Like the title? I made it up myself. Pretty proud of that one. I had to travel for work again this week. Just a quick, overnight trip to Richmond, Va. Traveling in the winter is always a little nerve wracking no matter how you do it, isn’t it?
So as I’m preparing to board my flight home from Richmond, the airline lackey, in a stunningly accurate impression of Charlie Brown’s teacher, announces over the P.A. at my gate that the flight is over booked by one and they’d like to offer a $300 ticket voucher to anyone who will take a later flight. How does the airline over book by one? It’s their plane! Don’t they know how many seats it has? Or did someone just take their seat with them when they got off the plane? Do they have to have one of the flight attendants count the seats after each flight and report back to headquarters? “What? We only have 47 seats? I’d swear we had 48 when we left. Call up to the gate and tell them we’re one short. Hey, has this back row exit door been open the whole flight?”
Now that we’re living in a computer age (yeah, just now.) shouldn’t the airlines be able to keep track of how many seats their planes have and sell only that exact amount of tickets? Or maybe they could sell two less tickets than the number of seats just in case someone somewhere makes a mistake with their abacus during the pre-flight seat count. And why do they wait until 15 minutes before your flight leaves to discover their error? That’s when the fun begins. That’s when the game of chicken/auction begins. “Since our flight is overbooked and no one took the $300 voucher we’d like to offer a $500 ticket voucher and two nights at any Marriott hotel.” You think to yourself, “Now this is getting interesting. I might take that.” All the passengers look back and forth at each other because they know that as they clock ticks down the ante goes up. After two more minutes pass Charlie Brown’s teacher clicks the mic again and says, “As we are still overbooked by one we would like to offer a $750 ticket, two nights at a Marriott and a lifetime suppy of Rice-a-Roni, the San Francisco treat.” We all eye each thinking, “now this is getting interesting, and really, is it possible they serve Rice-a-Roni in San Francisco restaurants?” They crowd is watching the auction shouting “Take it, take it!” “Door number 1” “Wait for showcase number 2!”
And what kind of business model is this where you can sell a service then essentially buy it back for at least 3x it’s value and then still give the customer the service albeit an hour and a half later? Have you noticed how many airlines that have gone out of business, filed for bankruptcy or merged in the last ten years? Yeah, I’m thinking that if even half the time they had an accurate seat count they could save themselves a fortune every year. It’s like they’re playing an expensive game of Native American giver.(and why did Native Americans get that unfair rep? Wasn’t it the white settlers that stole Manhattan from them for some Mardi Gras beads?). “Um…yeah, we told you that you could have a seat, but we were lying. Will you take $1000 to get on the next flight?” I wish more businesses had this policy. “Yes, Mr. Taylor, I know we said we would sell you the Ford Focus for $17,000, but well, this is embarrassing, umm…Ford is kind of out of those right now. If you could just go away quietly and come back tomorrow we’ll give you a Cadillac Escalade with lifetime satellite radio.”
So now, you can read the rest of this blog for more whimsical observations, but my bandwidth is full and I’ll need two readers to wait for my next blog entry. If you choose to wait for the next blog entry I’ll throw in 4 more jokes, a free Phil Factor t-shirt and a lifetime supply of Rice-a-Roni, the San Francisco treat. In the meantime if you don’t want to get bumped you can subscribe to The Phil Factor on your Amazon Kindle, follow me on Twitter @ThePhilFactor and as always, if you like click the Facebook Like button below.