaska Airlines, Delta, and UPS all fly planes that are GPS capable, and have for quite some time.  Back in 2007, there was an article in the New York Times about what Alaska, Delta, and UPS are doing.  Two of the most telling statistics in the story are:

At Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Delta Air Lines said its jets take off an average of 10 minutes after pushing back from the gate — three minutes faster than in previous years.

Of the approximately 3,600 flights the airline operated in and out of Juneau last year, 754 could not have been tried in years past.

We can make air travel safer, have fewer delays, and save the airlines BILLIONS, but it’s going to take the leadership of the tech savvy airlines, and a mandate by the FAA to get this done.

The reason I bring this up, of course, is that I was one of those people stuck going in to Chicago O’Hare this past weekend.  And even though I was flying Alaska Airlines, without full-implementation of the GPS system by all airlines flying into O’Hare, we were delayed 3 hours.  Nice, eh?  But TOTALLY avoidable.  So that’s why the slow moving behemoth FAA and the travel delays that it’s 50 year old legacy system causes earn the F’d Up Issue of the Week.

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