June 27, 2012
After the airline industry was deregulated in 1978, flying changed considerably.
Some of those changes have improved commercial flying, but others have made the skies much less friendly, says journalist and airline veteran William J. McGee.
McGee's new book, Attention All Passengers, details how airlines are cutting costs through regional carriers, outsourcing airline maintenance, mishandling baggage and overbooking airplanes.
"It's not your imagination that there are more people flying on each flight," he tells Fresh Air's Dave Davies. "The average percentage of occupied seats on a plane these days is over 80 percent. That means a great number of flights are at 100 percent. [That has] led to all of the other problems related to service: delays, canceled flights, lost baggage, consumer complaints and passengers being involuntarily bumped off flights. ... Flying is just not a pleasant experience."
Complaints of damaged and mishandled bags spiked after the Transportation Security Administration took over bag screening, says McGee.
"There have been a lot of high-profile cases of TSA employees who take bags into the back room, and when they come back out, things are missing," he says. "To some extent the TSA has managed to get a handle on that, but it's really part of a much bigger, systemic problem within the industry ... [about] how many functions revolving around commercial aviation that are outsourced."
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