Change is hard.
Just ask anyone who has ever tried to lose weight, start an exercise regimen, gain control of their finances, quit smoking, or keep new year resolutions. It is easier to give up than to continue fighting or changing course. Unless there is a reason, specifically a real need to do so, or we see direct results pretty quickly, change seldom happens. We stick with what we know.
For example, I will be surprised if, even after his diagnosis, our President has a real change of heart about the coronavirus he has called a “hoax” for so many months, but who knows? Like I said before, change is hard. It takes courage, support, and the desire to take ownership of decisions and mistakes if a solution is to be found.
Winston Churchill said: “To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often,” and, based on that theory and if we are lucky, maybe we will all come out of this crisis a little closer to perfection in 2021!
I know in my world of travel, just about every airline CEO has advised us that the airline industry, in particular, is going to change drastically. They are all planning to become much, much smaller in the aftermath of the pandemic, whenever that will be. Inevitably, this will mean fewer planes, routes, and people — as well as revenue for them.
Assuming the industry does get back to its 2019 levels at some point, these CEOs are saying the next six months, year, or maybe year-and-a-half will become a time dedicated to re-building goodwill back with customers.
Now, folks, forgive me for being a little skeptical. After all, we are talking about an airline industry which has spent the last decade or so making record-setting profits by adding to our ticket prices with so many little extras. As a travel agent, I hear the complaints all the time.
Instead of looking forward to air travel like in the years past, flying today is more of a means to an end, a difficult, stressful, and expensive experience to be endured. Along with busy airports, TSA check points, and packed flights, the airlines only added to the problem.
First, they charged us $25-$45 for a bag, then, they followed these fees with ancillary charges for meals and the luxury of an assigned seat. When that idea worked so well for them, they decided to charge more for an aisle or window seat or the chance to sit in the front of the plane and disembark faster.
To say the least, their fee grab proved lucrative. Even Southwest Airlines – which allows you to check two bags for free and does not have any change fees — led the industry in 2018 by earning $18 out of every $100 collected just from these extra ancillary fees. Their cup was running over — until Covid arrived.
Since March, the coronavirus has devastated air travel. Now, 6 months later, capacity is still only at 30%, and, let’s not kid ourselves, this is why airline CEOs are now saying you — the customer — matter. Congress tried to get them to change their fee structures, but, until the necessity to change their ways became a reality, they refused.
Covid made them look for a solution and you are it! In fact, to show just how much you matter, United Airlines made the first huge concession: they eliminated the exorbitant $200 fee they were charging to change or rebook an airline ticket. Of course, since the airline business is such an incestuous family and everyone had the same penalty, their decision was immediately matched the next day by American, Delta, and Alaska Airlines.
Isn’t it amazing how an industry so strapped for cash swapped revenue for goodwill?
Personally, I feel it is a brilliant public relations move. There is no longer the risk of buying an airline ticket and then maybe having to change or cancel your plans without paying a $200 penalty is huge to our clients at Monroe Travel Service, especially when traveling during a pandemic.
Yet, even more important, is the fact that the airlines have become customer centric again and we are so worth it! It may not make dollars and cents for the airlines, but a positive change like this certainly make good sense to the consumer.
It is my hope that the elimination of airline change fees will stick around for a long time–and, by the way, if you want to show a little gratitude for the airlines’ new attitude, why not call Monroe Travel Service and let us put you on a flight real soon? Maybe it’s time to take a holiday from your life and forget about your duties, goals, and to-do lists and go have some fun again?
Take a holiday from your life! Release yourself of your goals and to-do lists
Dianne Newcomer is a travel agent at Monroe Travel Service. During the pandemic, our agents are working remotely, so for future travel plans, call 318 323 3465 or [email protected] We would love to send you away!
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