AWACSooner
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Decline Of Airline Travel In The US (NYT Article)

Mon Aug 26, 2013 7:57 am

First of all, this thread is meant to discuss this article, not to start an all-out brawl at any specific airline (even though one is mentioned in the article):
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/24/wo...vel-is-not-what-it-used-to-be.html

I believe that it perfectly states both the economic state of affairs in the US airline industry post-bailout as well as the current mental state of the majority of customer service folks I have encountered over the past few years. The loss of services, the nickel and dime fees, the de-humanizing of customer service...to me, this is the proverbial "frog in the boiling water scenario." Ten years ago, if we would have been discussing all the changes that have come to the airlines with the fees and the diminishing services, most of us would have been completely and utterly enraged at any particular airline that would dare to take away such perks from us...akin to throwing the frog into boiling water to see him jump out. But instead, the airline industry has slowly "boiled us" with fuel fees, baggage fees, fees for credit cards, fees for phone tickets, fees for carry-ons, smaller planes, reduced frequencies, no more free snacks (or drinks on some carriers), etc.

I think the industry as a whole is a great case study in business ethics about how a business as a whole starts out by treating customers as friends and family and ends up treating them like a wallet with disposable income.
 
jetblueguy22
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RE: Decline Of Airline Travel In The US (NYT Article)

Mon Aug 26, 2013 8:15 am

Quoting awacsooner (Thread starter):
The loss of services, the nickel and dime fees, the de-humanizing of customer service...to me, this is the proverbial "frog in the boiling water scenario."

I disagree. Consumers can act and have. But they won't sacrifice price for perks.

Quoting awacsooner (Thread starter):
But instead, the airline industry has slowly "boiled us" with fuel fees, baggage fees, fees for credit cards, fees for phone tickets, fees for carry-ons, smaller planes, reduced frequencies, no more free snacks (or drinks on some carriers), etc.

The airlines have done most of this, which is pretty crazy. But I place a large part of the blame with the consumer. If Joe Schmo the business traveler would pay the 50 bucks extra to fly his airline of choice to PVD we wouldn't have this problem. Instead the consumer goes for the lowest fare they can find and books it. When they do that airlines need to find revenue from somewhere else. Baggage fees are great and mean they have less personnel and extra revenue. Credit card fees haven't been charged on the airlines I've flown recently. Phone charges make sense. This isn't 1984 anymore. Everybody has a link to the internet. I have three devices right now that can go and book a flight on any airline within reach. I think airlines should charge for phone ticketing because you are actually getting serviced by someone who is getting paid. Not a server in Idaho. That I don't blame them for. The carry on fees are limited to ULCCs who offer one way fares from 29 dollars. It's tough to complain about being charged another 30 bucks for carryon when your roundtrip ticket on Spirit was a third of what AA cost. Now the smaller planes I don't really buy. 5 years ago I would agree. But the 50 seat RJs are leaving in favor of larger regional jets. Frankly I'd rather take an E-170 over a 737 any day of the week. There is also no such thing as a free snack. You pay for it somewhere. If I have to forego my sip of coke and my 3 mini pretzels, so be it.

Quoting awacsooner (Thread starter):
I think the industry as a whole is a great case study in business ethics about how a business as a whole starts out by treating customers as friends and family and ends up treating them like a wallet with disposable income

So now the airlines are evil for treating everybody how every other business in the world treats people? Frankly we have to get the 1960s image of air travel out of our heads. It is gone. Yeah travel was hip and comfortable back in the day. But I'll take the safety we've gained in those decades along with the rudeness just fine. When you grow up in the northeast the rudeness becomes a part of daily life. The airlines are finally in a place where they are making money and doing well for themselves. They've matured and it was about time.
Pat
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MaverickM11
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RE: Decline Of Airline Travel In The US (NYT Article)

Mon Aug 26, 2013 8:27 am

Boo frickin hoo--passengers are getting exactly what they pay for. Everyone can start paying '60s era airfares, adjusted for inflation, and we'll go right back to those 'golden days' that were really never that golden to begin with.
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777fan
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RE: Decline Of Airline Travel In The US (NYT Article)

Mon Aug 26, 2013 8:59 am

Admittedly, I haven't yet read the article but would attribute some of the shift on passengers themselves. Flying used to be a "special" event during which people would dress appropriately, treat the crew with respect or even deference, and relish the opportunity to get from point A to point B in a comfortable, expedient manner. Step on a plane in the continental US these days and you'll often see just the opposite with passengers harboring an outwardly hostile attitude (i.e.: "I paid for this ticket, therefore you work for me") and an unrealistic expectations with regard to service. Part of it is no doubt the result of industry-wide pressures, but part is almost certainly (IMO) the result of the "dumbing-down" of American culture, and the erosion of basic manners, courtesy, and tact.

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shufflemoomin
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RE: Decline Of Airline Travel In The US (NYT Article)

Mon Aug 26, 2013 9:33 am

I find the process of flying in the US, and on US carriers, to be vastly different to that in Europe. An airport in the US, like a lot of other things there, has this culture of "fear". They're constantly reminding you of the "boogyman" and to be aware of it. Everyone is acting more like security guards than customer service agents. The border patrol with the black uniforms and the gun. Having your finger prints and picture taken by the man in the booth and and being asked serious questions and treated like you're under suspicion all the time. The TSA dressing (and acting) like police officers doesn't help. Even in the air, the flight attendants of taken on an air of superiority and are thinking and acting like they're the flying police force. Just about everyone I've dealt with in a US airport or in the air has forgotten that they're in the service industry. It's just not a nice experience. Last time I visited was from Copenhagen to Newark. The airport in CPH was a relaxed affair. The flight on SAS, despite being far from luxury, was also a relaxing experience. Then you arrive in Newark and the stress begins. I go out of my way to avoid US airlines and I look elsewhere for vacations now.
 
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usdcaguy
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RE: Decline Of Airline Travel In The US (NYT Article)

Mon Aug 26, 2013 10:17 am

One of things that disappeared years ago was the opportunity to help the passenger directly when checking them in. Nowadays the passenger can do almost everything directly with the kiosk or the website. The fact that they have alternate flights at their fingertips puts them in charge. While I do not think the attitude of the flight attendants has changed significantly in the past 10-12 years, I find that many customer service agents are not courteous enough. They no longer defer to the passenger and instead brutally enforce airline policy no matter how it makes customers feel. There is no sense that rules are guidelines; everything is enforced, and if you get out line, you get yelled at. That's what happens when profit takes a seat above dignity.
 
koruman
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RE: Decline Of Airline Travel In The US (NYT Article)

Mon Aug 26, 2013 10:44 am

Quoting jetblueguy22 (Reply 1):
Consumers can act and have. But they won't sacrifice price for perks.

Yes and no.

The problem, to be frank, can be split into two halves:

1) The American consumer behaves like a European LCC consumer even if s/he is a legacy passenger. They are obsessed by lead-in price.

2) The legality of pseudo-monopoly practices in US aviation allows the legacy carriers to act in lockstep in terms of reducing amenities, so that no carrier is at a competitive disadvantage.

It is true that in Europe many passengers accept the no free bag / no free IFE / no catering product that American passengers do, but when they fly LCCs. The difference is that in the USA this appalling service level applies to even long-haul domestic flights (e.g. Hawaii) and is practised by legacy carriers.

In contrast, where I live in Australia the dominant domestic airline's tickets include luggage, AVOD, food and drink even in Economy Class, and the next competitor has elected to move upmarket to include more of these amenities so that it can raise its yields. As you would expect in any sane market, if the vendor reduces quality, the yield falls. Sadly this is not true in US aviation.

But most of the problem is the dysfunctional state of ticket sales. Instead of having four legacy carriers pitched at different market niches from full-service to no-frills, there are four legacy clones, differing only by the location of their hubs. And whereas in the rest of the world, First/Business class ticket sales are a massive profit driver (or else the cabins are removed), in the USA the legacy carriers have to comp access to their elites or else face a competitive disadvantage.

This absurd state of affairs has two sets of long-suffering victims. The first is the legacy airline passengers, who endure service standards beneath those offered by legacy carriers in places with similar sector lengths (Australia, South Africa, East Asia). Their lack of choice is evocative of consumers in the old Soviet Union. Again and again I hear "if you want a meal, buy a First Class ticket", which is like saying "no cars will have electric windows unless you buy a Mercedes". And the other victims are the shareholders, whose companies repeatedly sink into bankruptcy in this twisted, anti-competitive "market".
 
MaverickM11
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RE: Decline Of Airline Travel In The US (NYT Article)

Mon Aug 26, 2013 10:55 am

Quoting koruman (Reply 6):
1) The American consumer behaves like a European LCC consumer even if s/he is a legacy passenger. They are obsessed by lead-in price.

It's not an American consumer behavior--it's a human behavior, and it is proven over, and over, all over the world.

Quoting koruman (Reply 6):
2) The legality of pseudo-monopoly practices in US aviation allows the legacy carriers to act in lockstep in terms of reducing amenities, so that no carrier is at a competitive disadvantage.

This is total nonsense. The most profitable carriers in the Americas now are G4, NK, and CM, all which have varying levels of amenties, down to zero.

Quoting koruman (Reply 6):
In contrast, where I live in Australia the dominant domestic airline's tickets include luggage, AVOD, food and drink even in Economy Class
JQ started serving meals for free? In any case Australian domestic capacity is largely controlled by two carriers; the QF group and VA control almost 90% of the domestic capacity, so competition isn't even within the same galaxy of the US. Do you know how many US carriers control 90% of the domestic capacity? At least eight. And QF continues to swap capacity out for JQ, probably because those darn Yankees are flooding the Australian market and demanding lower ticket prices right? 

[Edited 2013-08-26 04:04:24]
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freakyrat
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RE: Decline Of Airline Travel In The US (NYT Article)

Mon Aug 26, 2013 11:44 am

Airlines in the US also start routes and then sometimes do not charge the proper fares to make a decent yield even though they are filling the planes.

A LCC in the US which isn't so Low Cost anymore is WN. You buy your ticket and you know exactly what you are getting is basic transportation from point A to Point B. They are good at what they do and you are at least treated right.

I took two flights in Europe last year an BA and LH. Both were very good. One was on a Eurowings CRJ900 between AMS and HAM and back. Both flights they served light meals on.

The other flight on BA was between LHR and HAM and back and both flights on the A320 and A321 they served light meals on.

The BA crews were very attentive and the female flight attendants on BA were dressed in the retro look pillbox hats. I thought there whole look was very formal and very British. I actually liked it.

The Eurowings crews also were also very proper and formal.

I could just sense a direct contrast between the service in Europe as opposed to the US.
 
swaluvfa
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RE: Decline Of Airline Travel In The US (NYT Article)

Mon Aug 26, 2013 12:51 pm

Quoting 777fan (Reply 3):

You so perfectly hit the nail on the head with that statement!


Another really simple reason for all of the change the last 15 years, is the dramatic shift in pricing power. Not saying that it was necessarily a bad thing, but very clear and apparent. Up until around 15 years ago, the airlines had the pricing power. The majority of consumers did not have access to internet booking, so they just had to go with the airline that they knew in their city, or call the different airlines to get the different fares. The airlines knew this, and could price the fares accordingly. As the internet boom took off in the late 90s and early 2000s, the pricing power VERY QUICKLY shifted from the airline to the consumer. The consumer consistently wanted the rock bottom, lowest fare, and the airlines HAD to be radical and drastic to meet this new reality of pricing. Again, was this a bad thing, NO, but you get what you ask for and pay for.
 
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coronado
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RE: Decline Of Airline Travel In The US (NYT Article)

Mon Aug 26, 2013 1:07 pm

I think long haul flight is up.
What has changed is a the dramatic reduction in short haul flying.
Years ago it was common for a businessperson to fly from DTW to ORD or MDW, but the hassles of having to be at the airport so early for security, the grossly inflated block times because of ATC delays, and the cost of transportation at the Chicago end means I know a lot of people who used to fly but now drive 4 hours each way. Frankly I found myself often driving from Minneapolis to Chicago. The 7 hour drive time door to door especially when my first appointments were going to be in the far northern suburbs did not seem bad compared to an effective travel time of 4 1/2 hours by air (from time I had to leave the house to the time I checked into a hotel in Deerfield IL.

I had another friend who similarly stopped flying on his frequent trips to Indianapolis from DTW. He lives in Ann Arbor and found it just as fast or faster to just get in the car and drive.
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incitatus
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RE: Decline Of Airline Travel In The US (NYT Article)

Mon Aug 26, 2013 1:20 pm

Quoting koruman (Reply 6):
2) The legality of pseudo-monopoly practices in US aviation allows the legacy carriers to act in lockstep in terms of reducing amenities, so that no carrier is at a competitive disadvantage.

I would expect practices called "pseudo-monopoly" to lead to pseudo-monopoly profits. Where are they?
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questions
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RE: Decline Of Airline Travel In The US (NYT Article)

Mon Aug 26, 2013 1:30 pm

Quoting jetblueguy22 (Reply 1):
But I place a large part of the blame with the consumer. If Joe Schmo the business traveler would pay the 50 bucks extra to fly his airline of choice to PVD we wouldn't have this problem. Instead the consumer goes for the lowest fare they can find and books it.
Quoting koruman (Reply 6):
The American consumer behaves like a European LCC consumer even if s/he is a legacy passenger. They are obsessed by lead-in price.
Quoting swaluvfa (Reply 9):
The majority of consumers did not have access to internet booking, so they just had to go with the airline that they knew in their city, or call the different airlines to get the different fares. The airlines knew this, and could price the fares accordingly. As the internet boom took off in the late 90s and early 2000s, the pricing power VERY QUICKLY shifted from the airline to the consumer. The consumer consistently wanted the rock bottom, lowest fare, and the airlines HAD to be radical and drastic to meet this new reality of pricing.

But who is the "consumer"... the flyers or the corporations purchasing the tickets for flyers. A lot of corporate travel policies require the employee to book the lowest fares and exception reports point out those who do not.

Quoting awacsooner (Thread starter):
the US airline industry... baggage fees, fees for credit cards, fees for phone tickets...

Didn't Air Canada go before US legacy carriers in implementing these pricing models... or "unbundling of services"?

Quoting 777fan (Reply 3):
Flying used to be a "special" event during which people would dress appropriately, treat the crew with respect or even deference, and relish the opportunity to get from point A to point B in a comfortable, expedient manner.

Air travel for a lot of folks today is about commuting to work and is therefore more of a necessity.

Quoting 777fan (Reply 3):
but part is almost certainly (IMO) the result of the "dumbing-down" of American culture, and the erosion of basic manners, courtesy, and tact.

Absolutely agree. Very me-me-me vs the rest of the world.
 
dtw2hyd
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RE: Decline Of Airline Travel In The US (NYT Article)

Mon Aug 26, 2013 1:38 pm

Quoting MaverickM11 (Reply 7):
The most profitable carriers in the Americas now are G4, NK, and CM, all which have varying levels of amenities, down to zero.

Agreed but why should legacies compare themselves with LCCs? Shouldn't they offer a better all inclusive Y class at a higher price to a segment of passengers who are ready to pay more for better product. Or else re-launch as LCC. They want to be called legacies, want to offer LCC product, yet cannot make profits.
 
MaverickM11
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RE: Decline Of Airline Travel In The US (NYT Article)

Mon Aug 26, 2013 1:44 pm

Quoting DTW2HYD (Reply 13):
a segment of passengers who are ready to pay more for better product

If there was such an animal, it would have been discovered by now.
E pur si muove -Galileo
 
Italianflyer
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RE: Decline Of Airline Travel In The US (NYT Article)

Mon Aug 26, 2013 1:58 pm

Quoting MaverickM11 (Reply 14):
Quoting DTW2HYD (Reply 13):
a segment of passengers who are ready to pay more for better product

If there was such an animal, it would have been discovered by now.

Just look at Virgin America to see how well that has worked out lol.
 
dtw2hyd
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RE: Decline Of Airline Travel In The US (NYT Article)

Mon Aug 26, 2013 2:03 pm

Quoting ItalianFlyer (Reply 15):
Quoting MaverickM11 (Reply 14):
Quoting DTW2HYD (Reply 13):
a segment of passengers who are ready to pay more for better product

If there was such an animal, it would have been discovered by now.

Just look at Virgin America to see how well that has worked out lol.

I guess race to bottom is the only option.
 
questions
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RE: Decline Of Airline Travel In The US (NYT Article)

Mon Aug 26, 2013 2:05 pm

But there are a lot of positive trade-offs that people would not want to give up to go back to those glamourous days of the golden age of flying.

1. Having to call several airlines or a travel agent who you may not know whether or not they are doing a thorough job in providing the best routing and pricing. I think most would prefer to have all the information at their finger tips to make a better ticket purchasing decision -- which contrary to popular belief can be driven by other things, such as better routing

2. Walking into an airline terminal and having to stand in line for 45 minutes to check-in and get a boarding pass. I think most would prefer to do this at home/office, on a mobile device, or at a kiosk

3. Limited food options in terminals past security. Hot dogs, popcorn anyone? While some may want to romanticize inflight meals they were never really that good. US airlines doing away with them has led to better options in most terminals to eat before hand or bring on board

4. Having to hold onto that paper ticket. Who would want to have to do that again?

Yes, we all miss 2-4-3 seating on the B747... the standard 34" seat pitch... young, thin, immaculate FA's in go go boots. But would we really want to go back to those days and give up the advances we have today??
 
airbazar
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RE: Decline Of Airline Travel In The US (NYT Article)

Mon Aug 26, 2013 2:15 pm

Quoting jetblueguy22 (Reply 1):
Instead the consumer goes for the lowest fare they can find and books it. When they do that airlines need to find revenue from somewhere else.

The "lowest fare" is supplied by the airline. The consumer does not dictate what the fare is. The airline does. So if the airline can't make a profit with X fare while providing a decent service, then they should raise it to the amount necessary. I always stated and will continue to state this: The race to the bottom affords only short term gains which benefit only the airline executives and Wallstreet. In the long run it will drive away passengers, destroy jobs, and invite more government regulation which in trerm will make things even worse. The fuel surcharge is a perfect example of this lunacy. The airfare is supposed to cover the cost of transporting the passenger. Does that not include fuel?
 
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mats
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RE: Decline Of Airline Travel In The US (NYT Article)

Mon Aug 26, 2013 2:19 pm

There are many aspects of American air travel that work:
1. It's safe; in fact, it's incredibly safe.

2. Although it's rarely a bargain, airfares in the US are often affordable, even if one tacks on ancillary fees. With the addition of Expedia, Travelocity, Orbitz, ITA, and others, the system is now more transparent than ever.

3. You can fly just about anywhere in the US. Some airports have monopolies, making them more expensive, but we have the country very well covered. International hubs are bigger and easier. If planned correctly, one no longer has to claim bags, recheck with another carrier, re-clear security, etc. to go from domestic to international flights.

4. There is variation among carriers, but we have web sites and mobile applications that make the process simpler. We no longer have to call and wait fora person to answer and tell us if a flight is on time.

5. Frequent flyer programs, despite their devaluation and other frustrations, are real. The airlines really do reward loyalty with free tickets every day. They're not "free" in the grand scheme of things, but it's a real and often useful system.

6. Legislators support the flying public in many ways. Delays and baggage fees have caught the attention of Congress.

And here's what isn't working:
1. It's packed. Planes are smaller, and there is little room for error. The agent might want to put you on the next flight, but it's full. So is the next flight. So is the next flight, and so is the next flight after that.

2. Delays at major hubs (La Guardia, Newark, San Francisco) are brutal. These delays have always been there, but now there isn't any "wiggle room." There is no other flight, no other airline, nothing to do but wait.

3. The TSA. The only thing that has improved has been the introduction of PreCheck and the removal of most full-body x-ray equipment. In my view, they are the greatest disruption to the flying experience.

4. Outsourcing. The agents at a desk might not be able to help because they don't work for the airline you're flying. These are often kind, helpful people, but they work for someone else.

5. Nickel-and-diming. I've only paid a baggage fee once in my life (on the defunct PLUNA), but I think it's unfair. Unfortunately, it's been a financial boon to airlines with low margins. Paying for add-ons really bothers customers, especially when it means that the airline over-promises and under-delivers. It's even more appalling when one has an expensive ticket. I was shocked that I bought a revenue first class domestic ticket on US Airways, and they wanted extra money for me to choose an aisle seat.

Savvy travelers can use credit cards to skip bag fees, but it's an imperfect system. Airline food has been a problem for decades, but I still struggle with the idea of "a la carte" pricing for flights from--say--Dulles to Honolulu. Kudos to Hawaiian Airlines for toughing it out and providing complimentary meals. First class suffers too. The food may be complimentary, but have you seen what and how US Airways serves on transcons?

6. The clubs are sad. Free WiFi and usually clean bathrooms make them worthwhile. But they're often over-crowded, over-priced, with weak coffee and nothing to eat. At $400-500 per year, the airlines can do a lot better.

My own advice to travelers is as follows:

1. Passengers should have low expectations. Delays happen. They're awful, and they're nothing new. Bags get lost, flights get overbooked. These are all familiar, they're just a really awful part of life. Anger doesn't solve the situation. If there is no plane or no crew, it's not helpful to scream at the gate agent. He or she is powerless too.

2. Plan as carefully as possible. Avoid very tight connections or a 5:00 pm out of a New York airport.

3. Pay up. It's hard to do this in tough economic times, but it can be really worth it to fork over money for premium economy, WiFi, or other amenities that might make the trip more bearable.

4. Loyalty matters, like it or not. The airlines really do stratify people based on their loyalty and credit card status. If one flies enough, it's worth sticking to a single carrier or alliance, getting the credit card (usually less than $100) to make life easier. It's helped me enormously. Sometimes I'm ticked off at United, but they tend to be a lot nicer to me when problems happen.

5. Look out the window. It's still amazing.

6. Wear your seatbelt. Everyone is so busy worrying about terrorism that they're in a rush to display their shoes to the TSA. If one looks at the data, the number one source of injury is an unfastened seatbelt. Yes, I know, sometimes the sign is illuminated for too long, sometimes it makes no sense, sometimes crews are overly vigilant or indifferent. Take some responsibility and buckle up.

7. Don't get drunk.

8. Get earplugs or noise-cancelling headsets. Babies are going to be crying; they cant help it (they're babies.) Parents can try every trick in the book, and the kids will still scream. So get a tablet or iPod, some noise-cancelling headsets, and drown them out.
 
AT
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RE: Decline Of Airline Travel In The US (NYT Article)

Mon Aug 26, 2013 2:20 pm

I would also partly "blame" the internet for this. As more and more of the flying process becomes automated, the human contact progressively decreases.

A woman sitting next to me on a flight several years ago, whose calls on the flight attendant button went repeatedly unanswered said to me something I have not forgotten: when it comes to safety needs, it's the passenger's job to listen to the crew. But when it concerns comfort needs, it's equally the crew's job to listen to the passenger. By and large airlines seem to do this pretty well.
 
Flighty
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RE: Decline Of Airline Travel In The US (NYT Article)

Mon Aug 26, 2013 2:40 pm

Outfits like the NYT and NPR are called "bleeding hearts" because it describes their mindset about all situations and all topics.

In 1999, tickets were "too expensive" which "hurt poor Americans."

In 2002-2008, airlines had over-capacity that "decimated blue collar airline worker pensions and jobs." (And had record affordable ticket prices... but never mind that).

In 2009-2013, one certainly struggles to locate bad news in the airline sector. Despite overall improved comfort, reliability and job security for workers... now BAG FEES result in "an ineffable, overall decline" and "malaise" in the minds of upper middle class, hyper literate airline travel journalists.

NYT/NPR are where sour puss things are discussed. Nothing new.
 
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rotating14
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RE: Decline Of Airline Travel In The US (NYT Article)

Mon Aug 26, 2013 2:41 pm

Quoting AT (Reply 20):
I would also partly "blame" the internet for this. As more and more of the flying process becomes automated, the human contact progressively decreases.

Internet, automation and the icing? Convenience. As the saying goes, we all like water and follow the path of least resistance. Those, like most, looking for the best possible price go to sites (Expedia, Orbitz, Hotwire, Cheaptickets, etc) where the work is already done and packaged for you, all one has to do is buy and fly. Who wants to go through the trouble of booking and shopping different airlines for the best deal?
 
questions
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RE: Decline Of Airline Travel In The US (NYT Article)

Mon Aug 26, 2013 2:52 pm

Quoting Mats (Reply 19):
My own advice to travelers is as follows:

9. Never expect an airline to take care of you when things go wrong.

10. ALWAYS have a Plan B. Educate yourself about where you are going, how you are getting there, and options. You can only depend on you.
 
ATLTPA
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RE: Decline Of Airline Travel In The US (NYT Article)

Mon Aug 26, 2013 2:56 pm

I think it is reasonable for all fliers to expect courteous, friendly service at any price point paid, no matter the extras or upsells they've gone for.

That seems to be missing out there--or at least in my frequent travels. I run into a lot of rudeness towards passengers on the part of all-too-many airline employees. That shouldn't be (I don't even see that at McDonald's). Never mind the fact that I am a good and loyal customer of the airline I use.

I agree with the consensus here that most airline passengers book based on price alone, making this process of upselling almost compulsory if the airlines are to make profits. Interesting that the consumer is so hyper aware of pricing on gasoline and airline tickets like no other segments of retailing.

ATLTPA
 
gegarrenton
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RE: Decline Of Airline Travel In The US (NYT Article)

Mon Aug 26, 2013 2:57 pm

Quoting jetblueguy22 (Reply 1):
Phone charges make sense. This isn't 1984 anymore. Everybody has a link to the internet.

Until we have the same power and flexibility as a phone agent, this is a complete nonstarter.

Quoting jetblueguy22 (Reply 1):
But I'll take the safety we've gained in those decades along with the rudeness just fine. When you grow up in the northeast the rudeness becomes a part of daily life.

This is just sad. There is no excuse for rudeness ever. Rudeness is a personal failing on an individuals part, because they can't get over themselves. It's an outward manifestation of selfishness.
 
DCA-ROCguy
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RE: Decline Of Airline Travel In The US (NYT Article)

Mon Aug 26, 2013 3:03 pm

This article is one person's musings on a few experiences with one airline. I wouldn't give it much credence.

Air travel gives me exactly what I want: reliable, safe access from point A to point B. Just a little planning effort makes it remarkably unlikely that you'll have a big delay or other problem. As noted above, don't book through a NYC-area airport at 5pm. I mostly fly WN, so I rarely have to deal with bag fees. And BWI and MDW are not, in my experience-congestion-prone hubs. Do delays happen sometimes, even there? Yes. But that's life.

I want terminals to work. It's great if they're beautiful, like YVR for instance, but function at reasonable cost matters most. So what if LAX is an ugly airport, for instance. It works extremely well, you're all just squeezed in tightly, that's all. Just like the planes on the apron there are.   And as long as there's decent food in the terminal, just give me something to drink on the plane. Most airports I visit have very good or at least acceptable food options nowadays.

Airline CSR's and FA's have been consistently professional and helpful in my many travels this year. Including a recent YVR-ORD-DCA on United, and ORD-ROC on UA last fall. The article writer's experiences with United aren't like mine.

I'm not convinced fares need to be as high as they are now for airlines to make money--there are always improvements that can be made. But the deregulated system has by and large produced much greater access and value for more travelers.

Jim
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justloveplanes
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RE: Decline Of Airline Travel In The US (NYT Article)

Mon Aug 26, 2013 3:21 pm

Quoting jetblueguy22 (Reply 1):
Quoting awacsooner (Thread starter):
The loss of services, the nickel and dime fees, the de-humanizing of customer service...to me, this is the proverbial "frog in the boiling water scenario."

I disagree. Consumers can act and have. But they won't sacrifice price for perks.
Quoting jetblueguy22 (Reply 1):
The airlines have done most of this, which is pretty crazy. But I place a large part of the blame with the consumer. If Joe Schmo the business traveler would pay the 50 bucks extra to fly his airline of choice to PVD we wouldn't have this problem. Instead the consumer goes for the lowest fare they can find and books it.

Have to agree with this and all like sentiments. The race to the bottom for airlines are driven by Orbitz and Expedia and by the numbers pricing, vice a travel agent in person that can educate a consumer on why to pay a few bucks more for better service.

To be clear, I believe legacy airlines were brought kicking and screaming into this nickel and dime world by LCC's and web shopping. CO was the last holdout. The airline infrastructure to support the previous model now turned these same airlines towards bankruptcy.

Not that this is all bad. A business class ticket probably is cheaper today, adjusted for inflation, than a full fare economy ticket in years past. The nickel and diming and reduced service (with accompanying reduced pricing) has also opened the world to air travel and been an enormous social benefit.

If you miss the old days, buy a business class ticket.
 
charlienorth
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RE: Decline Of Airline Travel In The US (NYT Article)

Mon Aug 26, 2013 3:24 pm

People wanted cheap seats and they got cheap seats...get over it people...shut off and fly
Work hard fly right..don't understand it
 
peanuts
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RE: Decline Of Airline Travel In The US (NYT Article)

Mon Aug 26, 2013 3:27 pm

Quoting awacsooner (Thread starter):
this thread is meant to discuss this article

Ok.Let's discuss:
What an elitist presumptuous load of you know what.
When done reading you ask yourself: ok, what did this accomplish?
Basically it boils down to this: certain people on a particular side of the political aisle want their cake and eat it too.

Let's talk about the banking industry and their shortcomings...  

[Edited 2013-08-26 08:28:45]
 
N505fx
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RE: Decline Of Airline Travel In The US (NYT Article)

Mon Aug 26, 2013 3:35 pm

There are a couple of things that are also being overlooked here - and it goes back to the consumer themselves, so people just have to own the outcome of their decisions:

1) The American public voted in the administration that gave us deregulation - you like pre-1978 levels of air service - tough, YOU America, voted the wrong people in to office - live with your choices

2) More that 20% of your airline ticket is comprised of taxes that the airline can't disclose to you - you don't like it America? Tough - you put an administration in place that wants to tax energy, security, and infrastructure use as quasi luxury, deal with your choice America.

3) You don't like surly union protected employees? Well, there are probably a good chunk of people complaining that are union members, and another good chunk that voted administrations in to office that strengthen unions at airlines - live with your choices America

4) AIrlines nickel and dimeing you so they can eek out couple % point profit? Well, get used to it America - costs kep on rising - Obamacare sounded like a fabulous idea until real adults, that run real companies started talking about the impact - like the $100,000,000 hit DL will take or the $60,000,000 hit UPS will take annually...it was your choice America...suck it up and live with your decision

5) Long disclaimers and legalese for destroyed bags and other service exemptions? Well, as the most litigious nation on earth, you get what you deserve, lazy, suing Americans. You reap what you sew.

Do you think companies wake up in the morning and say "hey there is growth in driving customers away"? No, they wake up and say "how do we provide a service to as many people as possible with all of this crap that has put on us, by the same people we are supposed to serve?"
 
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yellowtail
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RE: Decline Of Airline Travel In The US (NYT Article)

Mon Aug 26, 2013 3:40 pm

Quoting jetblueguy22 (Reply 1):
Phone charges make sense. This isn't 1984 anymore. Everybody has a link to the internet.

Except that sometimes a problem takes 30 seconds to solve via the phone, yet days of back and forth via email. Less personnel time if the customer uses the phone.
When in doubt, hold on to your altitude. No-one has ever collided with the sky.
 
frmrCapCadet
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RE: Decline Of Airline Travel In The US (NYT Article)

Mon Aug 26, 2013 3:56 pm

A single thing that would make the most improvement is assigning bins to seats. I understand that there may not be enough bins, those passengers either get lower price seats, free gate check or check-in of a carryon size bag. This would end a lot of hassle and might even speed up loading and unloading. Another advantage is that it would be self policing. People bringing in oversize carryon(s) would infringe in someone else's assigned place - and be invited to pay for another baggage check.
Buffet: the airline business...has eaten up capital...like..no other (business)
 
airbazar
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RE: Decline Of Airline Travel In The US (NYT Article)

Mon Aug 26, 2013 4:29 pm

Quoting Mats (Reply 19):
2. Although it's rarely a bargain, airfares in the US are often affordable, even if one tacks on ancillary fees. With the addition of Expedia, Travelocity, Orbitz, ITA, and others, the system is now more transparent than ever.

None sense. Those web sites can only sell the tickets at the fares the airlines make available, or they lose money on it. So it starts with the airlines making available unrealisticly cheap fares which they then compensate for with ancilary fees. And that's to say nothing about the fact that Orbitz was created by legacy carriers: Continental, United, Delta, Northwest.

Quoting charlienorth (Reply 28):
People wanted cheap seats and they got cheap seats...get over it people...shut off and fly

Can you prove that the fares inclusive of ancilary fees, at legacy carriers are lower today than they were 10 years ago? I think you will be surprised by the results.
 
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chrisnh
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RE: Decline Of Airline Travel In The US (NYT Article)

Mon Aug 26, 2013 4:38 pm

Quoting jetblueguy22 (Reply 1):
I disagree. Consumers can act and have. But they won't sacrifice price for perks.

I agree. I'm not looking at the air-fare choices for my October trip to London from Boston, wondering whether the steak and chicken will be better if I go with BA versus Aer Lingus through Dublin.
 
DTWPurserBoy
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RE: Decline Of Airline Travel In The US (NYT Article)

Mon Aug 26, 2013 4:42 pm

Quoting frmrCapCadet (Reply 32):
A single thing that would make the most improvement is assigning bins to seats.

This is a non-starter from a technical point of view. It would be totally unenforceable. We would have fist fights in the aisles, flight attendants coming totally unhinged and huge delays.

IMHO what it all boils down to is that we are the victims of our own success. We have perfected air travel to the point that it is the everyman method of movement instead of the family car (GOD how I hated those car trips in the late 50's and early 60's with no a/c and 4 fighting siblings!). It would help if people were just a tad more patient, treated each other with respect (like when I ask you to move from one aisle seat to the same seat on the other side so a parent and child can sit together and you tell me "NO!"). All it takes is one person--passenger, crew or agent--to screw up the whole transaction.

We have to come together in some sort of compromise to make what is already a bad system that is going to get worse continue to work. Everyone complains that airports are overcrowded but then they vote down the bond money to build new terminals. Municipalities hesitate to use eminent domain to expand existing facilities because it is politically unpopular. Several American cities need whole new airports--Los Angeles, Chicago, Minneapolis, Boston, Atlanta and New York come to mind. But then the "NIMBY" thing sets in--"Not In MY Backyard."

What we need is a blue-ribbon panel to examine the problems and come up with a realistic master plan for air transportation that will take us to the end of the century. We need an updated ATC system, new airports that can sustain growth for decades to come and a better system for handling 21st century security concerns. It is a tough order. But what choice do we have? We cannot continue on as we are right now for very much longer. We are rapidly approaching total gridlock.
Qualified on Concorde/B707/B720/B727/B737/B747/B757/B767/B777/DC-8/DC-9/DC-10/A319/A320/A330/MD-88-90
 
N505fx
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RE: Decline Of Airline Travel In The US (NYT Article)

Mon Aug 26, 2013 4:46 pm

Quoting airbazar (Reply 33):
lower today than they were 10 years ago?

10 years ago in certain markets, adjusted for inflation...iffy....but everyone seems to be comparing service today to service pre-deregulation...in that case, absolutely.
 
Osubuckeyes
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RE: Decline Of Airline Travel In The US (NYT Article)

Mon Aug 26, 2013 4:54 pm

I think this article is kind of pointless, but I would say here are my thoughts on the subject.

Legacy carriers generally do not put the customer first unless there is an elite status attached to their name or that has definitely been my experience.

If all people want just price then the current proliferation of ULCCs will have a major impact on legacy carriers.

I think that people want value over price to a large degree. For me I am 6'4" and I find 29" pitch completely unacceptable at any price. Add to that, I'm paying for every little thing it gives me the impression of feeling cheated as a customer.

I think if airlines could get people from A to B with little hassle, on time, and decent service 95% of people would be more than happy with a reasonable fare.

Recently in the industry passengers have to pay a fee for everything even on the legacies, and as record profits are ensuing along with major base fare increases. I think there have to be some questions asked to the airlines as to whether treating the customers as a dollar sign is the right move.
 
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kgaiflyer
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RE: Decline Of Airline Travel In The US (NYT Article)

Mon Aug 26, 2013 4:59 pm

Quoting jetblueguy22 (Reply 1):
But I place a large part of the blame with the consumer. If Joe Schmo the business traveler would pay the 50 bucks extra to fly his airline of choice to PVD we wouldn't have this problem. Instead the consumer goes for the lowest fare they can find and books it.

In what textbook is capitalism described as an economic system in which the consumer demands
higher prices than asked by the seller?

Reductionist thinking never solved a problem.   
 
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kgaiflyer
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RE: Decline Of Airline Travel In The US (NYT Article)

Mon Aug 26, 2013 5:13 pm

Quoting airbazar (Reply 33):
None sense. Those web sites can only sell the tickets at the fares the airlines make available, or they lose money on it. So it starts with the airlines making available unrealisticly cheap fares which they then compensate for with ancilary fees. And that's to say nothing about the fact that Orbitz was created by legacy carriers: Continental, United, Delta, Northwest.

It helps solve the problem when one admits that the airlines themselves are actually part of the problem.
 
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mayor
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RE: Decline Of Airline Travel In The US (NYT Article)

Mon Aug 26, 2013 5:19 pm

Quoting Flighty (Reply 21):

In 1999, tickets were "too expensive" which "hurt poor Americans."

Quite frankly, even back that far, I doubt if very many "poor" Americans were travelling by air.

Quoting gegarrenton (Reply 25):
This is just sad. There is no excuse for rudeness ever. Rudeness is a personal failing on an individuals part, because they can't get over themselves. It's an outward manifestation of selfishness.

Of course, the door swings both ways.........the rudeness and attitude of pax needs to be rectified, too. Yes, we know it's a "service" economy, now, but the consumer doesn't need to bludgeon the employees with that fact to get a better attitude out of them.
"A committee is a group of the unprepared, appointed by the unwilling, to do the unnecessary"----Fred Allen
 
hohd
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RE: Decline Of Airline Travel In The US (NYT Article)

Mon Aug 26, 2013 5:32 pm

Someone mentioned credit card fees. I predict this will be next thing in US among major carriers (except Southwest ofcourse) where they will begin adding surcharges, especially to non preferred credit cards. It is already happening, Spirit and Allegiant charge extra for credit card processing.

Now come to think of it, why should a cash/check or debit card paying customers "subsidize" a non-preferred credit card customer ?? This is the same line of thinking for those who want free baggage allowance.
 
airbazar
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RE: Decline Of Airline Travel In The US (NYT Article)

Mon Aug 26, 2013 5:39 pm

Quoting n505fx (Reply 36):
10 years ago in certain markets, adjusted for inflation...iffy....but everyone seems to be comparing service today to service pre-deregulation...in that case, absolutely.

But that's and apples and oranges comparison and and absolutely ridiculos comparison for anyone with at least some basic inteligence. You can't compare a government regulated industry with a non-regulated industry. A fair comparison is within the post deregulation era only, and there is no doubt that post deregulation the cost or air travel has been going up and continues to go up. There's a reason why the government wants to prevent the US-AA merger. It's significantly more expensive to fly today than it was 10 or 20 years ago. Heck, 15 years ago I flew from BOS to London for $99 all inclusive (I have the ticket receipt to prove it). Today it will cost you no less than $350 in the off season. Heck, the fuel surcharge alone will cost more than that today. That's a 250%(?) increase. Where I live that is not the cost of inflation.
 
gegarrenton
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RE: Decline Of Airline Travel In The US (NYT Article)

Mon Aug 26, 2013 5:40 pm

Quoting chrisnh (Reply 34):
I'm not looking at the air-fare choices for my October trip to London from Boston, wondering whether the steak and chicken will be better if I go with BA versus Aer Lingus through Dublin.

Yeah, but I would. Which is just the same anecdotal evidence you just gave.

Sidenote, who would actively choose Aer Lingus + a stop? Yikes.
 
catiii
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RE: Decline Of Airline Travel In The US (NYT Article)

Mon Aug 26, 2013 6:02 pm

Quoting DTWPurserBoy (Reply 35):
We would have fist fights in the aisles, flight attendants coming totally unhinged and huge delays.

We have 2 out of the 3 now, and you think assigning overhead space is going to be the tipping point? Come on...
 
ozark1
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RE: Decline Of Airline Travel In The US (NYT Article)

Mon Aug 26, 2013 6:12 pm

Quoting 777fan (Reply 3):
Admittedly, I haven't yet read the article but would attribute some of the shift on passengers themselves. Flying used to be a "special" event during which people would dress appropriately, treat the crew with respect or even deference, and relish the opportunity to get from point A to point B in a comfortable, expedient manner. Step on a plane in the continental US these days and you'll often see just the opposite with passengers harboring an outwardly hostile attitude (i.e.: "I paid for this ticket, therefore you work for me") and an unrealistic expectations with regard to service. Part of it is no doubt the result of industry-wide pressures, but part is almost certainly (IMO) the result of the "dumbing-down" of American culture, and the erosion of basic manners, courtesy, and tact.

Oh my goodness you have got it DOWN! You are completely spot on. It is the decline of our culture as a whole, due to the fact that there are just so many people!!! Everyone is self-absorbed in their electronic device. It's about manners, it's about "please" and "thank you". I really feel sorry for any agent with any airline. I don't know how they continually put up with the stuff they have to deal with. I understand why they become unsmiling and robotic. Anyone would after awhile.
I'm lucky, as a flight attendant, I at least get them after they have had to deal with all the chaos in the terminal.
People treat you a bit better once they get on the plane and we are in the air. But, then, I am the one who deals with delays on the ground, diversions due to weather, etc.
I'm from the old school. I'm courteous and try to be as empathetic as I possibly can. This sounds corny but it's the Golden Rule thing.
I blame a lot of it on social media. Cell Phones, in my opinion, began a kind of etiquette plunge. I greet people upon boarding and I have to determine if they are talking loudly to me, or usually as it turns out, to whoever is on the other end of the phone, which is hidden in their ear.
I remember one time I was working a trip from OMA to DFW. We had to divert to GGG due to not enough fuel with thunderstorms in the area.. On the ground in GGG, I went through the cabin and offered my cell phone for anyone to make a call who didn't have one. A female passenger motioned me over and yelled "I am on the phone with my friend and she says it is clear in Dallas! Stop lying to us!" It was, indeed, clear in Dallas, but storms along the route had caused us to go low on fuel due to the re-routing we were required to take. I tried to explain, but she wasn't having any of it.
I think the article is completely accurate. It's a very sad result of a once proud and highly respected industry.
I do not blame the passengers (as the large majority are still very nice), and I do not blame the airlines. I blame society as a whole.
 
01pewterz28
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RE: Decline Of Airline Travel In The US (NYT Article)

Mon Aug 26, 2013 6:46 pm

Really what has changed for the airlines we know they are making money, we know costs are lower than they were back before 9/11 how do me know simple employee wages are far less than they were before 9/11 and they have not gotten any better, sure fuel might be up so we never had so many fees.

What did we get and have before 9/11

-No checked bag fees
-Free Meals
-no fees to upgrade to a window seat or aisle seat
-Much lower fees to change a ticket
-We had paper tickets
-Employee pay was much higher than today and at most carriers 30% -40% less
-More flights, and less fuel efficient aircraft.
-Fares were lower
-More airlines to serve passengers

What we get now and have after 9/11
- Employees making 30-40% less than before 9/11
- Pay for a Window/aisle seat
- Pay for Priority boarding
- Pay for a bag, 1, 2, 3, 4, ect…..
- No free meals
- Pay for BOB meals
- Pay for a paper ticket
- Less flights, smaller aircraft, and MORE fuel efficient aircraft
- -Fares are higher
- Fewer airlines to serve passengers

Bottom line is the airlines used 9/11 as a scape goat and they continue to say they still suffer from 9/11 saying the cost of operating are much higher even though they are making more money on top of the fees they charge that we never had before. The way the airlines see it “Less is More”.
 
manny
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RE: Decline Of Airline Travel In The US (NYT Article)

Mon Aug 26, 2013 6:50 pm

Not surprised. I know a lot of people who would rather drive 6-7 hours whereas before they would fly. Even for trips from Denver-Chicago(12-15 hours) i know people with families who prefer to drive. Most of the gripes are about the hassle of traveling like the TSA which i know is not the airlines' fault. But the nickel diming by the airlines every part of the way plays a huge role as well.

Now i know this is anecdotal evidence but if a lot of people are doing this then it adds up!
 
catiii
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RE: Decline Of Airline Travel In The US (NYT Article)

Mon Aug 26, 2013 7:12 pm

Quoting 01pewterz28 (Reply 47):
- -Fares are highe

They are? What data are you using to back that up?

Quoting 01pewterz28 (Reply 47):
Bottom line is the airlines used 9/11 as a scape goat and they continue to say they still suffer from 9/11 saying the cost of operating are much higher even though they are making more money on top of the fees they charge that we never had before. The way the airlines see it “Less is More”.

Hold on, your contention is that an event that shook the industry to its core and fundamentally changed the way not only airlines, but the country, acts is a "scape goat?" Really? Wow...

With regards to costs being higher, the simple fact is that they are. Go look at the price of oil from that time frame vs. now. Look at the costs related to security, including additional government imposes taxes on airline tickets post 9/11 that hinder an airline's pricing power in a certain market.

[Edited 2013-08-26 13:00:32]
 
ozark1
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RE: Decline Of Airline Travel In The US (NYT Article)

Mon Aug 26, 2013 8:12 pm

Quoting manny (Reply 48):
Not surprised. I know a lot of people who would rather drive 6-7 hours whereas before they would fly. Even for trips from Denver-Chicago(12-15 hours)

Yeah, and what are they paying for gas on a trip like that? About $3.75 a gallon. So I would guess that is why people don't do more of that. So, the last time I looked, oil was $107 a barrel. Yet , IMHO, the majority of people don't grasp how much this affects an airline. How the heck are they supposed to be able to stay in business unless they charge for a lot of things?
A BARREL OF OIL COST $2 TO $3 in 1970!