Anyone who has had the misfortune to travel with me knows that, when it comes to delays, cancellations, bizarre mechanical malfunctions or whatever, anything that can go wrong will go wrong. In fact, my business travel problem has become so regular that it’s entered the Peppercom lexicon and become known as the Cody curse.
Now comes news, though, that the Cody curse has gone national. According to a front page Wall Street Journal Weekend Edition story (subscription required), airline flight delays have increased dramatically since 2000, the incidence of mishandled bags is 68 percent higher than 2002 and consumer complaints have increased in each of the last four years.
The Journal article is peppered with one horrific case study after another that, if they weren’t so terrible, would be hilarious. As for me, some of my classic problems have included:
- Being stranded overnight in Grand Rapids, Michigan, by a massive snow storm ("lake effect stuff" as the locals like to say) and having to shop for basic necessities at a K-Mart
- Being stranded overnight in Norfolk, Virginia, after my flight from Palm Beach to Newark was forced to land because of inclement NJ weather. We subsequently lost our departure ‘slot’ and, because they had already logged too much ‘work’ time, we lost our flight crew as well. I was stuck familiarizing myself with the Norfolk Airport’s comfy lounges.
- Being diverted to an abandoned Air Force facility in Newburgh, NY, after that ever-present inclement Newark weather caused problems. That one cost me about six hours.
After having seen what travelers in Denver have had to put up with over the past month, the Cody curse seems somewhat tame in comparison.
The point is, though, things are getting worse and, in my opinion, the airline industry couldn’t care less. Forced by Wall Street, the powers-that-be are so intent on squeezing every penny out of operations that the basic services have gone to hell in a handbasket.
So, I ask: how does one improve the image of an industry that really isn’t incentivized to care about it? As you ponder that question, thank your lucky stars you that you don’t have any upcoming travel with me (unless, of course, you do). The Cody curse is a very real phenomenon.