Airlines, and Public Funding of the IPI and NPA


Airlines, and Public Funding of the IPI and NPA

 Kevin D. Williamson, National Review’s roving correspondent, took off on the airlines early this year in his commentary “Unholy Alliances: U.S. airlines test even the patience of a monk.” 
Suffice it to say, he isn’t a fan of our air transportation system.
On the other hand, I am amazed that the airlines work at all. Consider:
They have to buy huge machines that cost upwards of $100 million each.  These machines have a million parts, any one of which fails and hundreds of people die.  Each airline has hundreds (some thousands) of these machines, which must be in certain places, at certain times, and work without fail. And, on balance, they do.
Airlines have tens of thousands of employees who must do their jobs unerringly, dealing with the public, many of whom, like Williamson, expect perfect service and leave little room for error. (By the way, at any given moment in the U.S., more than 4,000 flights are in the air.)
I normally fly Delta.  There is history there, but in short, the airline has been good to me. On my last trip, for example, I was scheduled to fly out of Chicago through Minneapolis to Los Angeles.  
I was at the airport early, and the agent told me he could route me through Detroit and get me home three hours earlier.  Great! He took my bag, and I was on my way. Unfortunately, by the time I got to the Club Room, I was told that my Detroit flight was late and I would miss my LA-bound flight. 
However, the agent in the Club Room told me she would fix it and send me through Atlanta.  I was standby on an early flight out of Atlanta, and booked on one an hour later. In either case, I would be home early. Go Delta.
But what about my bag? “No problem,” she said. Delta would find it and reroute it to Atlanta and put it on the first flight. If I missed that flight, it would be in LA before me.
Right, I said; no way was that going to happen. She was confident. “They are pretty good down there in baggage handling. Now what does your bag look like?”
I was resolved that I would get my bag some time the next day, if at all.  
I made the earlier flight out of Atlanta, and when I got to LA, I went to a computer kiosk in baggage claim and waved my baggage tag in front of it. The display said that my bag had been logged on the flight from Atlanta, and when I looked up, it was the first one coming off the luggage carousel.
The system worked.  Understand that I would not have been disappointed if it had not, because I didn’t expect it to. However, the more often it works, the more faith I have in the airline.Sorry, I don’t want to fly in a broken airplane into bad weather.  If it needs to be fixed, have at it. If there are thunderstorms, fly around them. I know that Chicago is not good in snowstorms, and that many airports in the Midwest and South slow down in the summer due to thunderstorms. I know that, and I allow for it.
Are some airlines better than others? Of course! It has to do with “mission” and “attitude.” If the mission is to be profitable, then they will be. If the mission is to treat their customers with respect and dignity, then they will be – and profitable too.
Sorry, Kevin, airlines aren’t perfect, but most work better than you should be able to expect.
Should cities, universities or hospitals
use public funds to join the IPI or NPA?
I haven’t the slightest idea. However, a question of a similar nature seems to have become a substantial controversy in the UK.  The local parking mag published a story about it, and when I was in the London earlier this year, I talked about it with the fellow who wrote the story, Parking Review Editor Mark Moran, and with Keith Banbury, a former CEO of the British Parking Association (BPA). 
In the UK, there is a group called NoToMob, whose members believe that aggressively enforcing parking rules is contra to the good nature of “English Life.” They have “taken on the parking industry,” the group’s website says, in an ongoing campaign to disrupt ticket writing on the Sceptered Isle. They ride around on motorcycles wearing masks and generally make pests of themselves.  
The NoToMob folks discovered that the BPA has a major training program for traffic wardens (who write tickets in the UK), and that cities who were BPA members send their staffs to these training programs. 
End result – better enforcement, more money collected.
The group also discovered that about 245 cities were members of the BPA and supported the organization through their dues.
Horror of horrors! Can’t have that! 
So they are lobbying the cities to drop BPA membership. I guess they feel that if the cities don’t have good training programs and networking in their parking organizations, they won’t write as many tickets … or something.
NoToMob members are morally outraged that taxpayer money is supporting the BPA, some of whose members are actually private firms that enforce both on- and off-street parking regulations.
The BPA counters that it is a professional organization that provides support to parking groups across the country, and frankly, that they don’t think NoToMob is much of a threat. The problem is that the decision in the end lies with politicians, and no one has lost an election when they were against parking tickets. 
This would seem a lesson for our U.S. parking industry organizations and parking departments as well. 
People think that parking should not be paid. It should be free, and there should always be a space 10 feet from where one is going. So when you do anything to change those notions, you become the enemy. 
It takes patience, public relations, understanding, and a lot of discussions to make this issue go away, and sometimes it never will.
My experience has been that it’s not the parking fee; it’s the ticket that has been written in error that causes all the pain. Rules are so set in stone that line staff members can’t make quick and reasonable decisions. 
Reversing a poorly written ticket seemingly takes an act of Congress, and then the problems escalate to the front page or the nightly news. We in the industry all look like ninnies.
The BPA’s Banbury told me that a week seldom goes by when there isn’t an article in one of the national newspapers in the UK about a pensioner being given a ticket when sitting in his car, or an ambulance, or a priest while giving Last Rites.
We do bring this on ourselves. …
See you at the 2015 IPI Conference & Expo June 29-July 2 in Las Vegas. Drop by the Parking Today booth – it’s magic …
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