Consistency Will Never Fly in the Travel World

I understand everyone would like to know that when they are flying or staying at a hotel, they will be treated the same wherever they are. Well, there are some who are actually treated better but not surprising, these travelers never complain. Indeed, some brag about it.

Of course, the real problem occurs when things are not always as planned and you are treated worse. Yes, it does happen sometimes. In fact if you believe online comments, they seem to happen frequently to certain travelers.

Take flying, for instance. When a checked bag is a little overweight, the rule says there is an extra charge. For various reasons, sometimes they don’t charge extra, other times they will be firm invoking their rules. And carry-on bags? Why are overstuffed and/or large bags, or people carrying more than two pieces allowed sometimes though not always?

Luggage on airport scale
Luggage scales can differ


United Airline's carry-on sizer
United Airline’s carry-on sizer

Airline seating assignment changes happen quite often. All it takes is a change in aircraft or a canceled flight to disrupt what made sense only hours before. Suddenly, that exit row seat with massive legroom becomes a middle seat in the back of the plane. More often, parents are begging strangers to trade seats so that their family of four can fly together.

Even upgraded seats are not always as promised. My husband still remembers a painful flight from years ago. He was sitting in his upgraded first class seat enjoying a cup of coffee. With only one minute before the boarding door was closing, he was approached by a Delta red coat and another passenger. Seems this gentleman purchased the seat my husband was sitting in. My husband had no choice but to submit to the Walk of Shame as he went to the back of the bus wondering what the other passengers were thinking he might have done.

Airlines always fall back on the same mantra: Seating assignments are never guaranteed. The moral here is simple… Your seat is not yours until the boarding door is closed.

Probably the worst experience for passengers is when they are booted off a flight. While involuntary denied boarding (IDB) is rare, it is very common today for airlines to ask passengers to volunteer. If they have to IDB, airlines will typically first select those who never registered for their loyalty program, thinking these passengers are the least likely to fly them again anyway.

What about consistency for inflight service? This is also difficult. It is no more realistic to expect flight attendants to be on their “A” game all the time than it is for anyone else in a service profession. Agreed, they should not be surly or rude as often alleged but sometimes they have bad days just like everyone else.

Even flights themselves can’t be consistent. We have delayed and canceled flights all the time, sadly just part of flying.

Hotels also are quite inconsistent. Most of the interaction at hotels is the front desk and at least in my experiences, they can vary widely. Also, there is that reservation for a waterfront king room that ends up being two double beds overlooking a parking lot. Or worst of all, you have a confirmed reservation but upon arrival get told that no rooms are available.

In many cases, there is not even consistency in hotel architecture. For example, you may reserve a Marriott Courtyard room in a three-story property or sometimes a 20-story building complete with executive lounge. The room sizes and designs also are different, not consistent.

What does help a little with consistency is elite status with a provider. The upgrade to a better airline seat or hotel room, as well as other perks, go a long way to offset the other inconsistencies you are certain to encounter.

If you really want consistency, stick to places like McDonalds or Starbucks. If you are willing to accept that consistency won’t fly in the travel industry, you are already more than half way to better enjoyment in your travels.

“The only consistent thing in this world, 

“Be flexible”
― Carol Margolis

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