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kbuf737
Topic Author
Posts: 765
Joined: Thu Dec 04, 2003 2:22 pm

Will Quality Ever Return?

Thu Feb 05, 2004 2:00 pm

After reading a whole bunch of posts I was wondering, do you folks ever think an airline will return its focus to quality of service for a higher cost instead of this low cost no frills "what da ya want?" K-Mart calibre service. I would believe that there is a market out there willing to pay the higher price for the extra flight attendant, the warm meal, the in flight enternatinment and service that used to be, the comfortable and roomy seat, the pilot who makes what he deserves, and the airplane that the passenger liked best?

I could see it happening if things get worse. I know there are people out there who would pay the extra buck for the extra ammenities. Definately worth it. I know I would. Even a smile would be worth an extra $100 to me.



- Buffalo
 
Matt D
Posts: 8907
Joined: Fri Nov 19, 1999 6:00 am

RE: Will Quality Ever Return?

Thu Feb 05, 2004 2:05 pm

Not for the forseeable future. I'm sure that when the economy picks up, you'll see another Legend or [original] Midwest Expres [like] airline start up. But it will be aniche carrier only.
 
NIKV69
Posts: 14998
Joined: Wed Jan 28, 2004 4:27 am

RE: Will Quality Ever Return?

Thu Feb 05, 2004 2:11 pm

Well Buffalo I wish I had your wealth! Sorry to say in this day and age, people would rather pay $200 to fly Southwest and save money and bring a Subway sandwich on the plane. I myself love a nice meal on a flight but this is what air travel has come to. Southwest continues to set the pace and unless you are maybe AA or CO you better compete or you will find yourself like US Airways..DEAD IN THE WATER..
 
SlamClick
Posts: 9576
Joined: Sun Nov 23, 2003 7:09 am

RE: Will Quality Ever Return?

Thu Feb 05, 2004 3:01 pm

It is an interesting question and I think that the changing population argues against it.

I think the big old airlines have lost their traditional first class passengers forever. These people are flying on their own, or fractional or chartered jets and dealing with security in a more civilized manner, and dealing with crowds not at all.

This leaves coach class. And I think we've done a good job on selling the public on our cheap airfares.

I have posted the following comment before on salary related threads and no one who replied seemed to understand what I was getting at. But what concerns me is that people will buy airline tickets on the basis of price alone.

I've had people say that is just called competition and free enterprise and so on, but that is not the point.

  • Do you go to a restaurant and order the cheapest item on the menu no matter what it is? Will they serve you a kiddie meal at your age?


  • Did you buy your car on the basis of price alone? If so, is it a '79 Pinto? Does it run?


  • Did you buy your wife's ring on the basis of price alone? Does she know it is rhinestone?


  • You get the idea. Sure we all like to get a value but search-by-price is not always the best idea. It may or may not be worth the difference in price but there is little doubt that a Rolex is better than a Timex if we are to judge by resale value.

    Although I have airline travel benefits and can get an ID90 on just about any airline, my wife and I just bought full-fare (low fare) tickets and flew coast-to-coast on Southwest. It sucked. The seats were really horribly uncomfortable and we landed in virtually every other state all the way across. It was a cattlecar experience from start to finish. Damn I would sure hate it if that kind of flying was the only way to get there. For a journey of less than a thousand miles, I would drive before I'd go through that again.

    But there are lots of young people coming along who have never been treated well. They don't know what it is like. They don't give good service themselves when they work at McDonalds. They don't mind getting crappy service when they go to Burger King. They just don't know the difference. And there are more of them than there are of me. They are the future, I am the past. I have become irrelevant, from a marketing point of view.

    And so I'd say no, it is not coming back for a very long time.



     
    jhooper
    Posts: 5561
    Joined: Thu Dec 13, 2001 8:27 pm

    RE: Will Quality Ever Return?

    Thu Feb 05, 2004 3:31 pm

    Be careful when comparing apples to oranges. People fly on the airlines to get where they're going as inexpensively, quickly, and conveniently as possible. Just as I wouldn't ask for a gourmet meal on the metro bus, I don't expect it from the airlines either. Most people don't really care about the quality of the experience (as long as the airline can match the luggage with the passenger on the other end). Like someone else posted, those who do care about first class service avoid the airlines and fly on fractional or chartered aircraft.

    Price and schedule.
    Price and schedule.
    Price and schedule.

    Airlines should stick to their fundamental function and stop pretending like they're something they're not.
     
    Carfield
    Posts: 2200
    Joined: Fri Dec 19, 2003 5:49 pm

    RE: Will Quality Ever Return?

    Thu Feb 05, 2004 3:48 pm

    I actually think that in the US, Jetblue and Frontier will be the model LCC airlines... it is going to be no-frill, but still has to offer some kinds of amenities -- "fun" in the american terminology... for some reasons, I am sort of glad that USA LCCs have not slid to the levels of LCC in Europe, like Easyjet and Ryannair. At least, there are something to look forward to -- live TV for these airlines.

    Full service airlines will not returning to the domestic scene for now... international travels will be slightly different, but Y class get less and less on transatlantic flights now. But for domestic, there will be a few niche carriers that offer great service, but only a few.

    I think Jetblue and Southwest will dominate the US skies in the future. I personally like Jetblue better -- classier and nicer... than cattle-car Moowest.

    Only times can tell...

    Carfield
     
    high_flyr69
    Posts: 497
    Joined: Mon Apr 30, 2001 6:19 am

    RE: Will Quality Ever Return?

    Thu Feb 05, 2004 3:49 pm

    Less flights + More seats on aircraft with more bums on them = PROFIT. In the economy of today most travelers only want to get from A to B they dont know about all the added bits inflight (food, seat pitch, inflight entertainment) that we seem to notice because they dont care. They want a plane that fly's and a seat inside that plane to take them where they need to go for as little price as possible. QF domestic success and Profit making through the recent tough times IMO are a result of Virgin Blue keeping their fares consistantly low. If Qantas dont follow trend Virgin Blue will take the passengers, increase profits, buy even more Aircraft and drop the fares a little more to fill the flights, in a situation like this Qantas need to follow trend to keep up. So even though Qantas are the giant, I do see The minnow dictating terms when you look at things that way. Another major thing i have noticed that has given me this point of view is that whenever Virgin Blue announce cheaper fares Qantas will do the same withing 2 weeks time usually beating the price by a dollar or two.

    This is not a overly informed opinion, just a basic one which i have formulated from my limited understanding of how the industry works. Anyone want to point out some errors do so. Im 17 and still got alot to learn yet.
    cheers to all
    high_flyr69
     
    JAFA
    Posts: 740
    Joined: Wed Aug 27, 2003 1:31 pm

    RE: Will Quality Ever Return?

    Thu Feb 05, 2004 4:30 pm

    Midwest was a quality airline and look where they are. If people cared about meals and legroom more than PRICE then MIDWEST would not be in financial trouble. The vast majority of people buy airline tickets based on PRICE. Air travel is not as cheap as restaurant meal, people just want to get where they are going cheaply. In the public's eye an airline is an airline is an airline! If I had to buy a ticket, (all things being equal) I would want the cheapest price. The end product is all the same. Their is very little brand loyalty in the airline business.
     
    bobb
    Posts: 241
    Joined: Sun Jan 25, 2004 12:15 pm

    RE: Will Quality Ever Return?

    Thu Feb 05, 2004 5:01 pm

    "I would believe that there is a market out there willing to pay the higher price for the extra flight attendant, the warm meal, the in flight enternatinment and service that used to be..."

    What part of 911, the Internet bubble, the trillion$ deficit.... did you missed?

    Yeah, there is always been a market for the well-headed, it's called charter.
     
    Skydrol
    Posts: 1045
    Joined: Fri Oct 03, 2003 12:01 pm

    RE: Will Quality Ever Return?

    Thu Feb 05, 2004 5:22 pm

    Here are the two culprits preventing quality service (quoted from above posts):

    "in this day and age"
    "In the economy of today"

    These terms are the biggest load of bullshit fed to the public by the advertising media on a non-stop basis lately. But the truth is, most employed families and individuals have more disposable income available now than ever before. Flying was an incredibly cheap form of transportation in the 1980s and 1990s before the LCCs started up. Don't believe it? Check the cost of airfares in the 1950s and 1960s vs. an average salary at the time. Still not convinced? Check the cost of a transatlantic oceanliner fare in the 1930s and 1940s. Many people would save up their life savings for a trip like that, and then still only travel second or third class. Over the last two decades, we wouldn't think twice to consider a trip like that once a year.
    We have come to expect too much for too little. This has driven the airline industry into the turmoil we witness now. It was happening long before SE11,2001, SARS etc. these events just compounded the situation. The race to the bottom business plans introduced by LCCs for lower fares and less service have taken their toll on well-established scheduled service carriers who are offering appropriate compensation to their employees and a decent quality product to their customers for the fare paid.

    Will quality ever return? Yes, After enough airlines are bankrupt and governments re-regulate the airline industry. Then people will pay what it costs to fly, and airlines will have enough money to employ more staff, pay proper industry wages, provide excellent service and make a profit.
    This has already been considered in Canada after the demise of Canadian, and the perilous future Air Canada faces.


    SlamClick wrote:
    >>>
    It was a cattlecar experience from start to finish. Damn I would sure hate it if that kind of flying was the only way to get there. For a journey of less than a thousand miles, I would drive before I'd go through that again.
    <<<

    And this coupled with the additonal time wasted at security will make automobile, rail and bus travel more and more attractive alternatives for short distances.

    >>>
    But there are lots of young people coming along who have never been treated well. They don't know what it is like. They don't give good service themselves when they work at McDonalds. They don't mind getting crappy service when they go to Burger King. They just don't know the difference. And there are more of them than there are of me. They are the future, I am the past. I have become irrelevant, from a marketing point of view.
    <<<

    SlamClick, this is brilliant, and true.



    LD4




     
    planemaker
    Posts: 5411
    Joined: Mon Aug 25, 2003 12:53 pm

    RE: Will Quality Ever Return?

    Fri Feb 06, 2004 2:15 am

    Quality? What quality are you talking about??

    If it is quality in-flight food, it never existed. Air line food has always been bad and that is why it is the brunt of so many jokes! If you really like airline food, then you can't ever complain about food at McDonalds or Burger King - (at least McD & BK are served fresher!) And the crap airline food was never free!! You still had to pay more than it was worth but you didn't realize it because the cost was hidden in the fare!

    All seating is more or less the same. Apart from A320's, standard seating is 17.2 inches wide. And seat pitch is almost identical as well. Furthermore, AA is pulling MRTC because people are not prepared to pay for a couple of extra inches.

    Smiles. Every airline offers smiles - they don't cost anything.

    The anology about watches is really silly. You wear a watch so that you can tell the time, and a Timex with quartz movement is just as accurate as a Rolex (in fact a lot of the fake Rolex's are just as accurate as the real deal!)

    Other than the crappy meal that you paid for (but didn't realize it) just how exactly is economy class air travel of less "quality" today?
     
    BeltwayBandit
    Posts: 474
    Joined: Tue Mar 11, 2003 4:25 am

    RE: Will Quality Ever Return?

    Fri Feb 06, 2004 2:24 am

    I think it will return when offered in a rational manner. When a flight is $69 coach class and $450 first class, you will never see demand for first class. On the other hand, if first or business class was always $50 per segment higher than the available coach fare, you might see people paying it. Spirit Airlines is trying this, and I think they are being relatively successfu.
     
    luv2fly
    Posts: 11056
    Joined: Tue May 13, 2003 2:57 am

    RE: Will Quality Ever Return?

    Fri Feb 06, 2004 2:29 am

    I have to agree if there was actually a demand for this product then Midwest would be doing way better than they presently are. The traveling public is voting with there wallet at this time.
     
    planemaker
    Posts: 5411
    Joined: Mon Aug 25, 2003 12:53 pm

    RE: Will Quality Ever Return?

    Fri Feb 06, 2004 2:49 am

    Luv2fly:

    The Midwest example does not really apply as it is basically a J class product sold at full Y class fares (and as you pointed out, it isn't doing well!)

    The myth that I am trying to dispell is that "quality" of coach class on LCC's is no different in any meaningful, tangible way than the "quality" of coach class on the majors - today or a decade ago.

     
    Delta767300ER
    Posts: 2436
    Joined: Tue Dec 16, 2003 7:12 pm

    RE: Will Quality Ever Return?

    Fri Feb 06, 2004 3:23 am

    I hope one day quality does come back. I'm not a big fan of Southwest or Jetblue. Flying every single flight on a 737 or Airbus 320 gets very old.

    -Delta767300ER
     
    planemaker
    Posts: 5411
    Joined: Mon Aug 25, 2003 12:53 pm

    RE: Will Quality Ever Return?

    Fri Feb 06, 2004 3:43 am

    Delta767300ER:

    What does a 737 or A320 have to do with quality, or the lack thereof?

     
    prebennorholm
    Posts: 7195
    Joined: Tue Mar 21, 2000 6:25 am

    RE: Will Quality Ever Return?

    Fri Feb 06, 2004 4:42 am

    KBUF737: ... Even a smile would be worth an extra $100 to me.

    I couldn't afford a hundred bucks for every smile I get throughout a day. In the air. On the ground. On LCCs and on non-LCCs.

    I would be bankrupt before noon.

    25 cent. And no more than that.

    BTW, I think that the best meal I ever had on an airliner was on an LCC - Sterling European. It was a sandwich which cost me some 5-6-7 dollars. And I have had quite a few hundred air meals since the first on a SAS DC-8-55 in 1971.
     
    FlyGuyClt
    Posts: 1579
    Joined: Tue Aug 02, 2005 10:23 pm

    RE: Will Quality Ever Return?

    Fri Feb 06, 2004 4:55 am

    While most of us on these boards are die hard aviation fans that know how it used to be. In my small opinion aviation is going through "walmart" 101. After all 77% of passengers now pick a flight based on fare. The days of glamour I feel are over. The customers who can afford a better product are flocking to the "Executive Jet" style of flying. For legacy carriers to thrive in the future, the product is going to have to match the fare the people are willing to pay.

    Safe Flying  Smile
     
    Delta767300ER
    Posts: 2436
    Joined: Tue Dec 16, 2003 7:12 pm

    Planemaker

    Fri Feb 06, 2004 5:10 am

    Other members were discussing Southwest & Jetblue and as we all know WN operates all 737's and B6 operates A-320's.

    -Delta767300ER
     
    AMM744
    Posts: 202
    Joined: Mon Oct 20, 2003 4:23 am

    RE: Will Quality Ever Return?

    Fri Feb 06, 2004 5:13 am

    A Subway sandwich sounds good to me, I'll have the 6" cold cut combo with a bag of cheetos and a diet Sprite.

    I used to love eating at Subway when I was out in Arizona and the Southwest on a photo shoot.

    Here in the UK, the nearest you'd get to that kind of sandwich would be a flat out of date ham and mustard sandwich that resembles a car mat, yuk.

    Off topic slightly so at the end of the day I'd be thrilled to bring my own food on a short hop within the US.
     
    ckfred
    Posts: 5206
    Joined: Wed Apr 25, 2001 12:50 pm

    RE: Will Quality Ever Return?

    Fri Feb 06, 2004 5:15 am

    Planemaker:

    Thirty years ago, airline was not good. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't good. If you can get food, it can be very good. The best fruit plate I ever had was flying First on AA from ORD to SAT. It was better than in dining rooms at Hiltons, Hyatts, Sheratons, and Marriotts. And AA's pasta dishes are better than the Olive Garden's.

    That said, I think the problem for the legacy carriers is that they feel compelled to match every low fare that JetBlue, Southwest, ATA, and Frontier have. Instead of matching the most resticted discount fare, they should price their walk-up fares more competitively and forget about matching every 7, 14, and 21-day advanced purchase fare.

    Look at GM. The Buick Park Avenue and the Cadillac DeVille are built from the same platform. But the Caddy costs several thousand more. Why? It has more standard features, including a V-8. The Buick dealer near me has free coffee in the waiting room with that day's Chicago papers and a small TV. The service advisors share a counter in the service area. The Caddy dealer has coffee, tea, pastries, the Chicago papers, the WSJ, and a wide-screen TV. Each service advisor has his own office. That's why there is a substantial price difference for cars that appear to be similar.

    I think WN has set a limit of $299 as the maximum OW fare. If UA and AA tried setting a limit of $499 as the maximum for OW coach with a higher level of service, but quit matching $79 discounted fares for transcon, I think they would get a lot of businees flyers that are currently flying WN and the like.



     
    elwood64151
    Posts: 2410
    Joined: Fri Feb 08, 2002 10:22 am

    RE: Will Quality Ever Return?

    Fri Feb 06, 2004 5:23 am

    Flied CO recently? Classy stuff!

    Actually, the service really need not suffer. The airlines simply need to learn a new definition of "efficiency".
     
    Guest

    RE: Will Quality Ever Return?

    Fri Feb 06, 2004 5:27 am

    "But there are lots of young people coming along who have never been treated well. They don't know what it is like. They don't give good service themselves when they work at McDonalds. They don't mind getting crappy service when they go to Burger King. They just don't know the difference. And there are more of them than there are of me. They are the future, I am the past. I have become irrelevant, from a marketing point of view."

    God, aint that the truth. Excellent point. I may be a lot younger than you, but old enough to have lived in that era and enjoyed the benefits of the civil air industry. "A Parade Long Gone By". Your valid observation extends outside the airline industry and can be said to pertain to all customer service related industries.
     
    SlamClick
    Posts: 9576
    Joined: Sun Nov 23, 2003 7:09 am

    RE: Will Quality Ever Return?

    Fri Feb 06, 2004 5:29 am

    A couple more thoughts from one fast becoming a dinosaur.

    Recently I thumbed through some magazines from the Kennedy era. The few longhaul airfares mentioned in ads were just about exactly the fare today. Except that real dollars change in value over time and numbers printed in yellowing old magazines don't. Back then I earned $2.25 per hour and men working alongside me supported their families on that wage. Today I earn - well, a lot more than that - and the fare say from IDW to Europe was the same dollar amount as the fare from JFK to Europe. Something has to give.

    There is a principle in salemanship that says you "sell the sizzle, not the steak" People wanting the sizzle are finding it somewhere other than in airline travel.

    Back then men, even men who were not non-revs, put on a suit and tie to go fly on an airplane. No one told them they had to. They just did. Now I see guys flying in really ugly shorts and flip-flops.

    It might come back. When the jobs have all gone to countries with a GNP that presently fits in my pocket and there is no more "western" middle class maybe the few people left in the world who can afford to fly and don't have their own airplane will have some amenities.
     
    Guest

    RE: Will Quality Ever Return?

    Fri Feb 06, 2004 5:35 am

    More thoughtful input from SlamClick. Thanks for that.

    I myself am on the fence re Glamour Returning To The Skies. We all know the airline industry, as all industries, go through cycles. However, that said, I'm afraid I have to agree with those here who state the present LCC infrastructure is here for a long, loong, long time to come. As SlamClick himself said, if current and future generations don't know anything else (or better) in terms of customer service levels and expectations, then it's no surprise. That said, I must say that I agree any introduction of full service carriers will indeed stem from the private/executive co. arena.
     
    planemaker
    Posts: 5411
    Joined: Mon Aug 25, 2003 12:53 pm

    RE: Will Quality Ever Return?

    Fri Feb 06, 2004 6:59 am

    What "quality" are you all talking about???? Qualitatively, coach travel today is no different than 2 decades ago, only now a heck of a lot less expensive!!

    All of you who are "mooning" for the "stuff" of the good ol' days should know that the "stuff" has nothing to do with coach class airline quality! If you truly believe that coach class had better quality service 2 decades ago, be specific but remember:

    - How you dress has nothing to do with airline service. And it wasn't a travel requirement controlled by the airline. Anyhow, everything is casual these days - even law firms and accountants have "casual fridays"! It is society that has "relaxed". Heck, lots of people wear casual clothes, even shorts, to even church nowadays.

    - The free coach meals were not free, the cost was buried in the fare.

    - Do not compare coach with first/business class. If you want to get really into it, business class on international flights today puts the first class of ol' to shame! And first class today makes first class of ol' look positively coach! In fact, for roughly the same Coach fare (adjusted for inflation) of a decade ago you can fly business today!

    So, please explain, with examples, how the quality of service offered in today's coach class sucks compared to coach class of a decade or two ago!
     
    Guest

    RE: Will Quality Ever Return?

    Fri Feb 06, 2004 7:32 am

    Hey, Planemaker, where the hell is Tuvalu? And can I get there via the
    Chatanooga Choo-Choo?

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