The airline industry has always been an
industry of big numbers. Hundreds of airlines, thousands of
aircraft, millions of possible city pairs, hundreds of millions of
passengers, a gazillion gallons of fuel.
And then theres the
baggage. A report last week on baggage issues (seeBy the Numbers, Extra Baggage: Airlines lost an
estimated 30 million bags in 05) estimates that the worlds
airlines mishandled about 30 million bags last year. That sounds
like a lot of lost and delayed baggage, but it represents a mere 1%
of the total, which doesnt sound too bad.
And if youre a
glass-is-half-full sort of person, its notable that of the 30
million bags that were misdirected or temporarily lost last year,
99.3% were eventually found and were returned to their owners
within 1.3 days, on average. Only 204,000 were lost forever or
presumed stolen in 2005. When you consider that the worlds airlines
last year transported nearly 3 billion pieces of checked baggage,
that aint bad.
The real bad news
here is that it cost the typical airline about $87.50 to track
down, identify, retrieve, transport and deliver the average
misdirected bag. Multiply $87.50 by 30 million and you get a
And thats the
problem with the airline industry. All its problem get multiplied
by the Gazillion Factor. Take blankets and pillows, for example.
Some airlines were ridiculed for fretting over the few dollars it
costs to launder blankets and pillow covers, but in the airline
game, its never about a few of anything. People thought Bob
Crandall was being obsessive years ago when he yanked the olives
from Americans in-flight salads, but he was only bowing to the
inexorable logic of the Gazillion Factor.
Last weeks baggage
report was another good reminder that sweating the small stuff may
not be so crazy when you have to multiply it by a
cares for Tomorrow. Its recent mission to Mississippi
served as a poignant reminder that the devastation created by
Hurricane Katrina was not confined to New Orleans. The Crescent
City has dominated the headlines, but Mississippis Gulf Coast took
the full brunt of the storm, and its people and its tourism economy
are still reeling. Hats off to those who cared enough to
" ASTA and
the Czech Republic, which hosted ASTAs inaugural
International Development Expo in Prague last week. Initial reports
suggest that the event was a success, indicating that ASTAs
strategy of re-engineering its conferences and trade shows is off
to a good start.
Disney, for the bold decision to deploy the Disney
Magic in the Med next year, offering cruises with no direct tie-in
to a Disney park. Cruising in the Med is an experience that we dont
readily associate with the Disney brand. This could be
Cendant, for bringing in former Continental CEO
Gordon Bethune to chair the board of its travel distribution
business and put together a management team to run the business
when it is spun off later this year. This, too, could be
interesting to watch.
Cendant again, for adopting the name Wyndham
Worldwide for the lodging company that will be spun off as part of
the break-up. The Wyndham name has been through a lot in recent
years, but its still a great name. As the flagship brand in the
Cendant group, its the perfect name for the new company.