My first inkling that something was going very wrong happened whilst I was attending a professional meeting deep in the bowels of a professional hotel. I and some other attendees were joking about how we were roaming the room, looking for active bars on our Androids and I-phones. An international attendee walked up to us and showed us his phone…all bars were active.
During a recent trip, my team was kept waiting at Chicago’s O’Hare airport for 2-1/2 hours because the (major ) airline could not find the flight crew. We missed our connecting flight and, after haggling 1-1/2 hours with ticket agents that seemed both a) confused and b) distracted by personal conversations having to do with, from what I could tell, who was being unfaithful to whom, we were finally informed that there were no more seats on connecting flights for that day. We rented a car and drove to our destination (6-hours overnight).
On a recent trip to South America, my spouse and daughter took an american airline to their international airport connection on the East Coast. The flight was late and they missed their connecting flight (same airline). Again, for hours, disinterested ticket agents did everything except find them a solution but, finally relented and agreed to put them on a LAN Chile flight.
Once on the LAN flight, the service was perfect, the food and beverage services were great and everything worked. In fact, they flew all over S. America on LAN Chile, while subjected to efficient airport security, on-time flights, comfortable travel conditions and polite and efficient service.Plus, the airfares were cheap by comparison to what we pay here in the U.S. A group of Australian tourists in S. America remarked to my wife, “Oh, everybody the world over knows to stay away from the American airlines”.
Upon hearing my family’s stories’, I looked up LAN on the internet: their profits were up 50%, last year. I also found a site that rated airlines: only one U.S airline (JetBlue) made the top-10 and the rest hailed from Asia and the Middle East.
In addition, no matter where my family happened to be…in the Amazon, in remote villages or between cliff faces in the Andes, they had perfect cell phone reception and an a plethora of active Wifi hotspots. I can’t even get that in the upscale Chicago suburb where I live.
I look around and I see roads falling apart, shuttered stores, a service economy staffed by desultory people (unless they are immigrants) and the cost of goods and services skyrocketing as quality falls. In Chicago and all over the U.S., gangs steal air conditioners and utility wires from homes and rail road ties from active railroads for their scrap metal value. In Chicago and other American cities, flashgang mobs emerge to brutalize people and rob retail outlets in the nicer parts of town (like Rio de Janeiro ).
What happened? How did we become so Third World?