To Err (Air) May Be Human, But Costly


I enjoyed an interesting weekend, but that’s not why you come to this forum. Except, in this case, there is a business-related angle. The enjoyment involved the NCAA tournament, the nation’s gaming capital and you can guess the rest.

The implications for business started with West Coast winds that rocked our plane back and forth while it was still sitting at the gate. Thus, a long delay … a late arrival in a southern city with what I believe still has the busiest airport in the world … a missed connection … unhappy fellow passengers wanting to stage a riot … an overnight stay.

On the anecdotal side, a fellow passenger who said he once worked for Southwest Airlines (not the culprit here), offers that the in-air claims of "we’re working with the gate agents to do everything we can to help you make your connections" are bogus. On the more factual side, the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) offers a paper titled "What Happened to the Airline Industry?" 

Among the fact-based review of industry changes is the statement: "Delays and full flights had made passengers so averse to connecting flights that adding a layover to the route could reduce the number of passengers on it by almost four-fifths." I’m not sure about that total, but NBER has the breakdown here.

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