It's been a year of ups and downs for the airline and travel industry. To quote a line from one of my favorite book, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of time."
Here's my take, in no paticular order, on the Top 10 travel stories for 2005:
- Airline bankruptcies. With so many airlines operating under the protection of the bankruptcy court, wages, service and customer service was slashed. Who will survive becomes anyone's guess.
- Emergencies played out on television. Jet Blue emerency landing at LAX. Southwest going off the runway at Midway. Alaska depressurization on a Seattle/Burbank flight. Real life, real time, real people. Even those who aren't veteran travlers were glued to the television hoping for a happy ending.
- TSA failures. Long lines didn't get shorter, and competence didn't increase. Something had to give. And it's going to have to give again if things don't improve.
- Scissors and small bladed knives now allowed onboard. Lots of arguments on both sides of this issues, but they're back for now.
- Lighters banned from flight. Smokers are carrying matches now. Not sure if this solves the problem that it was designed to fix, but lighters are off for now.
- US Airways/America West merger. Is it a match made in heaven? Only time will tell.
- Hurricane Katrina. The hurricane, and its aftermath, will have a heavy impact on tourism in New Orleans and the surrounding area.
- Airline discount fares. When will it end? The prices get lower and lower, well below the cost of actually providing the service. Is it any wonder so many airlines are in bankruptcy.
- Add-on ticket fees. From airport and security fees, to curbside check in and talk to a real person fees. It's an "ala carte" process; nothing is included.
- Elimination of food service. Or, if it's there, you have to pay extra for it. This change has also spawned a number of new businesses that will now provide food for you to take onboard.