Cranky on the Web (January 19 – 24)

CLT - Charlotte, Delays/Cancellations, Southwest

Cranky Analysis: Southwest Airlines Operations Blew Up Over The Holidays. Problems Continue. The Problems Are Systemwide.PlaneBusiness Banter ($Subscription Required$)
Southwest had a very bad December with fewer than 60 percent of flights arriving on time. But this isn’t a new issue, it’s just getting worse. I dove into the data to see what was going on.

Beyond rocking chairs: Airports race to upgradeCharlotte Observer
Charlotte is thinking about doing some airport upgrades, and I was asked about the impact of doing those kinds of things.

In the Trenches: Using My Business’s Blog CarefullyIntuit Small Business Blog
It’s natural to want to write about Cranky Concierge on the blog, but I’m very careful about how I go about doing it.

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14 comments on “Cranky on the Web (January 19 – 24)

  1. This caught my eye:
    “The terminals do not generate or impact demand,” Ron Ricks, Southwest Airlines executive vice president, told the Kansas City International Airport’s advisory board last week. He was cautioning them against building a proposed $1.2 billion new terminal.”

    MCI may not need a new terminal, but they need to knock down their front walls and expand into the road way and push everything out to do away with having to use security to get into each 4-gate area. MCI was the big TWA midwest hub until metal detectors forced TWA to move to STL. It slowed ops down with all those connecting passengers needing to be rescreened changing gates. Pushing everything forward would mean a central security point and permit free flowing traffic between gates in each terminal. I can’t believe Braniff II attempted to use MCI as a big hub when they knew TWA moved away due the connecting passenger issue.

    1. I bounced through MCI on a business trip last year (not by my choice I tell you) and that is honestly the worse airport I’ve ever come across. The idea that you have to go through security to change gates on a domestic flight is ludicrous….

      1. Have you ever been through the main side terminal at LGA? Every finger has
        it”s own security. The nice about being aircrew was being able to walk across
        the ramps. Even if it was raining or snowing!

    2. David SF – I know that Southwest has done work to include more gates within a single secure area, but ultimately the footprint of the building is a problem. Definitely did not consider the need for security back then and how that would impact connecting travelers. (It’s still great for locals.)

      If TWA actually switched to St Louis simply because of the airport configuration, then that seems insane. Local demand will always be crucial, and that’s why I agree with Ron Ricks. Terminals don’t generate or impact demand… unless there’s an alternative. In Kansas City, there isn’t.

  2. I don’t have a PlaneBusiness subscription, and can only guess as to the content of your article, but there is at least anecdotal evidence of either a sickout/work-to-rule thing going on with the MDW employee base that has been contributing to WN’s poor on-time performance of late. Terry Maxon had a post about how Southwest alleges that this exacerbated its meltdown during the winter storm shortly after New Year’s.

    I’m curious to see how things improve now that the courts are involved. FWIW, I took a 5-segment trip from DAL to ONT and back earlier this week, and the departure/arrival boards at DAL and PHX mostly reported on-time departures and arrivals – except for flights to and from MDW.

    1. MeanMeosh – While a sickout could have had a temporary impact at one airport, this was systemwide and it has been building for a really long time. There are some real systemic issues here, especially related to the increase in connecting passengers and baggage. Midway didn’t stand out as being particularly bad compared to the rest. It was bad everywhere.

  3. It’d be nice if Plane Business had a per article policy. I’d like to read some of your contributions over there, but I’m not willing to pony up for another subscription.

    1. I had a subscription for years, but decided not to continue with it. Holly is very good and I love her wit and writing style. However, the subscription is expensive and she’s isn’t the most consistent with her weekly delivery. The delays along with the expense just wasn’t worth it since you can get plenty of airline industry news/commentary for free.

    2. Nick – I don’t know if Holly would want to consider that, but I’ll pass it along.

      DL – Very true that the weekly column doesn’t always come out at the same time, but I’ve never known her to miss a week. I first signed up to subscribe in the 1990s and have always thought it was worth it personally. But of course, everyone will have a different opinion since it’s not cheap.

  4. The reality is that as long as municipalities have an edifice complex, bigger and more expensive airports will be built regardless of the impact on the airline tenants or the impact on service. While CLT is a unique case due to it’s status as a hub with the least amount of O&D traffic, I have a hard time imagining such a need in consideration of some level of rationalization on CLT as a hub, and the sheer lopsidedness of the market-share situation there. What will happen when the cuts come down during the merger?

    1. Sean S – I remain far from convinced that Charlotte will see a huge downsizing in the merger, but I would expect at least some frequency cuts. Any frequency cuts hurt an airport, and that’s why they should be very conservative with their money.

  5. “The terminals do not generate or impact demand,” also caught my eye. Easy for Southwest to say – an airline without airline lounges, and an airline that supposedly doesn’t focus on connecting passengers. And, one that doesn’t fly internationally – people do avoid airports with horrible customs/immigrations facilities.

    I thought CLT was in pretty decent shape right now, as it is. There is much worse out there, at least. I do agree though that there should be food at D/E – if you are connecting from E to E, it’s quite a hike to find decent food.

    Maybe the B and C fingers are a bit dim and narrow.

    The friendly bathroom attendants and little cups of mouthwash are a nice touch at CLT.

  6. Convenience of schedule is more important to me than terminal amenities, but when I have a connection the availability of decent food and proper seating is important to me. Everything in a single building (no busing or training between different terminals) is a definite plus too. It influences my choice in connection airport.

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