Tags: flying | flights | airlines

Whatever Happened to the Friendly Skies?

Monday, 14 Mar 2011 09:01 AM

By Jon Friedman

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I am about to go on a trip out of town and while I'm looking forward to the adventure, I'm positively dreading the experience of getting on and off an airplane.

Traveling by air in 2011 is a big pain in the neck. It simply isn't much fun — between the ultra-elaborate security measures that the air carriers and airports have instituted, and the cost-cutting and the less-than-beaming demeanors of the employees of an airline.

It used to be different. No matter how often a person flew from town to town, it was exciting and fun and maybe even memorable. It's too bad, because ultimately, the air carriers themselves are the ones who must pay the price for this change of style.

If I'm going from New York, where I live, to, say, Washington, I'd just as soon take a train than fly there. The hassles of dealing with airport life turn me off to the point where I'm willing to sacrifice a little time for the sake of comfort.

Who wouldn't?

The airlines in this country had better get it together. What they can do, for openers, is ingrain the idea of customer service into their staffers. From the moment I call to make my reservation to the time I step off the plane, my complete travel experience is in their hands.

It can be a little nerve-racking to fly anywhere in general. It would be nice if the airline's employees eased the burden by acting in a friendly, professional way. Too often, it sounds like they'd rather be somewhere else.

Once, a telephone clerk at a major airline played a prank on me by quoting a higher fare price at the end of our conversation than she had stated when I made the reservation a few minutes earlier.

"Only kidding!" she chirped, as if the whole exercise was a joke.

The airlines need to give themselves a wake-up call and make the experience of flying enjoyable for us. Whatever happened, anyway, to the promise of the friendly skies? I wish I knew.

Jon Friedman writes the Media Web column for MarketWatch.com. Click here to read his latest column.

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