Nothing’s Gonna Change In The Friendly Skies

Now that you’ve had time to digest the United Airlines fiasco, I have news for you.  Nothing’s gonna change.

Yes, there’ll be media propaganda orchestrated by United’s PR agency.  Politicians will hold hearings demanding changes by the airlines.  The very airlines, in fact, that government allowed to merge into the category of “Too Big to Care.”   And we’re sure to see a Chicago Aviation Police representative proclaim this incident was a fluke that’ll never happen again.

Nothing is going to change in commercial air travel for two reasons: Power and Choice

As a customer, flier, taxpayer, and citizen, we essentially have no power or choice. 

Airlines exist as oligopolistic business entities.  In the USA, the big four — American, Delta, United, and Southwest, operate 90% of daily flights.  (5 major carriers have gone away via merger since I began traveling)  As a road warrior, I was amused to see #BanUnited trending.  You’re gonna “ban” United?  Good luck getting into Newark, out of Denver, or through Chicago.

The big airlines have less incentive to improve than the government sanctioned monopoly you’re forced to buy your electricity from. 

Speaking of government, you don’t have a choice there either.  Nor do you have power.  The four police officers proved that when they forcibly removed Dr. Dao from the seat he purchased.  Those officers are on “leave” right now.  Which means, they’re still being paid by taxpayers.  This is hardly the first incident of police abusing their power by abusing citizens.  It’s just the most recent and we know about it thanks to cell phone cameras.  

When Innovation Takes Flight

Companies and government agencies are made up of people.  People do as much or as little as they can get away with.  Until a major lightNing bolt hits the marketplace changing the power dynamic and creating real choice, nothing will change.   

But I believe in human innovation.  Someday, airline travel will be ReInvented by the Uber of aviation.  I dream of a day when fliers truly have a choice.  When consumers wield power via their traveling dollar.  A day when oligopolistic airlines who put employees ahead of customers have no paying passengers to kick off planes because those customers found a different Lyft.  

Damian Mason is a speaker, businessman, and frequent flier for over two decades.