ssides
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Travel Agents: Does Rise Of RJs Affect Bookings?

Tue Dec 16, 2003 1:39 am

Just a question for the travel agents (or anyone else in the know) out there:

Many people, both on this board and off, have complained about the increased use of RJs, particularly on longer flights. For people in small markets that used to only get turboprops, this is a welcome development, but if you were used to seeing 737s and 757s at your airport, you would understandably be disappointed.

My question to the travel agents is: do people pay much attention to the aircraft when they are booking a flight? For example, say AirTran flies 717s from ATL to destination X, a medium-sized city. Delta flies to the same destination using ASA CRJs. Assuming price is the same, do many customers care that they will be flying on a small CRJ instead of a larger plane? And do they know that most RJs can't handle roll-aboard luggage in the main cabin? Is this a big deal or not?
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Leskova
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RE: Travel Agents: Does Rise Of RJs Affect Bookings?

Tue Dec 16, 2003 1:45 am

Since most of our customers usually don't even know what the plane will look like if we tell them that they'll be flying on a 747...

In general, most people that I have contact with simply won't care if it's a Regional Jet or a bigger aircraft - they'll ask if its a prop, but as soon as they hear that it's a jet most - business or leisure - don't care at all.

The "roll-on"-problematic is there, but then most just simply use the option of checking that next to the aircraft... never have heard any customer of ours complain about that.
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toltommy
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RE: Travel Agents: Does Rise Of RJs Affect Bookings?

Tue Dec 16, 2003 1:48 am

When I lived in CAK, I lived this very scenario. I won't fly DL CAK-ATL on a regional jet. In the early days of Comair's CRJ's I wound up flying CVG-CO / KMCO), USA - Florida">MCO on a 50 seater. It was winter, and between everyone having carryon bags (we all had been sked chgd after purchase from a 727 to the CRJ) and bulky coats, the flight was cramped, hot, and uncomfortable for over 2 hours. I used to be a CO Elite frequent flyer, even made it to Platinum status (75,000+ miles in a year), but quit making CO my first choice since the CLE hub means those long haul RJ's to places like DFW, MCI, STL, DEN, BOS, etc....

I found the FL 717's to be a very comfortable A/C, and could even upgrade easily off any fare. Now that I live in TOL, I find it just as easy to drive to DTW. I'll take a well maintained DC9 or AVRO over a CRJ or ERJ, any day of the week!
 
ssides
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RE: Travel Agents: Does Rise Of RJs Affect Bookings?

Tue Dec 16, 2003 1:50 am

Thanks, Leskova --

Do you foresee this ever becoming a problem? For instance, as props become more and more rare, do you think people will begin to distinguish more between regional and mainline jets? Don't know if people are really that picky ...
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goingboeing
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RE: Travel Agents: Does Rise Of RJs Affect Bookings?

Tue Dec 16, 2003 1:53 am

Last Friday's Wall Street Journal had a rather critcal article about the rise of RJ's. The noise level in 50 seat jets was something like 87 db. I'd post a link, but it's subscription only.
 
ssides
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RE: Travel Agents: Does Rise Of RJs Affect Bookings?

Tue Dec 16, 2003 1:55 am

Goingboeing --

What "noise level" was the WSJ referring to? Engine noise or what?
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flyboyaz
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RE: Travel Agents: Does Rise Of RJs Affect Bookings?

Tue Dec 16, 2003 1:56 am

I don't know about travel agents, but passengers certainly complain about it at the airport. It's a miracle if a day goes by that someone does not complain about the regional jets. The biggest complainers are from the CO ERJ's...one flight I had 6...yes that's right 6 people chew me out as they got off the plane. Like it's my choice!! I can understand their anger, since TUS-IAH is fairly long and that ERJ is so cramped inside.

HP passengers don't complain all that much since it's only a 25 minute flight to PHX. Complaints are usually about bags more than anything. Luckily we will have mostly CR9's which are a lot roomier and baggage friendly  Smile
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ssides
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RE: Travel Agents: Does Rise Of RJs Affect Bookings?

Tue Dec 16, 2003 2:04 am

I sympathize with you, Flyboyaz. I grew up in a very small market (ABI), and my parents still live there. We love having the regional jets at ABI. They beat the hell out of a turboprop any day. Of course, people at ABI realize that we're never going to have the boardings that would come close to justifying even a 737 (although we do get Casino Express!)

I guess it's different at TUS, which I assume used to get considerably more mainline traffic. Still, what I think passengers don't realize is that the RJ phenomenon really isn't the airlines' fault either -- if you want to blame someone, blame the passengers. They're the ones who have indicated (via the marketplace) that they prefer more frequencies to larger jets. The decline of business travel has made the RJs a necessity. Would they prefer an RJ or no service at all? That's my question.

So do you work the gates for both CO and HP? And which model is the CR9? Is that the 70-seater?
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AIR757200
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RE: Travel Agents: Does Rise Of RJs Affect Bookings?

Tue Dec 16, 2003 2:05 am


When the Saturday DTW-DFW switched to an ERJ, I can recall a number of complaints, esp. by elite AAdavantage members.

Plus the weight restriction!... Six passengers had to be removed on a flight once.
 
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RE: Travel Agents: Does Rise Of RJs Affect Bookings?

Tue Dec 16, 2003 2:10 am

Six passengers had to be removed on a flight once.

Wow. There must have been quite a bit of luggage on that flight. Was it a -145, -140, or a -135?

If there is anyone I sympathize with on the RJ issue, it is elite FFs. As more and more RJs are used, their chances for an upgrade decrease. This is understandable, but it doesn't change the fact that RJs are helping the airlines survive. Again, would you prefer RJ service or no service?
"Lose" is not spelled with two o's!!!!
 
sxmarbury33
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RE: Travel Agents: Does Rise Of RJs Affect Bookings?

Tue Dec 16, 2003 3:31 am

Im sorry but passengers are not really to blame for the RJ phenomenon. Passengers have stated that they would perfer an RJ over a Turbo prop. What the airlines have done is taken this way past that and routinly have the RJ's on routes 2hrs or more. Im sure passnegers say that they want frequency over capacity but i doubt these surveys mention that this frequncy will eliminate FC seats in most senarios, not as mentioned above allow roll on carry ons, be cramped and louder then a mainline. A good number of people i know hate RJ's and even though like frequncy, want a main line aircraft more. Therefore it is the airlines fault for not listning to the passengers and in my opinion the research and development guys for the airlines messed up on that one. The customer is always right.
 
goingboeing
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RE: Travel Agents: Does Rise Of RJs Affect Bookings?

Tue Dec 16, 2003 3:32 am

What "noise level" was the WSJ referring to? Engine noise or what?

It was the noise level inside the cabin. They compared several.
 
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PA110
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RE: Travel Agents: Does Rise Of RJs Affect Bookings?

Tue Dec 16, 2003 3:42 am

From a tour operator perspective, the increased use of RJ's has caused considerable disruption to programs, both foreign and domestic. UA, for example, only allocates 50% of available capacity to groups. An 50 seat CRJ means that group size is limited to a maximum of 25 seats, if you get to the flight before any sales were made. Most escorted coach programs use 40 seat motorcoaches. Coupled with varying degrees of frequency, it becomes both difficult and costly to split a group of 40 amongst two different flights.

As far as preferences, most escorted tour clients generally don't care what equipment they are on. They just want the comfort of knowing they are being met and escorted. Many are fairly unseasoned travelers and wouldn't know one aircraft type from another.
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Leskova
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RE: Travel Agents: Does Rise Of RJs Affect Bookings?

Tue Dec 16, 2003 3:49 am

Well, I guess - as Flyboyaz has stated - they probably might be complaining at the airport (and for some reason that I cannot even begin to imagine not with us... usually we even get complaints if pax think that lunch on board was bad...).

Currently the trend here really is something along the lines of "as long as it's not a prop, I don't care"... might change at some point, but it's been this way for the last 4-5 years...
Smile - it confuses people!
 
ssides
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RE: Travel Agents: Does Rise Of RJs Affect Bookings?

Tue Dec 16, 2003 3:52 am

Therefore it is the airlines fault for not listning to the passengers and in my opinion the research and development guys for the airlines messed up on that one. The customer is always right.

Remember that customers speak with more than just their comments. They also speak with their pocketbook. As I stated before, would you rather have RJ service or no service at all?

In many of these markets, airlines couldn't make a profit if they didn't fly RJs. As passengers become more cost-conscious, they also have to accept that the airlines will become cost-conscious as well. This is what has driven the RJ phenomenon, and unless it changes, I suspect you will see RJs grow. When I say passengers are to "blame" for the growth of RJs, that may be too strong of a word. But the fact that fewer people are traveling on business, along with the fact that more people are paying lower and lower fares, has caused airlines to dramatically change the way they do business. For better or for worse, this means RJs.
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latinaviation
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RE: Travel Agents: Does Rise Of RJs Affect Bookings?

Tue Dec 16, 2003 3:55 am

I would say the biggest distinction is in corporate sales, where "road warriors" definitely know the difference between aircraft and will avoid RJs at any cost on longer sectors. One of the most frequent reasons our company has non-compliance on our corporate contracts with airlines is because of long-haul RJ usage. While he may be the exception, my vp will take a connection rather than sit in a RJ on a sector greater than 2 hours.
 
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RE: Travel Agents: Does Rise Of RJs Affect Bookings?

Tue Dec 16, 2003 4:08 am

Interesting. How do corporate contracts with airlines work nowadays? Do they include an airline's regional partner? If so, if RJ usage continues to grow, would you expect "road warriors" to try to exercise leverage on airlines that would allow them to fly other airlines' mainline jets?
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B4REAL
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RE: Travel Agents: Does Rise Of RJs Affect Bookings?

Tue Dec 16, 2003 4:09 am

I agree with LatinAviation . I will make flight purchase decisions based on the type of aircraft.

I am sure others do that as well.
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latinaviation
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RE: Travel Agents: Does Rise Of RJs Affect Bookings?

Tue Dec 16, 2003 4:41 am

They absolutely do, Stephen. Corporate contracts vary widely based on total spend, but the core remains the same. Often, if an airline wants to capture greater share or enters a new market they will offer incentives to the corporate with "back end" deals; essentially, a sweetener based on how much revenue the company generates a certain airline on a certain route and, in some cases, in certain fare classes.

In general, few corporate customers, or road warriors, have that much leverage to dictate what type of aircraft goes on what route. However, if an airline that uses an RJ continues to lose share, particularly corporate share, to another airline that uses a mainline jet, one would assume they would make a prudent business decision and switch aircraft types, all other variables being equal.

With technology, though, it is getting more and more difficult to not use a corporation's preferred airline at the staff-level, though this probably doesn't apply to many of the "road warriors". Many corporations have customized software that handles staff travel just like a procurement function, leaving little chance for non-compliance regardless of aircraft type.
 
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fanoftristars
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RE: Travel Agents: Does Rise Of RJs Affect Booking

Tue Dec 16, 2003 4:44 am

Because my company only pays for Economy tickets for us, I don't mind the CRJ's if they'll get me where I want to go without a connection or get me there at an ungodly hour...  Smile However, I could see how the elites would be quite upset. Some airlines are addressing this (I know America West Express has a "first class" cabin in their CRJ700s, and most likely in their -900s)

It's sad to see the big planes go and I should know... DL is cutting back SLC's mainline and replacing it with more Skywest CRJs. It's just getting used to today's market. Our onsite travel agent does get requests not to be on a RJ, and she'll warn us if she's booking a flight to make sure it's ok. Like I said, I don't mind.
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