friendly filthy skies
From today's New York Times-
Cleanliness may be next to godliness, but in the airline industry it has taken a back seat to financial survival.There's an old saying, you get what you pay for. That applies to both airlines and customers. You go cheap on cleaning your planes, you get dirty planes. You pay cheap for an airline ticket, don't expect many if any thrills or services.
Airlines, which have been paring their fleets to cut costs, are flying their jets fuller than ever — and, like New York City in the summer, some of them are just a little too crowded not to smell. After dispensing with the expense of most meal service, airlines invited passengers to bring their own food aboard, and many planes now land littered with a smorgasbord of wrappers and leftovers.
Once on the ground, there are fewer employees to tidy up, thanks to widespread layoffs. And planes, which make money only when they fly, sit at the gate for shorter periods, often making cleanup a rush job.
“You put your hand in the seatback pocket and there’s an open McDonald’s ketchup container in there,” said Joe Brancatelli, a frequent flier who runs an advice Web site for business travelers. Tidiness has declined in recent years, he said. “The problem is they’ve made so many cuts.”
When cleaning is outsourced, for instance, “it’s another part of the airline business that goes to the lowest bidder,” he said.
And when outside food was invited aboard, routines for taking care of trash went awry. “A lot of inconvenient garbage,” Mr. Brancatelli said. “The airlines can’t control it. They can’t plan for it.”
Little wonder, then, that Delta Air Lines, regrouping in bankruptcy, noticed earlier this year that it had let its 438 big jets become, in the words of Tim Canavan, director of operations, “dingy and dirty.”
While the industry standard for deep-cleaning a jetliner — a process similar to having your car professionally detailed — is roughly every 30 days, Delta had let its schedule lapse to every 15 to 18 months. That is akin to cutting your daily shower back to once every couple of weeks.
Just months after Delta began installing new interiors, including pricey leather seats, Mr. Canavan and his staff were surprised to find that some of the planes were already filthy. Thus began a humbling airlinewide effort to become neater.
Two cleaning contractors were fired for slipshod performance. Deep cleaning — an intense and precisely scripted process of brushing, scrubbing and vacuuming — now occurs at least every 30 days on Delta planes, bringing Delta up to par. A crew of auditors checks up on the cleaners.
I guess we all want to fly in first class but at the price of cheap coach. Heck I did for most of 5 years, but then I was flying between 50-125,000 miles a year from 1997 to 2001. From what I hear about airline service and airport security today, I don't miss flying.
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