Passing the buck


You get to the airport and see the endless lines at the check-in counter.

This is because of spring break travel, the agent informs you.

Then you head to the security section, the slow-moving lines, near-cavity searches and confusion – this is due to the 9/11 tragedy.

You get to your gate and your flight is delayed – due to weather.

After boarding the aircraft, you realize your aisle exit-row seat is actually an extra-small seat in the middle. The boarding agent blames an aircraft configuration change.

In flight you don’t get your special meal, and the flight attendant tells you that catering hasn’t been up to par lately because of the cutbacks. Your video screen isn’t working for the movie, and your seat partner informs you it’s because of the mechanic slow-down the airline’s having.

You land late and miss your connecting flight – as the customer service agent tells you it is the fault of your travel agent, who did not leave enough time in between flights.

Just once, would it kill one person to apologize and take responsibility?

No, that’s not going to happen, since this game is called “Pass the Buck.” There are no winners in this game that all airlines seem to play well. When I flew for a different airline, I used to apologize at least a hundred times a flight. I once thought the airline’s motto should have been “We’re Sorry.”

I didn’t realize that what I was doing was weighing myself down. After a while, the apology, whether you mean it or not, can have a lasting psychological affect. So now, I am sorry to say, I play the game.

Any big airline consists of many departments – ground staff, pilots, flight attendants, and mechanics, to name a few. Each department is responsible for a different facet of the passengers’ traveling experience. If one facet breaks down, it usually has a ripple effect on the other parts. Eventually, this permanently influences your mind-set and sours your opinion of air travel.

Take the “on-time arrival” aspect. On the surveys that some passengers actually fill out, on-time arrival is considered one of the most important aspects by far.

So in an attempt to boost those statistics and ultimately win your business, airline management has made it the top priority. Screw service, self-respect, and, incredibly enough, sometimes safety; if we get you there on time, we have done our job.

If a flight leaves or arrives late, management wants to know whom to blame. Every time they pin the blame on one department, it’s called “taking the delay.”

Too many of these blames, and heads will roll.

So, now, all too often, you will see someone from one employee group arguing with another. Flight attendants are going to take the delay on this one, a gate agent spouts.

It’s not our fault there is a mechanic on board. We’re not taking the delay, the flight attendant replies.

You called us for this problem, you should take it, the mechanic points at the gate agent.

At that moment a pilot walks down the jet way, obviously late for the flight.

All three smile at one another as they now have their culprit.

Oh, for goodness sake! It’s like little kids fighting in the sandbox. It’s very unprofessional, but as long as they have their scapegoat, Daddy’s not going to yell at them.

Ultimately, this whole fiasco is your fault because you chose that airline in the first place.

Let the games begin – and please believe me when I say that I’m sorry, but the bigger the airline, the more people there are to blame.

See how easy it is to pass the buck.