Jul 18, 2012, 1:01 AM EDT
By Bill Miller
I’ve long believed there’s a terrific opportunity for a major airline to build a large, loyal customer base just by stepping up with a few special benefits and accommodations for traveling hunters and fishermen. It would be so easy, relatively inexpensive and ultimately gain the favor of a traditionally brand-loyal group of customers.
All they’d have to do is offer a few bucks off the standard overage rate for luggage like coolers and rod cases. Set up a easy-to-use website with the solid information on transporting trophies like moose or caribou racks and flying with guns, ammunition or fishing rods. Provide an option box when booking tickets to tell them ahead of time the trip is for hunting so they can explain (ahead of time) why I can’t have a 1-ounce container of gun solvent in my bag or dry ice in a cooler.
If they’d just promise one standard procedure for checking firearms and that every gate agent will be familiar with it. Offer an old-fashioned suggestion box. And most importantly, train all personnel to mind their own damn business when they recognize someone is traveling their airlines for a hunting trip and hunting isn’t that employee’s cup of tea.
Of course, any airlines must adhere to the universal security regulations (I think we all went them to do that.) But beyond that, all they have to do is try to make it as easy as possible for outdoorspeople to travel with them.
Once word of this got out, I’m betting hunters and traveling shooters would flock to this airline, and stick with it. Even if it ended up costing a little bit more. I’m willing to pay for less headaches and less hassle.
I used to fly often with one or more of my hunting dogs. The now defunct Northwest Airlines had a program called Priority Pet that made it easy, relatively inexpensive, and went a long way to calm the nerves a worried pet owner. On more than one hunt Sadie and I flew to Canada or Mississippi in the morning and were hunting ducks somewhere before the sunset. Then came 9/11, and it all went away.
Is a company today likely to proclaim itself the “official airline of America’s outdoorspeople,” let alone of “hunters and fisherman”? Doubtful. Highly doubtful. But a guy can dream, can’t he?
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