Mike Kavis tells the story of his journey to France on
USeless US Airways and details the problems he faced getting there and the Business Process Opportunities (BPO) he suggests that would have made his trip a lot better for all concerned.
I fly over 125 K miles per year, mostly on business, and while Mike's diagnoses are spot-on, airlines are a breed apart from other businesses. In essence, they are the only business I know of that can legally take your fare money, not deliver what they promised, and either charge you more money for alternatives or finally deliver on their promises almost completely on their terms. Whether or not you are inconvenienced by their performance or worse, it doesn't matter to them.
You can find much further information on what I'm about to discuss from an airline standpoint on numerous travel websites. You can also google "[fill-in-airline-name-here] sucks" in most cases and uncover lots of dirt on just about any air carrier on the globe. That being said, here's the basic premise of my argument with respect to airlines:
Airline business processes are, in almost all cases, evil, because they only benefit the airline. Not the passengers, and in most cases, not the front-line employees at counters, gates, or on-board either.
Because almost all of the issues Mike mentions are skewed toward the airlines advantage, I classify them as evil because they are also coupled with intent...as in, the airline has no intention of making things "right" by passengers if it is disadvantageous to them - particularly if it costs them money, as vouchers and hotel rooms obviously do. And in almost all cases, they can legally get away with such behavior.
How is this so? In a nutshell, when you purchase an airline ticket by any means, you are agreeing the the airline's Contract of Carriage (also sometimes referred to as the Conditions of Carriage). This agreement delineates the airline's responsibilities to you with respect to the fare that you paid them. Needless to say, this agreement is totally skewed towards the airline's advantage, not yours. There is not an airline on this planet that will not utilize this agreement - or stretch the truth to suit their needs - to relieve themselves of responsibility when things go awry on your itinerary, as happened to Mike and has happened to me quite a few times over the course of my flying career.
The absolute worst is when airlines lie to your face about the real issue why you can't get to your destination. Last summer, I had repeated problems getting out of Minneapolis on connecting flights because of, according to the airline "weather-related" problems in Minneapolis and at my destinations. Problem was, the sun was shining in Minneapolis AND at my destination, so I really had to reach to understand why my connecting flight was leaving 7 or 8 hours after it was supposed to. After this happened 3 times in the course of the summer, it dawned on me that the events always seemed to occur at the end of the month (June, July, August). Of further interest was reports that this particular airline's crews had maxed-out their allowed flying hours for the month. Connect the dots, and there weren't weather issues at all...more like crew availability issues with the airline.
Under the Contract of Carriage, that would mean they would have to make amends somehow, like putting me on another carriers flight, or give me vouchers for food and perhaps lodging. However, their evil business process dictated that they concoct fantasies about weather, which relieves them of responsibility. How convenient.
Again, Mike's BPO advice in this case is spot on, but the organization either has to be willing, or be forced by law or government, to change and adopt better methods of handling these issues. Unless they're given incentive, or a kick in the rear by the courts or government to do so, I would bet even money that it won't happen in our lifetime...unfortunate as that is for the flying public.
Of course, platitude-spewing, pathologic dilettantes masquerading as enterprise architects would surely suggest that writing some more code and producing that ever-elusive "working software" solves these issues in a heartbeat.
It isn't that simple, when the desired business results are to abdicate responsibility for actions and policies in the first place.