The debate about ancillary fees rages on.  IATA’s New Distribution Capability, whilst still in its very early stages, is certainly adding interest to the year so we can be grateful for that. But I do wonder whether we pay fair attention to the whole ancillary debate.

We spend so much of our time talking about the distribution of these services when we should also be focusing on the product delivery.  Let’s face it, ancillary services are here to stay, and anyone who travels regularly will have experienced them in one form or another. 

Whether it’s the value-adds on the high-end legacy carriers, like lounge access or priority boarding, or whether it’s the extra sale items designed to increase revenue on the  low-end legacy or no-frills products out there.

Whether we “pay” for them or not, we still pay for them.  They are either in the price or separate, so one way or another we should see service. And it’s this that increasingly occupies my mind these days.  What has happened to airline service?

I’m not finger pointing any one carrier here (I try to fly as many as possible to broaden my experience of the industry), it just seems that too many are bolting on services without a care for how they are delivered in the real world.

If I counted the number of times that a priority security lane was closed or fast-boarding was lost in a melee at the airport, or the lounge was so full it was no better than the human soup that airports have become it would number more than the total members of Global Business Travel Association I’m sure…and that’s a lot in case you’re wondering.  And it’s such a shame too.

Like a man who proudly shows of his shiney new suit paired with an old pair of brogues, failure to deliver tarnishes the brand, and when many brands start to feel tarnished in a sector everyone just looks bad.

There are exceptions of course, and it’s great to experience top airline service as it makes such a difference to the trip experience, but by and large the airline industry disappoints too often.  I know we should consider diminishing profits, but until they start to deliver consistently, I don’t think the travelling public feels obliged to pay for it.  So come on lads and lasses….stop making us pay for thin air!