It was abundantly clear last night when my connection was delayed that the airline industry is running on the wrong metrics. Half of the plane missed their connecting flight, most by minutes, when doors were still open, but gates closed -- for sake of on-time-departure. The last planes left within a half an hour and we were left stranded in Virginia without hotel rooms in the vicinity.
On Time Departure rankings have become the quality obsession for the industry. Holding for connections used to be the practice. Today you get cascading failure that abandons customers, but still credits airlines as though they are doing their job. Planes are mere vessels, the average measure gets gamed, the system is fragile in hubbed networks -- and you would think that on-time-delivery of individuals might be the goal.
The basic conflict isn't that loosing 12 minutes in their system cost me 12 hours in mine. Airline shareholders count on detailed yield management systems for profitability that don't account for the service-profit chain. This should be a priority for United (79% OTD) shareholders who are depending upon customer loyalty and consideration for Northwest (77.4% OTD)shareholders considering outsourcing their front line employees.