Cranky on the Web (Nov 9 – 13)

Alliances, American, BNET, British Airways, Cranky Concierge, Frequent Flier Programs, Government Regulation, Oneworld, US Airways

American and British Airways Still Waiting for Feds Antitrust Immunity DecisionBNET
The waiting game continues as the DOT has gone past its own deadline for ruling on the BA/American deal. This is getting tiresome.

Capacity Restraint Leads to Fewer Empty Airline Seats in OctoberBNET
October traffic shows very few empty seats. Thank you, low fares.

US Airways Masks Frequent Flier Devaluations by Calling Them Customer EnhancementsBNET
US Airways has made over its frequent flier redemption, and while they claim its good for customers, that’s really just PR spin.

Holiday Season Is Upon UsFlying Colors
One Cranky reader recommends Cranky Concierge for holiday travel for those who don’t already have their own airline dorks to help.

AirTran, SkyWest deal challenges traditional regional-airline modelCleveland Plain Dealer
I was asked about my thoughts on whether this AirTran Skywest deal was truly innovative. Not so much.

American’s Firing of Mr X Becoming a Social Media Black EyeBNET
American has fired Mr. X and the blogosphere is abuzz. Is American handling this right? I think you know the answer.

Melbourne Offers US Airways an Incentive that May Actually WorkBNET
You know I generally hate temporary airport incentives, but this is one that I don’t actually mind.

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5 comments on “Cranky on the Web (Nov 9 – 13)

  1. Regarding AA and “Mr. X’, I am sorry to see that AA wants to imatate United on Public Relations issues. I am a Gold Card AA flyer and agree that there are some areas in which AA could improve. Their web site is certainly one area they should look at doing some homework. BUT, why kill the messenger. This is VERY small of them. AA has over reacted in the WRONG direction. It seems to me that the guy was trying to help out AA in a positive way. Communication with the customers. The life blood of any business. If he stepped on a couple of AA toes he could have been warned – NOT FIRED! They need to immediately and publicly reinstate the guy and reprimand the AA manager who over reacted. AA needs to turn this issue around and fast. A bad reputation is hard to shake. Just ask UNITED! AA should get off its ASSETS and do something positive about this NOW.

  2. So typical. And the fact of the matter is, is needlessly complicated and overwrought, and frankly looks like the result of fiefdoms all protecting their little castles. There’s no surer sign of an enterprise that is losing its customer connection then to not take a situation like this and *learn* from it when it becomes public; to use the attention as a fulcrum to motivate product and management groups and drive change. I don’t necessarily think it is inappropriate to fire someone if they broke known corporate communication regulations, but not even addressing the reality of the conversation is bone-headed.

    What are people’s favorite airline websites, anyway? I like quite a bit, and United is relatively clean and functional… although my favorite remains the pre-merger

  3. Cranky, I believe your characterization of US Airways’ new award structure is not entirely accurate. According to the FAQ on their web site, both medium and high awards are not capacity controlled, it’s just that medium will be offered on days where demand is low, and high when demand is high. So this is basically a repricing of the standard award to better match demand.

    As for whether this is a devaluation or an enhancement, it really varies by where you want to fly. As you mention in your post, a standard domestic economy award will now be more expensive — but only on high demand days; it will be cheaper on low demand days, with last seat availability. Awards to Hawaii and Europe are generally going up, but those to the Middle East are going down — the new high is equivalent to the current standard, so the only change is in effect a 33% discount for non–capacity controlled awards on low demand days. Then again, the only destination US flies to in the Middle East is Tel Aviv, and I have high doubts about the long-term viability of that flight (and this award discount may be just another indication of where the flight is headed).

    I believe you are right in calling this an overall devaluation, because the best value from destination and points schemes comes from the customer’s ability to take advantage of the rigid structure of the awards in order to beat the market price. When you build in extra flexibility (in this case, matching the price of last seat availability to anticipated demand), it takes away some of the ability to extract top value from the system. And I definitely agree that US’s spin of calling this “enhancements” is ridiculous. But the changes are not as bad as you describe in your post.

  4. Ron wrote:

    Cranky, I believe your characterization of US Airways’ new award structure is not entirely accurate.

    Looks like you’re right, Ron. Thanks for correcting me there. It is very confusing to me. If you look at the example award chart:
    It shows on the return that the decisions on which days are medium or high appear random. For example, Friday March 12 is high but Friday March 19 is medium. Monday March 22 is high while March 29 is medium. (Easter is in April next year.) So either this is just a sloppy image or it’s really going to be confusing to figure out which is which.

  5. I agree that is probably one of the worst airline websites out there. Takes forever to slog through the options just to get down to a price. Often find myself using Kayak or other 3rd parties to sort out the AA flights, knowing full well their routes and times.

    Also have to agree that is probably the best out there. Super clean and easy to use website. Simple to search for the flight time and price you wanted. could take a hint and scrap their design for the one they bought from NWA.

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