What Airline Companies Teach Us About Business

I did a lot of flying last year – a LOT of flying – and it allowed me to observe the target of many late-night comedians: airlines. At various times along my journey, I considered my experience as a consumer, then again as a business owner. And while I think we can all agree the airline industry will never be the bastion of business perfection, there are some things we can learn and use to make our own businesses a success.

Identify your process

Ever considered how much goes into an airline getting you, your luggage, and the plane from one city to the next? There’s an amazing process at work, one filled with thousands of individual procedures, all moving toward the same outcome. I’m reminded of the complexity of this system whenever something breaks down: a power outage in Atlanta or a fire alarm at Dallas Love Field. It’s maddening to think one little slip-up here or misstep there can crash the system – and there’s certainly room for improvement – but then I am reminded what the process for air travel is really about: safety.

Think about it: every step along the way to get you from one destination to the other is about safety. The security checks, the check-in process, examining and transferring baggage, all the little rules and social norms on and off the plane. Airlines could be way more efficient and speed things up, but that would put the safety of passengers and employees at risk, and how good is that for business? As you nail down your process, make sure you’re putting people before profits.

Maximize Your Profits

Speaking of profits, the airline industry has really changed its business model over the years. In many ways, they’ve done this to survive. Instead of fighting for market share, most airlines simply focus on providing a stellar service and learning to say “no” when necessary (as in dropping an unpopular or unnecessary route instead of constantly operating it at a loss). It’s created a better service and boosted morale among employees.

Airlines have also figured out how to generate new revenue throughout the traveler’s experience. Need three full-size suitcases for a weekend getaway to Las Vegas? OK, but it’ll cost you. Have to sit in a specific seat or board at a certain time? Again, not a problem, but there’s a price. Every time I travel it seems like there are new items to enhance my experience.

While on one hand it feels like the industry keeps finding new ways to nickel and dime us, what they’re really doing is figuring out what is important to most of us and what is superfluous. Why waste time and energy making something available (or including a new feature) that no one really wants? Consumers speak with their pocketbooks, and businesses who listen and make the right adjustments are the ones that thrive.

Something for nothing is everything

Something everyone wants is whatever’s free. That’s a given, and most know giving away a small fraction of your product or service or knowledge is “just part of doing business.” But what successful businesses understand is that often times the cost of “free stuff” can be folded into basic expenses or opportunities to partner with other like-minded companies to maximize audience exposure.

Think about all the stuff you normally get for “free” when you fly. Beverages and snacks? That’s a small price to pay to avoid a fuselage full of “hangry” passengers. Wi-fi or in-flight entertainment? Most TV networks and film studios are willing to pay the airlines for a chance to push their content to a “captive” audience for a few hours. Forgot your headphones? No worries; here’s a complimentary set from us. (I’m going to assume the rational here is contented fliers make for safer flights.)

One might argue in this country we’ve become spoiled or entitled when it comes to air travel. But really, those companies are only obligated to get you from Point A to Point B safely (and on time). Some economy airlines like Spirit strip everything down to the basics and millions of travelers don’t mind. What I see is a business matching their product and service to the right customer.

What it means for you

Never forget that you are a customer as much (or more so) as you are a business owner. Keep that in mind as you make adjustments to your own business: what would I want from my product or how can I go the extra mile for my customers? If the airlines have taught us anything it’s that we must evolve and innovate to survive. That takes focus, hard work, and the willingness to let others weigh in on how best to meet your customers’ needs.

At Parvin Law Group, my team and I are ready to help you grow your business. Big or small, we have the insight and drive necessary to keep pace with our clients along their journey. Whatever you need – be it an advocate for ongoing litigation or counsel on how best to avoid future litigation – we want to help. Call us today at (214) 974-8940 to schedule a free consultation and let us help your business soar!


ATTORNEY CHRIS PARVIN is Board Certified in Estate Planning & Probate Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Mr. Parvin is the Managing Partner of the Dallas, Texas law firm of Parvin Law Group, P.C. and serves as an Adjunct Professor of Law at Texas A&M University School of Law. Mr. Parvin can be reached by email at chris@parvinlaw.com.

Parvin Law Group, P.C. is a Concierge Law Firm in Dallas, Texas with attorneys practicing law in the fields of Estate Planning, Probate, and Business Law.