Alitalia’s New Year just got a whole lot worse.
Stand by now for a Donald J. Trump tweet: As I made very clear today, this country needs a wall along the Alitalia border. They cannot go about breaking a great American instrument.
His next tweet: “Since taking office I have been very strict on Commercial Aviation. Good news – no viola da gamba has ever been smashed in any American flight in 2017.”
What? Fox News actually reported something truthful? Or maybe it’s just because the viola da gamba was a republican?
Maybe it was a slip up.
Likely, it’s Fox trying to make a point about something “foreign” (and an airline from a “socialist” European country no less).
In my several months reading SD, nothing has surprised — shocked me more than airlines’ treatment of violins, violas, cellos (subject to having their seat reservations cancelled at the last minute for all sorts of arbitrary reasons) and by extension their owners.
I kept thinking there must be some mistake.
I see now there’s no mistake, that it’s a compound of unapologetic deregulated awfulness, and at the gate, of the ignorance toward classical music of the wage-slaves at the bottom of the airport ladder, boarding agents in the employ of god-knows-what subcontractor from hell rushing from gate to gate, tasked with resolving the often overbooked flights, blamed for everything.
Not hard to see how easily the ignorance can turn hostile when some piece of human freight or other won’t be wrestled out of her carry-on. Nor is it far-fetched to see in this a latent working-class hostility to classical music.
More concretely it makes all string travel precarious, unpredictable and will be putting some orchestral free-lancers and just-about-managing chamber groups out of business.
It has to be fought hard, even viciously and from the top.
As Herzog told The Strad:
‘In the course of 40 years, I made many trips with viols. People used to let us have them inside the plane. When this was impossible, they were handled with care, and there were no problems. Nevertheless, year after year good will is being substituted by greed and disrespect for the musician.
“… Why can’t there be a policy regarding the care of musical instruments? It is our task not to accept the present scorn with which they treat us and demand an organized policy regarding our instruments.’
bottom line = revenues minus costs
That is the only metric that airline executives are interested in, because that increases their bonuses and enables the company to buy up its own stock, thus increasing the value of their stock options and dividends. Therefore, they cut costs to the bone, notably personnel qualification, motivation and training.
Customer satisfaction is irrelevant. The customer is a superfluous embarassment to be treated worse than cattle as long as they have no alternative transport, because there are no competing airlines with better service; all follow the same strategy of enriching the corporate elites.
All true enough but this is not the end of the story.
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