q Cranky on the Web (January 11-15) – Cranky Flier

Cranky on the Web (January 11-15)

787, ANA, BNET, Boeing, Frontier, JAL, Republic, United, US Airways

US Airways Pilots Infighting Grows Worse by the DayBNET
It appears the US East pilots are tired of fighting the west pilots. Now they’re turning on each other. Unreal.

Airline Capacity Cuts Slow in December, Some Carriers See GrowthBNET
December traffic numbers show some interesting trends.

United Pushes International Presence with Muddled Marketing Message in Denver FightBNET
United is heading back to its Independence Air playbook in its fight in Denver.

Boeing’s Loss of 787-3 Orders is Good NewsBNET
When is a canceled order a good thing? When it allows Boeing to walk away from the 787-3.

Sean Menke Leaves Frontier Airlines, This Can’t Be GoodBNET
Sean Menke is leaving Frontier and Republic, and that doesn’t bode well for the airline.

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3 comments on “Cranky on the Web (January 11-15)

  1. Re: Menke leaving Republic.

    Nice summary of the situation, Cranky. I’m a pretty transparent fan of Frontier, and have been ever since DEN became my home base. I dislike Southwest’s false-friendliness and WalMart-of-the-air vibe, but I absolutely give them credit for REALLY understanding the power of branding. They hammer it home constantly, and have built THE most powerful brand in air travel.

    I had really high hopes for the Republic buyout, perhaps fueled by my emotional attachment to Frontier. I believe the Frontier flights on their own airbusses with Frontier crews probably still do provide a quality, “Frontier” experience, but the ones that are at the event horizon of Republic’s integration efforts are a branding disaster. My last “Frontier” flight was DEN to CAK on a Republic-operated E190. Probably the nicest RJ out there, and considering it was only 2/3rds full absolutely the better choice for that route than a bigger airbus, but:

    1. Booked on Frontier.com. Ticket level choices not updated to reflect the fact that the E190 doesn’t have in-flight entertainment. Their “STRETCH” seating model not accurately reflected in the booking process versus what was actually on the plane.

    2. Plane painted in Midwest Airlines colors. Flight attendants in Republic Airlines uniforms. Midwest Airlines in-flight magazine in seatbacks. Drinks served on Midwest Airlines-logoed napkins on the outbound flight, on Frontier-branded napkins on the return flight a few days later. Lavatory had Frontier-logoed items.

    3. During announcements, lead flight attendant slipped and said “Midw… Frontier” twice.

    As someone who’s worked heavily in branding and marketing, I can guarantee Menke probably saw this and immediately sent up red flags that this was a problem, and Republic probably told him “no it isn’t.” That’d drive anyone focused on brand and experience up a tree. And someone with Menke’s resume wouldn’t feel a need to stick around and beat their head against the door until Republic came around.

    Finally, an article in the Denver Post about moving Frontier executives to Indianapolis generated a lot of discussion, with one person saying, to the effect, “I used to give Frontier leeway because they were based here. Now they go into the pile with United, Southwest, Delta, USAirways, etc.” If a lot of people start thinking that way, I think we know which airline will ultimately “win” in Denver. Sad.

  2. Great comments on the Frontier/Midwest situation. Totally agree with your branding comments and Andrew hits the nail on the head with his experience. With MSP as my home base I’ve seen plenty of the branding changes with Delta moving into town. I’m sure there’s lawyers involved but “Delta flight operated by NWA” just sounds stupid. That said, to the Denver people, sorry to break it to you, but Frontier was purchased. I don’t find it surprising to see management moved out of Denver just as I would not be surprised the slightest to see most old NWA management jobs move down to Hotlanta and Delta HQ. That’s business, and like many people I’ve moved for an employer. My guess is Menke was asked to move to Indy and didn’t accept for personal reasons. Republic does need to fix the branding situation, but Denverites are being ridiculous if their Frontier loyalty depends on upper management living in their backyard.

  3. A wrote:

    Republic does need to fix the branding situation, but Denverites are being ridiculous if their Frontier loyalty depends on upper management living in their backyard.

    I think it’s more of a complex problem than that. I worry about the management vacuum in Denver leading to a severe deterioration of the culture. That can lead to good people leaving the airline and service levels dropping dramatically. I have heard from many that they love the service at Frontier, so if that goes, then people will have less of a reason to choose Frontier. This is all a bit early to predict gloom and doom, but it’s certainly something to watch.

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