Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Well It Has To Be Somebody's Fault - Doesn't It?

You'd think we were facing a national emergency, a critical meltdown in the transport infrastructure of Great Briatin or worse still - the end of life as we know it. Instead the Air Transport Users Committee (who's on the committee, who are these users?) has received 12,000 complaints last year from airline users, which is apparently up 22% from the previous year.

Let's put this into perspective. Some 148 million people flew through the BAA's seven UK airports in the UK last year and therefore it was something around one complaint for every 12,500 passengers. Put another way that's one complaint for every thirty something Boeing 747s. Of course many of those passengers came from overseas but still it's hardly an industry in meltdown.

There are a number of issues at play here, not least the fact that people expect air travel to be better than it's ever capable of being. As I've said about before it's a champagne at beer prices syndrome that we're suffering from. What would happen if there was somebody we could complain to every time we faced a delay on a car journey? Add to this the fact that we have a media which is obsessed with telling us that the world is a lousy, doomed, crisis ridden and thoroughly nasty place - 24/7 - and is it surprising that people have begun to believe it? Oh yes, and there's all those adverts telling us - "where there's blame, ther's a claim".

There’s also the security issues which everyone from passengers, to airlines, and the media and the 'interested parties' seem to want changed, yet the government holds firm here in the UK to the one piece of hand baggage rule. Let's spare a thought for the creaking system that is under such extreme pressure because we the public want flights, here, there, and everywhere, at prices that don't make our credit cards creak. This is a part of the problem and accounts for some knock on effects across the system. It also is a damned if they do, damned if they don't position for the government.

People who are travelling have always been tense about time. Will the flight be late, or will it get me to the next airport to make my connection? Will I make that important business meeting? Now almost everyone who travels is tense. All this is a recipe for conflict. It’s also a stimuli to complain. Because everything is somebody’s fault, which of course is true. It could be that the somebody might just be us.

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