Sunday, January 24, 2021

What Medicine Can Learn from the Airline Industry - Nothing



I have at times detoured from my typical medical commentaries to rail about the airline industry.  If I may borrow some phrasing from a legendary British Prime Minister, the flying experience is a hassle wrapped in a frustration inside a delay.  We arrive at the airport 2 hours early, drag ourselves through the TSA process, ambulate to the gate, pray the flight is on time, hope that they will not deem my luggage as unfit to carry on, march like snails onto the aircraft, test my lumbar disc strength as I hoist my bag into the overhead bin and then finally relax as I sink into a commodious and plush chair that could comfortably seat a gerbil. 


Do I have to sit in the middle seat?


And, if the flight is delayed, the inconvenienced passengers can expect no compensation.
If my medical practice had adopted airline culture, we would have had no patients. Think of all the reading I could have accomplished!  If we made every office visit with us an unpleasant hassle, we would not have been able to pay the electric bill.  And, I don’t think our patients would have been placated if we tossed them a tiny bag of pretzels when we ran late.

I think the airline industry has been more solicitous of the comfort animals being permitted on board than they are of the human passengers.  Such guests have included

If I am dissatisfied with a restaurant, a tradesman, an attorney or a retail store, then I am free to find an alternative.  This is how most of the world works and is an incentive for all of us to perform well.  If, however, you feel that the air travel experience is wanting and less than you deserve, what recourse is available to you?

It’s one of the few industries that can thrive despite providing mediocre and erratic customer service.  And, for the truly brave travel warriors, just try calling the customer service phone numbers.  If customer service were truly an industry priority, would we be kept on hold longer than the duration of some flights?  Is our call ‘really important to them’?  Let me answer my own question.  No, it isn’t. 

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