Sunday, June 22, 2008

Airlines taking us for a ride - oops, flight!

You know, like most people who have to fly for work related reasons - I hate air travel sufficiently to not fly in order to get to a vacation destination - I have got used to the ongoing offensively lousy customer disservices that outfits like Air Canada inflict upon the traveling public. So I'm used to flights getting canceled for no good reason other than that it was an 'act of God' (hello, can't us humanists at least get a slightly more intelligible explanation?), or that on long-distance flights they offer a dry roll wrapped around one slice of cucumber in lieu of a vegetarian breakfast, stuff like that. Yes, I got to be honest: the more of them go bankrupt the better off both the environment and the remaining traveling public will be.

Here's one gripe I have, however, and I hope regulators will step in soon to stop their shenanigans in that regard. Melbourne's THE AGE newspaper reports today that JAL is planning to levy a 1000 A$ fuel surcharge on flights from Down Under to Europe. Truth be told, I don't care what they charge. My gripe is that in order to compare like for like, airlines should be forced to quote one price for the trip from A to B and that's that. What is all this gimmickry including fuel surcharges, taxes, looking at planes twice, toilet fees, utilisation of seats etc? It's ridiculous. Of course, if you want to fly an airplane from A to B you need - hint - fuel. So, buy it and include it in your price, but spare me the ridiculous surcharges. If you're too incompetent to budget properly, don't make that my problem, just get out of business! I mean, they also have other cost factors, like running their planes, salaries, etc etc. Surely there is nothing in principle different between these costa and fuel costs or 'taxes', hence all of that should be included in one final price, and that is what the airlines should be forced by regulators to quote.

Otherwise it's a bit like a baker charging me a gas surcharge on the baked cake she's selling me, or a doctor adding a heating surcharge for the time that I spent in her heated waiting room. It's plain bizarre. Nearly as bizarre as Northamerican mobile phone companies charging you 'long-distance' fees for calls on the continent. Like, hello, don't you people understand the concept of satellite based communications. There is no such a thing as a long-distance call in any meaningful way on a mobile phone, yet these arbitrary charges are SOP of mobile phone operators in Canada. Oh well, getting off my soap box for this weekend. Enjoy yours. And remember, use the bicycle if you can.

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