21 June 2009

Why I Fly Southwest

The airlines just don't get it.

Why can't they figure out that it costs X dollars to fly plane Y from point A to point B? The distances never change, the labor costs barely fluctuate, and landing rights/maintenance/operations rarely change. I can understand modificaitons in fares because of fuel, but this nickel and diming of the traveling public is maddening!

According to the article, "Airlines say fees are part of "a la carte" pricing that allows them to hold the line on fares. Rather than charge higher fares to everyone, they say, passengers can pick and choose the extras they want to pay for. "

If a flight costs $200, but then I now have to pay $15 for check in, $15 for a checked bag, an additional $5 if I do it at the airport, $5 for a drink and peanuts, $25 for premier check-in, $15 to actually have a seat assigned, $5 fuel surcharge, and any other myriad of ridiculous fees the airlines are charging, then I really don't have a $200 fare, now do I?

Airlines are more worried about how to make money per passenger, rather than systemwide. Let's start by ending unnecessary flights. While we're at it, let's look at fewer hub flights. People who live in hub cities almost never get as good of fares as those who connect. But instead, airlines continue to dump money into all of these ancillary services that they used to provide, yes, as part of your total fare. But now, fewer and fewer people are taking advantage of the $7 pillow, yet we are all still paying for them, you know, just in case...

If airlines want to keep customers happy, start by focusing on turnaround and on-time departures and arrivals. Not a single major airline can boast in excess of 85% - and in many cases, it is significantly lower (try an industry average of 78%). Clearly, the unions have a large hand in all of this with labor taking full advantage of protections to work often less than efficiently. The second step would be to stop with all these "a la carte fees" and just give passengers ONE PRICE. It will take the guesswork out of it for everyone and likely make planning travel - both by the public and the airlines - a much more streamlined event.

Who knows? It may even make them profitable one day... just like Southwest.


Post a Comment

Comments will be moderated for offensive content. As they say, don't write anything your Mother wouldn't approve of.