Browsing archives for October, 2009

A Word about Airline Fees… And How Air Canada Has Solved This Issue

Recent Stories 8 October 2009 3 Comments

This week has given us two airline fee-related fiascos.  The first was British Airways announcing that they’ll charge up to $90 to allow you to pick your seat (even in Business Class).  After fighting with Ryanair for years over their fees and shoddy customer service, this is a move that is so ridiculous I didn’t even bother to comment on it.  The second was the backlash against US network carriers for adding a small fee on peak holiday travel days (something that had always been done in the form of higher fares, rather than as a fee).  Nobody would ever have complained about higher prices on peak travel days, but people have become so annoyed by the fee situation (even though it makes a lot of sense), that we’ve seen a good deal of backlash since it was announced.

Which brings me to Air Canada.  Many airline-watchers (including myself) have admired Air Canada for introducing their bundled fare categories a few years ago.  If you’re not familiar, they basically have 5 fare classes.  When you search for a flight, they display all 5 fare classes and, with a handy little rollover, you can see what is included in each fare.  Some fares include meals, some require you to buy your food.  Some allow changes, some charge a fee.  Some give full frequent flyer miles, some give only a fraction of the actual miles flown.  If checking bags and having flexibility is important to you, great – buy the fare that includes that.  If you don’t care about food, then don’t pay for it – buy the fare that doesn’t include it.  They are giving you the choice for you to pay for what’s important to you as part of the fare without feeling like you’re being nickel and dimed along the way.  And if you just want to pay for your seat, you can do that; and you’ll pay less for it.  (Spirit has basically done this – they charge very little, and they get you to pay for everything.  For some reason this bothers people that a can of soda is not included in their $17 flight).

U.S. carriers haven’t gone this route (for the most part) because there are significant technical changes that need to be made to make it happen.  But this should be a priority.  They’ve changed the way they’re charging for flights, but without changing how they sell – that’s a problem.  So we’ve ended up with a situation where people are actually paying lower base fares nowadays (average fares are down about 6% in Q1 2009 versus last year), but they feel like they’re paying more because of the fees – even when they, themselves, are not paying a fee on a given flight.  In other words, airlines have lowered their fares without getting any credit for it.

Air Canada has created a model that eliminates these problems while still allowing airlines to be paid for the services they provide.  It’s time for U.S. airlines to move in that direction – everyone will benefit in the end.

Fight Attendants! Pilots and Flight Attendants Fight in Indian Airlines Cockpit

Airlines in India, Recent Stories, Weird Airline Stories 6 October 2009 0 Comments

Flight staff came to blows during an Indian Airlines flight from Sharjah, UAE, to Lucknow, India.  The pilot and co-pilot were reportedly harassing a female flight attendant and pushed her out of the cockpit.  A male flight attendant came to her aid, and a fight broke out between all four staff members.  The fight may have started over whether the flight attendant announced the correct flying time over the PA.  I know, that doesn’t make any sense.

The story reports that both pilots may have been out of the cockpit at the same time, which also doesn’t make much sense, but there ya go.

The female flight attendant has filed charges against the pilot.

Cranky Flier Launches Cranky Concierge

Recent Stories 5 October 2009 0 Comments

I feel like those of us who write these airline blog-type sites are all one big dorky family.  So I’m happy to report that Brett Snyder, aka Cranky Flier, has gone off and started Cranky Concierge.   The short version is this:  You booked your flight and you want someone watching to make sure that everything goes smoothly?  For $30, they’ll give you a heads up on flight delays and offer suggestions for re-booking if you do get delayed.  Basically anything that will make the flight part of your trip go smoother, they’ll handle.  Think of it as the best travel agent you’ve never had minus the actual trip booking (though I’m bothering him to add that service).

As much as those of us who write airline blogs love the next-to-no money we earn from this, it’s great to see someone taking their passion from the industry and turn it into a business.  Best of luck, Brett!

Top 5 Friday: City Pairs that Had Delta 747 Service in the Early 1970s that Made No Economic Sense Whatsoever

Delta Air Lines, Featured Columns 2 October 2009 17 Comments

I was thinking about an old advertisement I saw from the early 1970s touting Delta’s then-new (and short-lived) 747 service.  Since I was a small child 747s have always been my favorite plane – their unusual shape, upstairs/downstairs configuration, and long-distance ability represented all that flight had to offer.  You could sit in this incredibly designed airplane and go anywhere in the world you wanted.  What more could a 10 year old need?

The young’uns out there likely have no recollection that 747s used to ply the domestic skies fairly regularly.  In the mid-1980s I flew Continental and People Express 747s from New York to Los Angeles.  Pan Am, Northwest and United were all flying 747s domestically at that time as well (American and Eastern also operated them for short periods.)

Using those aircraft on domestic flights today makes little-to-no economic sense.  It probably made little-to-no economic sense on many of the flights it served back then (Pan Am was flying 747s between New York and Miami for a bit).  But the most ridiculous were flown by Delta, which offered these 5 routes on 747s:

Dallas – Atlanta
Chicago – Miami
Detroit – Miami
Detroit – Altanta
Miami – Atlanta

Those were good times.  Detroit – Miami on a 747.  Har.

(Also funny is that ad I linked to suggesting that first class felt like being on a private jet – albeit a private jet with, uh, 400 seats).

Austrian Airlines: We’re Sorry We Quoted Nazis in Our Marketing

Recent Stories 1 October 2009 1 Comment

(Thanks a million to Benet…)

Austrian Airlines has apologized for using a phrase found on a gate at the Nazi Buchenwald concentration camp.  The marketing team who put together a travel catalogue for the airline said that they were not aware that the phrase “Jedem das Seine” (meaning, “to each his own”)  was linked to the Nazis.  The ad for flights to Paris read, “Jedem die Seine,” referring to the Seine river in Paris.

However, they continue to use “Springtime for Hitler” in their ads for April flights to Frankfurt.  (No they don’t).