When I heard Thenardier, the pub owner in Les Miserables, sing Master of the House, I couldn’t help thinking that he was an airline executive singing about fleecing his passengers. Shortly afterwards, a friend sent me a vintage video entitled, “If Airlines Worked Like Health Care.” They both evoke an all-too-real image of today’s airlines.

It doesn’t take much imagination to hear airline executives in this pub owner role. The actual words of one of the verses follow. After that I have penned my own words that might be a bit more aviation oriented. Amazingly, the words don’t meed many changes.

Reasonable charges plus some little extras on the side
Charge them for the lice
Extra for the mice
Two percent for looking in the mirror twice
Here a little slice
There a little cut
Three percent for sleeping with the window shut
When it comes to fixing prices
There are lots of tricks he knows
How it all increases
All them bits and pieces Jesus!
It’s amazing how it grows!

[From: http://www.elyrics.net ]

Here are my words. They seem to fit today’s airlines perfectly. You can sing them along with the video above. Call the song, Master of the Sky.

Charge them a low price
Then add something nice
Ten percent more for service during flight
Here a little slice
There a pecan nut
Something extra for the man with a big gut
When it comes to fixing prices
There are lots of tricks we know
How it all increases
All those fees and charges Jesus
It’s amazing how it grows

If air travel worked like health care video
Next, we have the If Airlines Worked Like Healthcare video that is a slam on the healthcare industry. Of course, this article by Johathan Rauch was written back in 2009 when airlines had just begun unbundling fees, airline alliances were in the infancy and we had competition between seven major airlines.

It was also long before the International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced their plans for customization and prior to American Airlines attempts to create their direct connect sales structure. What was once considered a relatively good, consumer friendly system where prices could be compared and passengers could mix and match airlines based on what served their purposes best, is in danger of becoming exactly what this video presents.

If passengers are faced with only three major international airlines controlling more than 80 percent of the international market and 75 percent of the domestic market, competition will suffer. If the current central reservation systems that allow travel agents to provide comparison shopping across almost every airline, passengers will find themselves in the same situation Mr. Rauch is facing.

In the comments let me know whether you see airline nickle-and-diming and greed in the first video and what might happen if our airline system really does go the way of the medical system.