Cranky on the Web – An Interview with Me, Hunting for Low Fares, Atlanta’s Silly Name Issue, More

Fares, Frontier

Join me on Monday for an hour-long Twitter chat with CNN about the future of flight. We’ll get started at 8a PT/11a ET using the hashtag #CNNLeBourget. I hope to chat with you then.

The Airlines’ Biggest Shortcoming, According to The Cranky
I did a nice, long interview with about a whole range of topics from my love of Slovenia to my hope for space travel.

Frontier removes departure time from boarding passesUSA Today
Frontier has pulled the departure time off its boarding passes and I was asked for my thoughts. I like what the airline is doing.

Low-Price Airfare Is One Big HassleOn Point
I went on the On Point radio show for NPR talking about the issues of finding low fares online. You can listen at this link.

Missed airline connections? Use Twitter to get help quicklyChicago Tribune
The Trib put together a good in-depth guide to for newbies to learn how to tweet airlines when you need help, and I contributed my tips.

Call it Atlanta-hyphenated-Jackson International Airport, or elseAtlanta Journal-Constitution
If you’ve been following this ridiculous story about how Atlanta is pouring tons of money and effort into getting people to use the airport’s full name, then you might enjoy my comments about what a huge waste this is.

In the Trenches: Creative Work ArrangementsSmall Business Center
Getting a little more creative about how we think about employment means we’ll be able to fill some of the gaps we’ve had.

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17 comments on “Cranky on the Web – An Interview with Me, Hunting for Low Fares, Atlanta’s Silly Name Issue, More

  1. Since my last two places of residence have been Atlanta and San Jose, CA the airport name thing really hits home. No one outside airport property ever calls them “Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport” or “Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport”. It’s just “Atlanta” or “San Jose”.

    1. Yep. I never call my home airport “Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport.” It’s either
      San Jose or SJC. Just like I don’t call CLE Hopkins, BWI Thurgood Marshall, DCA Reagan (it’s still National or DCA to me), or ATL Hartsfield nor Hartsfield-Jackson.

  2. Agreed on the silliness of the name issue. San Jose? Baltimore?
    DCA? No wonder more people just refer to airports using their FAA code. Political bodies love to do things that seem like they are important, but really are not. Why bother confronting serious racial issues in your city when you can just rename the airport and say “look how progressive we are, our airport is named after a _____ person.”
    Had Dr. King been an activist of this generation, every airport in the nation would be named after him. And we’d all be corrected by massive ad campaigns when we said “King” instead of “Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. International Airport at ____ Field” or whatever other tongue-numbing name the politicos came up with.

  3. The Frontier boarding pass time actually makes sense and you now wonder why this hasn’t been done in the past by everyone.

    1. If memory serves right, BA shows when boarding ends and when the flight is scheduled to depart. They don’t say when boarding starts.

  4. Listened to WBUR show about finding low fares online. What a whiner Tom Ashbrook is! Jesting of course but still. :-)

    I appreciated your comments about how there is no other industry where people expect complete price transparency. It’s true. Finding the best price on any other service or durable good is a process that people expect, why not an airline ticket? I would love to have one place to find the best price but alas it isn’t so.

    One commenter said the industry is not (as it used to be) a public utility. People forget that the airlines were regulated during the “good ‘ol days.” Government set the fares so that the carriers could make money with 50% load factors. I’ve been flying internationally since the 50s and remember wearing a tie (as a little kid!) to get on a plane. Dad wore a suit and mom was dressed with heels and hose. I started in the industry in the early 80s just before de-regulation really set in and remember the least expensive fare LAX-JFK was $600RT all in. That’s $600 in 1983 dollars or $1425 in 2015 dollars. A quick check on Google Flights shows today’s RT fare to be $481! Reverse the calculation and the fare is $202 in 1983 dollars. Flying has never been cheaper. Yes fees increase the cost and planes are uncomfortably full but that’s a result of de-regulation. Chances are the loudest complaints come from folks who are most vociferously anti-regulation. That’s the “free market” folks! The genie is out of the lamp and its not going back. If one want’s luxury one has to pay for it. Pay for the enhanced economy seating or pony up the dough for a business class ticket.

    One person on the show mentioned rapacious profits? Margins in the airline industry are not fat. UA show a 5.79% profit margin. AA is 7.85%. Rapcious? I think not. I’d rather be flying on a plane with well paid and rested crew on an airline that’s making a decent profit.

    The airlines are responsible for the perception that the web is the best place to get a ticket. Back in the 90s they started undercutting travel agents by putting distressed inventory on the web. That just caused a race to the bottom a race which they are desperately trying to end now. It caused people go down the street to save $5 – and why not? Despite all the marketing and efforts to differentiate products standard coach airline seats are pretty much a commodity. Generally speaking the price differential between the web and travel agents no longer exists but because airlines stopped paying upfront commissions (many agencies make commissions on the back end) to agents, agents need to charge something to stay in business. Pay for service – unbundling. Just like the airlines. Just like everything else.

    1. Frank of America – It’s true. Of course it would be nice if you could always just go to one place for everything and find the lowest price. But that’s not how it works in most industries. It’s strange that people think airlines should be forced to do it when you don’t hear them saying the same thing about other industries. It would be nice, of course, but that’s a business decision.

      As for profits, on the other hand, people do this with a lot of industries. It sounds crazy high when you say a $5 billion profit. But when you look at the percentages, it puts things in perspective. But people would rather say the airlines are stealing their money and making crazy profit. They don’t do this for EVERY industry though. Look at Apple. That company is making something like a 40 percent margin. Now THAT’S a crazy high margin.

      1. Actually Apple’s profit is 22.5% but still, that’s much higher than the airlines. Amex isn’t too far behind at 18.6%. MasterCard on the other hand is nearly 40%.

        Point is plenty of other industries are more profitable and we don’t have the press screaming their pricing isn’t transparent enough.

        1. I think the reason for that is because Apple and MasterCard have products that people like to use and enjoy using. Also, they are constantly innovating and improving their products, without necessarily raising the prices. The airlines, on the other hand, are slowly making their product worse and worse. People buy an iPhone because they enjoy using one, but they buy plane tickets because they need to get somewhere and there is no other choice.

        2. Frank- Yeah, I was looking at gross margin for Apple, which is around 40 percent. Either way, the company is doing quite well for itself.

  5. What’s funny about airport names, is many are not even located in the city they are called by. And no one has ever asked to fly to Bob Hope or John Wayne airports. Even when I lived in Orange County California I can tell you everyone called SNA Orange County airport. No one said Santa Ana’s John Wayne Airport – Orange County.

    Didn’t that Atlanta name thing come up at the same time they started talking about using a second local airport for passenger airlines that I believe DL is against?

    1. What I’ve found is that if you live in a city, you’re more likely to call the airport something else. For example, I’ve heard people here in Southern California call it John Wayne (though never Bob Hope). I’ve heard people in San Diego call it Lindbergh. And yes, in Atlanta, I’ve heard people call it Hartsfield. But for those who don’t live in the city, it’s always the city name unless there are multiple airports. That’s the only reason you hear JFK, O’Hare, Dulles, etc. But you can always guarantee that people aren’t going to call it by multiple names. Even at National airport (anyone who lived in the DC area before the name change will always call it National), nobody calls it Reagan National. They might call it Reagan. But not Reagan National.

      The fact that Atlanta is wasting money on this is insane. it’s not going to change anything.

      1. It’s not insane. It’s a calculated political move designed to satisfy a certain constituency of voters. It has nothing to do with air travel.

  6. The only airports that I can think of in a city that only has one predominant airport where people refer to the name attached to the airport are Boston Logan and Lambert St. Louis. In most cases it’s just easier to say the three-letter code than the full airport’s name.

  7. Couldn’t agree more with CF about the waste of $$ regarding the bane at ATL! This is OBVIOUSLY coming from a group with too much time on their hands and a desire to throw money at something that is NOT an issue!

    1. You probably meant to type “the name at ATL”, but honestly, I think your version is more accurate.

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