This one hit home with me. For the last six years, as a management consultant, I have flown between 40 and 50 weeks per year. Last year was 48 of the 52 weeks. While not an SME in airline efficiencies, I would consider myself an SME on being an airline passenger.
I can sum it up with this phrase, "It's a race to be the least of the 'physically constrained persons'"
Just a couple of weeks ago, Delta pilots diverted my flight from MOB to MSY due to low visibility (fog). Turns out the pilots were not rated below visibility standards and all of the cockpit instrumentation was useless. Adding pain to the suffering, we flew directly over GPT, a one hour drive away, unlimited visibility. Only to land in MSY over 3 hours away. Then we had to wait over 2 hours onboard, because TSA representatives had to be present while our 'unwashed' selves touched the tarmac. The jetway was broken.
Instead of arriving at 10:30 pm, we ended up returning at 4:30am as a direct result of;
1) Pilots not properly trained
2) Passengers inconvenienced with a 3.5 hour return drive versus 2 other options that were only 1 hour away
3) Incompetence of airport authorities to not facilitate the disembarkation of a diverted trip
The real pain in this story....other flights landed in the fog behind our diverted plane.
Now consider this, there is no lack of consumer demand for their service. And until there is, the airlines won't care two toots about convenience.
I think everyone would agree, Jim's flight experience was significantly worse than the one I experience. The common denominator.....Delta Airlines.