With unruly passengers disrupting airline service, travel agents have a role to play in reminding travelers that common courtesy is a priority when strangers meet in tight spaces.
That was the message JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes brought to CBS This Morning today, as his previously scheduled appearance to talk about the power of the Big Four airlines coincided with news about an altercation involving a birthday cake in an overhead bin reserved for safety equipment.
JetBlue’s reaction to onboard altercations these days is to simply have everyone get off the plane and then reboard, leaving passengers involved in bad behavior behind, Hayes said. But it’s far better if passengers just remember that being locked in a small space with new neighbors is stressful for everyone – even if there is extra legroom, as JetBlue provides – and we all need to be on our best behavior to make it work.
A far bigger concern for JetBlue is the consolidation among U.S. airlines, in which the Top Four – American, Delta, Southwest and United – now control 80% of the market.
“We’ve seen a lot of consolidation, and it means that getting into a new market is very challenging,” Hayes said. “We just came into Atlanta, and have only one gate that we have to share. The issue is making sure that smaller airlines like JetBlue have access, and that’s something we need to have a national conversation about.”
Perhaps even more important for consumers, the Big Four “have the ability to control prices and that’s not good for anyone.”