Something is seriously wrong with our airlines

Today I was reminded exactly of why I hate flying.  A couple months ago, I purchased a ticket to fly to Krakow, Poland.  I live in Cincinnati, and it is not possible to have a direct flight into Poland.  The best you can do from CVG is a one-stop flight.  I really wanted as few stops as possible, so I paid $1360 for a ticket with only one stop ( Chicago ). I could have saved myself $600 on the ticket and bought a multi-stop ticket for around $700, but I just wanted the trip to be as quick as possible.

Well, about 8 hours ago I show up at the airport, do the check-in, go through security.  However, the departure time never really approaches, because every 20 minutes or so the flight gets more and more delayed.  I had about a 100 minute window to switch planes in Chicago, and pretty soon it becomes apparent that even if I get on the plane to Chicago, I will miss my flight to Poland.

The “manager” at the American Eagle ( the regional partner to the Polish airlines partner – American Airlines ) that is handling the flight to Chicago is not very helpful.  He keeps repeating that it is not their problem, since all these delays are due to weather and not some mechanical failure ( as I’m talking to the manager, I can see through the terminal window how Delta flights are departing and landing – something he claims is not possible to do right now ).

At this point, I’m told that I can either fly to Chicago and I’m “on my own” ( whatever that means ), or I can try to reschedule my flight tomorrow. Since the thought of sleeping in the airport terminal in O’hare is not very appealing, I decide to switch my flight to the next day – what else can I really do? I end up with a flight to Chicago, then a flight into Warsaw, and the ( 6 hours later! ) a flight to Krakow. I’m now arriving a day late, on a trip that will take 13 hours more than my planned trip.

I realize that certain weather conditions can wreck havoc on flight schedules. But I’m not buying any of this BS that the airlines have absolutely no control over this aspect of flying. I’ve flown many times in the past, and it is standard practice to have a flight arrive, people leave the plane, then the new flyers board the plane, and have the plane take off in like 45 minutes. Basically, very little – if no time at all – is factored in for delays due to weather. The airlines could easily fix this problem by allowing more time in between arriving and departing flights. But that would hurt their bottom line, and they prefer to shift all the blame to the weather ( thus escaping any liability ) instead of actually admitting that their scheduling is messed up.

I really think we need a new system that requires airlines to allow for more time between arrival and departure. Don’t make it mandatory, but if the airline decides that they want to continue their current practice, require them to compensate the passengers $20 per hour that their flight is delayed, and something like $100 per added stop to their travel plans. If airlines couldn’t simply blame everything on the weather, I’m sure they would very quickly arrive at some solution that would improve the status quo.

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