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The Suck that is Flying in America





quex
Continental is an American airline. They fly nationally and internationally to Europe and Asia, and have a reputation (from the 70s and 80s, I believe) of being a higher-class company with special amenities available to their guests.

And now, they suck. Three days to utterly fail to get a passenger from one state to another, on what should have been a ~6 hour straight flight. And they killed a dog in the cargo hold. And they're fond of just generally being ****** to people.

It's not just Continental; most American airlines suck like this. They lose things, and not just your baggage. They have lost the passports of passengers at the front desk, lost pets on the tarmac, even lost children (temporarily) and sent them to the wrong cities.

Having flown Japanese airlines (JAL and ANA), it seems that these problems are nonexistent, at least in Japan. Japanese friends, having heard my horror stories about American flights, seem incredulous. They tell me that they have never been treated so poorly by an airline, even visiting China, South Korea, India, the Phillipines... the only snags seem to be weather delays and the rare security alert.

So I ask you, the international community of Frihost, what is your experience in the air? Is it just as bad in Europe, in Australia, elsewhere? Or are these sorts of failures normal everywhere? Would you lose patience with an airline for the transgressions above, or are you used to them? o.o?
Afaceinthematrix
One thing you have to remember (and this isn't excusing poor behavior - but it does help explain it) is that over the past few years, increased oil prices and less customers have decreased airline revenue. This has had many effects that explain the things that you're complaining about.

1) It has caused costs to rise and benefits to decrease. This leads to things such as charging customers to check luggage, not serving food on the plane (they don't even serve cheap bags of peanuts anymore!), etc. This obviously is a decrease in customer service and will create unhappy customers.

2) It may also cause a decrease in routes. This makes it harder to get customers to their location when they miss a plane, there is a delay, cancellation, etc.

3) It may also increase layoffs. This is the best and most acceptable explanation. More mistakes will happen when they are short staffed. That is the most acceptable thing in my book. I understand that if they cannot afford to hire as many employees, not as much can be done.

4) Finally, you will have pissed off employees. I remember talking to a Delta flight attendant once who seemed irritable. I mentioned that she didn't seem like the cheerful people that used to work on the planes. Her response was, "You try being cheerful when you just found out that your salary is significantly being reduced, your benefits are being cut, etc." If you piss off your employees, you cannot expect them to work as well.

Now I am not excusing the employees who fit in category four. I think that some of them should be fired and have their jobs given to unemployed people who would work hard simply because they need a job... But I do understand that productivity will be reduced some if wages and benefits are cut...
quex
Afaceinthematrix wrote:
One thing you have to remember (and this isn't excusing poor behavior - but it does help explain it) is that over the past few years, increased oil prices and less customers have decreased airline revenue. This has had many effects that explain the things that you're complaining about.

1) It has caused costs to rise and benefits to decrease. This leads to things such as charging customers to check luggage, not serving food on the plane (they don't even serve cheap bags of peanuts anymore!), etc. This obviously is a decrease in customer service and will create unhappy customers


Southwest airlines still lets customers check 2 bags for free, still serves peanuts (or pretzels if you prefer), and has free soft drinks, juice, and water. They are turning a multi-billion dollar profit, including all years since 2001. With this example amidst all the crappiness, I'm pretty sure there is a major flaw in the management of other (older, wider-spread) US airline companies. I strongly believe they didn't raise amenity prices because it was the last thing they could do to remain solvent; it was just the easiest thing to do.

Quote:

2) It may also cause a decrease in routes. This makes it harder to get customers to their location when they miss a plane, there is a delay, cancellation, etc.


The number of delays and cancellations increases exponentially when the airlines overbook ALL of their flights. This is now standard policy in most major US airlines, and it makes me mad as hell. If you have 200 seats, sell 200 seats. Don't sell 210 seats, and then force 10 people off the plane. Seriously.

Quote:

3) It may also increase layoffs. This is the best and most acceptable explanation. More mistakes will happen when they are short staffed. That is the most acceptable thing in my book. I understand that if they cannot afford to hire as many employees, not as much can be done.

4) Finally, you will have pissed off employees. I remember talking to a Delta flight attendant once who seemed irritable. I mentioned that she didn't seem like the cheerful people that used to work on the planes. Her response was, "You try being cheerful when you just found out that your salary is significantly being reduced, your benefits are being cut, etc." If you piss off your employees, you cannot expect them to work as well.


Agreed, and agreed. But I still don't believe all the layoffs are as necessary as the company tries to pretend they are... clean up your routes, your schedules, and your lineup of pilots. Thee is no excuse for analogue solutions like "raise rates" and "fire people" when your company has as malleable a system as a travel network. Why don't they work the information harder? Grrr!
Xanify
I've never understood why US airlines overbook seats. Everywhere else it's a straight-up numbers game - if you buy a ticket, you have a seat, and if there are no seats available there are no more tickets for sale. Simple and efficient.
ocalhoun
Another problem may be the close relationship airline companies have had with the government.
If a business model includes subsidies, special deals, and bailouts, it will usually dull their competitive edge, by softening the effects of failure.


Xanify wrote:
I've never understood why US airlines overbook seats. Everywhere else it's a straight-up numbers game - if you buy a ticket, you have a seat, and if there are no seats available there are no more tickets for sale. Simple and efficient.

Well, that is simple, but it actually is less efficient- on average, every flight will have a number of tickets sold that passengers don't fill.

From the airline's perspective, it is much more efficient if they are able to fill those empty seats, especially if it actually means they can sell more seats than they have.

Usually, this works out fine because they have a margin of error built in, but if they cut the numbers too closely or get unlucky, problems can occur.
quex
Xanify wrote:
I've never understood why US airlines overbook seats. Everywhere else it's a straight-up numbers game - if you buy a ticket, you have a seat, and if there are no seats available there are no more tickets for sale. Simple and efficient.


SERIOUSLY, this point exactly. Are there any other nations/regions where they overbook? Like, in Europe, do they overbook the trains? Or anything anywhere?
quex
ocalhoun wrote:
Another problem may be the close relationship airline companies have had with the government.
If a business model includes subsidies, special deals, and bailouts, it will usually dull their competitive edge, by softening the effects of failure.


Xanify wrote:
I've never understood why US airlines overbook seats. Everywhere else it's a straight-up numbers game - if you buy a ticket, you have a seat, and if there are no seats available there are no more tickets for sale. Simple and efficient.

Well, that is simple, but it actually is less efficient- on average, every flight will have a number of tickets sold that passengers don't fill.

From the airline's perspective, it is much more efficient if they are able to fill those empty seats, especially if it actually means they can sell more seats than they have.

Usually, this works out fine because they have a margin of error built in, but if they cut the numbers too closely or get unlucky, problems can occur.


I think they really need to recalculate their margins, then... in this age of air travel with all the costs involved in securing a ticket AND the horrible price to change a reservation, who really misses their flight anymore? I think the percentage of the population with that kind of cash tends to fly on private jets. -_-
ocalhoun
quex wrote:

I think they really need to recalculate their margins, then... in this age of air travel with all the costs involved in securing a ticket AND the horrible price to change a reservation, who really misses their flight anymore? I think the percentage of the population with that kind of cash tends to fly on private jets. -_-

They are playing the numbers too closely, which results in problems. Of course, they'll use their 'dire financial situations' to justify this, without ever considering that improving service might also improve income.

Most missed flights are not intentional though. Your car might have broken down, you might have gotten sick and gone to the clinic instead, your connecting flight might be late -- making you miss the next one, et cetera.
quex
ocalhoun wrote:

Most missed flights are not intentional though. Your car might have broken down, you might have gotten sick and gone to the clinic instead, your connecting flight might be late -- making you miss the next one, et cetera.


I had forgotten these situations entirely. -_-; I beg your pardon.
deanhills
I don't think this problem is limited to the United States however, British Airways had serious complaints as well:
http://www.consumeraffairs.com/news04/2009/04/british_airways_suit.html

It seems to be a real problem in Europe too and the European Union seems to think it needs to beef up its regulations:
http://uk.reuters.com/article/idUKLNE56R01320090728

I sometimes find that one of the reasons why Airlines are getting away with this is because of complacency of passengers. I remember when this happened to me with Kenya Airlines two years ago, I had to line up behind quite a large line of people, and they were just taking it in their stride. I could not believe their complacency about the problem.
Triple_7
The mainline "Legacy" carriers in the US have became downright pathetic over the years. I've flown over 31,000 miles with 5 airlines, though 3 of them no longer exist, on 23 separate flights.

First flights were with Continental going and Northwest return in 1998, but I was to young and excited to fly to really care what service was like. Second flights were by myself in 1999 with TWA, again, to young and that time being well taken care of since I was an "unaccompanied minor"...they even had a room at the St. Louis airport on my return trip where all us kids could play games, and pig out on pop/snacks galore during our layovers Cool ...highly doubt you would find that now. But wasn't young enough to forget all the duct tape flapping in the wind on the wings on all 4 flights (and it was actually duct tape, not aviation tape)...and the rivets rattling around on the engines of the little 18 seater J-31 turboprop between Fort Wayne, Indiana and STL...the only time I've been nervous while flying. Embarassed

But on my own and old enough to be in control on my next flights in 2003, 2006, and 2009 I really noticed how quickly service declined.

Northwest Airlines in 03 round trip Fort Wayne, Indiana to Anchorage Alaska...not bad, checked in with a human at the counter, friendly service, snacks, decent meals, good drink service...actually got bumped up front about halfway through the flight from Anchorage to Detroit, red eye with an annoying little brat kicking my seat for 3 hours while mommy did nothing to stop him, finally when I had a foot kick me in the face I flagged down an attendant, she was happy to search for another seat, lucky for me the only one left was in first class Laughing

American Airlines in 06 round trip Fort Wayne to Los Angeles...again, check in with humans, drink service a little more limited but full selection, still got a snack on all flights, plagued by delays causing a nightmare trying to connect with my other flights. Used Malaysia Airlines for LAX to Taipei, Taiwan and return...they had wonderful service, great food, flight attendants constantly patrolled the isles, with a simple wave of a hand they were instantly at your service, always friendly, could get a drink or snack anytime you wanted and it was free....the only thing they lacked was their seats where the most uncomfortable and crammed I've ever had, not good when each flight was 14.5 hours nonstop...seats are the only reason I will never fly with them again...I mean..come on...its a 747, take a few rows out and give us some leg room in economy Brick wall

American Airlines again in 09...round trip Fort Wayne to Oklahoma City, return departing from Tulsa instead. 2 flights going and 3 returning...FWA is known for its friendly staff, I always feel relaxed departing and feel like I'm home when I arrive back there. Not that cold February morning...first flight of the day, walked up to the AA counter to check in, was met by a rude women who didn't speak a word to me when I gave her my itinerary, just pointed over to the do it yourself kiosk Mad Service sucked royally on these flights, no more little snacks on any of the flights, only one drink per flight, the shorter 3 flights offered only water, used to get the full selection. Worst was the flight on my return leg from Dallas to Chicago, didn't help my seat mate was a real @#$%@#$ Rolling Eyes Be warned if you ever take flight 2350, typically operated with their 777-200 aircraft as it continues on to London from O'Hare under a different flight number...if flagging down a flight attendant for a second drink while in economy...make sure its NOT the white haired women, noticeably the one with her nose so high in the air she just looks like a stuck up #$%@$....from what I've heard she works this flight a lot....you will get your head bit off and not get your Pepsi Rolling Eyes

Having only experienced one international airline its hard to really judge the differences, for a long haul Malaysia was well worth the money for the service quality, just needs better seat comfort. But being an aviation nut I tend to read a lot of articles about different airlines US and international. Some good reviews, some bad...the latest one kinda shocked me though, it was talking about Qantas and the economy seating on their new A380 jumbos, for being the largest passenger jet in the world they packed the seats in so tight their standard economy seats have less leg room then Southwest Airlines here in the US Shocked That's just insane, a legacy carrier with less comfort then a low cost airline, should be the other way around. I've heard here in the US most of the few low cost carriers actually have a lot better service and comfort then the mainlines...really proves, pay more...get less........All I know is next time I head for Taiwan I'm using some of my AA miles and bumping myself into business class for the long hauls...I don't mind economy for domestic flights but I'm never taking another long haul cramped like that again Confused Its just shocking how in 6 years the service went from great, to mediocre, to pathetic Crying or Very sad
deanhills
Triple_7 wrote:
I don't mind economy for domestic flights but I'm never taking another long haul cramped like that again Confused Its just shocking how in 6 years the service went from great, to mediocre, to pathetic Crying or Very sad
Excellent point. Thanks for the long post. In your opinion, which Airline would you recommend for flying in the US, in spite of all the shortcomings? Would you recommend American Airlines for example?
Triple_7
From what reviews I've heard Southwest and Frontier are pretty nice, I can't verify that as I've not flown them, I tend to use Fort Wayne, Indiana as my departure/arrival airport, the only low cost carrier that services them is Allegiant Air to a couple Florida destinations and one South Carolina...Have no idea what the service is like with them...I could go down to Indianapolis and use Southwest or Frontier but the savings are not worth it, usually only $100 difference in round trip ticket prices but it means a 3 hour drive one way...FWA is less then an hour away from me.

Northwest had great service, but since they have now became Delta I have no idea what they are like, plus its been 7 years since I last used them. Their CRJ-200's that still serve with Delta are cramped though, I've grown probably a foot since that trip and they were uncomfortable back then.

I would recommend American if going economy, service on board sucks these days but for comfort factor they have about the best, but there's a trend...I've been on just about every aircraft type they currently fly, seems like the smaller the aircraft the better the comfort...I'm about 6 foot tall and long legs, comfort is everything to me over service unless its a short flight.

Flown on their 50 seat ERJ-145's 4 times now and the seats are surprisingly roomy, plus if traveling by yourself they are in a 1-2 layout meaning if you reserve your seats you can sit alone instead of having a seat mate.

Their MD-82/83's are also quite nice for older aircraft, I like the 2-3 layout, only one seatmate instead of 2 on a full flight. Seats are fairly wide too, leg room is decent, didn't feel cramped at all.

The 737-800's were about the same comfort as the MD-80's...little less leg room but not restricting.

757-200's decent leg room, wider seats, but 3-3 seating your stuck with 2 people on a full flight.

777-200ER...I was disappointed, largest aircraft in the fleet but the most cramped seats. Only plus side was the 2-5-2 seating instead of the usual 3-3-3 that most airlines have on the 777...But the seats seemed narrow, leg room sucked, there was an equipment box under there taking up a ton of foot space, and its hard to find a window seat in economy that isn't mis-aligned, the seat i was in I had 2 windows, but one you had to lean forward pretty far to look out, and the other was a little to far back and so meant kinda half turning around to look out unless reclined. I would never travel long haul in economy with this aircraft, that flight was only 2.5 hours...but one thing is they do have since its usually a long haul aircraft is the personal TV's, didn't really get to enjoy it for long or check out all the features but it helped pass time none the less.

There's a handy little website I found a few years ago, they have expanded to include many airlines world wide... www.seatguru.com Find your airline, select the aircraft type, you can get the low down on different seats by browsing over the seating map...helpful, I like window seats, this site will tell you if there's a window missing in a row, seats that don't recline, mainly found on aircraft with AVOD systems (Personal TV's) there is usually equipment boxes under some seats, those things take a lot of your foot space...lets you know certain rows may be bothered by the restrooms/galleys/engine noise...also larger aircraft the rear of the plane curves inward, but many airlines instead of taking seats out just make them even more narrow and cramped, will tell you where bassinet locations are where people with babies will most likely be...all kinds of information and updated regularly...One thing to look for is sometimes there is more then one layout for an aircraft type...easiest way to find out which one you need is to look at the seating map on the booking website for that flight, see how many rows there are, then use seatguru to pick which one you will be on.

Like with an American 737-800...there are 2 versions, version 1 only has 28 rows, version 2 has 30 rows...version 1 economy has a little extra leg room.
quex
Triple_7 wrote:
From what reviews I've heard Southwest and Frontier are pretty nice,


Southwest is famous for getting it right. They have streamlined their routes and internal processes, and it shows. All they fly are 737s. They don't serve meals, but soft drinks are free and there's no charge for your first two checked bags, nor for a carry-on. Only problem is they don't fly internationally.

Quote:
Northwest had great service, but since they have now became Delta I have no idea what they are like


Sucky, and with one of the worst delayed/canceled records for 2009.

Quote:
I would recommend American if going economy, service on board sucks these days but for comfort factor they have about the best, but there's a trend...I've been on just about every aircraft type they currently fly, seems like the smaller the aircraft the better the comfort...I'm about 6 foot tall and long legs, comfort is everything to me over service unless its a short flight.

Flown on their 50 seat ERJ-145's 4 times now and the seats are surprisingly roomy, plus if traveling by yourself they are in a 1-2 layout meaning if you reserve your seats you can sit alone instead of having a seat mate.

Their MD-82/83's are also quite nice for older aircraft, I like the 2-3 layout, only one seatmate instead of 2 on a full flight. Seats are fairly wide too, leg room is decent, didn't feel cramped at all.

The 737-800's were about the same comfort as the MD-80's...little less leg room but not restricting.

757-200's decent leg room, wider seats, but 3-3 seating your stuck with 2 people on a full flight.

777-200ER...I was disappointed, largest aircraft in the fleet but the most cramped seats. Only plus side was the 2-5-2 seating instead of the usual 3-3-3 that most airlines have on the 777...But the seats seemed narrow, leg room sucked, there was an equipment box under there taking up a ton of foot space, and its hard to find a window seat in economy that isn't mis-aligned, the seat i was in I had 2 windows, but one you had to lean forward pretty far to look out, and the other was a little to far back and so meant kinda half turning around to look out unless reclined. I would never travel long haul in economy with this aircraft, that flight was only 2.5 hours...but one thing is they do have since its usually a long haul aircraft is the personal TV's, didn't really get to enjoy it for long or check out all the features but it helped pass time none the less.

There's a handy little website I found a few years ago, they have expanded to include many airlines world wide... www.seatguru.com Find your airline, select the aircraft type, you can get the low down on different seats by browsing over the seating map...helpful, I like window seats, this site will tell you if there's a window missing in a row, seats that don't recline, mainly found on aircraft with AVOD systems (Personal TV's) there is usually equipment boxes under some seats, those things take a lot of your foot space...lets you know certain rows may be bothered by the restrooms/galleys/engine noise...also larger aircraft the rear of the plane curves inward, but many airlines instead of taking seats out just make them even more narrow and cramped, will tell you where bassinet locations are where people with babies will most likely be...all kinds of information and updated regularly...One thing to look for is sometimes there is more then one layout for an aircraft type...easiest way to find out which one you need is to look at the seating map on the booking website for that flight, see how many rows there are, then use seatguru to pick which one you will be on.

Like with an American 737-800...there are 2 versions, version 1 only has 28 rows, version 2 has 30 rows...version 1 economy has a little extra leg room.


Wow, cool breakdown. Thanks for the info and the advice! :D I will be referencing this post (and seatguru) next time I buy tickets.
ocalhoun
Triple_7 wrote:
From what reviews I've heard Southwest and Frontier are pretty nice,

Frontier is my favorite airline. (When available, because the routes they fly are very limited.)

They're not extra-luxurious, but they are very competitively priced, and they have an atmosphere of an airline run the way it should be; taking good care of customers in order to get repeat business. Instead of playing tricks with people, other companies, or the government, they seem intent on being the best simply by being the best.
They also have different animals on the tail of each plane ^.^
Afaceinthematrix
quex wrote:
Southwest airlines still lets customers check 2 bags for free, still serves peanuts (or pretzels if you prefer), and has free soft drinks, juice, and water. They are turning a multi-billion dollar profit, including all years since 2001. With this example amidst all the crappiness, I'm pretty sure there is a major flaw in the management of other (older, wider-spread) US airline companies. I strongly believe they didn't raise amenity prices because it was the last thing they could do to remain solvent; it was just the easiest thing to do.


I've been watching the price of airline tickets over the past few weeks and have seen that Southwest has consistently been more expensive than many of the competitors. The price of those peanuts and checked luggage has to be put somewhere so it is either in your ticket fee or in a separate cost. So personally, I prefer paying for it separately because why would I want it included in the cost of my ticket if I don't want to check luggage or eat some crappy peanuts?

Furthermore, Southwest is profitable right now so they have the advantage with customer service because they have money to spend on it. It's a little hard to tell a struggling company (and its investors) that they have to put themselves even farther into the hole just to be able to (maybe) work their way out.

Quote:
The number of delays and cancellations increases exponentially when the airlines overbook ALL of their flights. This is now standard policy in most major US airlines, and it makes me mad as hell. If you have 200 seats, sell 200 seats. Don't sell 210 seats, and then force 10 people off the plane. Seriously.


I agree. Although it's seen as lost profit if no one is sitting in a seat. And usually they treat you quite well if you're willing to give up your seat. You may be upgraded to first class on a later flight, given a discount, given another free ticket, or all/some of the above.

Quote:
Agreed, and agreed. But I still don't believe all the layoffs are as necessary as the company tries to pretend they are... clean up your routes, your schedules, and your lineup of pilots. Thee is no excuse for analogue solutions like "raise rates" and "fire people" when your company has as malleable a system as a travel network. Why don't they work the information harder? Grrr!


It is not always as easy as you make it sound. If it was, it would have been done a long time ago. These aren't exactly idiots running the company and they do have many other things to work around... Some of them are unexpected fuel costs (it seems to be impossible to predict prices even six months from now and unfortunately, many flights are booked at least that far in advance), weather, mechanical problems, last minute cancellations, etc.
quex
Afaceinthematrix wrote:
I've been watching the price of airline tickets over the past few weeks and have seen that Southwest has consistently been more expensive than many of the competitors.


Show me this. As of the time of posting, I've got a one-way, nonstop flight from St. Louis to Los Angeles on August 15th for $199 on the Southwest site, not using the special "DING!" service, which can find even lower fares but requires a sign-up. The fee includes checked 2 bags and carry-ons (one bag plus personal item, I'm sure you know the drill), and comes to a grand total of $209.70 with all gov't fees and taxes applied. There are no fuel surcharges. If you can find a better price on the same flight, please show me how.

Quote:
The price of those peanuts and checked luggage has to be put somewhere so it is either in your ticket fee or in a separate cost. So personally, I prefer paying for it separately because why would I want it included in the cost of my ticket if I don't want to check luggage or eat some crappy peanuts?


Most people (those who intend to spend more than two nights at a location) need to check luggage. And even if you don't, do you really want to spend several hours on a plane with a bunch of people who have overstuffed their carry-on luggage to avoid checking a bag at a fee? Woe unto you if you hit turbulence and the overhead compartments pop. Or if the fat lady sitting next to you has to pull out all the underwear in her bag to reach her asthma meds on the bottom. As for peanuts... you seem to be forgetting that they are only one part of the free drink service, which most people also very much appreciate, as the air in the pressurized plane is dry by nature.

Quote:
And usually they treat you quite well if you're willing to give up your seat. You may be upgraded to first class on a later flight, given a discount, given another free ticket, or all/some of the above.


This is only true in an actual surrender-your-seat situation, where you volunteer to be moved to another flight. If your original flight was canceled due to inclement weather, airlines are not legally obligated to provide you with any compensation, upgrades, or even a seat on the next flight out. If you miss your connecting flight due to another airline's delay, same deal. (Actually, they don't even have to honor your ticket, period, but most will try to get you there somehow.)

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It is not always as easy as you make it sound. If it was, it would have been done a long time ago. These aren't exactly idiots running the company


I think you overestimate the intelligence of groupthink in the modern corporation.

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they do have many other things to work around... Some of them are unexpected fuel costs (it seems to be impossible to predict prices even six months from now and unfortunately, many flights are booked at least that far in advance)


The actual number of flights booked "at least six months in advance" is roughly 5~8 percent, depending upon the country, according to the DOT database. The vast majority (70 to 79%) of flights are booked less than one month in advance; that's plenty of time to forecast fuel prices for the mainstay of your customer activity... but why do something like that, requiring data and algorithms for optimization? "We, the big companies, have never done that before! It sounds new and hard to understand - we don't like it!"

Sadly, when it comes to using data to improve your model, the biggest, oldest names in the business always seem to be the furthest behind.
Afaceinthematrix
quex wrote:
Show me this. As of the time of posting, I've got a one-way, nonstop flight from St. Louis to Los Angeles on August 15th for $199 on the Southwest site, not using the special "DING!" service, which can find even lower fares but requires a sign-up. The fee includes checked 2 bags and carry-ons (one bag plus personal item, I'm sure you know the drill), and comes to a grand total of $209.70 with all gov't fees and taxes applied. There are no fuel surcharges. If you can find a better price on the same flight, please show me how.


I said that, on average, prices for Southwest are slightly higher than other airlines. Of course you can sometimes find single flights where they are cheaper. But look at many different flights over the course of many weeks and you'll find that most of the time Southwest is not the cheapest.


Quote:
Most people (those who intend to spend more than two nights at a location) need to check luggage. And even if you don't, do you really want to spend several hours on a plane with a bunch of people who have overstuffed their carry-on luggage to avoid checking a bag at a fee? Woe unto you if you hit turbulence and the overhead compartments pop. Or if the fat lady sitting next to you has to pull out all the underwear in her bag to reach her asthma meds on the bottom. As for peanuts... you seem to be forgetting that they are only one part of the free drink service, which most people also very much appreciate, as the air in the pressurized plane is dry by nature.


The airplane is dry so you'd want peanuts that will make you more thirsty?

And most people do need to check luggage, but that is their problem and should be their expense. The overstuffed carry-on bags are taken care of by setting limits as to what sizes can be carried on. There are rules for that.

The last several times that I've left the country I have not checked luggage. I am not high-maintenance and so I do not need to pack everything under the sun. So why should I pay for YOU to check YOUR luggage? Furthermore, why should I pay for YOUR peanuts when I'm not going to eat any?

Quote:

This is only true in an actual surrender-your-seat situation, where you volunteer to be moved to another flight. If your original flight was canceled due to inclement weather, airlines are not legally obligated to provide you with any compensation, upgrades, or even a seat on the next flight out. If you miss your connecting flight due to another airline's delay, same deal. (Actually, they don't even have to honor your ticket, period, but most will try to get you there somehow.)


And they should be penalized for another airline being delayed why? That should be the responsibility of the airline that has delays.

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I think you overestimate the intelligence of groupthink in the modern corporation.


They aren't rocket scientists but they know the basics of keeping a company running...

Quote:

The actual number of flights booked "at least six months in advance" is roughly 5~8 percent, depending upon the country, according to the DOT database. The vast majority (70 to 79%) of flights are booked less than one month in advance; that's plenty of time to forecast fuel prices for the mainstay of your customer activity...


Yes but when ticket prices rise because of fuel costs and other costs people bitch about it... So when they try to keep ticket prices about the same and then cut costs other places, people like you still bitch about it... So what are you supposed to do?
ocalhoun
Afaceinthematrix wrote:

Quote:

The actual number of flights booked "at least six months in advance" is roughly 5~8 percent, depending upon the country, according to the DOT database. The vast majority (70 to 79%) of flights are booked less than one month in advance; that's plenty of time to forecast fuel prices for the mainstay of your customer activity...


Yes but when ticket prices rise because of fuel costs and other costs people bitch about it... So when they try to keep ticket prices about the same and then cut costs other places, people like you still bitch about it... So what are you supposed to do?

It's a good thing.
'Bitching about it' makes sure the airlines keep total prices as low as possible.
A well-run airline will try to reduce bitching as much as possible while still staying profitable... It's a difficult job, but that's why they can make money at it. If it was easy, everyone would do it.
quex
Afaceinthematrix wrote:

I said that, on average, prices for Southwest are slightly higher than other airlines. Of course you can sometimes find single flights where they are cheaper. But look at many different flights over the course of many weeks and you'll find that most of the time Southwest is not the cheapest.


I understand how averages work; if I had the time, I would gladly have established a sample set and run numbers for you. Assuming that neither of us had such free time on our hands, I though to give you one example to refute. That price was the very first I looked for, and the dates and locations were entirely arbitrary. Over the course of a lifetime of flying to various places, I have found Southwest to be, on average, the most inexpensive airline to any of the contiguous states. Unless you can show me proof to the contrary, I remain unconvinced that what you claim is true.

Quote:
The airplane is dry so you'd want peanuts that will make you more thirsty?


The airplane is dry, so you'd want the free drinks to stay hydrated. Thought I made that clear.

Quote:
And most people do need to check luggage, but that is their problem and should be their expense.


I fail to see how this is a problem. People have been traveling with "stuff" since the dawn of humanity, and traveling with luggage since well before the invention of the steam engine, at least. Luggage has been entirely accepted as a necessary element of the transit of people on stage coaches, ships, trains, buses, cabs, and passenger planes. It is a poor argument to assert that luggage is suddenly a secondary service that passengers ought to pay for. In effect, this is a trap on the average passenger.

I would also like to remind you that modern airplanes are constructed with cargo holds that are distinctly divided from the passenger cabin. In fact, they are even designed to fly with a certain range of weight ratios between the two. Drastically cutting the ratio of cargo weight to passenger weight (or, worse, redistributing it all into the passenger compartment via stuffed-full carry on bags) cannot possibly be in harmony with these designs.

Quote:
The last several times that I've left the country I have not checked luggage. I am not high-maintenance and so I do not need to pack everything under the sun. So why should I pay for YOU to check YOUR luggage? Furthermore, why should I pay for YOUR peanuts when I'm not going to eat any?


How do you do this? Do you wear the same clothes for days at a time? Do you buy things at your destination and then throw them away? Or do you simply jet-set around everywhere and only stay a weekend? o_o I've pulled some pretty bare-bones trips out backpacking, but I will not sacrifice hygiene (soap and toothbrush) and clean clothes. I can hardly consider that anyone would consider this "high-maintenance". Coincidentally, for a one-week trip, I can fit everything I need into my pack... which is about two times the size of the maximum allowable carry-on.

I detect you have something against peanuts. In any case, I understand the core argument you are trying to make; that people should pay for what they use, and not for what they do not, on an individual basis. Now look at the fares of airlines that have classified checked luggage (and yes, even peanuts) as amenities. By your logic, passengers like yourself should be enjoying cheaper tickets on such airlines than on their counterparts that include free checked luggage and drink service... but they aren't. If your method of dividing costs was the one actually being used, I would agree with it (and enjoy it myself!), but this is entirely not the case. What you now pay on practically every airline is the median calculated fare that will bring in the optimum number of customers at the most profitable price per route. "Amenity" fees for luggage etc. are tacked on to that base number, providing bonuses on routes to popular destinations, where a majority of travelers intend to spend more time than they can pack for into a carry-on bag, and family destinations, where the overall volume of passengers and luggage will be inherently multiplied by 3 or more (parents + at least one kid).

Additionally, if it bothers you to pay for other people, you ought to know that depending upon the routes you are flying, your fare is likely going to cover the costs of other, longer flights to less popular destinations. It behooves an airline to establish as many routes as they can, even if one is, say, Texas to Saskatchewan, and the passenger demand is only about a dozen people per day (which is likely an exaggeration). Nevertheless, they want the route to appear a comprehensive airline with as many potential destinations as possible. Now, even for those dozen people needing to visit Saskachewan, dividing the total cost of the plane, fuel, crew, etc among them is far too high a price to successfully negotiate. So airlines lower the price and make only a small profit on these long-distance flights (or sometimes even take a loss), and make up for it by charging more (proportionally, on dollars-to-distance) on short, super-popular flights... like Chicago to New York, or DC to Florida. This is easily demonstrated by oneself: pick any airline, find their longest-distance flight, and divide the final price of the ticket by the number of miles traveled. Now do the same for a Chicago-DC flight. Surprised?

Quote:
And they should be penalized for another airline being delayed why? That should be the responsibility of the airline that has delays.


Agreed. But it's not. Not by law, anyway. This needs to be changed.

Quote:
They aren't rocket scientists but they know the basics of keeping a company running...


I still think you overestimate the intelligence of groupthink in the modern corporation. There is still a vast disconnect between the persons who fly the planes, see the passengers, etc, and those who write up the routes, set the prices, and watch their profit margins. One group knows the basics (or even the finer points) of doing what the company actually does (ie, get people somewhere on a plane), while the other knows the basics of selling the service and making money from it. There needs to be an understanding on the part of the money-makers of how the company serves and interacts with its customers. Otherwise, you get a stagnant company with a poor image... like most airlines in the US.

Quote:
Yes but when ticket prices rise because of fuel costs and other costs people bitch about it... So when they try to keep ticket prices about the same and then cut costs other places, people like you still bitch about it... So what are you supposed to do?


Well, first, you try to keep things civil. (Have I personally offended you somehow?) Then, as I said before, you work the information harder. There are dozens of ways to cut costs that do not involve bilking your passengers. Just improve your technology and streamline your workforce.

Why do they have a person standing at the kiosk to take your boarding pass from your hand, scan it on a platform directly in front of you, and then hand it back to your person? I can do that myself. Same with scanning my passport, weighing my luggage, attaching the tags, and taking it to the TSA X-ray machine. Why can't you assign routes and crew members on a schedule that updates monthly in response to traffic demands of the season and holiday, rather than establishing an 18-month route manifesto and sticking to it? Surely we can build a system to do that automatically. Upgrade your older planes with lighter-weight materials. Remove carpeting from the aisles and cockpit; you'll save a bit of weight depending upon the size of the plane, but cleaning up after passengers becomes much easier, faster, and efficient. Same with the upholstery - switch to a rubberzied or plasticized fabric (or polymer leather, even!) rather than that velvety crap. No more yearly detoxing of the passenger compartment with gas and pesticide to ensure all the nasty things trapped in the carpet and upholstery are dead. Distress your liquid waste storage at every airport, not just final destinations; it takes all of 20 minutes while the passengers are loading, and you don't need to waste fuel to carry around the weight of what is, quite literally, a tank of shit.

And, on another note, here is an example of a company (a Canadian one, you may note) doing it right:
Air Canada makes up for broken wheelchair by fulfilling a wish
quex
ocalhoun wrote:
A well-run airline will try to reduce bitching as much as possible while still staying profitable.


Nutshell'd! :D
mark1230
well what can i say i have never been on the flight.
And yes it might be a bad experience for you..any way from India to America a long ..journey for me,,i am not going to do it. Laughing
Afaceinthematrix
quex wrote:
Afaceinthematrix wrote:

I said that, on average, prices for Southwest are slightly higher than other airlines. Of course you can sometimes find single flights where they are cheaper. But look at many different flights over the course of many weeks and you'll find that most of the time Southwest is not the cheapest.


I understand how averages work; if I had the time, I would gladly have established a sample set and run numbers for you. Assuming that neither of us had such free time on our hands, I though to give you one example to refute. That price was the very first I looked for, and the dates and locations were entirely arbitrary. Over the course of a lifetime of flying to various places, I have found Southwest to be, on average, the most inexpensive airline to any of the contiguous states. Unless you can show me proof to the contrary, I remain unconvinced that what you claim is true.


Then you have not flown lately. The last four trips or so that I have flown (Wyoming, Minnesota, two trips to Oklahoma) found that SW was not the cheapest.

Quote:
The airplane is dry so you'd want peanuts that will make you more thirsty?


The airplane is dry, so you'd want the free drinks to stay hydrated. Thought I made that clear.[/quote]

And I told you that I don't usually want the "free" drinks. My mom usually doesn't want the "free" drinks. So I thought I made it perfectly clear that I have no desire to pay, in my ticket price, for YOUR drinks. That makes them free to you but I pay for them...

Quote:
Quote:
And most people do need to check luggage, but that is their problem and should be their expense.


I fail to see how this is a problem. People have been traveling with "stuff" since the dawn of humanity, and traveling with luggage since well before the invention of the steam engine, at least. Luggage has been entirely accepted as a necessary element of the transit of people on stage coaches, ships, trains, buses, cabs, and passenger planes. It is a poor argument to assert that luggage is suddenly a secondary service that passengers ought to pay for. In effect, this is a trap on the average passenger.


I would also like to remind you that modern airplanes are constructed with cargo holds that are distinctly divided from the passenger cabin. In fact, they are even designed to fly with a certain range of weight ratios between the two. Drastically cutting the ratio of cargo weight to passenger weight (or, worse, redistributing it all into the passenger compartment via stuffed-full carry on bags) cannot possibly be in harmony with these designs.


Again... Extra luggage costs the airlines more. I never check luggage and I have no desire to pay for your checked luggage. If an airline wants to give you free checked luggage, then are they going to give you a credit back if you don't check luggage? That's essentially what they're doing except that they give you the credit by default and then make you pay it back if you check...

And airlines know that many people will have to check luggage so the wait will be fine...

Quote:
The last several times that I've left the country I have not checked luggage. I am not high-maintenance and so I do not need to pack everything under the sun. So why should I pay for YOU to check YOUR luggage? Furthermore, why should I pay for YOUR peanuts when I'm not going to eat any?

How do you do this? Do you wear the same clothes for days at a time? Do you buy things at your destination and then throw them away? Or do you simply jet-set around everywhere and only stay a weekend? o_o I've pulled some pretty bare-bones trips out backpacking, but I will not sacrifice hygiene (soap and toothbrush) and clean clothes. I can hardly consider that anyone would consider this "high-maintenance". Coincidentally, for a one-week trip, I can fit everything I need into my pack... which is about two times the size of the maximum allowable carry-on.


Most of the time when I travel, I am backpacking and traveling to a minimum. Other times, I have used washing facilities at the hotel to wash myself and my clothes. And then I don't need to bring things like shampoo and toothpaste because often times they're the same price or cheaper at the location I'm going to. So why bother buying toothpaste at home just to pack it when I can just buy a small bottle there?

And then last time I went to the Bahamas I brought a small blanket (I slept on the surface of a boat the entire time), camera, and a swimsuit. I bought sunscreen and toothpaste/brush there. I didn't need clothes because I was basically in the water the entire time. And I only own one set of swim trunks so I can't have brought more than one. What else would I have needed?
Quote:

I detect you have something against peanuts. In any case, I understand the core argument you are trying to make; that people should pay for what they use, and not for what they do not, on an individual basis. Now look at the fares of airlines that have classified checked luggage (and yes, even peanuts) as amenities. By your logic, passengers like yourself should be enjoying cheaper tickets on such airlines than on their counterparts that include free checked luggage and drink service... but they aren't. If your method of dividing costs was the one actually being used, I would agree with it (and enjoy it myself!), but this is entirely not the case. What you now pay on practically every airline is the median calculated fare that will bring in the optimum number of customers at the most profitable price per route. "Amenity" fees for luggage etc. are tacked on to that base number, providing bonuses on routes to popular destinations, where a majority of travelers intend to spend more time than they can pack for into a carry-on bag, and family destinations, where the overall volume of passengers and luggage will be inherently multiplied by 3 or more (parents + at least one kid).

Additionally, if it bothers you to pay for other people, you ought to know that depending upon the routes you are flying, your fare is likely going to cover the costs of other, longer flights to less popular destinations. It behooves an airline to establish as many routes as they can, even if one is, say, Texas to Saskatchewan, and the passenger demand is only about a dozen people per day (which is likely an exaggeration). Nevertheless, they want the route to appear a comprehensive airline with as many potential destinations as possible. Now, even for those dozen people needing to visit Saskachewan, dividing the total cost of the plane, fuel, crew, etc among them is far too high a price to successfully negotiate. So airlines lower the price and make only a small profit on these long-distance flights (or sometimes even take a loss), and make up for it by charging more (proportionally, on dollars-to-distance) on short, super-popular flights... like Chicago to New York, or DC to Florida. This is easily demonstrated by oneself: pick any airline, find their longest-distance flight, and divide the final price of the ticket by the number of miles traveled. Now do the same for a Chicago-DC flight. Surprised?


I know that airlines do things like that. But my main argument was in response to your arguments about snacks, drinks, and luggage. So that was what I was responding to. If you do not want to use extra services, then why pay for them?

Quote:
And they should be penalized for another airline being delayed why? That should be the responsibility of the airline that has delays.


Quote:
Agreed. But it's not. Not by law, anyway. This needs to be changed.


It should be changed to be law. But I'm not going to cuss out and get mad at X airline because Y was late. I'll get mad at Y unless they take care of me.


Quote:
Quote:
They aren't rocket scientists but they know the basics of keeping a company running...


I still think you overestimate the intelligence of groupthink in the modern corporation. There is still a vast disconnect between the persons who fly the planes, see the passengers, etc, and those who write up the routes, set the prices, and watch their profit margins. One group knows the basics (or even the finer points) of doing what the company actually does (ie, get people somewhere on a plane), while the other knows the basics of selling the service and making money from it. There needs to be an understanding on the part of the money-makers of how the company serves and interacts with its customers. Otherwise, you get a stagnant company with a poor image... like most airlines in the US.

Quote:
Yes but when ticket prices rise because of fuel costs and other costs people bitch about it... So when they try to keep ticket prices about the same and then cut costs other places, people like you still bitch about it... So what are you supposed to do?


Well, first, you try to keep things civil. (Have I personally offended you somehow?) Then, as I said before, you work the information harder. There are dozens of ways to cut costs that do not involve bilking your passengers. Just improve your technology and streamline your workforce.

Why do they have a person standing at the kiosk to take your boarding pass from your hand, scan it on a platform directly in front of you, and then hand it back to your person? I can do that myself. Same with scanning my passport, weighing my luggage, attaching the tags, and taking it to the TSA X-ray machine. Why can't you assign routes and crew members on a schedule that updates monthly in response to traffic demands of the season and holiday, rather than establishing an 18-month route manifesto and sticking to it? Surely we can build a system to do that automatically. Upgrade your older planes with lighter-weight materials. Remove carpeting from the aisles and cockpit; you'll save a bit of weight depending upon the size of the plane, but cleaning up after passengers becomes much easier, faster, and efficient. Same with the upholstery - switch to a rubberzied or plasticized fabric (or polymer leather, even!) rather than that velvety crap. No more yearly detoxing of the passenger compartment with gas and pesticide to ensure all the nasty things trapped in the carpet and upholstery are dead. Distress your liquid waste storage at every airport, not just final destinations; it takes all of 20 minutes while the passengers are loading, and you don't need to waste fuel to carry around the weight of what is, quite literally, a tank of shit.

And, on another note, here is an example of a company (a Canadian one, you may note) doing it right:
Air Canada makes up for broken wheelchair by fulfilling a wish


And you hit it essentially where the problem is. I have worked many customer service jobs in the past. And like I said, people like to bitch - which makes it harder for companies to improve. They could easily cut costs by having you scan your own boarding pass. That would make them a better company. However, the second that they take away that position, you'll have people whining that there's no one to take their boarding pass. To many people want to be babied through that process.

So companies often cannot do what is the most efficient because then customers get mad and it makes the cycle continue. And then you have other people, like you, who complain that the efficiency hasn't happened... It's a lose-lose situation for them.

And where wasn't I being civil? You haven't made me mad...
quex
Afaceinthematrix wrote:
Then you have not flown lately. The last four trips or so that I have flown (Wyoming, Minnesota, two trips to Oklahoma) found that SW was not the cheapest.


Flew last weekend, actually. Phoenix to O'Hare.

So first you argue for an overall average, and then you base your argument on personal expereinces. I'm sure you note the jaggedness of the discourse. However, to proceed; in your personal experience, one thing is true. I assure you that if you consider the wider angle of American travelers, something else would be true. You seem to have an attitude that discounts the factual in preference of the personal. This might be the origin of our differences.

Quote:
And I told you that I don't usually want the "free" drinks. My mom usually doesn't want the "free" drinks. So I thought I made it perfectly clear that I have no desire to pay, in my ticket price, for YOUR drinks. That makes them free to you but I pay for them...


Then please show me where they list the "no drinks" discount on your ticket. You realize, of course, the small portion of your own fare that can be calculated as paying for the drink service of others on any given trip can only be attributed to you paying for another person if the option exists to subtract that fee. If the option is not available, that portion of the fare is lost to the core of the fee. This is a subtlety of economics that many people do not understand. No airline in America offers a discount for persons who refuse drink service. Your argument is therefore invalid.

Also, hello to your mother. :D

Quote:
Again... Extra luggage costs the airlines more. I never check luggage and I have no desire to pay for your checked luggage. If an airline wants to give you free checked luggage, then are they going to give you a credit back if you don't check luggage? That's essentially what they're doing except that they give you the credit by default and then make you pay it back if you check...


I am intrigued by your "it works for me so it's good" attitude. Additionally, you're going to have to prove to me that there is any airline based in the USA that has discounted their fares since enacting a pay-for-check luggage policy; that is, giving that "credit" you speak of.

Quote:
Most of the time when I travel, I am backpacking and traveling to a minimum. Other times, I have used washing facilities at the hotel to wash myself and my clothes. And then I don't need to bring things like shampoo and toothpaste because often times they're the same price or cheaper at the location I'm going to. So why bother buying toothpaste at home just to pack it when I can just buy a small bottle there?


Again with this "it works for me" thing... tell me, how does your mother travel? Also, you clearly do not travel very far abroad... what of the people traveling to countries where toothpaste is not so readily available? What of people traveling to locales where toothpaste is a much-requested gift?

Quote:
And then last time I went to the Bahamas I brought a small blanket (I slept on the surface of a boat the entire time), camera, and a swimsuit. I bought sunscreen and toothpaste/brush there. I didn't need clothes because I was basically in the water the entire time. And I only own one set of swim trunks so I can't have brought more than one. What else would I have needed?


A passport, for one. And if it were to be stolen from you, or if you were, god forbid, kidnapped for ransom, you would be sorely without recourse. I can see that you are not one to prepare for unforeseen incidents. Your luck is certainly enviable, but I personally would prefer the wisdom to be ready in advance.

Did your mother sleep on a small blanket on the deck of a boat the entire time? Did she escheew clothes for the simplicity of a swimsuit for an extended stay in the Bahamas? Or perhaps not, because she didn't visit that locale with you? If not, do you think she would be comfortable traveling in such Spartan conditions as you are accustomed to, or would you fault her for paying to pack some extra clothing and a pillow, at the very least?

When you are elderly, do you still plan to travel? Do you expect you ought to be monetarily penalized to do so, bringing with you all the necessities of one who cannot sleep on the deck of a boat, or who needs a cpap machine to facilitate breathing, or who must remain in a wheelchair? Are you saving your money now?

What if you are injured in some terrible accident tomorrow, and find yourself in need of oxygen, or an iron lung? When your ticket costs 300% more than other travelers' because you must bring heavy equipment to support your very life, I wonder how you will feel about it.

Quote:
And you hit it essentially where the problem is. I have worked many customer service jobs in the past. And like I said, people like to bitch - which makes it harder for companies to improve.


Incorrect. People bitching tells you exactly where you need to improve your service. This is a solid and established fact of business management.

Quote:
They could easily cut costs by having you scan your own boarding pass. That would make them a better company. However, the second that they take away that position, you'll have people whining that there's no one to take their boarding pass. To many people want to be babied through that process.


I disagree entirely. I think many customers see the excess and the unnecessary from their unique vantage and can identify it directly to management. The difference lies between management who can accept the complaints as "advice" and use it to improve, as opposed to those who take offense to the "whining" of people and, in spite, do nothing.

Quote:
So companies often cannot do what is the most efficient because then customers get mad and it makes the cycle continue. And then you have other people, like you, who complain that the efficiency hasn't happened... It's a lose-lose situation for them.


This is patently untrue. The companies, American or otherwise, who listen most closely to their customers are the best in the world. You need only identify the top brand of any consumer industry to see exactly this. Please take your pick.

Your negativity colors your perception of the situation. I'm afraid no logical argument will change that. :<
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