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Friday, December 9, 2016

Big news, holiday travelers! American Airlines has a new family deal for you. If you and the kids are headed off to grandma’s house, Disney World or wherever, American will make an effort to seat you next to each other.

Well, that’s not exactly new or special, since most airlines have long done this. But here’s the “new” part in American’s family seating deal: You pay a fee for it. Being seated together is no longer a gracious service, but a calculated nickel-and-dime opportunity for the corporation to squeeze more out of you. And, actually, it’s quite a bit more than a nickel or a dime — to get “family seat reservations,” American hits you up for $25, each way.

Of course, paying this corporate tax doesn’t guarantee that your seats will actually stay attached to the plane. American, you might recall, had a rash of flights grounded in October due to the rather startling in-flight experience of passenger seats suddenly coming loose. At the time, the airline’s executives rushed to suggest that disgruntled members of the Transportation Workers Union were behind this odd malfunction.

Well, no. Internal documents have now revealed that the sabotage came right out of the executive suite. In order to charge additional fees to customers wanting a bit of extra legroom, the geniuses at the top ordered that the seating plan on American’s 757’s be reconfigured.

Fine … except they then tried to get the re-installations done on the cheap. Rather than having their own highly skilled and experienced mechanics do the work, they outsourced it to low-wage, non-union contractors. The contractors, in turn, “misinterpreted” American’s maintenance manual, did “incorrect installations” of seats and even had students doing some of the installations.

Finally admitting to this shoddy management, American’s hierarchy resorted to cold corporatethink to rationalize it: “Our competitors (do maintenance) where it is most cost-effective,” they explained. “We must similarly adapt.”

Cost-effective? Fee-fie-foe-fum, I smell another fee coming on. “You want safety? Hey, we’ve got a fee for that.”

Those who say we should run government like a business must not be frequent flyers.