An airline I’d like to see

(No parenting posts yet. I’m still getting my head around the idea that some poor kid has me as a father. So, I bring you another rant…)

One phenomenon (of many) about modern culture that really confuses me is the success of budget airlines. Of all the things on which one might want to skimp, I’d assume air travel is not one of them. Hasn’t the thought ever occurred to somebody, as they sit in a lightweight aluminum tube traveling 80% of the speed of sound through the upper atmosphere, “Maybe this should be costing me more than $39 if I know what’s good for me?” Do you really want the people responsible for launching your kids into the stratosphere to be running cash flow negative?

Why isn’t there one airline in the country that charges 50% more to get you there, but which actually does their damn job correctly? They could have decent customer service, and could afford to price their product based on what it takes to fly safely, not decide on price first and then see what they can do with that money.

As a case in point, there have been several regional airline crashes in the past several years that can be traced (at least partly) to poor pilot training and long work schedules. I’d be fine paying extra to fly on a commuter but get a pilot who was as well trained, rested, and paid as one who would normally fly a 747. After all, flying isn’t easier just because there are fewer seats. I can’t imagine I’m alone in this. I also can’t imagine I’m alone in thinking I’d rather get there late than have to have the living shit scared out of me (or worse) by flying through a storm. However, airlines will generally fly right through anything less than a thunderstorm because it saves them the fuel costs of having to divert around (assuming they even have the spare fuel given that they all generally fly with close to the minimum required by FAA regulations). And, of course, sometimes they end up flying through more than they bargained.

So, if an airline started up and came out with ads saying “At Birge Airlines, we put safety above all else, and it shows in our prices. We’ll fly around storms even if it doubles our flight time, we carry more fuel than legally required, and if the weather isn’t good anywhere along your route, there’s a good chance you’ll be staying at a hotel on our dime. We’ll get your there late and lighter in the wallet, but we guarantee we’ll get you there safely.”

Wouldn’t you book your next flight with them?

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