Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Dear Continental...

Paul Aubert forwards along his letter to Continental Airlines customer service. The response so far, according to Paul is: "I received basically a form letter response telling me my letter would be forwarded to more senior management. We shall see."
Dear Customer Service:

I am writing to let you know that I will no longer fly a US airline unless it is absolutely and utterly necessary as a last resort.

Over the last ten years, since the tragic events of 9/11, there is no longer any joy in flying.  I used to look forward to go to the airport, knowing that I would be flying. I remember how much fun it used to be to look out of the window and just to be on an airplane, flying somewhere distant and reaching that destination so quickly.  I used to take fun weekend trips, using your specials, all the time just because it was such a great deal and you could get somewhere so quickly.  I have not done this in years, though, because air travel is now such a burden.

As long as you permit the FAA and TSA (and goodness knows how many additional federal agencies) to control how you run your airline, your business will suffer and suffer badly.  It does not do for you to say that you have no control over what these agencies do.  If all of the major airlines stood their ground and refused to permit mindless government bureaucrats to run airline and airport security (and for that matter, to run air traffic control, which has also become a tremendous hindrance to a pleasant air travel experience), this madness could be curtailed.

Between 2001 and 2008, the experience at US airports became more and more like something out of the novel, 1984.  Since 2009, when word of the infamous naked body scanners began to spread, my dread for flying has increased exponentially.  Last week, in a flight back home to Houston from Atlanta, I saw these in operation for the first time.  Luckily, I was able to dart to another line and avoid having to tell the TSA drones that I "opt out", which apparently causes you to be singled out like some sort of criminal.  This experience made me realize that I will have to deal with this every time I go to the airport.  In addition, there has been further word that the TSA will be conducting more intrusive "pat downs" at the airports, whether or not you choose to opt out of the naked body scanners.

There comes a time in everyone's life when they simply say, "NO MORE."  I have reached that point.  My guess is that many other potential customers of your airline and other US airlines have also reached that point.  Also, I must assume that your pilots and flight attendants are equally as dismayed at what has happened at the airports.  I have noticed that they are far less enthusiastic than they used to be.

As to these scanners, do you know what kind of damage they do to your body when you pass through them?  Aren't they simply more powerful versions of X-ray machines?  Aren't we told that an excessive number of X-rays on your body can lead to cancer?  Don't we wear lead covers over those parts of the body not being X-rayed to protect them from the cancer-causing X-rays?  What might these body scanners be doing to passengers who travel frequently (or maybe even infrequently)?  It is simply not worth the risk to my health to travel by air anymore.  The threat of cancer from these machines is far greater than any alleged threat from any ragtag terrorist outfit.

Until you show some backbone and tell your rulers, "NO MORE," you will continue to bleed customers (and revenue) and US air travel will be a shell of its former, wonderful product.  I can only assume that alternative flying arrangements will continue to gain in popularity as more people try to avoid the hellish experience that is airport security.

I know that the people who continue to fly somehow believe that this lunacy that they go through at the airport is "for their security."  I do not believe this for one second.  Each elevation in security seems to address the prior, dubious event, yet there is no thought given to the fact that someone with evil intent will just change their strategy yet again to avoid the latest intrusions into air passengers lives and bodies.  All of these things we do at the airport are for show only.  Studies have indicated that none of these practices have made air travel any more safe than it was prior to 2001, yet, we continue to make matters worse and worse.

How sad that a nation as allegedly as strong as ours can let ourselves be taken so far down the road of tyranny out of fear.

Paul Aubert