What Would Mark Do?
     - Musings on design, opinions on business and discoveries to be shared. 
              by Mark Bendickson.

Pay me now, or pay me later

At Gravity Free Bob Gruen said "the only bad thing about working free lance is waking up every morning unemployed".  That is mostly true.  I will add that one of the best things about being self employed is having scheduling freedom.

Google Streetview of our Lunch

Google Streetview of our Lunch

Last Wednesday it was beautiful out so I met a friend for lunch at Pracna a lovely Minneapolis bistro on the banks of the mighty Mississippi. This is our usual lunch spot on a sunny day (as well as a regular lunch spot with my web developer) and it was very relaxing.  The sun was beautiful (I am still quite burned) and it turned into a three martini lunch (for him at least).  He is a world traveler (as he is an internet security consultant) and it''s always fun to hear stories and talk business with someone who lives in Minneapolis and has an apartment in Moscow.  As you can imagine, you can cover a lot of topics during a 3 hour lunch, and one of the topics was air travel and the airline industry. 

Now, I am no fan of the airline''s customer service ethic (mostly NWA, being a Twin Cities resident) but I did have to defend some of their recent practices.  I am sick and tired of hearing people whine about paying for baggage, and paying for snacks, and paying for beverages.  What the hell do you people expect?   Delta Airlines lost 5 billion dollars last year, for example.  The price of jet fuel has gone up 90.5% in the last year. Unfortunately, we live in a "shop on the internet, auction style" environment where everyone just calls up a list of prices for a flight, sorts from low to high and picks the first one.  If an airline raises their prices to try and cover the cost of fuel they fall to the bottom of the list.  So, unless they all raise their prices at the same time (which would no doubt get them hauled before some Congressional Committee so they can be flogged on CSPAN for the entertainment of potential voters for price fixing) they are stuck.  The only way they can try and recoup is to do the little things, which due to the law of large numbers, will hopefully give them some significant savings.  So, they charge for bags, and charge for snacks, and charge for drinks, and charge for aisle and exit seats, and leave the black olives off of the salads and anything else they can do that, if multiplied by X passengers a day, will push a little more revenue towards the bottom line.  After all, about 70 million people fly scheduled airline flights each month in the US.  So, that''s $ 140,000,000 a month for $2 Pepsis, if everyone bought a Pepsi. 

US businesses have been using productivity tools to keep prices flat and try and maintain profitability for far too long.  Let''s face it, the only part of the check in process at the airport that I don''t do for them is to look at my driver''s license and stick the luggage tags on the bags.  It happens in every business, and the airlines have all decided to compete on price alone.  We get the government we deserve, we get the TV shows that we watch (and bitch about) and we get an airline industry where almost all the carriers are developing the ambiance of a Trailways bus full of people who use Hefty bags as luggage.  And to top it off I read an article last week in US News on how to stretch a dollar and one of the suggestions was that you save popcorn bags at the movie theater and every time you go use it to get a "free" refill.  I guess I can blame this asshole when theaters start charging us extra for aisle seats. 

I think it''s high time we start to get what we pay for, and pay for what we get.', 'Pay me now, or pay me later',