Monday, June 23, 2008

Airline Forecast: Less air . . . and more lines

George Carlin died yesterday. I loved his hippy-dippy weatherman routine. "Tonight's forecast . . . dark, continued mostly dark tonight, followed by scattered light in the morning."

Also yesterday an intrepid group of 28 passengers filed a federal lawsuit alleging that the proposed merger between NWA and Delta would result in "higher ticket prices and diminished service." They could have added "and longer lines."

Well gol-lee, as Gomer Pyle might say. (Forgive me. I'm so last-century. Its all George Carlin's fault.) Anyway, gol-lee folks, ticket prices are going up and service is diminishing right out of sight, regardless. One doesn't need a merger for this to happen. It's happenin' right now, for crying out loud.

Remember that little display that showed the maximum size a carry-on bag could be? It was right in plain sight and we were invited to place our bag on the display to be sure we were within size limits. Then that disappeared along about the time we were confronted with security checkpoints and the hassles of passenger screening, courtesy of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). I guess they figured confiscating our liquids and making us take off our shoes and empty our pockets and sometimes get "wanded" was enough stress for us beleaguered passengers. So they got less fussy about the size of carry-ons.

Until now, that is.

It has been reported that American and United will station employees and contract workers at entrances to security screening lanes to intercept customers exceeding carry-on limits. American says it will pull customers aside at boarding gates if the airline thinks they have too much carry-on baggage as well as step up announcements about size limits in gate areas and even on airplanes. As far as I can determine they haven't yet said what they will DO to the offenders, but in the time-sensitive arena that is a boarding gate, I'm guessing they would either confiscate the carry-on or charge the hapless soul a fee to check the bag. Standing in line somewhere has got to be part of the deal. Northwest and Delta have so far been silent on the issue. They are too busy "merging" these days.

But Al Sleet, the hippy-dippy weatherman might say that the forecast for the airline industry is less air . . .and more lines.


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