As most of us global sales guys spend so much of our time in the air, I thought I would mention how I see so many of the major airlines today as careless ventures that see the business traveller only as a gravy train for their bottom line. I experienced this on my last two continental trips, so much so that I thought it was worth sharing some of the issues I had first-hand.

The general issue I have is that the level of cleanliness seems to be going backward and you are not treated as an individual. Planes are becoming large cattle trucks that take large numbers of people from A to B with a pretty ‘careless’ attitude. This is so different from my first continental business flight over 30 years ago with Air Canada, and my goodness you were looked after in those days. Perhaps airline staff today have to be more politically correct, perhaps the airlines are just saving money, bottom lines are too important, or perhaps it is due to the fact that three of the major global airlines are being run by Irishmen – sorry if you’re Irish, it is only a joke!

I am sure most of you that have been on an aeroplane lately have had to visit the toilet at some time during a flight. On some occasions on frequenting these floating loos in the sky, I am extremely surprised at the aiming skills of many people – mostly men I hope – or perhaps they have an eyeto- hand problem that lacks coordination. I am sure that all would not get away with such poor target skills at home, or the ‘missus’ would be whacking them around the head or giving them a mop.

Recently I was returning overnight from LA to Paris in the back of the plane – for all you chief executives out there, that is the area behind the curtains – where the seats decline 15 degrees and when the person in front of you sits back, you have to catch your dinner and drink before you end-up wearing them. The leg room and seat width on that flight was the worst I have ever been on and I would not travel with that airline, on that route, again. As I am only 5 foot 7 inches tall and a mere 13 stones 10 pounds in weight (sorry we only introduced metric in the UK in 1972) and not the largest guy on the planet, I am sure some people must have real issues on such flights.

I had another issue on a recent flight returning from Australia to Dubai and then on to the UK. I was told that I had, on average, 19 pounds too much luggage. After forking out over £5,000 for the tickets for my wife Anne and myself, I was told that I had to pay them over £650 for the privilege of them taking this luggage back to the UK. As Anne probably weighs about half the weight of the average passenger travelling today, I told the ticketing desk in Sydney that I thought the charges were a little excessive. The airline representative then told me I have should have weighed my luggage the night before in the hotel and checked it online, or that I should not have booked the early morning flight as the other desks who could have helped would have been open later.

I thanked her for her kind words and she asked why I was taking it out on her. I said it was either my wife or her, and I thought she was the better option.

In between all this flying I spent a couple of weeks in India – entertaining, joyful, incredible and certainly not a ‘careless’ society. Firstly, and still on the subject of airlines, I must say I was allowed to travel by jet on all my internal flights with an excess luggage allowance that was met at the check-in with a wink and a nod of the head. The service then continues on the planes, where even on a one-hour flight you are treated to a nice meal served by charming people. The flights were on time and the planes were clean.

On travelling around India, the one thing you notice is that it is a bit slower in some parts of the country on the roads and via rail travel. Most travellers that have been on the road have had the experience of being in cars that have to swerve to miss cows in the fast lane. During my last visit I took a photo (above) of a family overtaking my car on the inside lane, all posing for a photo. The roads can be very interesting and if you ever get hold of a guy called Vijay, I am sure he has a story to tell you. It’s a magic place, with joyful, caring people and incredible food – said by a Glaswegian, where 58% of the restaurants are Indian. I am currently on my way to the AIIGMA (All India Industrial Gases Manufacturers’ Association) conference in Dubai and I hope this paper does not go into print before I return!

In closing, I hope you all had a great holiday season. At my home on boxing day (26th December), after all the family have gone Anne and myself have a tradition of giving a small present to each other. This year I received a box and on opening it, the box had a rope with a note saying that I could tie her up and do anything I wished. I did and went off to play golf, scored 89. Have a good 2012!

Published On: February 14th, 2012 / Categories: Company /