Green Room

Air Vaporware

posted at 4:06 pm on April 21, 2009 by

Could any other company do business the way airlines do business? They’re willing to sell you something that they don’t have, can’t provide, and know with absolute certainty they can’t give you. Not just promise it to you, but charge your credit card for the full price.

I always buy non-stop plane tickets, when possible, because I know full well that the flights will be overbooked (because they always are). Personally, I think it’s worth the extra hundred bucks to be stranded in either my originating or destination city — rather than Detroit or DFW or somewhere, trying to sleep across three plastic chairs without getting my carry-on stolen.

But that doesn’t negate the fact that the airlines are selling you a ticket for a flight that they know you’ll never take. And that extra money you paid for the non-stop flight? You’ll be lucky to have less than three stops on the flight you finally get, two days later.

It’s like if you went car shopping, did your research, and decided on a Honda. So you do your negotiating, decide on a price, give them your financing paperwork, and write a check for the balance. After all this, you’re about to drive it off the lot, and the salesman laughs, “Hahaha. No, no. Just kidding. You can’t have that car. We already sold it to someone else.”

“But,” he says, “you can go across the street to that Fold dealership. They agreed to give you an old Pinto that’s been on their lot for a while. You can pick it up next Tuesday. Oh, and the air conditioning doesn’t work.”

Seriously, could that happen in any industry other than air travel?

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Lucky me, I fly Southwest and it’s been great every time. That said the airlines are a perfect example of what we should have let all these troubled companies. How many times do they go bankrupt and yet most of them still exist. But your right, they seem to be a bad model to ever be a thriving industry.

Cindy Munford on April 21, 2009 at 7:52 PM

I was going to say that Southwest doesn’t fly here, but I just checked their map, and they do!

I used to fly with them all the time, and I never had a problem either. I don’t remember how stopovers work, though — when you can’t be sure you’ll be early enough to get a low number.

Tanya on April 21, 2009 at 8:03 PM

I am getting ready to go to Virginia, I had checked the prices last week but hadn’t made the purchase. Today they were cheaper. My son lived in MA and he could fly non-stop into Virginia if he left out of Logan but he could leave out of New Hampshire on Southwest with one change and it still was faster. Plus they are funny. They let a ninety year old man sing on the PA system, it his birthday. Anyway, Florida to Virginia 1 hr. 15 minutes $49 or ten hours in the car. No brainer.

Cindy Munford on April 21, 2009 at 8:15 PM

Actually, it is interesting that you used the term vaporware. As someone that has played mmos for years, you commonly have people complain that the first year or so of an online game, the players are paying to beta test it. It is very common for games to be released in an unfinished state.

coyoterex on April 22, 2009 at 4:01 AM


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