An Open Letter To Airlines
My name is Melissa and I am both a frequent flyer and a single mother of a 9 year old boy. Because my employment demands that I live on the West Coast and my son's Father lives on the East Coast I am dependent upon air travel to visit with my son.
Let me begin by saying that I am very fortunate and blessed with friends and family who have helped make visitation with my son possible, and that I am sure there are many people who are not so privileged. It is for them that I am writing this letter to you as well as for myself.
This year I have a job that is flexible and allows me work remotely. Recently I stretched the flexibility of my company for a four month period so that I could see my son on the holidays. In order to do this I requested permission to stay with my parents on the East Coast from my flight home to return my son to his school in Early September until my return flight tomorrow afternoon on New Year's Eve. Why did I choose to uproot and leave my home in LA for 4 months? Because if I wanted to see my son on his vacations, I would have had to have enough money to purchase round trip tickets during peak travel times. Unfortunately, that is the only time of year I am able to see my son. And I can't afford it because in order for you to make a 30 Billion dollar profit (and that is what you made this past year) you charge more than two to three times the already steep cost of airfare.
Now, I am a member of almost every airline, but I am never able to build up points with a single airline to receive any benefit, because each time I fly I have to choose the flight that is most affordable, not the one that is going to grant me long term benefits. When I fly my son unaccompanied, which I am often forced to do, I also have to pay an additional fee and choose a nonstop, non-red eye flight increasing the cost by more than $300-$500. This February my son can only visit me between February 13-20. Tickets for him will be over $1000, so this year, he can't come and stay with me in our home in LA. Instead I have to leave on Feb. 10 and return after the 20 to get the cost down to $300. I'm able to do this because my job will allow me to work remotely. But few people have this option.
I could give you statistics on the benefits of children seeing both parents as much as possible, but I don't need to because you know this is vital to a child's health and well-being. You know that people are going to pay through the nose to see their friends and family during the few times each year when we all try to be together. And you don't care. You don't care about me and my family. You don't care if my son sees his mother. You are giant, impersonal corporations, who receive tax breaks from all of us, and even, in some cases, our tax dollars so you can stay in the air. You don't care.
I don't know how to start an airline. I don't know what it would cost. I don't know how I will do it. But someday there will be an airline who cares. One who offers deeply discounted flights for bereavement, for children flying to see their parents, and for families traveling during the holidays. It will be comfortable, it will be friendly, and I bet it will never have to worry about folding, because instead of focusing solely on profits it will focus on its role it plays in this world, of connecting people. Bringing loved ones together, troops home to their families, and young people to explore and discover the world.
I wish you a happy new year, and many blessings to all of the wonderful people who work for you and strive to make me as comfortable as possible when I can afford to fly. But I hope that you would think about how you are impacting the world this year and maybe consider ruling the skies with kindness. That would be my singular hope for the future of air travel.