“Welcome to Humongous Airlines! I know you’ll find your career here both exciting and rewarding. Over the next few weeks we’ll be teaching you the skills and techniques that will help you be a successful employee.
“The first rule is so obvious that I’m almost embarrassed to have to mention it. However, here goes.
“Rule Number 1: The customer is an interruption. If it weren’t for the customers, your job would be much better.
“For years we’ve tried to gently prod customers into going away. For example, when we did serve meals, the food was intentionally very bad. Likewise, when a customer approached the reservation desk, we always typed in reams of meaningless characters so it looked like the process was very complicated, only to end up telling the customer that their reasonable request could not be accommodated.
“Years ago, airlines were regulated like other utilities. Since customers could, and often did take their ticket to another airline if they were unsatisfied, we were stifled in how we could treat them. Once regulations were lifted, our options improved dramatically. Which leads us to…
“Rule Number 2: The customers’ discomfort is your responsibility.
“While most customers have already been softened up by TSA, some are terribly resilient and are able to recapture their optimism far too quickly. Over the years we have made the cushions of passenger seats tissue thin. We have made the seats narrower. We have packed more into it than the plane was designed to hold. We reduced legroom. We made it impossible to recline a seat without walloping the person sitting behind you with the hope that this would lead to fist fights. We have developed a seating system that strategically places extra wide passengers and crying children for maximum collateral damage. It’s gotten to the point that everyone gets assigned a middle seat unless they pay extra. This has the added benefit of making it even more expensive for families to travel together. Which segues nicely into…
“Rule Number 3: If the customer isn’t paying for something, it has no value.
“As you know, we are now proud to charge for extra luggage. This means that we charge for any luggage the customer might need. We charge for heavy luggage. When people began to check less and carry more luggage on board, we started charging for carry-on luggage. If a customer wants to deal with a person rather than a computer terminal, there’s a charge for that, too. We don’t quite have the pay toilet system figured out, but don’t worry – we will. So let’s go on to our next rule.
“Rule Number 4: Anything we don’t want to do, we should be able to make the customer do.
“Customers have been trained to check themselves in, put baggage tags on their own luggage, and to carry their checked bags to TSA screening. They purchase their own snacks and meals to carry on the plane. They print out boarding passes at home saving us reams of paper and gallons of ink. Since we can’t let them outside the airport building, we can’t make them load their own luggage into the plane, which is a pity. Until we figure this one out, we’ll have to be content with either smashing their suitcases and the contents, or rooting through those that are unlocked.
“Now we’ve been working a whole fifteen minutes so it’s time for a break. Let’s limit it to an hour. Our next topic will be ‘A Comparison of How Cattle are Treated at the Slaughterhouse to Airline Passengers’ sometimes referred to as the ‘I wish I were a Cow’ lesson. We’ll cover another fifteen minutes worth of material and then break for lunch.”