What's Wrong With U.S. Airlines?
The following commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet's guest contributor program, which is separate from the company's news coverage.
NEW YORK (
TheStreet) -- Recently, the
Hypothesis 1: The nature of airline travel makes customer service difficult, if not impossible.Airline travel is difficult, but good customer service is not impossible. On her first trip out of China, my 85-pound administrative assistant looked at me in terror as airline screeners told her to take off her shoes, then her jacket, then her sweater, then her belt, and then scanned her all over with a wand. Airline travel is stressful.
Yet, many airlines provide outstanding customer service.
Hypothesis 2: Customer service is not America's strong point.Each year, Businessweek ranks the world's best companies for customer service --
Hypothesis 3: Unions have crippled the airline industry.This hypothesis has legs. Think of great organizations like Nordstrom or Disneyland. When you walk through the door, you viscerally feel a service-obsessed culture. Nearly all major U.S. carriers are unionized. Unions can survive only if there is conflict between managers and non-managers -- if the culture is toxic. Increasing toxicity is the lifeblood of unions. The Association of Flight Attendants is the world's largest flight attendant union. Its trademarked rallying cry is
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