Houston's Continental Airlines -- the company that, through a partner, gave us the "nightmare" nine-hour flight delay -- has come out with a bold new customer service statement.
Essentially, it's "You think delays are bad? Just wait until we start canceling flights."
Spurred by events like that long tarmac delay, the feds have imposed fines of up to $27,500 per passenger if planes are stuck on the runway, with no escape for customers, for more than three hours.
Contintental Airlines CEO Jeff Smisek told an investors' meeting yesterday that the company's response is taking its ball and going home.
Says the Associated Press:
Smisek said many passengers on delayed flights "really want to go to LA or Mumbai, but the government by God says, 'We're going to fine you $27,500.' Here's what we're going to do: We're going to cancel the flight."
Because airlines have cut flights, leaving the remaining ones more crowded, passengers will have fewer chances to rebook on another flight. Passengers, he said, won't get to their destinations "for maybe days."
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Days, you hear, all you Mumbai-going proles? We'll see how much you like your so-called "consumer-protection laws" then, huh? Youse'll be begging to sit on a runway for three hours!
Smisek said, not completely unreasonably, that delays are the fault of an outdated air-traffic control system run by the government, and truly long delays are rare. Airline officials should be free to decide whether they should wait out a delay, without heavy fines hanging over them. (At $27,500 a pop, a delayed 757 could cost the airline $4.8 million.)
So, passengers: A canceled flight, and good luck getting a replacement? Or an experience that results in a story that begins like this: "By its sixth hour sitting on a deserted tarmac, Continental Express Flight 2816 had taken on the smell of diapers and an overwhelmed lone toilet."
Work hard, fly right. Or maybe don't fly at all, if you're going to be so goddamn picky about things.