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Consumerist Article: Low Cost = Low Expectations?  
User currently offlineirelayer From United States of America, joined Jul 2005, 1073 posts, RR: 2
Posted (1 year 10 months 1 week 2 days 5 hours ago) and read 2369 times:

http://consumerist.com/2012/06/we-ge...airlines-than-legacy-carriers.html

I find it interesting how people still equate "low cost" with "cheap" and "legacy" with "normal". Aren't they just about the same at this point? In fact, I've almost never had a poor experience on WN (and I fly them by far the most) but it's not because it's "cheap" or that I have lower expectations. In fact, I prefer not being gouged for bag fees, being able to choose my own seat, and my flights being on time.

So my question is do we still think about WN and the like in terms of cattle cars and UA, AA, and DL for their Jet Age 60s like glamour?

-IR

13 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlinealggag From United States of America, joined Apr 2010, 98 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (1 year 10 months 1 week 2 days 5 hours ago) and read 2261 times:

Two fallacies that continue to live on are that: legacy carriers give you "more" than an LCC (assuming same route and in economy without status) and that LCCs are always significantly cheaper. Both are quite false now. That said, I'm in the pro LCC camp and believe that unless you fly enough to earn and maintain legacy status you are better off on an LCC.

User currently offlineazstar From United States of America, joined May 2005, 597 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (1 year 10 months 1 week 2 days 4 hours ago) and read 2247 times:

Southwest consistently scores high because a) they don't raise your expectations so you're never disappointed. You usually get more than you expect, which is mostly pleasant staff and pretty good dependibility, and b) they don't outsource any of their work so all WN employees feel more responsible and accountable for the success of THEIR company. I think Jetblue is the same.

Other low fare/low cost airlines hire the cheapest help they can possibly find, and don't offer them any kind of livable wage or future so those employees couldn't care less if you have a good experience, or a bad one. Plus, they're not motivated to do anything beyond the minimum that's required of them. Spirit and Frontier come to mind.

The legacy carriers promise much more than they can adequately deliver. While they offer seat assignments, their enormous and complex operations, and multiple configurations frequently cause seat assignment issues which the traveling public doesn't understand, or care about. So, while offering far more services and larger networks than the low cost airlines, the legacies often drop the ball and fail in their service delivery. Staffing reductions at a time when their operations are getting more and more complicated do not make the situation any better. And, UA, for one outsources its most important component, customer service, to the lowest bidder resulting in, once again, low paid employees with no motivation or incentive to provide any type of service.

[Edited 2012-06-13 15:04:03]

User currently offlineAcey559 From United States of America, joined Jan 2007, 1495 posts, RR: 2
Reply 3, posted (1 year 10 months 1 week 2 days 4 hours ago) and read 2208 times:

In my personal experiences it always seemed like the ones that payed the least for their tickets were the ones who were demanding the most compensation. I have nothing scientific to back it up, just seemed to always be the case. It was almost as if the lowest price paid was inversely proportional to how big of an a--hole the person was. I guess because they bought their ticket on Delta for $200 it entitled them to free EVERYTHING when the flight was delayed. I don't miss working in customer service and I certainly don't envy the gate agents I talk to everyday and I make sure to thank them often for what they have to put up with because I remember how bad it can get.

User currently offlineirelayer From United States of America, joined Jul 2005, 1073 posts, RR: 2
Reply 4, posted (1 year 10 months 1 week 2 days 4 hours ago) and read 2170 times:

Quoting alggag (Reply 1):
That said, I'm in the pro LCC camp and believe that unless you fly enough to earn and maintain legacy status you are better off on an LCC.

Domestically, WN has a very very good FF program even with RR 2.0, IF you happen to live in a city it flies to. That's the operative word there...IF.

Quoting azstar (Reply 2):
The legacy carriers promise much more than they can adequately deliver. While they offer seat assignments, their enormous and complex operations, and multiple configurations frequently cause seat assignment issues which the traveling public doesn't understand, or care about. So, while offering far more services and larger networks than the low cost airlines, the legacies often drop the ball and fail in their service delivery.

Yeah I think that's a great point. Southwest by comparison seems simple and straightforward, from the perspective of a passenger. If you live in a city that is served by Southwest you always fly on a 737, with the same blue seats, peanuts, and drinks. You also aren't connected through a mega hub and all the complexity that introduces. You can get direct flights to almost anywhere, and if you can't, it's a fairly easy connection. Southwest is "hassle-free" in the sense that there is less than can go wrong with the typical customer (I'm sure there are plenty of WN horror stories out there...just watch Airline).

I think (even though the analogy breaks down easily) Southwest is the Mac to UA/AA/DL's PC. PC can do more stuff and sometimes do it better, but Macs are just easier, simpler, and more of a pleasure to use.

-IR


User currently offlineDocLightning From United States of America, joined Nov 2005, 18699 posts, RR: 58
Reply 5, posted (1 year 10 months 1 week 2 days 3 hours ago) and read 2108 times:

Quoting irelayer (Thread starter):
So my question is do we still think about WN and the like in terms of cattle cars and UA, AA, and DL for their Jet Age 60s like glamour?

Reputation.

LCC's really have more to do with the carrier's cost of operations than the price of a ticket. A newer or rapidly expanding carrier can keep a larger percentage of the labor force more junior, which reduces labor prices dramatically, for example. An FA who has been working for 35 years gets paid a lot more to work a lot less than one who has been in house for a year.

I tend to refer to non-"Legacy" carriers as "start-up" or "LCC" but there isn't really a good name for it, nor is there even really a good, unifying definition of the difference. It's not widebodies, since Tower and PeopleExpress both operated 747's, as do some LCC's in Asia. The "-Fly" group of airlines in Europe ("TUI" and friends) operate A330's and have 788's on order (IIRC). The "LCC" tend to have more simplified fleets, but that is often a factor of being a younger company. For example, US has their left-over 767 and 767 fleet that they will continue to fly until they are

The only consistent difference that I can identify is that all of the "Legacies" seem to be affiliated with a regional airline (SkyWest, Eagle, KLM CityHopper, etc.) While some of the "LCC's" do operate smaller aircraft, including E-Jets (B6 comes to mind), I can't think of any that have such affiliates.

Mostly, it probably comes down to whether the company existed pre-jet era.


User currently offlinetharanga From United States of America, joined Apr 2009, 1848 posts, RR: 1
Reply 6, posted (1 year 10 months 1 week 2 days 3 hours ago) and read 2103 times:

I have had this idea for a long time - that people are happier with the LCCs because they expect less. Which is becoming irrational, because these days you should expect about the same thing.

User currently offlinealggag From United States of America, joined Apr 2010, 98 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (1 year 10 months 1 week 2 days 2 hours ago) and read 2088 times:

Quoting irelayer (Reply 4):
Domestically, WN has a very very good FF program even with RR 2.0, IF you happen to live in a city it flies to. That's the operative word there...IF.

I'm actually amongst the one or two people that not only likes RR2.0 but actually greatly prefers it over RR1.0 (or RR1.5 as some have called it). I might make A-list for the first time this year but while skipping the security line and the 25% point bonus are nice, they're really not all that great. Still, WN is the best deal for me as I can bring my girlfriend along way more often on RR2.0 points than I ever could on RR1 awards or legacy miles. I'd much rather have her along for the whole trip than the benefit of sitting up front eating a glorified microwave dinner for a few hours.


User currently offlineOB1504 From United States of America, joined Jul 2004, 3235 posts, RR: 9
Reply 8, posted (1 year 10 months 1 week 2 days ago) and read 1980 times:

An important distinction to make, though, is that low-cost does not imply low-fare. A low-cost carrier and a low-fare airline are not the same thing. Every airline strives to lower its costs as much as possible, but it's up to them whether they want to pass that on to the consumer.

Quoting azstar (Reply 2):
Other low fare/low cost airlines hire the cheapest help they can possibly find, and don't offer them any kind of livable wage or future so those employees couldn't care less if you have a good experience, or a bad one. Plus, they're not motivated to do anything beyond the minimum that's required of them. Spirit and Frontier come to mind.

As a former Spirit CSA, I respectfully disagree. I always tried to go above and beyond for each and every customer.

Quoting Acey559 (Reply 3):
In my personal experiences it always seemed like the ones that payed the least for their tickets were the ones who were demanding the most compensation. I have nothing scientific to back it up, just seemed to always be the case. It was almost as if the lowest price paid was inversely proportional to how big of an a--hole the person was. I guess because they bought their ticket on Delta for $200 it entitled them to free EVERYTHING when the flight was delayed.

   This gets even more ridiculous when we're talking about $9 fares.


User currently offlineAcey559 From United States of America, joined Jan 2007, 1495 posts, RR: 2
Reply 9, posted (1 year 10 months 1 week 1 day 22 hours ago) and read 1927 times:

Quoting OB1504 (Reply 8):
This gets even more ridiculous when we're talking about $9 fares.

I can only imagine...and I'm definitely not jealous of any firsthand experience you may have.  


User currently offlineOlafW From Germany, joined Jul 2009, 98 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (1 year 10 months 1 week 1 day 18 hours ago) and read 1815 times:

I'd like to question the rating mentioned in the article

Quote:
On a scale of 1,000 points, low-cost carriers (JetBlue, Southwest, WestJet, Air Tran and Frontier) averaged 754 and the legacy carriers (Alaska, Air Canada, Continental, Delta, United and US Airways) 681.

But at 694, even though Frontier was in last place among low-cost carriers, it still beat Alaska Airlines' 678 first-place spot among legacy lines.

If Alaska scores highest of the legacies at 678 points, how can the average of the legacy lines be 681?

At another glance, I find it interesting that the customer satisfaction does not exceed 80% at best (assuming that there is an equal distribution of ratings and calculating from the two values given above). Apparently, this was based solely on airline experiences, not confusing the measurement with ratings of security checks and the TSA personnel. So I am really wondering, is airline service in the US so bad that at least every fifth customer is not satisfied by the service he gets?


User currently offlineirelayer From United States of America, joined Jul 2005, 1073 posts, RR: 2
Reply 11, posted (1 year 10 months 1 week 1 day 7 hours ago) and read 1563 times:

Quoting OlafW (Reply 10):
At another glance, I find it interesting that the customer satisfaction does not exceed 80% at best (assuming that there is an equal distribution of ratings and calculating from the two values given above). Apparently, this was based solely on airline experiences, not confusing the measurement with ratings of security checks and the TSA personnel. So I am really wondering, is airline service in the US so bad that at least every fifth customer is not satisfied by the service he gets?

I think the expectations are too high. For instance, I am accustomed to paying no more than 300 dollars for a transcon (back in the days when this was possible). That's my normal. It will take a while for that to adjust to reality. In the meantime, when I look at fares from SAN-NYC and they are almost always above 350 dollars, I am sort of disappointed. I think that I should be able to fly up to the Bay Area or LAS for 100 bucks. But when I stop and think about it, there is little or no chance that the airline can be making money with those fares. From aircraft leasing/deprecation to Jet-A prices to labor costs, I'm surprised they can stay in business. Most people don't know that however. They think the 300 dollars makes the airline some serious money. They don't realize that those fares are barely covering the cost of doing business. Also I think subconsciously you factor in your airport experience and what inevitably creeps in are things that are beyond the airline's control...the condition of the facilities, the security, weather delays, the quality of the food in the terminal. One of these can seriously impact someone's overall impression of the trip.

-IR


User currently offlineAADC10 From United States of America, joined Nov 2004, 2016 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (1 year 10 months 1 week 1 day 6 hours ago) and read 1503 times:

The other aspect of the survey is that a majority of the respondents were likely Kettles. For people that fly 4 or fewer times per year, legacy carriers are a crappy experience. Not that it is great for anyone else but it is distinctly better for those with frequent flyer status.

The other huge problem is the express/regional carriers. Perhaps the reason that the average score for legacy carriers is higher than the highest rated legacy is that they did not include regional carriers. Most passengers worst experiences are on the regionals.

[Edited 2012-06-14 12:54:57]

User currently offlineirelayer From United States of America, joined Jul 2005, 1073 posts, RR: 2
Reply 13, posted (1 year 10 months 1 week 1 day 5 hours ago) and read 1464 times:

Quoting AADC10 (Reply 12):
The other aspect of the survey is that a majority of the respondents were likely Kettles. For people that fly 4 or fewer times per year, legacy carriers are a crappy experience. Not that it is great for anyone else but it is distinctly better for those with frequent flyer status.

The other huge problem is the express/regional carriers. Perhaps the reason that the average score for legacy carriers is higher than the highest rated legacy is that they did not include regional carriers. Most passengers worst experiences are on the regionals.

Very good point! I think most people don't distinguish between the two. UA mainline for them is the same as a SkyWest E120 flight even though the flying experience is vastly vastly different. I think people are willing to put up with a 40 minute flight on a "puddle jumper" but some of these cramped CRJ flights that are 2+ hours are probably what ruins their reputations.

-IR


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