By year's end, I will have taken 10 round-trip flights around North America—that's approximately 40 individual flights. Before this I always liked to fly, but now I realize we're all just paying to be tortured for a day. Besides awful on-board treatment and a general lack of service, people are really being taken advantage of. Luckily, I have yet to be thoroughly screwed, but others have:
Example One: This year one of my mom's flights was delayed in Houston causing her to miss a day's work. America West gave here a $150 voucher and the next day she was finally off to small-town Louisiana. Turns out the voucher, which was less than what she would have earned in a day, could only be cashed by her, in person at an America West desk, the nearest one being hundreds of miles away in Memphis. What a scam!
Example Two: My boyfriend's luggage was lost, and when it arrived the next day, Frontier informed him that he, without a car in Albuquerque, would have to pick it up. They justified this by saying: A) If his luggage arrived the same day as he flew, he'd have to get it, which it supposedly had despite the fact that no one bothered to call and tell him; and B) he had arrived to catch his flight late, automatically agreeing to "volunteer separation of baggage," which basically means it's not their fault if they lose your bags. Nobody informed him of this policy when he was supposedly late, and the reason he was deemed late in the first place was because upon arriving to the airport on time, there was nobody at the Frontier desk to check him in. How do they get away with these shenanigans?!
There must be hundreds of thousands of similar stories! And what's scary is that if service has declined so dramatically, what's going on with safety? This ABC article pretty aptly explains the history of the airlines' decline. I would like to add, though, that I've never had a problem with Delta. Their service is relatively impeccable. Too bad U.S. Airways (who owns America West) is staging a hostile takeover of the bankrupt airline. I guess it doesn't pay to respect your customers.