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Amtrak Employee Travel Model For Airlines  
User currently offlineusdcaguy From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 972 posts, RR: 2
Posted (1 year 7 months 4 weeks 20 hours ago) and read 13442 times:

As flights have become increasingly fuller as airlines cut capacity and push up load factors, I have started to think about alternative models for employee travel. One of the models Amtrak uses is that they sell confirmed tickets (coach/sleeper) at a 20% discount and then reimburse the fare if the train doesn't sell out. This apparently applies only on "white" days, which are days that are busy but not the days for peak travel. On peak days (red days), employees get a 20% discount but no refund and on blue days, they get free coach travel but no free sleeper (although I have read the sleeper cars are always purchased as though the train left on a white day). I'm not sure the red/white/blue day system would work for airlines as there are an incredible number of seasonality, special event and capacity variables that would make identifying such days difficult. However, I wonder about the purchase/refund model.

Currently, many US carriers give employees discounts of 20-30% for confirmed tickets, but you don't get a refund if you would have gotten a seat anyway if the flight had not gone out full. The way I see the system working is that you could pay 75% of any fare in advance for a confirmed seat. To determine refunds, you would subtract the number of nonrev standbys from the final passenger count while keeping the confirmed employees in the count. This final count would then be subtracted from total seats available on the aircraft. You would then theoretically "relist" all employees, both confirmed and standby, according to seniority. If, say, there were 15 seats open at closeout and you were number 8 on the seniority list, you would get a refund, but if you were number 17, then you would not. Is there any part of this that would be a disadvantage to an airline in a way that it is not to Amtrak? Would it be of any value to employees? I also wonder if carriers could grant higher discounts (50-75%) for a set number of confirmed tickets per employee in lieu of unlimited standby travel, but I know there is a significant cost to the airline in that case.

48 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineN908AW From United States of America, joined Aug 2005, 932 posts, RR: 1
Reply 1, posted (1 year 7 months 4 weeks 20 hours ago) and read 13183 times:

I have heard of airlines that do offer their employees a limited number of 25% off positive space seats every year. But I don't think any of the airlines are complaining about having to let fewer non-revenue passengers on board.

Plus, you probably shouldn't do something just because Amtrak is doing it.



'Cause you're on ATA again, and on ATA, you're on vacation!
User currently offlineB727FA From United States of America, joined Jun 2011, 763 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (1 year 7 months 4 weeks 19 hours ago) and read 13091 times:

We have a confirmed program with a refund available (but not based on NRSA seats being open) and one w/o a refund plan.

I don't think the OP is advocating we do it "because Amtrak does" rather it was an idea/conversation starter.   



My comments/opinions are my own and are not to be construed as the opinion(s) of my employer.
User currently onlinephxa340 From United States of America, joined Mar 2012, 891 posts, RR: 1
Reply 3, posted (1 year 7 months 4 weeks 19 hours ago) and read 13087 times:

Quoting N908AW (Reply 1):
Plus, you probably shouldn't do something just because Amtrak is doing it.

Well, I like what the OP is trying to do ... maximize revenue. However your right, if you want your business model to succeed , typically you want to do the exact opposite of what Amtrak is doing.


User currently offlineLONGisland89 From United States of America, joined Jan 2006, 736 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (1 year 7 months 4 weeks 19 hours ago) and read 12958 times:

Quoting usdcaguy (Thread starter):
You would then theoretically "relist" all employees, both confirmed and standby, according to seniority. If, say, there were 15 seats open at closeout and you were number 8 on the seniority list, you would get a refund, but if you were number 17, then you would not.

Don't confuse seniority with priority. Not all airlines board their employee non-revs by seniority.


User currently offlineHPRamper From United States of America, joined May 2005, 4058 posts, RR: 8
Reply 5, posted (1 year 7 months 4 weeks 19 hours ago) and read 12885 times:

Quoting phxa340 (Reply 3):
Well, I like what the OP is trying to do ... maximize revenue. However your right, if you want your business model to succeed , typically you want to do the exact opposite of what Amtrak is doing.

As a subsidized company, Amtrak isn't trying to chase profits. They are doing fine for what they are. In the absence of a profit-driven environment, a company does exactly what Amtrak is doing - maximizes service and employee benefits.

In any case, I can't see any reason that Amtrak's model results in any sizable lost revenue for the airline compared to what they are currently doing...other than ill-gotten revenue they make off the backs of their own employees. The only difference is that there are many more levels of priority within an airline.


User currently offlineMcoov From United States of America, joined Jul 2011, 128 posts, RR: 1
Reply 6, posted (1 year 7 months 4 weeks 18 hours ago) and read 12727 times:

Quoting HPRamper (Reply 5):
As a subsidized company, Amtrak isn't trying to chase profits. They are doing fine for what they are.

Oh what a laugh this is.

Congress has been funding Amtrak begrudgingly since Day 1 (May 1, 1971). It has been the mission of Amtrak since A-Day to turn a self-sufficient profit, which it has failed to do each and every year*. As a result, Amtrak is almost always on the chopping block for the Congressional budget, and has been faced with life-or-death situations several times now (1979, 1983, 1997, and 2002). Amtrak chases profits like Wile E. Coyote chases the Roadrunner, with just about as much success. They are not doing fine, they never have been, and the business model that is passenger rail travel has been ill since the early 1950's. Now I'm not saying that we should do away with Amtrak. I am quite pro-rail and pro-Amtrak, and I get supremely annoyed anytime Congress tries to cut their already thin budget.

*Note: This failure is partly a result of the business model it is trying to sell. Americans will mostly use cars for short trips, and airlines for long trips.


User currently offlineexFWAOONW From United States of America, joined Nov 2009, 405 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (1 year 7 months 4 weeks 18 hours ago) and read 12620 times:

Interesting idea. I can see issues during a/c substitutions where the seatmap isn't updated and a flight is boarded using open seating.


Is just me, or is flying not as much fun anymore?
User currently offlinebond007 From United States of America, joined Mar 2005, 5417 posts, RR: 8
Reply 8, posted (1 year 7 months 4 weeks 18 hours ago) and read 12607 times:

Quoting N908AW (Reply 1):
Plus, you probably shouldn't do something just because Amtrak is doing it.
Quoting phxa340 (Reply 3):
typically you want to do the exact opposite of what Amtrak is doing.
Quoting Mcoov (Reply 6):
They are not doing fine, they never have been

Did you ever read any airline's annual reports over the past 10 years or so and count the number that filed Chapter 11?

Amtrak had a loss of $360 million last year, and carried over 30 million pax. At least a couple of airlines carried around twice as many pax, but had losses over 4 times as much....

If any industry could be labelled as having bad business models, it would be the airlines.


Jimbo



I'd rather be on the ground wishing I was in the air, than in the air wishing I was on the ground!
User currently offlinejayunited From United States of America, joined Jan 2013, 935 posts, RR: 1
Reply 9, posted (1 year 7 months 4 weeks 18 hours ago) and read 12578 times:

Unfortunately Amtrak's model for employee travel would never work for an airline. An employee can not buy a confirmed ticket then list themselves on standby for the same flight. On certain flights at certain times of the year you can have 30 employees on standby for a singular flight now imagine if all 30 of those employees bought a discount confirmed ticket and then canceled that ticket on the day of travel, now imagine this scenario being repeated across the system multiple times a day you can see how this type of action can cost an airline millions of dollars over the years.

If this was the policy all employees would simply buy a refundable discount ticket and cancel it on the day of travel list themselves on standby and practically guarantee themselves a seat on evey flight every time.


User currently offlineUA787DEN From United States of America, joined Dec 2012, 420 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (1 year 7 months 4 weeks 18 hours ago) and read 12475 times:

Quoting bond007 (Reply 8):
If any industry could be labelled as having bad business models, it would be the airlines.

I might venture to say that more than one industry is doing badly or has a bad business models. And many US train systems, such as Amtrak, have bad business model. If a company is losing money, it generally has a few flaws in the business model.

Quoting jayunited (Reply 9):
Unfortunately Amtrak's model for employee travel would never work for an airline.

     

100% agree.


User currently offlineusdcaguy From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 972 posts, RR: 2
Reply 11, posted (1 year 7 months 4 weeks 18 hours ago) and read 12474 times:

Quoting exFWAOONW (Reply 7):
I can see issues during a/c substitutions where the seatmap isn't updated and a flight is boarded using open seating.

Good point. I'm sure changed seat maps could be an issue, but I wonder if you could have a policy whereby you gave every confirmed employee a refund in the event the final passenger count was unavailable if that would solve the problem. I am sure you could mitigate a lot of these unforeseen circumstances, though, by querying databases with the latest passenger counts. Any good system could have plenty of workarounds, and that data already exists in tables somewhere.

Quoting LONGisland89 (Reply 4):

Quoting usdcaguy (Thread starter):
You would then theoretically "relist" all employees, both confirmed and standby, according to seniority. If, say, there were 15 seats open at closeout and you were number 8 on the seniority list, you would get a refund, but if you were number 17, then you would not.

Don't confuse seniority with priority. Not all airlines board their employee non-revs by seniority.


Very true. I definitely mean priority in this case!


User currently offlineairportugal310 From Tokelau, joined Apr 2004, 3635 posts, RR: 2
Reply 12, posted (1 year 7 months 4 weeks 18 hours ago) and read 12432 times:

Quoting N908AW (Reply 1):
I have heard of airlines that do offer their employees a limited number of 25% off positive space seats every year.

I believe our airline has some kind of setup like this, though I'm not too sure how it works. I haven't really bothered to look into it.

Quoting LONGisland89 (Reply 4):
Not all airlines board their employee non-revs by seniority.

What are some of the other ways?
First come first listed comes to mind...but that seems like a it might cause more problems than it solves (idk...I'm just thinking out loud here...)

Edit: To clarify, I mean what are the other ways OTHER than a seniority/priority combo.

[Edited 2013-01-21 18:42:01]


I sell airplanes and airplane accessories
User currently onlinephxa340 From United States of America, joined Mar 2012, 891 posts, RR: 1
Reply 13, posted (1 year 7 months 4 weeks 18 hours ago) and read 12397 times:

Quoting bond007 (Reply 8):
Amtrak had a loss of $360 million last year, and carried over 30 million pax.

Fair enough but if you also look at Amtraks financials and Airlines financials - the airlines have made billions more than Amtrak over their lifespan.

Quoting HPRamper (Reply 5):
As a subsidized company, Amtrak isn't trying to chase profits.

Fully agreed - but they do have a responsibility to attempt to chase some sort of profits as a subsidized entity.


User currently offlinebond007 From United States of America, joined Mar 2005, 5417 posts, RR: 8
Reply 14, posted (1 year 7 months 4 weeks 18 hours ago) and read 12372 times:

Quoting UA787DEN (Reply 10):
If a company is losing money, it generally has a few flaws in the business model.

Ummmm... the reason I mentioned the airlines.

Few industries have continuously had losses for as many year as most airlines, or gone into bankruptcy as many times ..


Jimbo



I'd rather be on the ground wishing I was in the air, than in the air wishing I was on the ground!
User currently onlineapodino From United States of America, joined Apr 2005, 4277 posts, RR: 6
Reply 15, posted (1 year 7 months 4 weeks 17 hours ago) and read 12165 times:

Quoting jayunited (Reply 9):
Unfortunately Amtrak's model for employee travel would never work for an airline. An employee can not buy a confirmed ticket then list themselves on standby for the same flight. On certain flights at certain times of the year you can have 30 employees on standby for a singular flight now imagine if all 30 of those employees bought a discount confirmed ticket and then canceled that ticket on the day of travel, now imagine this scenario being repeated across the system multiple times a day you can see how this type of action can cost an airline millions of dollars over the years.

If this was the policy all employees would simply buy a refundable discount ticket and cancel it on the day of travel list themselves on standby and practically guarantee themselves a seat on evey flight every time.

Not to mention that with Amtrak..they can simply add Coaches to trains without having to substitute other equipment...where with an airline it is a whole new can of worms to upgrade equipment.


User currently onlinemax999 From United States of America, joined Dec 2005, 1046 posts, RR: 0
Reply 16, posted (1 year 7 months 4 weeks 16 hours ago) and read 12102 times:

Quoting phxa340 (Reply 13):

Fair enough but if you also look at Amtraks financials and Airlines financials - the airlines have made billions more than Amtrak over their lifespan.

The airlines also carry hundreds of millions more passengers than Amtrak.

Quoting phxa340 (Reply 13):

Fully agreed - but they do have a responsibility to attempt to chase some sort of profits as a subsidized entity.

Don't forget the multi billion dollar 9/11 Victim's Compensation Fund and chapter 11 bankruptcy are forms of government subsidies for the airlines.

[Edited 2013-01-21 20:04:52]


All the things I really like to do are either immoral, illegal, or fattening.
User currently offlinewilliam From United States of America, joined Jun 1999, 1282 posts, RR: 0
Reply 17, posted (1 year 7 months 4 weeks 16 hours ago) and read 12067 times:

Every mode of transportation is subsidized in some form. Amtrak's subsidy is more open.

User currently offlinesimairlinenet From United States of America, joined Oct 2005, 917 posts, RR: 2
Reply 18, posted (1 year 7 months 4 weeks 12 hours ago) and read 10945 times:

I like the initial idea. It tries to maximize airline revenue and also maximize employee's choices.

A few years ago I reviewed a large list of employee ideas. We had 20%/40% off options, and one employee advocated that employees who buy the confirmed ticket should jump to the head of the standby list--for equity and revenue reasons. Made a lot of sense back then too.


User currently offlineryanov From United States of America, joined Nov 2012, 17 posts, RR: 0
Reply 19, posted (1 year 7 months 4 weeks 11 hours ago) and read 10789 times:

Quoting phxa340 (Reply 3):
Well, I like what the OP is trying to do ... maximize revenue. However your right, if you want your business model to succeed , typically you want to do the exact opposite of what Amtrak is doing.

That is neither a particularly accurate nor well-supported statement, nor is it an apples to apples comparison. Airlines, for example, don't have to deal with much infrastructure maintenance (at least not compared to a railroad).


User currently offlineirregking From Germany, joined Feb 2008, 145 posts, RR: 0
Reply 20, posted (1 year 7 months 4 weeks 10 hours ago) and read 10390 times:

Currently, major EU airlines generally offer only the IDR1 (confirmed) or IDR2 (standby/non-rev) option for their employees. This is also still the case at the giant which I am working for.

Having a system in place that your IDR1 ticket will be auto-converted into an IDR2 ticket if the flight goes out with space available.... that is something we can only dream of!
Fairness; or generosity even, was never on our employer's priority list.

To make matters worse; the IDR1 tickets have a refund deadline of 24hrs before departure, ie. when check-in opens.
So you can't just buy an IDR1 and an IDR2 ticket and then at the gate, shortly before flight-close, choose which one you want to use. It doesn't work that way.
Unless you travel the route often enough then you can rebook the IDR1 ticket to another date and use the IDR2 ticket for the flight when there are still seats available. But even then you will need to make the rebooking before the flight is finalized, or you have to be good friends with the gate-agent who will quickly do it for you. It is quite the hassle.

And to add insult to injury; even if a system like the one the OP suggests would be put in place, or a system which is customary at US-airlines (purchasing an IDR1 which auto converts into IDR2 if SA); the IDR1 fares here in Europe can sometimes, what am I saying... OFTEN TIMES be even higher than the best available web-fare. Especially intra-Europe.
Quick search results:
FRA-ATH-FRA web: €176
FRA-ATH-FRA IDR1: €208
FRA-ATH-FRA IDR2: €103
Same flights!

Therefore, requiring the purchase of an IDR1, although the difference to an IDR2 will be refunded if the flight leaves with space available; however forcing the employee to fork out in advance up to 70% more of what he would have spent on an IDR2, together with the already minimum-wage salary that he gets... not fair either.

I guess what I am saying is that; compared to other global players in the aviation industry, travel benefits for the employees of US-carriers are much more lenient and generous than any of us Euro-boys and -girls will ever experience and it sometimes makes me a bit sick when I see employees of US-carriers complaining about their travel benefits in other threads and posts.
Appreciate what you have, me thinks.



Worked on: A300,310,319,320,321,332,333,342,343,346,380,B732/3/4/5,744,DC10 -- Currently working on: A380 only
User currently offlineusdcaguy From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 972 posts, RR: 2
Reply 21, posted (1 year 7 months 4 weeks 9 hours ago) and read 10114 times:

Quoting jayunited (Reply 9):
If this was the policy all employees would simply buy a refundable discount ticket and cancel it on the day of travel list themselves on standby and practically guarantee themselves a seat on evey flight every time.

My idea was definitely not that the employee would be able to cancel at the last minute. That would open up a bad can of worms and is not what Amtrak allows either. Basically, they would go ahead and fly on the ticket regardless. Once the flight departed, a calculation would be made in the system as to who was owed refunds and then this money would show up in the employee's paycheck if the employee would have theoretically cleared the flight. By subtracting only the NRSA employees from the total pax to determine the final count before standbys cleared, which would include employees who had paid for a ticket, you would be assuming that the confirmed employees are displacing pax that would have otherwise bought a ticket. Yes, the airline would lose the money the employees paid if they would have cleared anyway and would not get the money paid by the theoretically displaced passenger, but they would often retain this money when flights were full and would be likely to sell more confirmed tickets to employees. Note that all tickets bought as nonrefundable would remain so unless the employee would have cleared the list.


User currently offlineusdcaguy From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 972 posts, RR: 2
Reply 22, posted (1 year 7 months 4 weeks 9 hours ago) and read 10076 times:

Quoting irregking (Reply 20):
I guess what I am saying is that; compared to other global players in the aviation industry, travel benefits for the employees of US-carriers are much more lenient and generous than any of us Euro-boys and -girls will ever experience and it sometimes makes me a bit sick when I see employees of US-carriers complaining about their travel benefits in other threads and posts.
Appreciate what you have, me thinks.

You make a very good point and agree. I almost never buy space available tickets within Europe anymore. Too much hassle, especially when you cannot fly your own carrier. However, we should bear in mind how high load factors within the US have been lately. I don't mean to complain about the current system but rather have a discussion about other options that could make employee travel easier (if slightly more expensive overall) while lessening the pain for carriers providing the benefit.


User currently offlineirregking From Germany, joined Feb 2008, 145 posts, RR: 0
Reply 23, posted (1 year 7 months 4 weeks 8 hours ago) and read 9763 times:

Quoting usdcaguy (Reply 22):
I don't mean to complain about the current system but rather have a discussion about other options that could make employee travel easier (if slightly more expensive overall) while lessening the pain for carriers providing the benefit.

Oh I know that you weren't complaining hence why I said

Quoting irregking (Reply 20):
in other threads and posts.

with emphasis on the word "other".  

I think the system you mentioned (the confirmed/non-rev difference refund system) sounds really great. I just wanted to (slightly veering off topic) paint a picture of how most EU-carrier employees have far less lenient, fair, generous, etc. travel-benefits than the ones which the US-carrier employees can enjoy.



Worked on: A300,310,319,320,321,332,333,342,343,346,380,B732/3/4/5,744,DC10 -- Currently working on: A380 only
User currently offlineRWA380 From United States of America, joined Feb 2005, 3256 posts, RR: 5
Reply 24, posted (1 year 7 months 4 weeks 8 hours ago) and read 9666 times:

Quoting N908AW (Reply 1):
I have heard of airlines that do offer their employees a limited number of 25% off positive space seats every year

I am unsure of what has happened in he past 5 years, but when I left the travel agent side of the industry, we were provided at an almost unlimited basis AD75 certificates, providing 75% off, the catch was it was on Y or F basis fares, NW and AS had the best Y discounted fares, so I flew F a lot. It was the AD100 passes that were harder to come by, but DL took care of me most of my career with lots and lots of AD100's, all upgradeable to F, if dressed properly and available on departure, pretty hot and sweaty when flying out of HNL or OGG. AA gave us AD100's for J class worldwide, if airlines give those kind of tickets to agents, do airline employees only get 25% off lowest fare or just full Y coach?



AA AC AQ AS BD BN CO CS DL EA EZ HA HP KL KN MP MW NK NW OO OZ PA PS QX RC RH RW SA TG TW UA US VS WA WC WN
25 xdlx : Overboking.... is no longer sensible. 99% of tickets are purchased in advance and the no show pax already paid for that seat and has to exchange the t
26 jfklganyc : I am an airline employee that doesn't travel much. However, I must say, I have gone all over the country on non rev travel. It is great. It is cheap.
27 PassedV1 : My current airline uses a priority/seniority system, and my last airline used a priority/first-come system and I have to say I prefer the seniority s
28 FURUREFA : Usually 25% off lowest available fare.
29 ABQopsHP : Yes when I worked for HP we had 20 or 25% (I dont recall which) discounted tickets, off any "published" fare. Thus when I flew ELP-PHX one time I cou
30 irregking : So true!
31 richierich : It is true that Amtrak loses serious money outside of the Northeast Corridor and some parts of southern California - the reason Amtrak exists at all
32 RDH3E : UA has unlimited 20% off for the employee and their family/domestic partner/enrolled friend Who works for a major airline that makes minimum wage? No
33 Post contains images brilondon : I would agree to a point with your statement. Airlines could take a lesson in customer service from Amtrak. This summer my partner and I traveled fro
34 richierich : Yes, there is always a cost (fuel, time, etc.) but many airlines do not charge their employees and eligible pass riders a fee. Taxes are the exceptio
35 jayunited : There is a huge problem with your theory so let me break it down. Year ago the airlines use to grossly oversell their flights because people wouldn't
36 jayspilot : What i do now is when I can't non-rev or don't want to is to buy a refundable ticket on SWA or B6 and if you get bumped from flight you go on that and
37 Tomassjc : At my carrier we are occasionally "awarded" a hand full of free (taxed) positive space tickets. They are capacity controlled and might not be availabl
38 phxa340 : Amtrak competes with airlines - just like airlines competes with the automobile. They are all in the transportation category so comparing them is ent
39 ryanov : Amtrak really doesn't compete with airlines outside of very few markets. When I travel on Amtrak, I most often see people who would never fly on the
40 Wisdom : I think that it's a marvelous idea and that it could work perfectly if the will is there. As irregking suggests, the airlines managements do not wish
41 Post contains images usdcaguy : Mind sharing which carrier that is? You're absolutely right about that, but at Amtrak it works that way. Pretty wondrous to think about as an airline
42 blueflyer : I suppose it also depends on how discounted tickets might be used. I can't imagine that airlines would want their employees to fill up half the fligh
43 Maverick623 : I have an aunt has worked for a large corporate travel agency for over 25 years, and she says she hasn't seen any ID tickets available for years. My
44 aflyingkiwi : While Amtrak does get millions of dollars in subsidies, It is worth noting that roads require subsidies as well.. In fact only around 60% of the cost
45 zippyjet : That system sounds like it was designed or invented by a bureaucrat, government worker or lawyer. Too confusing. Maybe for long overseas flights but
46 Post contains images irregking : Nowadays quite a number of people are desperate enough to accept the new contracts that airlines offer to new-starters. Either to work at an airline
47 Post contains images Tomassjc : It's the one with the dude all bundled up on the tail. Tomas SJC
48 Post contains links N908AW : That's true, but many (most) functions of Amtrak are only feasible because the government subsidizes the money pit. There are many things Amtrak's co
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