Are you a conscious consumer? Do you care for organic food, or if your facial cream has anything that might be bad or harmful for you? Do you investigate to make sure your rug or clothes has not been manufactured with harmful chemicals or by child labour? Good, then it is time to apply that thinking when booking your flights too.
Ethical and fair travel has been on the table for a very long time, but the focus has been on working conditions and sustainability in undeveloped parts of the world. This is good and there is no reason to shift the focus because it is an ongoing issue. Everyone deserves fair and decent working conditions, no matter where on earth or which industry.
State of the Airline Industry Today.
The airline industry is troubled in most parts of the world. It has been very noticeable in Scandinavia last week where Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) was on a wild, unauthorized strike and Norwegian´s pilots still are on strike. Air fares are dropping faster than you can say “good golly miss molly in Hollywood”. Compared to 1992 a ticket to Bangkok is about 40% cheaper on average and can sometimes be found on bargains at only 20% of the price in 1992! This is just by comparing numbers, if you add the devaluation of money over time the comparison is even more mind-blowing. You probably ask yourself, is this true? I don’t blame you for doubting my statement and can reassure you that it is the truth I am telling.
Some of the airline´s lost revenue is today recovered with auxiliary fees (i.e. checked baggage which was unheard of 20 years ago) and some services are dropped totally or provided at a charge (i.e. inflight meals) but it is still considerably cheaper to fly today than 20 years ago. The airlines did not make huge profits 20 years ago and are certainly not making massive profits today. Most airlines are struggling to keep their numbers out of the red. In other words, it is a tough situation in a very competitive market. This report on airline profitability by marketrealist.com describes the situation well.
Who is Paying the Price for Low Airfares?
Have you ever thought of who is paying the price for the low fares you enjoy for your next flight? You do, because you are getting less services than you did 20 years ago but that is probably not the biggest deal. Airline staff are paying a huge part of the low fares. I agree that airline staff once were too spoilt, but the pendulum is moving in the opposite direction. Their working conditions has been degraded year after year and several jobs has been outsourced to countries where salaries are low and working conditions is not a priority. The ones who still have their jobs work more and more with frozen wages. Did you know that many cabin crew are not paid until the doors are closed? That means that their crew briefing, sign in, preparations of the aircraft and when they greet you at the airplane door is unpaid! Strikes are a huge inconvenience and something is dislike but sometimes unavoidable and a certain sign that something is wrong.
What Can You Do?
I am pretty sure you are thinking “how does this concern me”? You should definitely be just as concerned when choosing airline as when you are choosing food, creams, clothes or rugs. Next time you book your flight, choose an airline where working conditions are acceptable, staffed by the airline themself (not using outsourced staff in obscure countries with dubious conditions and taxes). If you are not sure about the airline you consider booking with then call or email them about their staff policy. That call or email will make sure the airline are aware of that working conditions matter.
It will likely cost you a few bucks more, but you will fly with a good conscience and most likely on better timings with a higher level of service. This is a classical win-win!