By Steve Moran
And we know the airline industry sucks!
According to a recent Los Angeles Times article, “Airline seats have been getting smaller for years. Is the shrinking coming to an end?” over the last 15 years the airline industry has been steadily, inch by inch, shrinking seat sizes.
Since 2011, the average seat pitch — the distance between the back of one seat and the back of the next — has dropped from 35 inches to 31 inches.
According to the article, a number of extremely low-cost airlines like Spirit can go as low as 28 inches.
This has made it possible for airlines to extract more revenue per seat, which, for most airlines, seems to be the only thing that counts.
While there are some US airlines that are more customer friendly than others (like Alaska and Southwest Airlines), they too have jumped on the seat pitch race to misery.
As senior living matures, more and more people who work in the field are finding themselves in the seat of the consumer, typically on behalf of a parent, and when they talk to me I cringe. They tell stories of senior living organizations making implied and specific promises about the care of their parents, only to show a consistent pattern of substandard care and services.
These are people who know the industry well. They get that on occasion things happen. Pipes break, equipment malfunctions, and a team member simply fails to show up for work. But what they see is a consistent pattern of “I don’t care.”
Wait for It
Things are about to change for the airline industry with respect to seat pitch. Right now, the FAA, who is only concerned with safety (not customer experience), is taking comments on the seat pitch distance. The result will almost certainly result in some relief for customers. At first glance, it would seem to benefit the airlines too. If everyone has to meet the same standards, then they are playing on a level field.
The problem is that it will likely mean it will never be much better than the minimum standard, and is that really the way to grow a business?
This is how it once was for skilled nursing. There were some really good operators, but many more who were substandard, which meant people got hurt and died, which led to regulation, more regulation, and even more regulation.
It is hard to argue that nursing homes are actually doing a better job because of all the regulations. In fact, the minimum standard has become the maximum standard in too many communities. It has simply made providing great care harder, with little if any benefit to residents and staff.
We are an amazing, world-changing industry. We are better than the airline industry; we have to be. People traveling long distances, unless they are extremely wealthy, have no choice but to put up with shoddy airline service. That is not true for senior living.