A Slice for Cerberus

Airlines these days are great for delays and diversions, but they're not particularly good at customer service.

But in the New York Times's "On the Road" column, Joe Sharkey focuses on two separate instances—in Syracuse and Albany, New York—in which pizza was ordered in for groups of stranded passengers.

"I’m not going to keep you on the plane. I’m going to pull up to a gate where you can get off, as long as you wait there in case we have to leave. I know you’ve only had cheese and crackers. So I called the Sbarro in the terminal and asked them to keep sending pizzas out until the whole plane gets fed."

Now all grumbling about the quality of Sbarro aside, you'd probably expect me to be all for this, but, frankly, homeslices, it's crap.

The individual pilots and folks on the ground who worked to treat their passengers to pizza are well-meaning, I'm sure, and they sound mighty nice. And in these instances of customer service, they should be applauded. But, in general, with all the nonsense airlines put us through, the free pizza gambit is merely a sop.

"Oh, I got bumped from an earlier flight, finally got on this one, circled for an hour for a landing slot, and now have to wait—what!?—three additional hours for my connecting flight because the crew for the plane I just got off of is flying in from Dallas?

"But, oh! Free pizza! That changes everything!"

Please.

It's like when things gum up at work and your boss ever so kindly offers to order a pizza lunch for everyone "because you've all been working so hard," when what that really means is "no lunch break for you today, suckers!"

It'll be interesting to see whether this catches on at other airports throughout the country. My guess is that smaller airports like those in Syracuse and Albany might be able to handle the pizza output. But don't expect it at O'Hare, Dallas, La Guardia, or LAX anytime soon, folks. In those locations, the airlines would be running soup kitchens.

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