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Travel Tip: Do Recent Air Travel Incidents Reflect Airline Values?

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MG_2672-mediumIn the last two months we’ve seen the same situation—or at least the same issues—repeated half a dozen times on at least five separate airlines.

I’m talking about passengers versus flight crew or gate agents—or vice versa.

Lawsuits and out-of-court settlements followed.

In each case, every airline ultimately responded with the same general apology. In their statements they added that they were shocked and saddened, and that what happened did not reflect their core values and culture.

Others might argue that the viral videos the world saw might confirm those core values and culture.

There’s a huge difference between aspirational values and operational ones, between corporate mission statements and real behavior.

How did this happen?

For many years, airline management has told front line employees—the folks who have direct public contact—all the things they are no longer allowed to do for passengers.

Some airlines called it “no waivers, no favors.”

It’s a strict adherence to the corporate bottom line and a focus on generation of revenue at all costs.

As a result, those gate and counter agents and flight crews have essentially been told—under threat of suspension or worse—that they no longer have permission to think in common sense terms to resolve problems.

Then, bad behavior often led to worse behavior for both airlines and passengers.

In official statements, a few airlines have announced new programs to retrain their staff.

I think they have their priorities confused.

Airlines need to retrain their management.

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