Help Cranky By Answering a Few Easy Questions


Earlier this week, I put out my two-part series on Southwest’s changes in the intra-California market.  It was fun to do the analysis, but it wasn’t easy.  Data crunching takes time, and acquiring data from some sources can be expensive.  There’s more I could have done with this, if I had the time and the resources.

And that brings me to a very simple survey.  Would you, dear readers, be interested in paying for more data-intensive content?  I’m not looking to put Cranky Flier behind a paywall.  I’m just trying to understand if there’s enough demand for me to justify putting more time, effort, and money into expanded, data-focused work along the lines of the Southwest analysis from earlier this week.

Below are just a few questions to help me understand if there is any interest in a paid service that would feature expanded offerings like these.  (If you can’t see the embedded info, then click here instead.)  If you have more in-depth thoughts you’d like to share with me on this, then please email me at  I’m all ears.

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32 comments on “Help Cranky By Answering a Few Easy Questions

  1. I read this blog recreationally, am not connected with the industry, and so wouldn’t really want to pay for content. I imagine this describes a significant chunk of the readership. Do you want people like me to answer your questions?

    1. grichard – Of course. That’s the whole point is to get responses from all readers. I have no doubt that the majority of people will not be willing to pay, and I want to see that in the numbers. The question is, are there those who would pay?

      And to clarify for other commenters who don’t seem to fully understand, nobody is talking about putting Cranky behind a paywall. This would be a separate product, if there was any interest.

    2. Ditto.

      However the first question, the last two options are not mutually exclusive. I am not in the airline industry but am a frequent flier and interested in the industry.

  2. Unless you’re an organization that has some major clout like the WSJ or NYT, the track record for paywalls has been so-so at best. A few publications have had some limited success. Most were a dismal failure as the loss in readership wasn’t enough to offset the pennies gathered from the few that paid, making the experiment generally a net failure.

    For blogs such as this? It will be a failure, 100% no questions asked. PayWalls are a surefire way to drive off readership and participation. Ask anyone who’s ran a message forum site or a small town newspaper whose tried this if you want a second opinion. Free is one of those things that once out of the bottle, you aint getting it back in.

    If you’re looking to gin up a few extra bucks, PayPal donate is one way. Non intrusive related ads are another.

    And no. I didn’t take the survey either.

        1. That’s not the point, which was to state that putting up a paywall almost always ends up being counterproductive due to the fact that whatever revenue they bring in is almost never enough to offset the exodus of traffic.

          And yes. I know how to bypass them too.

          One other point I forgot to interject into my last post. The irony of Cranky mulling the possibility of “recycling the same model as thousands of others has done” as he more or less says about pretty much any upstart airline is not lost on me.

          The Paywall is also a knee-jerk reaction that *MAY* provide a short term shot in the arm, but long term, the fundamentals for success just aren’t there. Paywalls are to journalism is what “me too-I’m a low fare airline” is to the airlines.

          For all the ‘walls that have gone up, just as many have came down when the newspapers learned the hard way that you simply cannot charge for content when A) it was previously free, B) it *can* be found for free elsewhere, and C) it can be bypassed.

          I stand behind my OP when I say that very, VERY few paywalls can or will work long term.

          1. Agreed. I would almost take the Wikipedia or Guardian approach and ask for a small donation every now and then. Personally, I’d rather just pay you $20 a year for exclusive content then have to ponder whether paying $1 for an article is worth it.

            You have the advantage of having established credibility and trust along with an avid reader base. For me, I’m a heavy UA Chicago-based frequent flier so while I find the analyses interesting, their tendency to be focused on the West Coast (i.e. Long Beach) delivers only so much utility. Personally, I prefer your content on airport renovations, worst airline ever, etc.

            Regardless, keep up the great work!

    1. So I take it you’ve never heard of Holly Hegeman and the Plane Business Banter? Which, is quite successful.

  3. Setting up a Patreon account and dangling occasional detailed analyses like this as a benefit may be another option.

    Both that and the paywall will likely alienate some regular readers, though.

    Unless you’re trying to be a consultant or airline analyst who is doing/selling analysis like this for big bucks to people in the industry, I’m not sure you’ll be able to justify these analyses on a time/money basis, unless they get some decent media pickup.

    1. The Southwest data was interesting but not being a CA resident and not flying those flights it really doesn’t affect me too much. I think that’s all the more reason to do a Patreon or some sort of voluntary contribution fundraising. Those that value it can throw a few bucks in and those that don’t can surf on over to the next website.

      There are some other websites I frequent that have that system set up. Admittedly I don’t really think about it until the site administrator goes into telethon mode and reminds us how expensive it is to do what they do. I’ve thrown a $20 into the pot here and there.

  4. Just a traveler, not really interested; maybe if I was an airline investor….

    This could suck to see a grayed out cranky post behind a paywall, but could work if maybe it is emailed to backers.

    I’d be more likely to make a one time donation, but then the pricing data doesn’t matter to me as all my flying has been for the job…

    BTW anyone got good recommendations for noise canceling headphones that can be slept in? Got some over the pond stuff coming.

  5. Have you considered opening a Patreon account? It’s a great way for smaller web creators to increase their income without putting a paywall. Plus, that way you can set up this kind of analytical articles as a goal for whenever you reach the monthly revenue level at which you’d feel comfortable making them; and you could even publish them first in your Patreon profile as perks, in order to incentivise people to increase their monthly donations.

    1. Jay – Thanks, it’s something to be considered if there’s no interest in an additional service for more data-intensive work. This is more about creating something new, and I have little doubt that a Patreon account wouldn’t justify that effort. Patreon might make sense as a way to monetize the existing site.

  6. I’ve been reading CF for years now and am not sure if it will be worth his time and money to do more data driven analysis. I usually read them, but they’re not that interesting to me. I do like more his content/comments about airline news, operations, etc…. Data analysis for some specific part of the country, like this week’s articles might just not be worth it, other than doing it once a year for something that’s impacts the entire country.

  7. JMHO’s… this is a “blog” not an industry analysis site. Your educated opinion is what matters. A common English description of how you reach your opinion(s) matters, not the number crunching you did to get there. If I wanted that, I’d read the professional investment community financial analysis where they do that sort of thing for a living.

    Again JMHO’s.
    Retired AA Captain

  8. I love this blog. It’s a part of my morning routine at work. Personally I would rather do a sponsored/guest Wednesday post. But if you go through with charging for this analysis, I hope it works out. I’m an enthusiast so I wouldn’t pay for that, but I hope you find people that do. Just please continue the blog. It’s great!

  9. Not in the industry, but the information is fascinating, though perhaps not something I will pay for. The internet has made a wonderful variety of very high quality information available for effectively free, and I am spoiled to have been raised in this environment. As others have said, Patreon is a viable option, and since you’ve built up a reputation, there shouldn’t be too much of a correlation between the price you set and people’s judgement of your work.

    You have the skills to sell your work for tens of dollars per month to industry – I imagine airport directors, airline teams, and the like would be well served if you give them just a tiny bit of new information or insight. On the other hand, there’s a long tail of people like me.

    One comment about the survey – and it may have been a limitation of SurveyMonkey – but I assumed the units for the prices were dollars, instead of cents, pesos, or the fuerte bolivar – Just an engineer’s pedantry.

  10. Can you get some ads to pay for more content? If there are airline ads, like UA or DL, I would click on the ad when I wanted to buy a ticket.

    1. Derek – I’m not interesting in loading up on spammy ads on the site. I do like the occasional sponsored post, but other than that, it’s not going to be my plan.

  11. I didn’t take the survey. I know you spent a lot of time and energy into the WN blogs and other times when you’ve done this, but I usually don’t read them all or completely since maybe the topic doesn’t interest me or I’m just not one for reading really long blogs in general. I’m also not a ‘data’ person so tend to skip over a lot of it. I’m also not someone who listens to podcasts, anyone’s or any topic.

    Hope you’re not offended by anything I said.

  12. BTW you can still take the survey and not pay. I actually put sums in there, but that doesn’t really mean anything since it’s all hypothetical.

  13. Commenting as a fellow professional trade media blogger (in the IT industry, not the airline industry).

    I know I’ve seen more than a few sites keep a typical blog (so, say a blog exactly like CF is today), while splitting out a high-end subscription service. One that comes to mind are Business Insider’s paid analyst reports. I can’t name many others right this second, but I know I’ve seen them. I like this model because it lets the blog stay like it is, and casual readers (like me) don’t have to worry about day-to-day blog posts going behind a paywall.

    The challenge is to refine the paid analyst-oriented offering and find the market fit for that. I could see something that’s $250 per year for a dozen or so reports, on up to $1000 per year for those reports. At $250 per year, that’s nothing for a lot of people to put on their corporate Amex.

    And then the question is, what type of content? I’m sure that when it comes to financial analysis, you have a lot of competition form big Wall Street analyst firms. But if the airline industry is anything like mine, there’s a good niche for analysis that comes from more hands-on technical experience. You can pull out details and insights that an MBA that’s worked at analyst/finance firms their whole career can’t.

    Aside from the hard-core analysis, I think subscribers would also appreciate white papers on various aspects of the industry. I’m sure that there are concepts that you and other industry insiders take for granted as conventional knowledge, but there are huge swaths of potential paying customers that would really get a lot out of some clearly-written explainers. Say a vendor or startup wants to start working with/marketing towards the airline industry, or an analyst/consultant in another field needs to know about the space—these people would shell out $1000 a year for a doesn’t reports (plus access to the old ones) without blinking an eye.

    So I say, keep the blog as is (which, if I’m correct, was your intent all along?) and then start another paid report subscription service. It’ll only take a few dozen subscribers to make it worth your time, and then once readership expands, it’s all gravy!)

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