Q: On Sept. 20, 2009, I purchased a non-stop roundtrip flight from Delta/Northwest from Minneapolis to Ft. Myers for travel in April 2010 for my husband as a Christmas gift. On Jan. 9, 2010, Delta e-mailed the boarding pass. The flight had been changed to an itinerary with a plane change in Detroit and a flight that was longer than the original one, but the same price as the one that I had booked last September. I called customer service and was told, "the computer did it." I was able to have the flight restored to the original non-stop one. Why did the computer do that? My guess is that it is because the seat on the non-stop flight is now selling for a lot more money. It doesn't seem ethical to me.
A: I would say yes indeed, since they were able to give you back your nonstop flight, that they were hoping to sell the more desirable nonstop flight for more. We've seen Delta do this in the past, so it's nothing new. You did the right thing to insist that you get what you originally paid for. How would "the computer" like it if it bought a 42-inch plasma TV and a 12-inch black-and-white was delivered instead?
Q: We just returned from the South via American and US Airways. Neither boarded us in a logical way. Why not board the plane starting with groups at the rear of the plane first, then do the front? Wouldn't this speed up the boarding process?
A: It definitely would make more sense. But airlines want to cater to their frequent flyers and those with status in their frequent flyer programs, so they board first class first (which is at the head of the plane), and then the ever-growing number of "elite" passengers, who usually sit at the front of the plane. These people clog up the aisles as they place luggage in the overheads. Some airlines have experimented with boarding window seat passengers first and then middle and aisle, but this method seems to have been a failure. Planes would board faster if only everyone would just step out of the aisle while they get settled. You can pretty easily put your luggage in the overhead even if you're not blocking other passengers' way. Airlines also give boarding priority to parents with young children, who seem to take longer than other passengers to get settled (which is why the airlines do this in the first place), but it always seems like they're still getting sorted by the time the other passengers are allowed to board.