Challenges in the Airline Industry Essay

Air travel is said to be one of the safest and most convenient form of transportation. Business and leisure travelers both relish the thought of reaching their destination as quickly as possible. Frequent fliers enjoy the perks that their constant travel brings; whether it is free upgrades, free flights, points accumulation, or easy boarding. Vacationers opt for air travel so they may visit far off places and exotic destinations that are unreachable by rail or car. There are so many choices travelers have to make in order to have an enjoyable journey.

The large number of airlines, both regional and international, the choice of economy or first class, non-stop or lay-over, and many other factors are involved in the decision making for travelers to reach their destination economically and on time. An interesting majority of people express their dislike of flying, but still choose air travel as their mode of transportation. Again, the main reason for this may be because it is the shortest distance between here and there. Airline executives and investors have enjoyed the growth and popularity of air travel as well. Over the years, the airline industry has grown to be a billion dollar industry.

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The combination of marketing strategies and price wars to boost competition, technological advancements, and deregulation have all attributed to the wealth of this industry. Along with the billion-dollar price tag comes a myriad of problems and challenges. Though air travel is still a popular mode of transportation, the industry has endured a number of financial struggles, poor quality and service for internal and external customers, and safety concerns. Some airlines have struggled so much with these challenges that they have been acquired by other airlines for survival, or have had to clip their wings for permanent grounding.

There are some key areas in the airline industry that have had a direct impact on its loss of profits, popularity and credibility. The past decade have brought many challenges to the airline industry and have forced it to reexamine some policies and practices. The airline industry may not need an entire overhaul, but does stand room for some major renovations. Airline Industry Overview The commercial airline industry emerged within the first two decades of the twentieth century, with Europe leading the way.

Prior to the First World War, people began to become interested in air travel during demonstrations and airplane races. At the conclusion of the war, “the first commercial airplane routes were set up in Europe, using wartime pilots and decommissioned war planes (Columbia Encyclopedia, 2008, para. 1). The United States did not begin to develop commercial airlines until the quarter century mark when the government began generous payments of subsidies to private carriers to deliver the mail. These private carriers also included passengers on their routes. Over the next five years, many well-known U. S. irline carriers were established, including United Airlines, American Airlines and Delta (Columbia Encyclopedia, 2008, para. 2). PanAm and TWA were both established at this time as well, but later would suffer an unsuccessful fate. Air travel began to catch on particularly due to Charles Lindbergh’s transatlantic flight in the late 1920s.

Technology began to advance as Boeing and Lockheed starting producing commercial aircraft. By the end of World War II, air travel had increased to over 16 million passengers and defined routes, air fares, and safety guidelines had been established (Columbia Encyclopedia, 2008, para. ). Over the next three decades, the airline industry became a more established and reliable industry, creating competition for other transportation outlets. The government was closely monitoring the industry, ensuring pricing remained balanced and also ensuring that air travel remained a safe mode of transportation. In the late 1970s, a bill was passed in Congress that changed the face of the airline industry. The Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 was put into place and allowed airlines to establish their own routes and eventually led to them setting their own fares.

This created a much more competitive market for the airline industry and air travel increased to over 455 million passengers, just one decade after the bill was passed (Columbia Encyclopedia, 2008, para. 4). Deregulation of the airline industry also opened the door to customer complaints about overbooking, congestion, and air safety. For the next twenty years, the airline industry began to endure financial hardships, labor woes, and stiff competition coming from the establishment of smaller airlines who gobbled up niche markets. At the turn f the twenty-first century, the airline industry was dealt a huge blow with the attack of the World Trade Center and Pentagon in 2001. People’s overall fear of flying was heightened by these senseless attacks, using commercial aircraft as murder weapons. This increased fear, coupled with the introduction of extensive security restrictions contributed to the financial struggles of many major airlines. Thousands of employee layoffs were inevitable at this point, many flights were dropped, and the airlines’ financial outcome was in turmoil.

Over the course of the next five years following the attacks, major airlines that once dominated over 96% of the U. S. market, were filing for bankruptcy protection (Columbia Encyclopedia, 2008, para. 5). Near the end of the first decade of the new millennium, the financial hardships seemed to stabilize and the airlines no longer needed bankruptcy protection. The airline industry is working hard to make a comeback, and regain its credibility and reliability. Competition has started again among airlines and safety is always the main priority.

Even on the comeback trail, the industry is still dealing with overall customer service concerns including, lost luggage, flight delays, and generally poor service. What can the industry do to improve their quality and increase their service levels for air passengers? Is there a simple solution to this question, or will poor quality service continue to plague the industry and be accepted as status quo? The future of the airline industry is not in jeopardy, per se, but individual airlines may suffer tremendous consequences if they do not examine their quality in customer care and keep the competition strong.

Competition in External Customer Satisfaction Airlines are searching for ways keep that competitive edge in the industry, while boosting customer satisfaction. Research and industry experience have shown that travelers have a burning desire to use cell phones, smart phones, and other electronic hand held devices for the duration of their flights. International airlines are in the process of providing in-flight broadband services for passengers to utilize so they may access the internet or communicate while in the air.

AeroMobile is a system that controls the power output of all mobile devices and is being used on the Australian airline, Quantas Airlines (Mark, 2008, para. 4). Many other International airlines are planning voice and data services. Air travelers are very eager to use their cell phones in the air as they are on the ground. Globally, this advancement in technology has proved to satisfy many transatlantic travelers. In the United States, the use of cell phones is prohibited by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) while in the air.

Though this practice has been accepted for passengers on domestic flights, the demand of cell phone usage is growing greater and greater. Cell phone usage seems to be a safe practice on international flights, so what is really keeping U. S. airlines from adopting this standard? They may want to consider investing in the technology of their foreign counterparts to keep the up with the ever-changing times and add a check mark in the plus column to their level of customer service. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has approved the use of broadband connections on U. S. flights (Mark, 2008, para. ). This practice does help business travelers if they have any last minute preparations for a business meeting, or for leisure travelers who like to surf the net to pass the time on long flights. JetBlue Airlines offers live television service for passenger and is the first U. S. airline to offer free e-mail and text messaging (Mark, 2008, para. 10). There are several other domestic carriers who are working to provide their passengers with internet connection and email access. Passengers do not feel too isolated from the outside world by being able to utilize Wi-Fi connections in-flight.

Business travelers have an increased need to get connected during flights, and have been very open about their demands. In a balanced effort to boost customer satisfaction and increase profitability, the airline industry may want to decide if this connectivity will come at an additional cost or will be offered as a free service. Technology always proves to be a competitive factor in any industry, but the airline industry must rely on other factors to stay ahead of the game and keep their passengers happy. Airfare is perhaps the most pertinent competitive factor in the airline industry.

Since many major airlines can fairly compete in the airfare warfare, there must be other ways to achieve customer satisfaction in their pricing game. Some airlines can truly offer low fares because their costs are low. Southwest Airlines only has certain flight routes, a quick plane turnaround, and has only one type of aircraft in its fleet. This airline is able to maintain low costs while providing consistent customer service. Though some passengers do not like the fact of non-assigned seats, Southwest believes it decreases turn times in their flights. The airline now averages a 23 minute turnaround (CBS, 2007, para. 0). The industry average is nearly double that amount. JetBlue offers low prices as well, but offers a casual approach to flying and has television screens on the back of each seat. Airlines constantly compete on airfares, but unless they are able to find that niche market, or are able to achieve the “ah-ha factor”, they remain in the saturated pond of airlines. Southwest and JetBlue have a distinctive ah-ha factor that plays a big part in their ability to always offer low fares. Southwest has a playful approach to air travel while JetBlue offers television service, leather seats, and new airplanes (Kridler, 2004, para. 9).

Challenges in External Customer Quality Service Levels The majority of the airline industry is not as successful in quality customer satisfaction. The major U. S. carriers who offer International flights are dropping in the service category. Simple mishaps are what continuously cause major airlines to bottom out in the service category. “Unpredictable ticket prices, record levels of lost or damaged luggage, unpleasant airline staff, and increasing fuel costs are some of the factors that contribute to customer dissatisfaction in the airline industry (Miner, 2007, para. ). Other contributing factors may also include long wait times and cancelled or delayed flights. The increase in fuel costs has plagued the airline industry for many years. The biggest impact on fuel cost increases came after the 9/11 attacks. The cost of fuel hit all time highs and the airline industry is still working to overcome the tremendous price increase. The rise in fuel costs has also created a rise in airfare and discouraged many travelers from flying over the past several years.

Sometimes air travel is unavoidable, but if faced with an alternative, some people are opting for road trips to reduce the cost of traveling and vacationing. Air travelers are also not pleased with the excessive fees, both upfront and hidden, that the airlines drop in their laps on those crowded planes. Many major airlines are charging a minimum of $15 to check even one bag. The fee for additional bags then increases at $5 intervals. Some airlines charge for their snack service and they even charge for water. To add insult to injury, the passenger does not even get the full bottle!

These costs quickly add up for traveling families. An example of increasing costs is illustrated for a family of four, traveling roundtrip on an airline with excessive fees. Each family member has one item of luggage that was checked at $15 per bag. The family gets a snack on the plane which is an additional $5 each. The family opts to drink water at $1 each. In addition to the air fare, the family has just spent $168 roundtrip in additional fees. This amount of money is the price of another airline ticket! Paying these types of additional charges after paying the airfare is not pleasing to many air travelers.

Passengers become even more displeased if they have reached their destination and their luggage is lost, or if they miss a connecting flight due to their current plane’s delay, or if they have experienced poor service at the airline’s ticket counter. These types of pain points are very prevalent with air travelers and should be closely examined by airline executives. Challenges in Internal Customer Satisfaction Airline executives should also focus on internal customer satisfaction in addition to external customer satisfaction. Employee turnover is relatively normal in the hospitality industry in general.

The airline industry, however, is not as easily accessible to any and all job seekers looking to land a hospitality job. With this industry being somewhat selective, many airlines should boast of happy and satisfied employees across the board. Unfortunately, this does not seem to be the norm with U. S. air carriers. In addition to hidden fees, unpredictable airfares and lost luggage, the airline industry’s decline in customer satisfaction is also a result of poor internal customer satisfaction. As a result, airline employees are offering less than stellar satisfactory quality service to air travelers.

Unacceptable customer service practices delivered by airline employees are contributing to the decline in the industry’s overall customer satisfaction. The J. D. Power and Associates 2008 North American Airline Satisfaction Study reported that “people factors” including knowledge, courtesy, and helpfulness of reservation and gate agents, check-in staff, and flight crew has declined dramatically since 2007 (Tews, 2008, para. 1-2). The study also found that this was the contributing factor to the overall decline in customer satisfaction in airlines in 2008 (Tews, 2008, para. ). A former CEO of Continental Airlines believes that treating people with the dignity and respect they deserve will net employee satisfaction which is the foundation of customer satisfaction. In countless situations, there are a number of employees in leadership positions who do not show respect and dignity to the employees they lead. There are many laborers in the airline industry from the ramp agents, the ground crew, the flight attendants, and the ticket agents who are often disrespected by their own leadership team.

This lack of respect and mistreatment often spills over to the mistreatment of the external customers. This behavior then leads to dissatisfied customers and lack of quality customer service. Inferior external customer service trickles down from inferior internal customer service. Employees in leadership positions should have excellent communication and leadership skills. In many cases, these skills are lacking in leadership positions, but are trainable skills. Lack of respect should never be tolerated among leadership or any other team member in an organization.

Regardless of the job responsibility of anyone in an organization, respect should be earned and exchanged. As the airline industry faced its financial struggles post 9/11, many of the major U. S. carriers filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy protection and underwent extensive reorganizations. The industry encountered many employee layoffs and flight cancellations. In the midst of the reorganizations, the relationship between management and workers quickly spiraled out of control.

The remaining workers took deep cuts in pay and benefits and were forced to work long hours due to the lean staffing. In bankruptcy court, the pilots of Northwest Airlines agreed to take huge pay and benefit cuts. While the workers were making huge sacrifices during the restructure process, the upper level management and executives were still gaining lucrative financial rewards. The CEO of Northwest Airlines was granted $26. 6 million in stocks and options while his pilots and other workers were suffering extensive cuts in salary and benefits (Tahmincioglu, 2007, para. 6).

United Airlines cut 25% of its labor force in its bankruptcy agreement, but the CEO earned close to $40 million (Tahmincioglu, 2007, para. 9). This grossly unfair and arguably unethical treatment of labor employees caused many airline pilots and flight attendants to go on strike until better negotiations were made. As a result of the labor strikes, Northwest airlines, alone, cancelled more than 400 flights per week due to pilot absenteeism (Tahmincioglu, 2007, para. 3). These types of work conditions can only have a negative impact on the quality of services issued to air travel passengers.

Some executives and board members justify this behavior as retaining the best leaders to continue to hire the best workers; however, employees have no incentive to perform at their best when they are faced with this type of blatant injustice. More consideration should be given to spread the wealth around the entire organization since its success is a group effort. Airline Safety Regulations and Guidelines Air travel safety is always a concern of passengers, and a top priority in the airline industry. Airline safety includes concerns for a safe aircraft, airport security, and passenger health conditions.

The FAA continues to regulate air travel safety, and the formation of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) after the 9/11 attacks is to secure the nation’s transportation systems. Air travel continues to be the safest mode of transportation, though it is difficult to convince the average person of this fact. When people consider air travel, they immediately think of air accidents that have taken place. In 2009, there have unfortunately been several air accidents, many with total fatalities. There have been nine airplane accidents as of August 2009.

Despite this number, statistically speaking, flying is still the safest way to travel. When an accident occurs, the airline industry immediately begins to investigate the cause of the accident and determines if there were mechanical errors or human errors. It is regular routine, however, for the industry to perform tedious inspections on their aircraft. Any airline that does not perform these inspections or flies an aircraft that has not passed inspection is heavily fined by the FAA. Though airplane accidents are generally few and far between, an airline is able to recover from the bad press and distrust in air travel.

Unfortunately, one airline was not able to fully recover after one fatal accident. The prestigious Concorde was the only commercial supersonic aircraft in the world. With a fleet of only 20 aircraft, it was an airline that surpassed any other commercial airline. It boasted of being the safest and fastest airline in the world. In July 2000, a horrific accident ended the spotless safety record of the Concorde when its flight from Paris to New York suffered a tire blow minutes after takeoff, causing the fuel tank to rupture. A series of unfortunate events lead to two engine failures and the crash of the aircraft.

All of the passengers, crew members, and four individuals on the ground perished in the accident (BBC News, 2001). The surviving 19 aircraft were retired to various museums around the world three years following the accident. Major commercial airlines do not generally take an extreme approach after accidents, but the Concorde officials felt the airline was getting older and the costs to invest in upgrading its technology was too astronomical to pursue. Another concern for air passengers is the ability to travel without the risk of becoming ill.

The recent H1N1 flu pandemic has caused many travelers to be extra cautious about risking their health. The industry has encouraged its employees to get H1N1 vaccinations, but have not made this a mandatory task. The World Health Organization (WHO) suggests passengers take normal precautionary measures when traveling to prevent the spread of the H1N1 virus. The airline industry has taken extra care to help prevent the spread of the virus as well, by disinfecting aircraft at regular intervals and ensuring that each aircraft is equipped with advanced filtration systems that ensure a high level of air quality, even in a confined environment.

The spread of the H1N1 virus is more prevalent in schools, shopping malls, and at home between family members. The airline industry has not made any extensive plans to go far above and beyond the normal safety standards to help prevent the spread of the virus at this point. Safety inside the airport is now just as important as safety on the airplane. Airport security has become a household name when it comes to air travel. For most passengers, it is more of a hassle than a help. The process of airport security for some passengers is a painful process.

Besides the long security lines, passengers have to remove their shoes and jackets and place them in grimy plastic bins. They also have to remove laptops from their travel bags, and drop any change and other metal objects into smaller plastic bins. Once the passenger has cleared the screening detector, he/she has to quickly redress and gather all of his/her belongings that are piling up at the end of the conveyer belt. Though this process seems to be a nuisance to many travelers, it is a necessity to ensure safety at the terminals and on the aircraft.

Those gangly machines are actually detecting explosive devises and traces of liquid explosive devices. Contrary to popular belief, the airport security process is saving millions of lives each day. In order to enhance quality service through airport security, the TSA does offer some travel tips to passengers to make their experience through security checkpoints a bit less painful. The TSA suggests avoiding the following types of clothing to make checkpoint security more efficient: * Excessive heavy jewelry including bracelets, necklaces, rings, watches and earrings * Clothing with metal snaps, buttons or studs Metal hair barrettes, belt buckles, and underwire bras The TSA also suggests to be prepared to remove cell phones, PDAs, loose change and keys from pockets. To improve efficiency, they also suggest placing items that will trigger the metal detectors into clear plastics bags. This way, these items are already packed and ready for inspection instead of the passengers having to go through these motions at the point of the checkpoint (Transportation Security Administration website). To the credit of the TSA, they have recently established a more efficient process through the security checkpoint.

Establishing a “family lane” for passengers with children and baby strollers has made it a bit easier to move the lines at the security checkpoint. This has alleviated the congestion caused by baby strollers and car seats. In many larger airports, the process goes a step further with the creation of three lanes for different types of travelers: expert, intermediate, and beginners (Belden, 2008, para. 4). This new feature filters travelers into lanes that better suit their travel pace. The Effects of Deregulation

Since its inception in the late 1930s, the airline industry was a government regulated industry for nearly 40 years. The Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) regulated airfares, routes, and schedules (Siddiqi, unkn. , para. 1). The CAB mandated the airlines to fly high and low profit routes so all passengers across the U. S. would be able to travel by air. The CAB also mandated safety regulations and guidelines, and mergers and acquisitions. One very important task of the CAB was to pick available airlines for a particular route rather than allow the market to decide which airline should fly that route (Siddiqi, unkn. , para. 6).

Eventually the Deregulation Act of 1978 was passed by Congress to allow airlines to plan their own routes, set their own prices, and make their own schedules. The airline industry was excited about the deregulation and quickly made plans to increase profitability. Their first step was to discontinue service to less profitable routes that traveled to smaller cities. The next big step was the creation of the “hub-and-spoke” routes where major airlines adopted key cities as the center of their operations that served as stops for most flights, even if they were not on a direct route between two other end points (Siddiqi, unkn. para. 10). This step allowed more flight hours and more full flights. Another outcome of deregulation allowed smaller airlines to establish themselves in the industry without the tight restrictions of the old airline regulations. These smaller airlines could set their own routes and prices and provide service to smaller cities that the larger airlines initially dropped. Since deregulation was all about huge profits, the airline industry quickly dropped its fares and entered all out pricing wars with one another. By the end of 1979, 317 million passengers had traveled by air (Siddiqi, unkn. para. 12). Very shortly after deregulation, the airline industry suffered serious financial hardships due to rising fuel costs, economic instability, and extensive overexpansion. The number of air passengers sharply declined and the major airlines were losing money quickly. Prior to deregulation, there were six major airlines-American, Delta, Eastern, PanAm, TWA, and United. By 1991, only three remained which were American, Delta, and United (Siddiqi, unkn. , para. 15). A more direct affect on passengers as a result of deregulation was the seating arrangements on the aircraft.

When the airlines were regulated, aircraft were equipped with first-class and coach seating, non-discriminatory prices, and meal service. Airplane seats were actually comfortable then because the coach section was three feet (36”) from a fixed point on your seat to the same point on the seat in front of you (Costello, 1999, para. 2). Anything below 34” would be charged at a lower price. Since deregulation, the standard coach seat pitch is 31 – 32” which is four inches less than it was before (Costello, 1999, para. 2).

This seat shrinkage has led to the inhuman practice of charging a passenger for an extra seat if he/she is considered to be overweight. This type of discomfort and embarrassment adds to the poor service quality passengers tend to face in the airline industry. Recommendations for Quality Improvement In identifying several areas of needed improvement in the airline industry, there are some recommendations that are simple, but may go a long way. If U. S. air carriers are going to continue to remain competitive, it is recommended that they invest in some sort of connectivity technology.

It may be advertised as a free service, but ultimately could be included in the price of the fare. Another opportunity for customer satisfaction would be to offer free Wi-Fi as a frequent flyer perk after so many points have been accumulated. The use of cell phones may remain a ban on U. S. flights, but eventually there may be a need to advance the technology to develop options that will not cause interference with the aircraft. There does not seem to be a huge safety recall in the global market for cell phone usage. With many foreign passengers traveling to the United States, this may be an inevitable regulation to overturn.

Though the lack of technological advances has not ranked high among customer dissatisfaction, the airline industry does need to seriously work on improving their quality of service. Since the major U. S. carriers are unable to increase their customer satisfaction ratings for the seventh year in a row, there may be some very simple improvements that can have a huge long-term impact. One recommendation would be to simply stop misplacing and damaging passengers’ luggage. It is bad enough to have to pay to travel with luggage, but it is worse to have paid for luggage check, and the luggage is M. I. A.

It seems to be a relatively easy process to load bags onto a plane, and unload them once the plane arrives at its destination. There may be a need to update the software of the luggage check-in system to ensure bags arrive when the passengers arrive. Another recommendation would be to make the planes a bit more comfortable. Prior to deregulation, the seats on an aircraft were 36”. Five inches of lost leg room is a lot of missing space when a flight is in access of three hours. It really should not be a luxury to fly comfortably. The idea of flying frightens many people for a myriad of different reasons.

Perhaps people will be more relaxed if they had more room to stretch and nap during the flight instead of sitting like a sardine nervously waiting for the flight to come to a safe conclusion. Other areas of improvement involve internal customer satisfaction. Southwest Airlines consistently leads the air travel industry in customer satisfaction for the 15th consecutive year (Carpenter, 2008, para. 5). This airline has a solid business plan that has not changed in almost 40 years. The company’s main priority is the employees. They believe that happy employees equal happy customers.

They allow their employees to be themselves, and not force them into a robotic corporate climate. Southwest prides itself on hiring people who want to provide the best service all the time. In addition to selecting the best employees, other airlines may want to take a closer look at the areas that are costing the company money and reinvest the same money back into its employees and work more closely to reduce those unnecessary costs. This was the practice of a former Continental Airlines CEO. He found that the airline was losing millions of dollars per month due to late flights.

He decided to give a portion of those millions to the employees if they met better reliability goals. It is highly recommended to set reachable goals for employees to work toward. This creates a sense of pride in the employees, knowing that they are making a direct contribution to the success of their company and being compensated for it. Another good practice toward employee compensation is to continue to reward workers during difficult financial periods. It is not recommended to add to an employee’s workload without any type of compensation, while the top executives are enjoying millions of dollars worth of bonuses and perks.

If there is a pay freeze for labor workers, there should be a pay freeze for executives as well. Just as much importance should be placed on retaining good laborers as it is placed on retaining top executives. This practice reflects largely on dignity and respect of all employees. There are not too many recommendations for the safety of air travel. The FAA has worked for many years to insure the safety of flying. It is recommended, however, that airports become more uniform in their TSA regulations and practices. Airport security is stricter in some airports than in others.

There should be the same level of security reinforcement in all airports across the United States. This practice will alleviate passenger frustration from one airport to another. An occasional smile from a TSA agent would be a welcome sight as well. The serious nature of their responsibilities is understood, but a friendly smile goes a long way. Deregulation in the airline industry has created some advantages for air travelers, but has also created some disadvantages. It is recommended that airlines reconsider the cramped seating arrangements on their aircraft.

Flying first class is a luxury, but flying comfortably should not be. Another deregulation recommendation would be to decrease the number of the flights that pass through the airline hub that is not en route to the final destination. Air-Tran Airways has its hub in Atlanta, GA. Every Air-Tran flight stops in Atlanta before it makes its final stop. This type of flight route seems senseless for a passenger flying from Chicago to Raleigh. A passenger leaving Chicago Midway Airport must fly to Atlanta first, before arriving in Raleigh RDU International.

Geographically, you will arrive in Raleigh before you get to Atlanta, so it seems very unnecessary for a traveler to bypass his/her destination for the sake of stopping at the “hub” to pick up more passengers, than to go directly to his/her destination. This route may offer a lower fare, but sometimes convenience is worth the higher price. Conclusion The airline industry dominates the world of travel. With the ability to get travelers around the world in the fastest, safest way possible, air travel is usually everyone’s first choice for mode of transportation.

In addition to passengers, the airline industry also transports cargo from one location to another, nationally and internationally. The demand and desire for air travel is highly favored. As much as passengers rely on the airline industry, the industry relies on its passengers. Business travelers rely on airlines to get them back and forth to business meetings and conferences, often times in the same day round trip. The airlines rely on business travelers because they take several trips throughout the year, often on the same airline.

For both parties, there is a win-win situation. Over several decades, however, the airline industry has been plagued with poor quality and inconsistent levels of service. As a result, air travelers have grown more and more displeased with the lack of general good customer service. In an effort to satisfy customers, the airline industry has incorporated new technologies into their aircraft to offer much needed connections to the outside world while in the air. The industry also has competitive fares and low prices to attract more customers.

It has also made some improvements to its frequent traveler programs. The airports have contributed to the efforts of quality service by offering efficiency in airport security and allowing passengers to go through security checkpoints in designated areas designed to fit their travel needs. These key improvements have proved to be beneficial in air travel; however, there are still areas that the airline industry should focus on to overcome the next hurdle of lack-luster quality service. Many major airlines should closely examine their employee relations olicies and practices and pin point areas that need to be fine tuned. Top executives should always remember that employee retention is important on all levels of the employment chain. Airline pilots, flight attendants, and ramp agents are just as important to retain as the CEO of the company. Executives should also always remember that respect and dignity are key ingredients to a happy work environment. When the employees are happy, the customers are happy; when the employees are unhappy, the customers are dissatisfied and are susceptible to poor customer service.

Air travel safety is of utmost concern to passengers. They always want the feeling of reaching their destination safely and without incident. The FAA continues to monitor air travel safety regulations and despite a few accidents, flying remains the safest mode of transportation. When viruses or other illnesses breakout on flights, passengers should take the same precautionary measures they would take if they were at home. There are no special rules or regulations that will prevent air travelers from becoming contaminated or contracting viruses during air travel.

Deregulation of the airlines has caused many ups and downs in the industry. Pricing competition, start-up airlines, and hub-spoke invention were positive impacts that resulted from airline deregulation. Uncomfortable seats and saturation of the industry are some negative impacts of airline deregulation. Overall, the airline industry is still a thriving billion dollar global industry. A large planet with many moons in the solar system of the hospitality industry, the airline industry has a major presence in the world of travel and tourism.