Travel notes: Airline veteran lambastes behavior of passengers

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After a 16-year career in the airline industry, Claudia Helena Oxee doesn't mince words about what's wrong with airline passengers today.

"Let's face it. Passengers dress the way they want and do what they want," said Ms. Oxee, who worked on the station crew at John F. Kennedy International Airport for TWA, Pan Am and LTU International Airways. "The level of passengers has been degrading."

Now retired and promoting a book about her experiences, she said she would "crack the whip" on unruly passengers if she were still working at an airport. "I wouldn't put up with it."

Airlines spend millions of dollars collecting, analyzing and responding to passenger complaints. Ms. Oxee's new book and a survey of airline workers show that the folks who manage passengers have gripes of their own.

Her book, "Tales From the Tarmac," recounts her encounters with drunk, belligerent and hostile passengers, some of whom she describes as "twits," "jerks" and "half-wits."

Meanwhile, the travel website Skyscanner released a list of the most annoying habits of airline passengers, based on a recent survey of 700 airline workers in 85 countries.

The top most hated passenger habits include:

• Clicking their fingers to get a flight attendant's attention.

• Trying to get off the plane before the pilot gives the signal.

• Stuffing too much in the overhead compartment.

• Complaining about the lack of space in the overhead compartment.

• Talking through the safety demonstration.

Ms. Oxee's biggest gripe is passengers who delay a flight with no good reason.

"When they hold up an entire flight, it's a domino effect worldwide and then they show up with an attitude," she said.

Online reviews

Hotel owners have long touted the importance of positive online reviews, and now a new study calculates exactly how much they mean to a hotel's bottom line.

For every 1 percent increase in a hotel's online reputation, a hotel enjoys a 0.54 percent increase in occupancy, which can lead to a 1.42 percent increase in revenue per available room, according to an analysis by the Center for Hospitality Research at Cornell University.

The study, by associate professor Chris Anderson, looked at data from more than 3,000 hotels in 20 cities, including several international locations. He spent about six months crunching occupancy numbers, daily rates and online reviews.

Mr. Anderson also looked at data from Travelocity, one of the world's largest travel websites, and found that if a hotel gets a 1-star jump on the travel site's five-star scale, the hotel can increase its price by 11.2 percent and keep the same occupancy rates.

The most surprising result of the analysis, he said, was that more favorable reviews can have a bigger financial effect on economy and mid-scale hotels than on luxury brands.

"The impact of online review scores increase for hotels on the lower-chain scale," Anderson said.

TSA gets advice

The Transportation Security Administration screens about 1.8 million passengers a day at more than 450 airports across the country.

But when passengers gripe about the security process, the TSA doesn't have a consistent way to collect and act on those complaints.

That was the assessment of the Government Accountability Office, which has released a report after studying the way the TSA gathers and analyzes passenger complaints.

For example, passengers can register complaints through the TSA website, on comment cards at airport checkpoints, in conversations with TSA supervisors, through letters and phone calls to agency offices, and other ways.

But the GAO said the TSA doesn't analyze all that data because its too hard to consolidate.

"A process to systematically collect information from all mechanisms, including standard complaint categories, would better enable TSA to improve operations and customer service," the report said.

The TSA's response? The agency agreed with nearly every fix recommended by the GAO.



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