It's as if normal customer service rules don't apply to the airlines. The industry seems immune to normal corporate pressures that influence any other customer service business.
This is an industry that has transformed the customer experience into one that most people hate. No one is happy about boarding a domestic flight in North America.
So, what are you buying when you purchase a ticket? You're agreeing to a one-sided contract called the Contract of Carriage. Known in the law as a contract of adhesion. You either take it or don't fly.
The airlines can pretty much say or do whatever they want in these contracts.
Recently they've gone above and beyond the normal things and redefining what were always normal terms, like "Force Mejeure" or "Act of God", which traditionally referred to the weather or war.
Now, airlines are saying "Act of God" includes the lack of equipment or personnel - something that used to be their responsibility.
The airlines write these one-sided contracts and get to enforce them at will. They have the protection at every level of government to do basically whatever they want. This isn't a good thing for consumers.
The airlines are now over-consolidated corporations.
It's an industry with very high barriers to entry. You don't see someone casually deciding they want to start a new airline in the United States. That's why we've ended up with just three large network domestic carriers - plus the smaller Southwest, Alaska-Virgin and JetBlue. Ironically, people prefer to fly on the smaller carriers. It shouldn't be this way.
But, cracks are emerging. Years of bottled up resentment has resulted in the blowups we're seeing now. The public's frustrated at how awful Economy Class has become, and fueled by how much better Business Class and First are, that they shuffle past on the way to the rear of the plane.
The passengers on Dr. Dao's flight saw United's Polaris branding all over the terminals at Chicago O'Hare. Images of incredible Business Class seats with glamorous crew members, all smiles, beckoning you to take a nap. This Polaris product marketing seems to be everywhere, in every airport around the world. So, everyone is aware.
Your shuffle past First Class is intentional too, of course. Just like making everything miserable in the back of the plane is a carefully calculated strategy. It's like two planes in one, catering to two different markets
. The front is the posh, private jet, and in the back is a low-cost, discount carrier. This is a problem.
Passengers should expect to be treated with the same level of respect as they'd get in a hotel or restaurant, but instead, the experience in Economy Class on US domestic carriers does not match that.
Next time you're on a LA to New York flight, Listen to the international passengers' conversations, who've just gotten off their transpacific flights on Cathay or Qantas. Hear their dismay at the quality of the travel experience on US airlines by comparison.
The general American spirit of friendliness does not exist in the airline industry.