US Airlines Need Competition to Improve


Wayne Chen, Staff Writer

Over the last few decades, while airline companies in the United States seem to be lowering the price of flight tickets, their services have been notoriously compromised at the same time. At first, it was smaller leg room, cramped overhead storage space, extra charges for checked luggages and meals, or lack of meals altogether. Recently, however, a more troubling pattern is forming: beyond compromising already existing services, airlines are not offering adequate and ethical service. The only way for this troubling trend to stop is if foreign airlines are allowed to fly domestic routes in the U.S. Bringing in competition will force U.S. airline companies to adopt better measures to accommodate their passengers.

In the past two years, many incidents have pushed passengers’ tolerance for the airline industry’s lack of ethics to the edge. United Airlines notoriously dragged a passenger off the plane in April 2017, and Spirit Airlines crew members allegedly forced a teenage girl to flush her emotional support hamster down the toilet in order for her to board the plane. Spirit Airlines refused to acknowledge the company’s direct role in forcing the girl to flush her hamster. Most recently, United Airlines crew members forced a family to keep its dog in the overhead bin, assuring them the dog will be fine. However, the dog died anyway. As a response, United Airlines decided to suspend pet shipping services and is working to revise company policies for travel with pets. But for the family that lost their dog, these provisions are too little too late.

The effects of such poor customer service by U.S. airlines can be seen in company rankings. None of the American airline companies cracked the top 10 list of best airlines worldwide. Research conducted by Aviation Week discovered that a significant amount of airline mergers have lessened competition within the industry. This makes it easier to own a share in the market despite providing lackluster services. The principle is as simple as it can get: less competition means less pressure to improve.

While those in public office demonstrate little interest in changing customer service standards on airlines — President Donald Trump even went as far as pledging to protect airline companies — the public can rally and make it clear to airline companies that the only way they can continue to operate and profit is to make dramatic improvements in-flight experiences. This, combined with improvements to airports, will finally shed the U.S.’s reputation of offering terrible air traveling experiences.

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Email Wayne Chen at [email protected].