flymd
Posts: 166
Joined: Sat Sep 30, 2006 10:34 am

Why Ted, Song And The Like?

Mon Dec 11, 2006 1:07 am

I do apologize if this has been discussed before, I did a search and did not really come up with anything.

Having just come back from a year end mileage boosting weekend, I flew many UA flights including 4 on Ted. This was not my first time on Ted, but flying Ted did bring up a question in my mind.

What is the purpose of low cost divisions like Ted and Song?. With Ted, it appears as though they use mainline aircraft (just re-painted), mainline crew (presumably still on the same wage scale) and service that is no different than what you get on a mainline flight (i.e. same IFE and same meal service-or lack thereof). As a "new airline" certainly they can't have better fuel hedges than their parent. So how exactly does making certain "vacation" routes Ted or Song flight vs. mainline flights make the parent company money?

Any thoughts are greatly appreciated, thanks
Fly the friendly skies of life!. Enjoy every minute.
 
USPIT10L
Posts: 1866
Joined: Tue Mar 28, 2006 12:24 am

RE: Why Ted, Song And The Like?

Mon Dec 11, 2006 1:39 am

Quoting FlyMD (Thread starter):
What is the purpose of low cost divisions like Ted and Song?. With Ted, it appears as though they use mainline aircraft (just re-painted), mainline crew (presumably still on the same wage scale) and service that is no different than what you get on a mainline flight (i.e. same IFE and same meal service-or lack thereof). As a "new airline" certainly they can't have better fuel hedges than their parent. So how exactly does making certain "vacation" routes Ted or Song flight vs. mainline flights make the parent company money?

Most of the "airline-within-an-airline" operations don't work for most of the reasons you just listed, not to mention that they're operated by mainline people on mainline contracts. So the airline that creates them doesn't generate much, if any, profit. Usually they're set to compete with a LCC that has seriously built up a presence in their network. So it's basically just a massive retaliatory route adjustment.

Song was different. Delta used it initially to compete with jetBlue, but as that turned sour and the company went into an overall different direction, Song was used to experiment with what customers really want in medium and long-haul domestic travel. So they took the ideas they got from Song and put them into their mainline transcontinental flying product. As these are initiated and spread throughout Delta's network, they may end up having the best transcontinental and international product among US carriers.
It's a Great Day for Hockey!
 
srbmod
Posts: 15446
Joined: Tue Mar 20, 2001 1:32 pm

RE: Why Ted, Song And The Like?

Mon Dec 11, 2006 2:11 am

Some of the "Big Six" in their infinite wisdom, decided to play the "If You Can't Beat 'Em, Join 'Em" Game in response to the increase in marketshare of LCCs during the Mid-90s and again in the post-9/11 days. In the past, most new entrant LCCs were easy to kill off, just undercut them on or match their fares and keep your customers. After the demise of Eastern and Pan Am in the early 1990s coupled with cutbacks at other airlines, several airports became virtual monopolies for airlines like Delta, USAir, and United. It was during this time period that Southwest began the expansion that has made it the dominant LCC in America. Southwest came in and took on USAir @ BWI. TWA tried to take on Delta @ ATL but was thrashed not only by Delta but by several startups @ ATL as well (Valujet, Kiwi International, Air South). United had DEN to itself after CO cut their hub in Denver. You had upstart Western Pacific over in COS, and a reborn Frontier @ DEN, along with Southwest entering the west coast in a major way via the Morris Air buyout.

With Southwest and later a host of other LCCs giving US, UA, CO, and DL fits, those airlines decided to counter it with "airlines within the airline". Continental struck first in 1993 with it's Continental Lite (CALite) concept. It lasted a few years before CO ended it. Then United started it's West Coast LCC concept Shuttle by United/United Shuttle. Delta introduced Delta Express in 1996 and based it out of MCO because it was the most popular destination the majority of the LCC competition flew to. Then in 1998, US Airways launched Metrojet.

After 9/11, things changed. As part of the cutbacks airlines were making, UA axed their United Shuttle and US Airways their Metrojet operation. Delta kept Delta Express around for another few years until it was fully replaced by the more upscale Song and United soon there after launched Ted. Song and Ted were pretty much aimed at Frontier, JetBlue, and to a small extent, AirTran. WN, FL, F9, and B6 were the airlines that were doing better than the competition, and in many cases, were offering superior service to what the Big Six had on many routes.

The one thing about the "airline within an airline" concept is that you end up alienating some of you customer base. This is something CO learned with their ill-fated Continental Lite concept. Imagine flying one leg on regular CO up in first class and the flight you're connecting on is CO Lite service. Same can be said flying UA. There are certain cities where the only UA service is Ted (Like LAS). Some of this is also the same complaints frequently fliers have made in regards to the regional jet operations as well (and is part of the reason why a first class cabin is appearing in more and more a/c flown by regional affliates).
 
User avatar
mariner
Posts: 18114
Joined: Fri Nov 23, 2001 7:29 am

RE: Why Ted, Song And The Like?

Mon Dec 11, 2006 2:31 am

Quoting Srbmod (Reply 2):
Same can be said flying UA. There are certain cities where the only UA service is Ted (Like LAS).

I think Ted wll last about as long as Mr. Tilton is CEO of United.

Ted was his first "big decision" when he took the helm of the airline - it was suggested by outside advisors, McKinsey and Co, and Mr. Tilton, who had no airline background, embraced it totally.

And Ted served some purpose. It gave people the idea that United was "fighting back" against the LCC's, and it certainly boosted staff morale.

The downside, as you note, is a certain alienation of some premium passengers.

Times have changed. There is now a belief that the legacies will survive, and that the LCC's are struggling more.

So Ted does fine, but there is no real reason for Ted these days.

mariner
aeternum nauta
 
Logos
Posts: 606
Joined: Mon Jan 24, 2000 10:47 pm

RE: Why Ted, Song And The Like?

Mon Dec 11, 2006 11:00 pm

Interesting that this topic just came up as I was browsing some photos of mothballed aircraft and saw some MetroJet 732s among them and realized that Ted is the last of that species. I flew Song several times back and forth to BOS a couple of years ago and found the best feature that the plane was reliably no more than half full, always giving me plenty of room to stretch out.

I would agree that Ted's days are numbered one way or another for all the reasons noted above, not the least of which is the fact that they have no de facto cost savings over a United mainline product. It's not that it's a bad product, it's just that there is no real justification for it.

Like LAS, we're down to almost exclusively Ted flights here in MCO.

Cheers,
Dave in Orlando
Too many types flown to list
 
Jammin
Posts: 128
Joined: Fri Nov 10, 2006 7:56 am

RE: Why Ted, Song And The Like?

Tue Dec 12, 2006 6:00 am

Interesting topic.

I flew UA recently ORD-DEN with some ski buddies and one of them told me never to fly TED because they lost/misplaced his bags every time he flew them. I told him UA and TED were the same, but he didn't want to believe it  shhh  maybe because he wanted our skis to arrive with us on this flight...  biggrin 
Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery. None but ourselves can free our mind.
 
SJUboeingGirl
Posts: 247
Joined: Fri Nov 12, 2004 6:10 am

RE: Why Ted, Song And The Like?

Tue Dec 12, 2006 10:32 pm

wohoo I'm flying Ted for the first time this Christmas and while I was looking for a ticket online I saw that United stops at St.Thomas and then SJU. That's crazy, why would they fly their 757 for a 20 min flight??
If it's not Boeing, I ain't Going!

Who is online