The Golden Age of Air Travel?

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November 5th, 2015 at 7:50:52 AM permalink
Nareed
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 301
Posts: 9766
Quote: kenarman
I am with you on this Nareed. I have given up on using Allegiant for my Las Vegas trips the multiple add-ons drive me crazy and I have gone back to using Air Canada even though it is about $100.00 more. At some point you need to take a stand or you end up getting what you are promoting by always buying the absolute lowest cost item, air fare and other products. Doing so just ends up producing inferior products in the end.


I appreciate low fares. a lot. But I also love to fly, and I want the experience to be pleasant. I recall many trips in my childhood where the highlight was the plane ride, not the vacation itself. I won't reminisce, but I do recall how much more pleasant things were back then. I understand if airlines will reduce prices, something has to give. Unfortunately flying now, even on a good airline like Interjet, is not as nice as it used to be.

I'm a firm believer in progress. I think most people want things to get better. And overall I think things keep getting better. I've mentioned flying economy is the exception, because a large majority has traded lower fares for a less pleasant experience.

But that's only part of the explanation. Ironically a part of it is progress. planes have grown more fuel-efficient and capable of longer ranges. This means passengers now have the opportunity to be cramped tighter in a smaller plane for a longer time. Whereas in the 80s a flight of 5 hours or more demanded either a wide body jet or a refueling stop, today many such flights can be handled by a narrow body plane. I've mentioned before how this changes the experience, even if the seats are no less roomy than in a wide body.
If Trump where half as smart as he thinks he is, he'd be twice as smart as he really is.
November 5th, 2015 at 8:20:21 AM permalink
boymimbo
Member since: Mar 25, 2013
Threads: 5
Posts: 610
Quote: Nareed
Another conclusion is that business class is the new first class. Or more accurately better than what first class was in the 80s and 90s.


Business class is populated by those with money and those with upgrade capability (business travelers on the company dime with frequent flier benefits). Really, for the major US carriers, business class is all about the frequent fliers and not those with money. This is why business class has been deteriorating on airlines. There are not a lot of paid dollars going there but plenty of loyalty perks going which does not help the bottom line. Economy plus is another way for business travels to have a bit of an edge over the general public because they can get into these slightly better seats for free based on their status.

You will never see a business class traveler on the ultra low costs because first, it is difficult to expense your corporate account for all of the various nickel and dime fees, and the booking agents won't book an unreliable airline with fees for everything. This takes away an important revenue stream for them which is why they have to squeeze every nook and cranny out of you in order to stay competitive.

For business travelers, "first" class is not as easy to obtain as it used to be because they are really saving that experience for paying customers first. But still, an empty seat is an empty seat but in general, a free upgrade to first is difficult to obtain. Rather, they are sold at checkin as an upgrade option or you can use points to get a first class ticket.

In my years of travelling, I have seen it more difficult to get premium seating for free as a business traveler, and I have seen the quality of economy decrease but has stabilized. On domestic, free meals disappeared many years ago, and the soft drink and snack has been the standard now for at least 10 years now. If anything entertainment options have increased but they are pay (wireless, internet) and the move to seat-back TVs have mostly stopped figuring that a wireless option is revenue generating and far less expensive to install. Surfing from 35K is very meaningful to me. Watching a crappy movie is not, and I don't miss the days of the above screen movie on the crappy TVs. Seat quality has generally stayed the same, and the remodel of planes have made the experience seem to be more roomier. Baggage fees are now the norm and I don't really have a problem with this as baggage adds to the weight of the plane and should be paid for.
November 5th, 2015 at 8:44:36 AM permalink
Pacomartin
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 636
Posts: 7249
Quote: boymimbo
. Seat quality has generally stayed the same, and the remodel of planes have made the experience seem to be more roomier.


They are going to remove the padding from the seats to be able to further reduce seat pitch. Also there is the 11 seats across configuration for the A380 and the ongoing discussion about "standing" or more like "perch" seats.

James Michener went to Spain about 1930 when he was in his early 20's. At the time it was his first trip to what was at the time, the third world. I remember his vivid descriptions of the hard wooden seats in the trains, and the raggedy passengers. He wrote two books about Spain in the 1960's at the beginning of package tours and the mass travel to Spain from northern Europe. Although the so called "sex tourism" business was not new to the elite of Northern Europe who had been doing the "Grand Tour" for centuries, it was now available to the masses, and to women. He described a Spanish banker who would grow a moustache and pretend to a gypsy to try and bang as many Swedish chicks as he could on his vacation. Then he would put his tie back on and go back to Madrid.

I always think of that book when I think of hard wooden seats.
November 5th, 2015 at 9:20:34 AM permalink
DRich
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 18
Posts: 597
Quote: Nareed

A better idea would be to put a en EFFING BIG BANNER AD when you book announcing a $13 discount per ticket per segment if you pay at the airport.


Why would that be a better idea?

I would think they would make less money if they advertised that. I also think it would add confusion because most people don't read the fine print and assume all fees are mandatory.
November 5th, 2015 at 9:48:14 AM permalink
Nareed
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 301
Posts: 9766
Quote: DRich
Why would that be a better idea?


For the customers.

Quote:
I would think they would make less money if they advertised that.


And that's what's wrong with my scenario.

Quote:
I also think it would add confusion because most people don't read the fine print and assume all fees are mandatory.


Ergo the BIG Effing Banner Ad, or some other thing you can't ignore. but, as you point out and as I know (this feels like bad exposition), it won't ever happen.
If Trump where half as smart as he thinks he is, he'd be twice as smart as he really is.
November 5th, 2015 at 10:05:20 AM permalink
Nareed
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 301
Posts: 9766
Quote: Pacomartin
I think they can legally call these optional fees. You can avoid the $15 by just not calling. You can avoid the $13 by going to a ticket center. But the ticket collection can be only done at what could be termed "destination airports" like Vegas or the ones in Florida. Most people are trying to fly to Vegas or Florida on this airline.


I think if it wasn't legal, some clever lawyer would have brought a class action suit already. No one's going to sue for $13 and damages, but a class action of ($13+damages)*(hundreds of thousands of passengers)/(contingency fee)=New Corporate Jet.
If Trump where half as smart as he thinks he is, he'd be twice as smart as he really is.
November 5th, 2015 at 10:42:04 AM permalink
Nareed
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 301
Posts: 9766
Quote: boymimbo
This is why business class has been deteriorating on airlines. There are not a lot of paid dollars going there but plenty of loyalty perks going which does not help the bottom line.


That's odd. This contradicts all I've been reading in the aviation blogs. Not just opinions, but also plenty of trip reports on various types of business class flights in different airlines.

As the European and Asian carriers are the top-notch in the business, most reports involve these airlines. Still, they do report on some US carriers. The impression I get is business class is quite good on these, but only in long-haul international flights and on transcontinental flights. IN particular AA gets favorable mention from around late 2014 for their new business class on the 777-300, for long-haul flights, and the A321T, for transcontinental ones (the T is an "unofficial" add-on by the airline; I think the plane is an A-321 ceo or neo).

I'm guessing business class on other routes might fall far behind. It would make sense as most such flights are on cookie-cutters (my nickname for the A320/B737 basic silhouette), or on regional jets which don't even belong to the legacy carriers anyway.

I've read only two or three reports of such flights. And one was definitely of a minor European airline.

But on short(er) flights, say up to 4.5 hours or so, lie-flat seats wouldn't get much use. A wider seat with good leg room and more recline would serve for a nap. A decline in service tells me the food and drinks aren't as good as one would expect on Business Class.
If Trump where half as smart as he thinks he is, he'd be twice as smart as he really is.
November 5th, 2015 at 11:42:17 AM permalink
Pacomartin
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 636
Posts: 7249
Quote: Nareed
And that's what's wrong with my scenario.


Well Nareed is correct. Obviously you could built these costs into the base price and give people discounts, but the whole purpose is to be able to advertise an artificially low price. Many news articles write about the fee drive business models, but they prefer to concentrate on relatively easy things like charging to select a seat, charging for water, and charging $100 to bring a bag at the last minute.

Some of the things are sneaky. For instance most standardized carry on bags were designed for decades to have a 22" container with the wheels sticking below that and the handle above. The airline changes the requirement so that the 22" have to include the wheels and handle. So the customer who paid $30 fee for a carry on bag, must now have his bag confiscated and is now changed $100 because he is checking a bag with no prior notice. Customers often complain that they have been using the bag as carry on for over a decade with no incidents.

Sure it's in the fine print, but as Nareed says that deserves a big EFFING banner.

But this "Electronic Carrier Usage Charge" which is a fee to pay on the internet is just pushing the bounds of reasonableness. For many older people to pay a fee to talk to an agent or to print a boarding pass is just crazy.

But for someone who lives in Vegas and is permitted to pay for the ticket at the airport and who can pack some underwear and socks in a briefcase an overnight trip is incredibly cheap. The only problem is that Allegiant most flies to podunk airports that are near nothing. Flying to the Canadian border for mountain climbing and or skiing is an exception, but you probably need to carry some gear that will cost you a fortune in fees.
November 5th, 2015 at 12:42:49 PM permalink
Nareed
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 301
Posts: 9766
Quote: Pacomartin
Well Nareed is correct. Obviously you could built these costs into the base price and give people discounts, but the whole purpose is to be able to advertise an artificially low price.


You could advertise "Fares as low as $500" and in subatomic print "with full discounts." Then you go on the site and see the fare for $750, and perhaps whittle it down to $615 or so. No one will pay only $500, but it would be possible.

This is still wrong, as generations of advertising have established you advertise "Fares starting at $500."

Quote:
Many news articles write about the fee drive business models, but they prefer to concentrate on relatively easy things like charging to select a seat, charging for water, and charging $100 to bring a bag at the last minute.


I saw a rather realistic satirical safety card for Ryanair which showed payment required to operate the emergency exits and to make the oxygen flow in the emergency oxygen masks.

Naturally no government will ever let an airline do this. But I wonder how many have thought about it.

They could sneak it in one of these "optional" fees. "Flight safety surcharge," "Oxygen provision fee," Something like that.

Quote:
Sure it's in the fine print, but as Nareed says that deserves a big EFFING banner.


Niven's Law. If you have nothing to say, say it anyway you want. If you have something important to say, say it clearly and make sure you're understood. Or words to that effect. In this case "clearly" means also easily visible, not buried under fine print somewhere.
If Trump where half as smart as he thinks he is, he'd be twice as smart as he really is.
November 5th, 2015 at 1:50:52 PM permalink
Nareed
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 301
Posts: 9766
Quote: boymimbo
On domestic, free meals disappeared many years ago, and the soft drink and snack has been the standard now for at least 10 years now.


Some airlines are starting to charge fees even for that.

Quote:
If anything entertainment options have increased but they are pay (wireless, internet)


That has garnered mixed reviews. I expect a slow connection when it's shared among many people, but some stories I read about in-flight WiFi make S-L-O-W seem like light speed. I wouldn't mind web surfing during a plane ride, but if I'll spend half an hour trying to download a blog post and then give up in exasperation, then not so much.

Quote:
Watching a crappy movie is not, and I don't miss the days of the above screen movie on the crappy TVs.


You don't remember actual projectors overhead and silver screens on the bulkhead?

It wasn't film, BTW, but projected video.


Quote:
Seat quality has generally stayed the same, and the remodel of planes have made the experience seem to be more roomier.


"seem" is exactly right. The seats are ok, but much too close together. Ergo the epidemic of devices to block seats from reclining, and of fights on board over someone reclining their seat.

And I'm sure some of the Dark Age torture devices passing for aircraft "seating" you see now and then will be implemented eventually. Some startup ultra-ultra-ultra-lowest-possible-cost will try it sooner or later. And if people pay for it, many of the lemmings in the industry will follow.

Quote:
Baggage fees are now the norm and I don't really have a problem with this as baggage adds to the weight of the plane and should be paid for.


They were always paid for. But they were included in the ticket price and therefore "complimentary."

What happened, IMO, when most airlines began to charge for bags, was that it was seen as easier than raising fares. There is an overall downward trend in prices, yes, but they can and do fluctuate up sometimes. In the food industry you take out some 10% of a package's contents and leave the price unchanged. Many people seem to resent that less than a straight price hike.

One thing I've joked about but which is true, is that airlines have always elicited dissatisfaction from the public. In the 80s there were meals and no bag fees, but people complained about airline food and lost bags. Delays are timeless.
If Trump where half as smart as he thinks he is, he'd be twice as smart as he really is.
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