Why Are Airline Lobbyists So Bad At Defending Airlines?

If you’re a PR flack for the airlines, maybe you’ve just given up? You figure anything you say is a lost cause, so why bother trying and just phone it in? Or maybe you’re trying to come up with gibberish statements, figuring the more of an anodyne non-sequitur you can offer, the less like you are to make someone mad?

I’m genuinely trying to figure out what was on the mind of the communications person for airline lobby shop Airlines For America when they offered this defense of current airline seat space standards to the Today show, “Airlines continue to invest in a wide range of innovative technologies to maximize personal space in the cabin.”

Not sure this would be the statement I would have chosen… pic.twitter.com/CpCUF1yJTm

— Ross Feinstein (@RossFeinstein) November 3, 2022

We all know that the ‘innovative technologies’ airlines have largely invested in have been slimline seats with less padding, which has helped them to squeeze more seats into the cabin at the expense of your back. But what strikes me is that the statement seems written by a bureaucrat, or a robot. I love the host in the background interrupting as the statement is read, reacting to these airline investments, “like what??”

If you’re going to defend the airlines, you need to go into this like Aaron Eckhart in the screen adaptation of Christopher Buckley’s Thank You For Smoking.

When you defend airline seats you need to make the positive case for airlines.

  • Air travel brings us all together. It is expensive and space is scarce. But you can be on the other side of the country in 5 hours – that is far more comfortable than a long Amtrak or Greyhound ride.

  • On the whole US airlines offer more legroom in coach than their counterparts in Europe. US consumers are getting a great deal, especially as inflation-adjusted airfares have been on a 45 year downward trajectory since the government stopped fixing prices to keep it expensive.

  • We all want as much as we can get for as little as possible. But you can choose to buy the product you want – whether it is 28 inches between seats on Frontier, 30-32 inches from most US airlines, extra legroom seats like exit rows or first class.

If the government mandates more room per passenger, and fewer seats, that just bans the Frontier Airlines business model. It does nothing to change the passenger experience on American, Delta, or United. But it does eliminate competition, and makes flying on American, Delta, and United more expensive for passengers.

Everyone loves a free upgrade, but when the government mandates the upgrade for everyone it’s no longer going to be free – it’s going to be expensive. Airlines are a low margin business. Warren Buffett famously said that investors would have been better off if someone had shot Orville Wright at Kitty Hawk. They’re not the ones who will be paying for this.

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *