You Can’t Fix Stupid

You Can’t Make This Stuff Up!

On a recent AMR flight from Michigan to home (DFW), aboard a regional jet, I was seated on the port side, which is a single seat side, across from the first row bulk-head seats.  Seated there were what appeared to be a father and son?  They had placed a couple of small carry-ons on the floor in front of them.  Regular travelers know, in bulk-head seats, you can’t do that; everything must go in the overhead.  The ‘flight attendant’ told them quickly and curtly about that rule and then went back to the conversation with the gate agent in the front of the plane.  The father and son looked at each other, a little confused.

Based on their appearance I thought it possible there might be a language problem.  I know that’s profiling, excuoooose me for observing the potential obvious.  A few moments later the attendant noticed the bags still on the floor and so repeated the same instructions, visibly upset, picked up the two small bags and walked back a few seats, put them in an overhead that had space, slammed the overhead compartment shut, walked back to the front of the plane and said to the gate agent, “You can’t fix stupid”.  I couldn’t believe my ears!

Now, before we all jump to any conclusions about having a bad day or any other ‘lack of personal responsibility’ pretext; going into the hospitality / service travel industry was a choice made solely by this person.  Why do I think it’s possible that the union membership mind-set contributed to a lack of what used to be a gracious host or hostess, steward or stewardess?

So, when I hear the Captain or the Flight Attendant over the public address system say, “I know you have a choice in airline travel and we appreciate your business”; I want to tell them that for frequent flyers, the system does not allow for choice.  For example, many years ago, since clients have to pay for my travel as part of the cost of doing business, my office chose the cheapest flight to a client’s city.  After only a couple of years, I had thousands of program miles spread across a half dozen airlines, which made them relatively useless.

One night in Kansas City, my 6:30pm flight on ‘Tree-Top Airlines’ (not a real airline) was canceled.  I said to the gate agent, no problem; just put me on the next flight out with a different airline.  The agent said, ‘we don’t have reciprocal agreements with other airlines.  I was stuck in a hotel overnight, until the 6:30pm flight the next day.  Then and there I said, no more the cheapest flight and dedicated my business to AMR.  Why not?  DFW is my home and theirs.  But, since, I have since watched the atmosphere and service of AMR wane.

Recently, I was honored to be among the few invited to a destination wedding in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.  I decided to add a couple of days’ vacation and finish my book.  I didn’t want to chance being upgraded, so I used my program miles to book the round trip flight in first class.  From DFW, an approximate 2.5 hour flight scheduled for departure at 12:45pm.  After boarding, we were delayed about an hour to change a flat tire (no one’s fault, and we were all fortunate the need was discovered), but a 2.5 hour flight…in first class…and NO MEAL.  I had breakfast at the ranch, but put off having lunch, assuming I would enjoy a leisurely in-flight meal.

Oh, for the days of TWA’s Champagne Flight, served by gracious, welcoming, white gloved attendants (and that was in coach), Pam Am’s Comfort Excursion or Eastern Airlines tone of southern hospitality.

Today, just enduring airport security has altered the once stateliness of travel, but with the tone of general ingratitude and lack of basic services (including in coach), is it any wonder, airline after airline is going bankrupt or forced to merge for survival.

Well, I guess you can’t fix stupid.

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