We should not feel sad about it
That headline seems a bit odd. Considering that I am currently sitting in front of a computer in São Paulo, Brazil. Yes, that is where I have chosen to spend my well-deserved holiday. The main reason is that I still have some ’emotional ties’ to the country. And I am grateful, that my economic circumstances allowed me to do this travel. I still found some cheap flights. Who knows how long it can continue.
Currently, many major airports in Europe are in turmoil. I avoided the worst by only traveling with hand luggage and checking in online. And I was at the airport nearly five hours in advance. For me, the journey was without any major hiccups. Even the Covid rules are not a major issue anymore.
But I did meet quite a few passengers who had trouble with long wait times at the check-in. Both in Berlin, and Amsterdam. Those troubles are a symptom, that the business model of cheap flights for the masses is in trouble.
Cheap Flights Were Offered on the Backs of Workers
The airlines are reeling after Covid. The lockdowns are a major reason for that. The flight companies had to fire many employees during the pandemic. Now, they are not coming back. It affects every part of the chain. My father trains security personnel. Like the ones, you meet at the airport. The ones who check that you did leave that shampoo bottle in your check-in luggage. He once told me, that the new training courses for the Berlin airport have been pushed back several times. There are not enough applicants for the courses.
The reasons for this were there long before Covid. The salaries and working conditions suck. Many of the fired workers don’t return. It doesn’t matter, whether we talk about ground staff or flight attendants. The flight companies managed to offer cheap flights to the masses because of it. Ryanair has been fighting unionization since the very beginning. The tactics they use are common in the industry.
Even major, traditional players tried to get into the discount game. Now they are breaking their neck. Look at SAS, for example. Their pilots are rebelling, and so is their ground staff. It has become so bad, that they filed for bankruptcy. Their customers are stranded everywhere in Europe. Almost all companies cancel thousands of flights this holiday season. And for the same reason. KLM, Lufthansa, you name it.
It is not just about salaries. It is about working conditions as well. I know people who work in the industry. These are high-stress work environments. All work environments, where you face customers are. Many times, customers are assholes. I’ve been flying enough times to witness customers get nasty to airline staff. Even to the point where they get physically violent. I prefer to deal with teenagers in my classroom.