Archive for June, 2008

Luggage “Cops” Will Be Watching You!

Posted on June 17, 2008. Filed under: Travel, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

Breaking news air travelers!! Just announced today that American and United Airlines will now be paying their own employees to stand at the entrance to security check points to “Strictly Enforce” Carry-on Luggage. (Remember as I have stated before, when the big carriers do this, the other carriers tend to follow suit.)

With the new checked baggage fees imposed, the airlines are going to make sure they collect every fee they can for your bags that you have to check. So what does this mean to you?

If you are one of the travelers in their sights at security check point and they pull you out of line, you will have to return to their ticket counter to check and pay for the additional bags in question. Talk about increased frustrations on your part having to go through the chaos twice and then get back into the security line only to snear at the face of the person who just cost you another $25 bucks and then having them smile and tell you to have a pleasant flight :^(

Remember if this happens to you, make sure you remove any valuables that are not covered under the airlines “Contract of Carriage” a list which is already in my bookThe Empty Carousel a Consumer’s Guide to Checked and Carry-on Luggage written specifically to help you.

The security check point is not the place to become unruly either nor is there ever a place for that behavior in the airport so prepare yourself mentally and plan accordingly. You might get away with an extra tote as a carry-on bag on one leg of your travel but then only to have another agent at another airport force you to pay the money to check it!

When things like this come into play such as the new checked baggage fee, you WILL find inconsistency from one location to the next so prepare for that as well.

Prepare for a very new experience to only add to your already frustrating experience with traveling by air these days. The stage is set and I can see the storm of your frustrations building off in the distance and if we were talking weather, I would run for the basement………….

Oh, one last thing as a reminder, the airlines are charging you and keeping the fee for your checked luggage even if your luggage is delayed, lost, damaged, or pilfered.  “Now have a nice flight and remember we value you as our customer………………………” I am not buying it are you?

Best Travels to you and yours always,

Scott T. Mueller

Author: The Empty Carousel

www.TheEmptyCarousel.com

Scott@TheEmptyCarousel.com

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Lemmings and Checked and Carry-on Luggage? The choice is yours!!

Posted on June 15, 2008. Filed under: Travel, Uncategorized |

Your luggage and the Lemming. The Lemming is a rodent known for following the leader even to their death (Sounds Extreme? The consequenses are extreme for your checked and carry-on luggage and your reason for traveling! Read on.) Due to their association with this odd behaviour, lemming suicide is a frequently-used metaphor in reference to people who go along unquestioningly with popular opinion, with potentially dangerous (loss or theft of medications, business documents, or personal belongings)  or negative affects to their reason for being or in this case traveling by air today with your checked or carry-on luggage.

As I mentioned before in a previous post, when American Airlines imposed the new fee of $15.00 to check your first bag for a flight, my prediction was that other airlines would soon jump on board with the new fee and today this has become a reality. United Airlines and US Airways both announced they would follow suit. This is only the beginning for increased checked baggage fees for you the air travelers. When a major airline gets away with the initial attempt  to impose a new fee other airlines even the smaller ones  will follow and my prediction has become a reality. Even Midwest Airlines known as the “Best Domestic Airline” many years in a row has now added the new luggage fee for the second checked bag but not yet the first  (But I feel it coming.) This is an airline (One of the best in the industry and if you have not heard of them, check them out you might be amazed when you fly on them) that always followed the beat of its own drum but now has no problem following what the other carriers are doing for reasons of survival. You see folks, it is survival time and only the strongest airlines can survive and there are not many finacially strong airlines (meaning cash reserves in the bank) that can hold out very long before they are gone or become absorbed by another carrier.  

Please do not follow the lemmings and “Demand” your rights as an air travel consumer? This is your money, your reason for traveling, your property but like I have said before, the airlines need to held accountable for the increases of delayed, lost, pilfered, and damaged bags that has spiked dramatically over the years since 2001 and folks this is your personal property and reason for traveling by air. Now is the time to stand up for yourself. I have offered you advice in the past on what you can do but it is up to you to take preventative measures for you self now.

Charge me the money but improve your luggage handling performance; drive improvement we all know that the airlines are being crushed by the HIGH fuel prices and many hard working airline employees are losing their jobs after many years of impeccable service and they are reaching out for additional ways to bring in new untapped revenue opportunities and your luggage has become a great opportunity for additional income but then the airlines should become accountable for your Luggage handling performance.

The airlines are so brasen that they state clearly if we delay, lose, damage, or pilferage your luggage, you will still pay the new fee and we will not refund it no matter what. This is outrageous to me and it should be to you. Make them earn the money they are now charging you. If you choose not to do anything about it then you really have nothing to say about it when it happens to you.

Best Wishes for what ever reason you are traveling.

Scott T. Mueller

Author: The Empty Carousel a Consumer’s Guide to Checked and Carry-on Luggage

www.TheEmptyCarousel.com

Scott@TheEmptyCarousel.com

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How do Airlines Improve Luggage Handling? Simple and it’s Proven, I Will Explain. Justice is Your Right as an Air Travel Consumer, Demand it Now!

Posted on June 5, 2008. Filed under: Travel, Uncategorized |

We all understand the airlines are in rough shape and we know the fuel costs are crippling many airlines, many people will be put out of work because of it and I wish them well. Just hanging in there in a industry that is so volatile for so many years is a testament to their desire to do what they love doing and to serve you the customer. Trust me, working in the airline industry gets into your blood and the transition out to something less exciting is a tough one.

So the airlines are now charging you to check your bags because it is an additional way to create revenue for a struggling industry. I understand it, I don’t agree with it but would agree with it if the airlines guarantee you that your luggage arrives to your destination when you do!!!

This is the part that really ticks me off, you are paying more money for a baggage handling process that has shown no improvement for many years now. More than 8 Million bags were mishandled worldwide in 2007 (42.5 Million) than the year before. Your bags are at risk as is your entire reason for traveling yet the airlines have vehemently stated they will charge you the fee for checking your luggage but will not refund that fee even if they mishandle your luggage. This is outrageous to me and it should be to you!

Take a stand, contact your congressman or write to the airline executives and tell them that if they mishandle, delay, damage, pilfer or lose your bag, the fee for checking it is automatically refunded immediately or they can offer you a free voucher for checking your next bag, or do not charge you to check your bag on your return flight. These are some options available to the industry executives to do for you when they fail to handle your luggage properly . Trust me I have never seen a customer come out on the winning end of a mishandled bag scenario.

Doing this would put pressure on the airlines and force the airline executives to focus more on the improvement of their luggage failures which are dramatically increasing year after year. Who pays the price for their incompetence? You do. Baggage is the forgotten entity in senior management yet has increased in worldwide costs from $1.6 Billion in 2004 to exceeding $3.87 Billion in 2006, I have not seen the latest stats on this for 2007 but i guarantee you it has increased even more. Think about this?? The industry experts are saying that world airlines this year will lose an estimated $6.1 Billion dollars this year. Why do people focus on that but not on the billions of dollars being wasted on poor baggage handling. What does your bag mean to you in the purpose of your travel? I bet it means allot and it should to the airlines as well.

So how do the airlines begin to improve luggage handling for you and the purpose of your travel? It’s proven and it works!

  • To begin to fix a problem you need to talk about it and focus on it.
  • Too many luggage handlers view luggage as nothing more than a bag, a hassle and a job, I know I was a luggage handler at one time many years ago but one who cared very much even then.
  • Put the human and customer factor and your ultimate travel experience and attach it to the bag.
  • A person/customer is part of the bag as one they are not separate identities, what happens to a bag also happens to the customer in the form of lost  time, money, business, frustration and more.
  • Meet with all new hire groups regardless of the job they are hired to do, meet with all current ramp (Baggage handlers) and ticket counter agents and do this with every group in their company orientation or through a series of meetings with current staff and do it continuosly.
  • Tell the stories of those customers you have helped with their luggage woes and  what the airlines baggage mishandling caused or cost the customer attached to the bag.
  • Explain the process to your employees for settling a baggage claim.
  • Talk about the cost to the airline, customers and what eliminating or greatly reducing the baggage associated costs would mean to the airlines bottom line and survival.
  • By putting a face and an experience to the bag itself creates the emotional ties of what a bag means to the customer and the outcome of their travel.
  • Reward baggage handling improvement with insentives to win a trophy to display to that stations customers showing them that the employees there know the value of their luggage. Offer a certificate showing that mishandled luggage goals were met or exceeded and stations can frame it and display it to their customers. Offer a station feast for the station with the most improvement in luggage mishandle reductions.
  • People like rewards and they work hard to get them. Employees who care about the rewards and recognition get on their own team members to make sure they do their best.
  • Now watch the luggage performance greatly improve and your travel experience will benefit for it.

Folks, I guarantee this works and with very little cost or effort to improve the handling of your luggage. I did this with my own former airline. People I spoke to in orientation a year ago would see me in the airport or a hallway and stop me to tell me what a difference I made by sharing your experiences with them and also what they personally do to take better care of your luggage. My former airline went to #1 in the industry domestically for the least number of baggage mishandles and stayed there year after year.

Make them earn the new fee! In the end it will be worth it and you will save money, and that folks I guarantee. The choice is up to you, do what you always do and get what you have always gotten and then don’t complain when your travel plans abruptly change because your luggage did not make it with you. The choice is yours. I cannot be anymore clear on what action you and the airlines need to take now! Blessings and safe travels always.

Scott T. Mueller

Author The Empty Carousel a Consumer’s Guide to Checked and Carry-on Luggage

www.TheEmptyCarousel.com

scott@theemptycarousel.com

 

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Carry-on luggage and the savvy traveler, are you at risk? You bet you are!

Posted on June 3, 2008. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Could this happen to you?

As a former system manager of baggage services for more than 50 cities, author, consultant to air travelers, speaker, and veteran of the airlines for almost 20 years, I can assure you your attempts to carry your luggage on board a flight is not an end all cure all anymore to your luggage woes. Are you at risk? You bet you are!

Carry-on bags are fast becoming a risk no less than checking your luggage with your valuables. Let me explain.

So you say you are a savvy traveler?  I have helped many a savvy “self proclaimed” traveler who found themselves in a situation of luggage perils and losses.

The added baggage fee that is now being imposed by most airlines is only going to complicate an already frustrating problem of loss, damage, delay, and pilferage of your luggage and the entire air traveling experience in today’s world.

You will see longer waits in check-in lines due to the processing of the checked baggage fees by credit card or cash, heated arguments in the fairness of the new fee and why as your customer I should not have to pay this fee. I can see the mayhem now, can you?

More and more un-savvy travelers or once a year travelers will be packing bags full to try to carry-on and avoid the checked baggage fees.

Next you will see the airlines charge a fee if you want to board before everyone else (I think some airlines are already offering this option) as overhead space will now become a baggage real estate commodity rather than a perk for savvy travelers.

More and more of you will have your carry-on bags taken from you by irritated, underpaid, overworked, airline crews who deal with an irritated traveling public and who probably received a note in their work mailbox announcing another lost benefit or a pay cut that day.

Weight and balance folks, ever hear of it? How does it impact you and your bags? Airlines are talking about reinstating the turbo prop aircraft as opposed to the newer RJ’s (regional jets) some of you have seen come into replace turbo prop aircraft in the recent past. Why you ask? The turbo prop aircraft is more fuel efficient than the RJ yet this problem still affects RJ’s and all aircraft regardless of size.

This is relevant to you because in the recent years do you remember the crash of the commuter flight in the Carolinas where 19 passengers and crew of 3 lost their lives? The investigation into the cause of the crash determined the aircraft was overweight and the weight and balance was off. This prompted the FAA to impose a new rule for bag weight documenting for all flights. This is why every bag is now weighed upon check-in and documented.

Any aircraft has to be within weight and balance limits. Let’s put this into perspective for you. Weight and balance of an aircraft is like a teeter totter if you remember as a kid. We all tried to balance our weight so the board stayed even and we did not have to sit high up in the air while our obnoxious friend kept us in high up limbo because he or she had a few pound advantages over us making them tail heavy…..

Airplanes are the same; they have to be balanced for all things to work on take-off.

More and more travelers are trying to carry their bags on jet and commuter flights (large jets do have more capacity than small aircraft) and the trend has now turned to the airlines bumping bags to accommodate paying customers with a seat and “promise” to send your bag on the next flight to reunite it with you at your destination but they do not tell you when the next flight to accommodate your bag will be.

With fuller flights on commuter aircraft these days, I have seen bags sit in your departure city for days before a flight came along with fewer passengers than bags and now your bag can be accommodated well after you have been at your destination without your bag.

The reality of the problem is to understand all that YOU CAN DO to protect yourself and how? This is where I come in. I am an expert on this subject and the first in my industry to realize that if travelers are truly educated with the inside knowledge on how to protect themselves and their luggage, then and only then can you become a truly savvy air travel consumer. 

So what should you do to protect yourself if this happens to you and it will in time if you travel by air?

You can remove your valuables from your bag if there is time to do so, if not, ask the flight attendant for their name and also ask that the gate agent put a comment in your PNR or personal name record in the computer stating that you were forced to check your carry-on against your will and ask for a printed copy of this for your records, it only takes a minute to do this. Do this with calmness and resolve in your voice as not to be labeled an unruly passenger to only become a target for the airport police and possibly be detained for questioning.

Be prepared and have a plan to protect yourself and your property. Doing the above will provide you with a possible case in the eyes of the CBS manager (Central baggage services manager) who will be in charge of compensating you for your losses. Doing this can also give you leverage in a court of law. Yet no guarantees apply. Prepare yourself for the scenario when you face it and forget about if I face it. No longer is it a question of will this happen to me? The reality is what I should do when it DOES happen to me.

If you really need your bag and your belongings in tact when you arrive to your destination, ship it via FedEx, UPS, DHL, or the U.S. Postal service and pay the price then and not after you arrive to our destination or home again.

I hope you find this information valuable to your travel in today’s complicated and frustrating world of air travel. But make no mistake, do travel and make the best of your reason for traveling, just be safe and protect the very essence of your reason for traveling.

Keep in mind, my mission is to help you the air traveler with this growing problem and I will answer your luggage question for free through my website at scott@TheEmptyCarousel.com

May you and your bags always end up in the same destination at the same time and both in tact and happy, sigh, you can now enjoy being one of the few travelers who made it to your higher purpose, what’s that? Oh #@%!*%# now I have to go back from hence I came and face the same complicated, irritating challenge! Darn!!

Scott T. Mueller
Author, The Empty Carousel a Consumer’s Guide to Checked and Carry-on Luggage

www.TheEmptyCarousel.com

Scott@TheEmptyCarousel.com

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