Robert Silk – December 26, 2017
“They’re all still pretty bullish on their options and think there is a ton of opportunities for them,” Brett Snyder, who writes the aviation blog Cranky Flier, said of the ULCCs.
“Southwest doesn’t like to go into a market in a small way,” said Snyder, who expects the carrier to service several Hawaiian islands from California and other places on the West Coast.
A major open question about Southwest’s foray into Hawaii is whether it will fly interisland routes, a domain that is now almost the exclusive provenance of Hawaiian Airlines. In October, Southwest CEO Gary Kelly hinted that such service could be in the offing.
“They clearly have an interest there,” Snyder said.
Your boarding pass does contain information about you, but whether it can be used for evil is another question
Catharine Hamm – December 18, 2017
Thanks to help from Brett Snyder, president of CrankyFlier.com, which deals with all manner of airline questions, and CrankyConcierge.com, which offers air travel assistance, emergency or preventive, here’s what I’ve learned about an old boarding pass that was curled up on my desk unattended and ripe for prying eyes.
You read from time to time that paper boarding passes contain lots of secret information. There is information, but, Snyder said, not top-secret stuff.
“Most of this information on its own is not something that will do damage,” said Snyder, whose résumé includes stints working for various airlines, including United.
–My confirmation number; maybe a problem. If someone had my boarding pass with my confirmation number and my name it could have opened the way for some tampering with my reservation, Snyder said.
Who flashes around such stuff? Many people do, Snyder said — on social media. It is never a good idea to post your boarding pass online, he said, just for your safety and security.
This also isn’t a problem, for the most part, because you would need a password to get into that account. If you have a weak password, such as 12345, someone could get to your account and perhaps help himself or herself, Snyder said.
But, he noted, United has recently toughened its password requirements. Other airlines, he said, may not be quite as stringent and that could be a problem if the passenger or the airline is lax.
Julia Horowitz – December 11, 2017
The growing popularity of basic economy fares is one reason for the spike, according to Brett Snyder, a former airline manager and editor of the travel blog Crankyflier.com.
Passengers who buy basic economy tickets typically can’t use a plane’s overhead bins to store luggage — so if a flier arrives at the airport and finds out his or her bag is too big to fit under the seat, they’re asked to check it, Snyder said. Then they get socked with a fee.
Both American Airlines (AAL) and United Airlines (UAL) rolled out basic economy class tickets in the past year. They’re cheaper than standard economy tickets, but only let fliers carry one small personal item on board.
David Koenig – November 30, 2017
But even traveling on Christmas Day, when most airports are relatively quiet, isn’t the automatic money-saver that it used to be, says Brett Snyder, who writes the Cranky Flier travel blog and runs a travel-help business.
“The airlines have gotten better at canceling non-peak flights,” Snyder says. “They used to say, ‘Fly on Christmas Day,’ but now there are a lot fewer flights that day.” The airlines have reduced the supply to meet the lower demand on days when few people want to fly.
American Airlines updates worried travelers after glitch left thousands of holiday flights without pilots
Conor Shine – November 29, 2017
“Everyone’s already freaking out,” said Brett Snyder, author of the airline industry blog Cranky Flier and president of air travel assistance company Cranky Concierge. “There are a lot of things to worry about and stress you out over the holidays. I wouldn’t let this be one of them.”
Snyder said American will be motivated to prevent the scheduling issues from disrupting any flights, especially after stating publicly Wednesday that it expects to avoid cancellations.
“This kind of thing can happen. They caught it and they’ve stopped it. Now they just have to fill in the blanks” in the schedule, he said. “We’ll be watching closely, but at this point I’m just not that concerned.”
Kari Paul – November 8, 2017
Brett Snyder, founder and author of airline industry blog The Cranky Flier, called it “a PR gimmick.” He recommends the kind of entertainment you can put on mute. “Most of what I see is still focused around personal entertainment and giving people the ability to choose, so you don’t have to bother everyone with a concert not everyone is going to like,” he said, adding that customized content through partnerships like Amazon is becoming more common.
Andrea Rumbaugh – October 19, 2017
Notable, too, were luxurious extras like the piano bar, even though airlines quickly realized that wouldn’t add profits like additional seating.
“People remember that,” said Brett Snyder, author of the airline industry blog crankyflier.com, “but it hasn’t been that way in ages.”
Sean O’Neill – October 10, 2017
Brett Snyder of the airline industry blog Cranky Flier and a former pricing analyst for now-merged US Airways, said: “It sounds like a place that is searching for a way to remain relevant in a world where fare distribution won’t be as tightly controlled as in the past.”
Snyder said: “[The organization] needs to change, and it knows that. The problem is finding out exactly where it belongs in the new world.”
Stacey Feintuch – October 10, 2017
“I know this sounds bad, but as soon as your child is old enough to watch an iPad, then the flight itself is probably fine,” says Brett Snyder, founder and author of the airline industry blog Crankyflier.com. “Before that point, not so much. But every child is different.” He says you should also consider what country you’re visiting. “If you’re an American, then you can probably go to the United Kingdom without much trouble finding food your child will eat. But going to Japan, that’s going to be tougher. Still, it’s at the parents’ discretion.”
Andrea Rumbaugh – September 29, 2017
Southwest hasn’t added television monitors or power outlets, which could be a drawback as competitors offer such amenities on their long flights. The airline could also use faster internet, said Brett Snyder, author of the airline industry blog crankyflier.com.
“What they have today doesn’t work as well for longer-distance flights without faster internet or power outlets,” Snyder said.
With the Boeing 737-300s’ retirement, Southwest’s entire fleet will have Wi-Fi. Snyder said that will provide a more consistent experience for travelers.
Snyder and Harteveldt said the Max 8 could also provide travelers with new routes, especially international ones.
Alessandra Malito – September 6, 2017
It’s unlikely U.S. airlines will follow Ryanair’s example in baggage policies, said Brett Snyder, founder and author of airline industry blog The Cranky Flier, instead focusing more on offering basic economy seats, which restricts carry-on bags. “That seems to be their tool of choice to reduce clutter on an aircraft,” he said. Encouraging people to pay a few dollars more for priority boarding is a bargain, and a softer approach than legacy airlines in the U.S., he added.
Kalea Hall – August 27, 2017
“There’s no question they have grown. Allegiant doesn’t have loyalty,” Snyder said. “If the market doesn’t work, they just walk away. [If] they don’t make money they walk away.”
Smaller airports, Snyder explained, have struggled for years for several reasons.
“You just have a lot of things that make smaller, shorter air service less attractive,” Snyder said.
“It all kind of adds together,” Snyder said. “People have just accustomed themselves to driving to the bigger airports.”
“Before you may have people driving from Cleveland because it was so much cheaper,” Snyder said. But now they can fly Allegiant from Cleveland and Pittsburgh, he noted.
“There are a ton of airports that don’t have commercial service,” Snyder said. “They can thrive on being local private airports.”
Julia Horowitz and Jon Ostrower – July 13, 2017
The strategy is, “‘We’re going to buy this seat from you, and we’re betting we can resell it,'” said Brett Snyder, a former airline manager and editor of the travel blog Crankyflier.com.
Kari Paul – May 31, 2017
The FAA also announced in 2016 that it would require airlines to implement safety management systems by 2018. Brett Snyder, author of the airline-industry blog CrankyFlier.com, said it is important to note that “not airworthy” doesn’t necessarily mean unsafe.
Had United done the correct inspection, “it most likely would have found that the work was done correctly and it would have been able to fly just as it did even without the inspection,” he said. “But inspections are mandated for a reason: to ensure that the work is done properly every time.”
Hal Eisner – May 7, 2017
Appeared on a Sunday morning newsmagazine show about the big Delta terminal moves at LAX.
Teresa Mcusic – April 20, 2017
Brett Snyder, editor of Crankyflier.com, said involuntary bumping has actually become less frequent in the last decade.
On his website, Snyder shows that the level of denied boarding has dropped by around 50 percent since 2003. At the same time, airline load factors have grown from an average of 74 percent in 2003 to almost 84 percent today.
“We have much more full aircraft while the deny-boarding rate has gone down,” he said, adding that overbooking is necessary for airlines to keep fares low.
Warren Olney – April 14, 2017
This public radio program had 3 guests bashing airlines… and me. It’s fun to spar, but it always bugs me that there’s never enough time to answer everything.
Zohreen Adamjee – April 13, 2017
Appeared on an evening news story about the United/Dr David Dao saga.
Nikita Biryukov – April 13, 2017
The airline will look to a passenger’s enrollment in their frequent flier programs and to the fare class of their ticket, said Brett Snyder, author and founder of the Cranky Flier travel blog. If it comes down to it, the airlines may compare check-in times.
“It’s almost like a musical chairs sort of thing,” Snyder said. “You have a certain number of seats on the plane. And so they start filling up those seats, and then whoever’s left standing at the end, in most cases, is the one who’s left out. Different story when people are already on the airplane.”
“They’ve made it public how they make the determination, and they have a right to do that, I suppose,” Snyder said. “It’s up to them, if they think this is really the right way to do it. But I don’t think there’s anything random about it if they’re following their guidelines.”
Courtney Linder – April 12, 2017
“They also consider big conferences and conventions that you wouldn’t normally think about, as well as big sporting events or anything else that impacts demand,” according to airline industry expert Brett Snyder, president of Cranky Flier, LLC, an airline travel blog out of Long Beach, Calif.
Mr. Snyder says small airlines order “revenue management systems” off the shelf from Sabre or PROS. Larger firms, including American Airlines, may design their own to better leverage commerce data and attempt to perfect the booking process.
The goal in all of this is to never have to touch that list, said Crankyflier.com’s Snyder.
“You can see that Delta really stands out because it has the most denied bookings by far, but they’re mostly voluntary,” Mr. Snyder said. “The rate of overselling has gone up but the rate of bumping has gone down.”
Airlines tend to get the equations right, Mr. Snyder said. “As recently as 10 years ago, the airlines still sold 72 percent of seats. They’ve gotten really good at it to the point that they now fill 80 percent of seats.”
Budget airlines that are less sophisticated tend to be less aggressive in overselling, he said. Since many use generic revenue management systems, they may not be experts at prediction.
Mr. Snyder, who has worked in the past as a senior analyst for America West Airlines, among other positions with American Airlines and United, said that overbooking is a sophisticated, as well as legal, process.
But even the process used to create a “bump-at-will” list is compiled by programs with discriminating data, Mr. Snyder said. Although dependent on seemingly objective computer algorithms, the list is not actually randomized, he said.
“United says their bump list is random, but it’s not random according to their policy,” Mr. Snyder explained. “They even say they have criteria for who gets bumped. They use an algorithm, but there are set decision points for that list.”
To ensure the best chance of holding onto a seat on the plane, Mr. Snyder suggests showing up to the gate early.
“If you have a seat assignment, you’re in a better spot on the algorithm than others, and if you check in early, you’ll probably have a better chance.”
Elizabeth Weise – April 12, 2017
Once a flight is set, an airline’s customer service software kicks into action. These complex software packages, generally outsourced from either Hewlett Packard Enterprise or IBM, combine all major passenger service functions, including pricing, shopping, reservations, ticketing, check-in and seat assignment, said Brett Snyder, founder of the airline industry blog Crankyflier.com.
“The gate agents don’t do anything” and don’t create the list, said Snyder.
The goal in all of this is to never have to touch that list, said Crankyflier.com’s Snyder.
Finally, it isn’t simply a matter of who checked in last. “It’s kind of like musical chairs, whoever’s left standing is out of luck,” said Snyder.
“This was an abnormal situation because usually the computer’s making the decision before everybody’s on the plane,” said Snyder.
So in the end, said Snyder, “it’s never truly random, it’s what they put into the algorithm.”
April 12, 2017
Jane Clayson – April 12, 2017
Chris Isidore – April 11, 2017
Brett Snyder, a former airline executive and editor of the travel blog Crankyflier.com, said it’s rare for airlines to offer more than $1,350 for a voluntary seat surrender, but he’s heard of it happening.
“Sometimes you’re just desperate to find the passengers who agree to be bumped, like United should have been,” Snyder said. “It would have saved them a lot of money if they had offered more.”
Annalisa Burgos – April 11, 2017
Aarian Marshall – April 10, 2017
“It’s all about trying to maximize the revenue they bring in, and part of that is making sure there’s a butt in every seat,” says Brett Snyder, who runs the air travel assistance business Cranky Concierge. Overbooking is good for everybody, in a sense. “When you have fewer butts in seats, the fares need to be higher to cover all the costs that involved.”
Laurie Joseph and Conor Shine – March 5, 2017
“You see them putting a priority on that stuff. Part of it is they have more money and more resources to devote to it. Part of it is the recognition that in a consolidated world, you can’t just compete on price and schedule. You have to provide a better overall product, and part of that is running a good operation.”
— Brett Snyder, president, Cranky Flier LLC
Linda Loyd – February 28, 2017
Travelers vie to board because of limited space in the overhead bins for carry-on bags. “It’s the fight for the overhead bin space,” said Brett Snyder, author of CrankyFlier.com, an airline-industry blog.
American contends the new boarding groups will simplify the process.
Snyder said it doesn’t simplify anything. “It’s just renumbering what they already do. Nothing is easier. It’s just now you have a better idea of where you stand.”
Snyder, of CrankyFlier, said, “My initial reaction when I saw this was that I liked it.” Under the old system, even if a boarding pass said Group 1, “most of the plane was already boarded by the time they got to me because of all the elites,” he said. “This just kind of sets the expectations better.”
Christopher Mele – February 16, 2017
Another financial incentive: Without the screens, carriers can install slimmer seats, which means they can accommodate more passengers and earn more money, Brett Snyder, the author of the airline industry blog “Cranky Flier,” said in an interview.
Mr. Snyder said he had seesawed in his feelings about streaming but had come down on the side of the screens.
“It is awesome to be able to watch television or a movie in the background while working on my laptop,” he wrote in a blog post. “This is indeed a first-world problem. Can I be content without the screen? Sure. But I kind of want it to feel like it is when I’m at home. That makes me greedy, but hey, why not?”
Dawn Gilbertson – December 27, 2016
Brett Snyder, who worked for America West for a few years and now runs the popular Cranky Flier blog and Cranky Concierge flight-planning and assistance service, said he used to take US Airways from Los Angeles or Long Beach, with a stop in Phoenix, to visit his in-laws in Indianapolis. Now, American offers non-stop service from Los Angeles so he opts for that. That is just one example, he said, of new non-stops from Los Angeles on American.
“These are people who used to go over Phoenix and now they’re skipping Phoenix entirely,” he said.
Blogger Snyder said the addition of those flights in Phoenix is encouraging. He said that didn’t occur in Memphis and Cincinnati before those cities losing their hubs after airline mergers.
“There is still an important place for Phoenix and you can see that by some of the routes they’ve added,” he said. “Even though they’re not the biggest new destinations, it still shows that they’re important for American to serve and Phoenix is the way to serve them.”
Susan Glaser – December 15, 2016
American Airlines is expected to unveil its own Basic Economy fare sometime next year. Look for both American and Delta to copy United’s overhead-bin policy if United’s plan is successful, said Brett Snyder, who operates the CrankyFlier.com website.
“The reality is that a lot of people are responding to this cheap model, this a la carte model,” said Snyder. U.S. legacy carriers are feeling pressure from low-cost competition not just in the United States, but also in Europe. “Look at Ryanair, easyJet – they’ve taken over the continent,” he said.
Snyder said that the success of United’s Basic Economy will depend a lot on how well it’s implemented.
Consumers, he said, have to be told very clearly what the different price points will get them. No one should arrive at the airport with a carry-on bag and be surprised that it’s not included with their fare, he said. (And if they are, they’ll be socked with a fee – not yet determined – to allow them to carry it on board, according to United.)
Richard Sandomir – December 7, 2016
“This is just American ingenuity,” Brett Snyder, the president of Cranky Flier, an airline industry blog, said of the store. “Finding a niche opportunity and putting it to use.”
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.
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.
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.
Larry Mantle – September 26, 2016
Radio appearance talking about service and emotional support animals
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.”
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
Paul Magers – May 19, 2016
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.”
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.
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).”
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.”
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.”
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.
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.
Interview with Spencer Raymond – March 31, 2016
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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”
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.”
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.
Steve Grzanich – January 15, 2016
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.”