I think one of the most difficult businesses to run even in a good economy would be an airline. There are just too many variables that affect the profitability and stability of the company. The overhead costs for equipment and maintenance for the fleet must be unbelievable (in fact international delivery carriers like UPS and FedEx have already liquidated fleets opting to place our precious packages in the cargo bays of commercial jetliners instead). The insurance payments would have to be sky high. Labor issues, as have plagued the airlines for years, would be very challenging to manage. The threat of terrorism, especially in light of 911 and the folding of Pan Am after a terrorist bomb took down one of its planes over Scotland, is always a factor as long as nuts are putting bomb materials in their underwear. The biggest variable is often the cost of aviation fuel. The speculation on the markets and the residual swinging of jet fuel prices would make the average CEO want to pull his or her hair out. As a whole, I have great respect for those individuals who have the skill and experience to handle such a daunting task.
In recent years airlines have sought all manner of ways to reduce costs and increase profits. On board meals have been replaced with nuts and if you’re truly blessed, crackers. Customers are charged for a pair of cheap earphones for flights featuring in flight entertainment. Airlines now charge for every minor upgrade or change to tickets even though in most cases the changes are lateral and produce no cost to the airline. They charge a fee for bags over a certain weight. Some charge for each checked bag period (except Southwest Airlines who has a field day with their marketing announcing on our airline, “Bags fly free”). Despite my overall appreciation for airline executives, I think they might need to rethink the direction of their efforts to reduce costs during this challenging time.
The latest idea being floated from the tired minds of a few airline managers is to charge customers to use the bathroom facilities in flight. I think it’s possible that someone tapped into the tiny liquor bottles served on flights when they came up with this one. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Southwest Airlines will not only reject this idiotic idea, they will roll out a new series of commercials to lampoon airlines that implement it. I can see their advertising banner now, “Poo Flies Free.” They might even suggest that customers use their “PooPal” account to purchase the tickets.
What can we learn from this idea? When leaders (secular or spiritual) become tired, burned out, discouraged, or come under great pressure, often dumb ideas are the result. Decisions then become reactionary rather than carefully thought through to discern any unintended but negative consequences (like if a customer stops flying on your airline you won’t have to worry about charging them to use the toilet). Let’s learn to pause, pray, reflect, wait on the Lord, and receive God’s wisdom in due season for our challenging situation. As the Psalmist said, “Be still, and know that I am God,” (Psalm 46:10). I have observed many “pay per poo” ideas through the years in ministry (including some of my own) and I can tell you that they are usually the result of rushing under pressure to fix something only to cause more problems in the long run. Spiritual leaders (and airline executives alike) need to be quick to identify and flush those reactionary ideas and look to the Lord for that “God idea.”