Cranky in the News


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Travel Weekly Logo

Regulators taking harder look at air-service consolidation

Robert Silk – November 29, 2016

“They’re clearly trying to make some noise before going away,” Brett Snyder, who runs the aviation blog Cranky Flier, said of the two agencies.

Still, Snyder said he expects that regulators will reach a deal with Alaska-Virgin before Inauguration Day on Jan. 20.
“My assumption is they would have abandoned it by now if it wasn’t going to be resolvable,” he said of Alaska.


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Frequent Flier Miles Are Kaput—The Game’s About Credit Cards Now

Aarian Marshall – November 23, 2016

“The tweaks that [the airlines] are making are not about loyalty, but about revenue optimization,” says Brett Snyder, who runs the Cranky Concierge, an air travel assistance business.

The first rule: Collect whatever you can. “I’m a general believer that if you’re flying somewhere, you might as well earn miles,” says Snyder. “If over time you collect enough of them, great. If not, oh well.” So go ahead—sign up for that awards program and make sure you’re scoring ’em.


Travel Weekly Logo

Hub-and-spoke method leads to earlier on-time recovery

Robert Silk – September 26, 2016

Brett Snyder, who runs the aviation blog Cranky Flier, said the shorter ground times that point-to-point planes usually see are a likely reason that an airline like Southwest doesn’t recover with on-time performance as well during the evening as hub-and-spoke carriers.

“In general, they are just using very different strategies for running the airline,” Snyder said.


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Airlines plan new regulations for service animals in-flight

Larry Mantle – September 26, 2016

Radio appearance talking about service and emotional support animals


Dallas Morning News Logo

Loyalty only goes so far as American Airlines, others revamp rewards programs

Conor Shine – September 16, 2016

“Frequent flier programs have become tremendous cash cows,” said Brett Snyder, author of the airline industry blog Cranky Flier and president of air travel assistance company Cranky Concierge. “They’ve looked at ‘How do we craft a program that’s going to help us make more money?’ ”

“First class pricing has come down significantly so you get a lot more people buying tickets. Not only are more people competing for upgrades, they’re selling it as a smaller upsell,” Snyder said. “It definitely takes away a ton of the value.”


Houston Chronicle Logo

United upgrades target high-end corporate fliers

Ileana Najarro – September 7, 2016

Yet Brett Snyder, author of the airline industry blog crankyflier.com, said carriers in Europe, the Middle East and Asia, as well as U.S. carriers like Delta Air Lines, have already boosted onboard sleep quality for fliers.

“In terms of customer offerings, this is United catching up,” Snyder said.

Snyder mentioned Delta’s plan for suite-like spaces in business class.

Snyder expressed concern that future budget cuts could reduce the availability of some amenities, such as snacks and drinks or redesigned dishware and utensils.


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Delta Introduces Chip Tags, Tracking App So You Know Exactly Where Your Luggage Is

Alyssa Newcomb – August 22, 2016

Brett Snyder, who runs the blog Cranky Flier, told NBC News the technology could help put an end to lost luggage crankiness.

“The airlines have been doing better in general when it comes to mishandled bags, but this is going to help significantly,” Snyder said.

“Things really go off the rails when you have storms and you have bags scattered everywhere,” Snyder said. “Over the past few years, you’ve seen airlines going behind the scenes to focus on better operating and handling.”


Travel Weekly Logo

United makes good on pledge to improve on-time performance

Robert Silk – August 21, 2016

Brett Snyder, who runs the aviation blog Cranky Flier, said airlines that want to bring on-time stats up quickly also sometimes pad their schedules by increasing “block times,” the average time an airline expects routes to take, gate to gate.

Longer block times on the same route can improve on-time stats while a carrier does the harder work of making operations more efficient, he said. Once better efficiency is achieved, a carrier can then lower block times, which are often used as a metric for paying crews, as a way to reduce overhead.


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Blogger flies to 8 [ed note: actually 9] airports in one day

Anthony Clark Carpio – August 12, 2016

This article chronicled my day of flying Southwest on 8 flights between 9 California airports, never touching the same one twice.


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Questions Abound as Delta Power Outage Should Have Been Preventable

Tony Owusu – August 11, 2016

“I tend to doubt that these issues will have long-lasting impacts,” Brett Snyder of airline industry blog CrankyFlier.com said in a phone interview. “You will start to see an impact if a single airline starts experiencing multiple issues. A single issue like what happened on Monday will cause minimal impact in terms of flier sentiment.”


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4 Tips for Handling a Tight Flight Connection

Sebastian Modak – August 11, 2016

The best strategy for a tight connection is making sure you have the most accurate gate information, says Brett Snyder, travel specialist and president of Cranky Concierge. For that, go to the source: the airline’s app, he says. Many let you set flight status alerts, too, which keep you updated on changes.


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How do airline computer systems work?

Thom Patterson – August 8, 2016

“If you call Southwest, and they say, ‘Do you have a domestic itinerary or an international one?’ they actually need to know that, because they have two different systems,” said airline travel expert and former airline senior analyst Brett Snyder of crankyflier.com.

“Delta said, ‘This is ours and we’re going to do all the development in-house that we need.’ Now they’re pitching it to other airlines,” said Snyder.


Houston Chronicle Logo

Southwest still delaying, canceling flights after technology outage

Andrea Rumbaugh – July 22, 2016

“For an airline, which is highly dependent on technology, that is pretty poor,” Brett Snyder, author of the airline industry blog crankyflier.com, said about the system-wide technology outage.

The technical outage occurred during the height of summer travel, when families have planned vacations and don’t have the flexibility to change flights. Planes are fuller, too, which means fewer displaced travelers can be reassigned to them, Snyder said.


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Bereavement Fares Have Disappeared on Most US Airlines

David Koenig – July 13, 2016

“As low-fare carriers came into more markets, those bereavement fares ended up being higher than you could get elsewhere. It just angered people,” said Brett Snyder, who runs a concierge booking service and writes the crankyflier.com blog.

Bereavement tickets aren’t dead yet, though. Snyder said one of his customers recently used one on Delta.


Travel Weekly Logo

Scheduled charters a growing air service

Robert Silk – July 13, 2016

Brett Snyder, who writes the popular aviation blog Cranky Flyer [sic], said another factor that plays to the advantage of scheduled charters is the weakening of loyalty programs. For example, since 2014, American, Delta and United have all made it more difficult to obtain elite status by adding minimum annual spending thresholds on top of the previously existing minimum mileage thresholds. In addition, airlines have become more loath to offer upgrades to business class and first class.

Such policies can reduce brand loyalty among business flyers, Snyder said.

“The harder airlines make it to access benefits in their loyalty programs, the easier it is for a traveler to choose the flight that’s best for them, regardless of airline,” he said.


Houston Chronicle Logo

United’s international business class gets an upgrade

Andrea Rumbaugh – June 2, 2016

Brett Snyder, author of the airline industry blog crankyflier.com, said United has lagged Delta and American in offering seats with aisle access.

“The seat is catchup,” Snyder said. “United has had a subpar experience.”

As for United’s other Polaris amenities, Snyder said its competitors offer similar perks. Delta, for instance, advertises “plush Westin Heavenly In-Flight Bedding on 180-degree flat-bed seats” and hypoallergenic pillows.

“This looks like it should be a very good international business-class product. No doubt about it,” Snyder said. “But is it revolutionary? No.”

He said United could be the only domestic airline offering lounges dedicated for business-class travelers, however.


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JetBlue Defends Decision to Ask Passenger to Replace Booty Shorts Before Boarding Flight. Will the Incident Affect Its Brand?

Kim Lachance Shandrow – May 31, 2016

From a branding and customer retention standpoint, the incident won’t make so much as a dent in JetBlue’s reputation, nor its bottom line, says veteran airline industry expert Brett Snyder. “This won’t matter, there will be no impact,” the founder and president of Cranky Concierge, a Long Beach, Calif.-based air travel assistance company, tells Entrepreneur.

Passenger attire hiccups like these don’t happen often because, as Snyder says, most airlines don’t have a “cut and dry” dress code. “This is usually covered on the ‘Refusal to Transport’ section of the airline’s contract of carriage, and JetBlue has nothing specific. Kudos to Hawaiian [Airlines] for actually having one, but most airlines do not.”

Such might’ve been the case with McMuffin. Snyder suspects there’s a bit more to the story than the length of her short-shorts. “The person who is denied boarding always ends up initially coming off as a completely innocent participant, but it can sometimes later come out that he or she was belligerent or drunk or something else.” No matter: “The reality is that any airline has the right to refuse service, so JetBlue certainly has the right to do it.”


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Get the Best Deals with Frequent Flier Miles

Paul Magers – May 19, 2016


CNN.com Logo

Delta’s new CEO wants you to cut the TSA line

Thom Patterson – May 6, 2016

“Delta has a problem,” said airline analyst Brett Snyder of CrankyFlier.com. “And the problem is that it doesn’t have a lot of problems.”

“It’s hard not to get cocky when people are fawning all over you and telling you what a great job you’re doing,” Snyder said.

“To me, that is the biggest issue that Ed faces in this job, is preventing Delta from getting too cocky and getting over confident.”

“They’re addressing their slow Wi-Fi problems,” Snyder said. “They’re entering into an agreement with Gogo to bring in faster 2Ku Wi-Fi service. It’ll take time but they’re working on it.”

Nope, not according to Snyder. “As long as you maintain your fleet and it’s a nice experience on the inside, then it shouldn’t matter what it is on the outside.”

Look for Delta to try new ideas aimed at getting customers to open their wallets. Snyder calls it “flexing their revenue muscles.”

We’ll know Delta is crossing the line of cockiness, said Snyder, if it continues to flex its revenue muscles even when it’s clear the strategy isn’t paying off.

“So we’ll see,” Snyder said. “I’ll be really curious to see how that turns out.”


Associated Press Logo

Taking advantage of airline schedule changes to save money

Scott Mayerowitz – April 28, 2016

“The fact that you can change is generally made clear. They don’t make it clear what you can change to,” says Brett Snyder, who runs an air travel assistance company called Cranky Concierge. “The rules are crazy and complex.”

“They tend to be pretty flexible as long as it is a legitimate change,” Snyder says.


Philadelphia Inquirer Logo

Consumers push back on new airline rules, higher fares

Linda Loyd – April 21, 2016

When airlines announced the change, the fares generated on booking computers for a multi-city reservation became “fully refundable fares, which were insanely expensive. You saw $2,000 differences on some of these,” said Brett Snyder, author of CrankyFlier.com, an airline industry blog.

In the last two weeks, after public outcry, airlines have been backtracking and tweaking their fares, said Snyder, who recommends that passengers compare the cost of purchasing each flight separately with the price for a single ticket with multiple stops.

“Just because you never know how something is going to price,” he said. “Airlines have made this so opaque and so confusing.”

American, Delta, and United changed the pricing on multi-city trips “to try to solve a different problem,” CrankyFlier’s Snyder said. Low-cost rivals Spirit and Frontier have been rapidly expanding, offering cut-rate fares.

The major airlines “have been struggling to find a way to control how many people have access to those really cheap ultra low-cost carrier matching fares,” Snyder said.

Under the new policies, a traveler flying from Washington to Dallas, staying awhile, and then flying to San Francisco, staying for a while, and flying back to Washington on American would pay $1,837.20 on a single ticket. It would cost $412.80 if the flights were bought separately, Snyder wrote in a March 31 blog post.

“To fix the problem, airlines dropped the hammer,” he said. “They made it so that fares could not be combined with other fares on a single ticket, except for simple out-and-back round trips (from Point A to Point B and back to Point A).”


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Three Big Airlines Just Trashed Your Cheap Fares

Justin Bachman – April 15, 2016

“The airlines just really screwed this whole thing up,” said Brett Snyder, a former airline pricing analyst who first wrote about the multicity fare changes on March 31 on his blog. “They had a problem, and they just didn’t think it through on how to solve it.”


Travel Weekly Logo

Alaska Air seeks California edge with Virgin America acquisition

Jamie Biesiada – April 10, 2016

Brett Snyder, president of CrankyFlier.com, said, “Alaska has a heritage as a traditional mainline carrier, but Alaska has also invested a lot in technology, has focused a lot on the operation. They have a fanatical following in the Pacific Northwest for sure, and so they are well-loved.”

As for Virgin America, Snyder said, “They’re the cool kids, right?”

Time will tell if Alaska will adopt any part of Virgin’s onboard experience.

“Ultimately, I’m not convinced that you need to have all of the things they have,” Snyder said of Virgin America’s accoutrements. “Does it really matter if you have mood lighting? And, by the way, Alaska’s new planes can do mood lighting, too, but does that matter? Does in-seat video matter? Maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t. … Ultimately, what really matters is an airline with a good operation that treats people well, has decent fares and can get you where you need to go.”

Snyder agreed: “They have little overlap with each other, so it doesn’t really remove much in the way of direct competition. … And there are plenty of competitors on the routes that they do overlap.”


The Vindicator Logo

Growth in flights at YNG bucks US trends

Kalea Hall – April 10, 2016

“Smaller airports have really struggled,” said Brett Snyder, author and founder of the airline industry blog, CrankyFlier.

With ADI only having one flight on some days, local business travelers may see an inconvenience.

“If you are a business traveler you generally are going to need that flexibility,” Snyder said.

“Most cities think they have demand and they don’t,” Snyder said.


Associated Press Logo

Fliers beware: New airfare rule could lead to costly mistake

Scott Mayerowitz – April 6, 2016

Brett Snyder, who runs an air travel assistance company called Cranky Concierge, put it differently: “They haven’t found a way to solve it eloquently so they solved it with a sledgehammer.”

“They’re making you overpay,” Snyder added. “Airlines for years have made it clear that when you book a roundtrip it would be cheaper or the same price as a one way. Now they are flipping that, penalizing you and not even telling you.”


Associated Press Logo

Airline complaints rise even as more planes arrive on time

David Koenig – April 5, 2016

There are serious students of the airline industry who dismiss reports like the one from Wichita State and Embry-Riddle. Brett Snyder, who writes the Cranky Flier blog, said the rankings don’t tell travelers whether an airline is good or bad at what matters to them.

“It lumps everything together in a way that doesn’t make sense for most travelers,” Snyder says. “You should research what matters to you. If you’re flying a specific route, you can look at on-time performance on that route.”


Seattle Times Logo

Virgin fans may fret, but Alaska Airlines deal will benefit many on West Coast

Dominic Gates – April 4, 2016

Brett Snyder, founder of the airline-industry blog Cranky Flier and a resident of the Los Angeles area where Alaska’s reach will be greatly extended, welcomes the increased opportunity to redeem the miles earned on his Alaska Airlines Visa card.

“I’m excited about having more ability to use Alaska to go different places,” said Snyder. “From a passenger perspective, I’m really OK with it.”

Of course, said Snyder, the Cranky Flier, “I’m sure he’s not going to cry over it that much longer.” Branson’s stake in an airline that financially was never hugely successful will be sold for a stratospheric price.

It may be a blow to Virgin America loyalists to lose that experience, Snyder said, but most travelers are more concerned about a comfortable, affordable, on-time ride to wherever they want to go.

“This aura around Virgin America of just being cool, for some people is really appealing,” said Snyder. “For others, it doesn’t matter as much.”

And as for fares, both Snyder and Harteveldt said that because Virgin has a relatively light schedule on routes that are also flown by multiple other carriers, there’d still be plenty of competition if it were eliminated.

For example, Delta, United and Southwest as well as Alaska all fly on Virgin America’s routes from Seattle and Portland to the Bay Area.

“It’s not like this is a route going to no competition, said Snyder. “I doubt there’ll be a huge impact on fares.”


Alaska Public Radio Logo

Alaska Air buys Virgin America, and may keep a hint of its bling

Liz Ruskin – April 4, 2016

Also radio interview to accompany written article:
“There will be the added benefit, of course, for people that are loyal to the frequent flier program,” says Brett Snyder, who blogs about the airline industry on CrankyFlier.com. “They’ll have more options, be able to do more through San Francisco, LA and head east … but I don’t really expect to see a ton of changes for people who are in Alaska itself.”

Snyder says whenever there’s a merger, consumers want to know the practical effects, like how the two airlines will merge their frequent flier programs and whether the seat amenities will change.

“And the reality is these guys don’t know,” Snyder said, referring to airline executives. “They know that the numbers make sense. They’ve created a story from their perspective where the combined networks are going to work. And this is going to help them grow and achieve their goals. But the specifics we just don’t know, and so these will be revealed over time.”

It will be a meeting of two very different brand personas. Alaska, at more than 75-years-old, is all traditional and buttoned up. Snyder says young Virgin, with mood lighting and rock music, is far cooler.

“You know, Virgin –you feel like you’re going to the club,” Snyder said. “Anytime I walk on a Virgin airplane, I kind of look like there should be a bouncer who’s telling me I’m not allowed on.”


Houston Chronicle Logo

5 years later, Continental-United merger still stirs strong feelings

Andrea Rumbaugh – April 1, 2016

Brett Snyder, author of the airline industry blog crankyflier.com, said on-time performance has to be the “No. 1” priority.

“If you get me somewhere late, no matter what else you do, I’m not happy,” he said.

Snyder said it might be misleading to compare the pre-merger Continental data with post-merger United because they flew from different airports with different levels of congestion.

But in passenger satisfaction, United placed last among traditional carriers in the J.D. Power 2015 North America Airline Satisfaction Study. Since the survey began in 2005, United has always ranked below average for its category. By comparison, Continental ranked No. 1 – or tied for first – among traditional airlines in 2006, 2007 and 2008.

“I think there’s definitely some truth in what you’re seeing there with Continental being at the top and United not being at the top,” Snyder said.

While these sweeping reports have a kernel of truth, he said, results often aren’t insightful enough for airlines to take specific actions toward improving.


Oregon Public Broadcasting Logo

Alaska Airlines Wants To Buy Virgin America, But Is It A Good Fit?

Interview with Spencer Raymond – March 31, 2016


Associated Press Logo

Hawaii senators want an end to shrinking airplane seat sizes

Cathy Bussewitz – March 31, 2016

“My general opinion on this is that it’s ridiculous, because people say they want more room on planes, but what they really want are cheap fares,” said Brett Snyder, president of Cranky Concierge and author of the travel blog The Cranky Flier. “The airlines respond to that and have effectively tried to provide a variety of options for a lot of things.”


Houston Chronicle Logo

United seeks Cuba service from IAH

Andrea Rumbaugh – March 2, 2016

Brett Snyder, author of the airline industry blog crankyflier.com, said United will not get all of the flights it’s requesting.

“There’s no way that everybody is going to get what they want,” he said.

If United is awarded service, Snyder said, Newark seems most likely, though it’s hard to tell how the Transportation Department will divide the routes.


Atlanta Journal Constitution Logo

U.S.-Japan deal a defeat for Delta

Kelly Yamanouchi – February 18, 2016

Although Delta is concerned that the deal could cause its Narita hub to unravel, “whether that happens, who knows?” said Brett Snyder, a former airline manager who runs a consumer airline blog at crankyflier.com.

Snyder was doubtful, though, that the deal will scuttle Atlanta-Tokyo flights.

“This is a big route between two major world business centers,” Snyder said. “If you’re the only game in town between Atlanta and Tokyo, you’re probably still going to be flying.”

Snyder said Delta’s problem was that its position “happens to be against the interest of all the other airlines,” Snyder said.

Delta was arguing against gradual liberalization, while in U.S. aviation policy, “all trends have been toward liberalization,” he added.


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‘Air taxi’ business sees promise at Westchester County Airport

Matt Coyne – February 12, 2016

Brett Snyder, who covers the airline industry on The Cranky Flier blog, believes the market for an air taxi-style service is generally confined to places where people can pay.

“The convenience factor is huge. If you live in Westchester and you want to go to Martha’s Vineyard, do you really want to sit in traffic or go to JFK (airport)? It’s a pain, right?” Snyder said. “The problem is, the cost factor is still there.”

“It’s a niche… but it’s a niche that can work,” he added.

Air taxi services can also help solve the problem of ensuring smaller markets retain air travel links, Snyder said.


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U.S. congressman proposes law to limit shrinking airline seats

Thom Patterson – February 10, 2016

But Brett Snyder of the consumer airline blog CrankyFlier isn’t so supportive.

“This is absurd,” Snyder said. “Without question, the FAA should ensure that passengers can quickly and safely get out of an airplane in an emergency, but that should be the only requirement on seat size and pitch.”

If passengers choose, they can pay for extra leg room, Snyder said.

“But by requiring minimum seat size and pitch, Congress would effectively be pushing the cost of plane tickets out of reach for the most price-sensitive travelers.”


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The Secret Of Cheap, One-Way Airfare

Alexandra Talty – February 2, 2016

“ If there are low-cost carriers in that market, you are likely to have one-way fares on all airlines ,” explains Brett Snyder, founder of airline industry blog, The Cranky Flier.

However, one-way tickets can be more expensive to and from smaller markets, where low-cost airlines do not fly . If you live near a smaller airport, Snyder advises to drive to a bigger a city or expand your search beyond non-stop flights. This allows a route through a popular hub, which adds more competition and potentially cheaper one-way flights.

“It is often better to book on the airline directly than an agent,” says Snyder.

“It started with Southwest Airlines,” explains Snyder. ”Legacy airlines had to become more competitive as low-cost airlines moved into more markets”


Philadelphia Inquirer Logo

Free snacks coming back on American and United

Linda Loyd – February 2, 2016

“The airlines are now competing beyond price,” said Brett Snyder, author of CrankyFlier.com, an airline-industry blog. “They are all now trying to compete with each other, and make sure they are offering products that people are willing to choose.”

Hawaiian Airlines, based in Honolulu, is the only U.S. carrier to still offer a free meal in coach, Snyder said. “Hawaiian says it’s a cultural thing, that when people come into your home, you offer them food,” he said. “Hawaiian views food as an important symbol of their welcoming people.

“So the other airlines are seeing that there is some value in doing that as well, I guess.”


USA Today

SeaPort Airlines abruptly cancels service in several states

Harriet Baskas – January 19, 2016

“Finding airplanes is easy, but getting enough pilots to keep them in the air is hard thanks to stepped up federal regulations on pilot qualification and rest,” said Brett Snyder of The Cranky Flier.


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The Opening Bell (Brett Snyder, Cranky Flier Interview)

Steve Grzanich – January 15, 2016


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What to do if your flight is grounded: Advice for airline travelers facing weather and other delays

Susan Glaser – January 13, 2016

“Try every tool you have,” said Brett Snyder, president of Cranky Flier, an aviation blog, and Cranky Concierge, a travel agency. That means: work with gate agents, call customer service, enlist the help of a travel agent (Snyder’s company offers “urgent assistance” for $150).

It may come as a surprise to some passengers, but gate agents really do want to help you, said Snyder. “People think that gate agents are sitting there with some nefarious plot. But what they really want is to get you on your way so they don’t have to deal with you anymore,” said Snyder. “Your interests are aligned.”

“They [Frontier] will not put you on another airline – that’s something you need to know,” said Snyder. “The trade-off for your cheap fare is that you’re not going to have as many options when something goes wrong.”