No other business operates like the airlines. The airlines can get away with murder in regards to your ticket with no reprimand! If other businesses would start selling one product only to deliver a different product, they would quickly go out of business. There are a few key tactics they use that just would not hold up in a normal business.
The Bait and Switch
There have been several times where I decide to fork over the extra money and pay for the direct flight from point A to point B. Hey, this reduces the likelihood of not making it do your destination; it is worth the extra money, right? Inevitably it seems like something always goes wrong; whether it is a mechanical problem with the aircraft, weather conditions, or over-booking of the flight, I have been forced to take non-direct flights to get to point B for the same price that I paid for my direct flight. Why in this case does the airline not give me a partial refund on my “direct” flight that I decided to pay extra for? Not only am I getting to my destination at a later time, but I’m also now increasing my odds of something else going wrong on the second (or third) leg of the flight!
The Purposeful Overbooking
I’m sure everyone has experienced this. Airlines even admit that they do this. They sell more tickets than there are seats on a plane, and when everyone actually shows up, there are 10+ people on a standby list that end up getting bumped from the flight that they paid for. Imagine walking in to a car dealership, working out a deal on a new car, signing the paperwork, paying them, and then receiving a different car – it would never happen. Yet airlines are somehow exempt from being able to deliver on all of the tickets that they sell.
The Nickel and Diming
I recently flew on TACA airlines, a Central American airline, and I was amazed at the service I received. They still played movies and gave out free headsets, they still gave out food to the passengers in coach, they were incredibly attentive and helpful and checking baggage didn’t cost extra. On top of it all, the aircraft itself was much newer than typical US aircraft, and was actually comfortable. I vaguely remember the days where US airlines were like this. It is sad to think that some airlines are considering charging extra for using the bathrooms on the aircraft during flight. Now, to be fair, plenty of other businesses use this nickel and diming technique, but don’t worry, I hate them too.