This week’s featured link:
The travel trick that airlines hate – BBC capital
When I was in Dallas this week, I got into a long discussion with a few friends about hidden-city ticketing. (That kind of conversation, by the way, is exactly what happens when a bunch of AvGeeks get together.) There are plenty of varying opinions on the practice, but here’s where I stand. I see no issue with airline practices that result in hidden-city opportunities, and if they want to ban people from buying those tickets, then that’s fine. That being said, enforcement is tricky. Airlines should make it risky for people to do it so that they self-select against the process. That means making an example of repeat offenders by kicking them out of the mileage program or threatening them to pay up. Those infrequent offenders? If it stays small enough, just ignore them. But suing? That could backfire, and I think it’s a bad idea. Lufthansa is playing with fire.
Two for the road:
Hawaii’s Mokulele Airlines to cut 10% of staff – ch-aviation
Yikes. Just days after the feel-good merger announcement from Southern Air Express suggesting this would be great for everyone, Mokulele has apparently told people internally that it will cut 10 percent of staff. This is a rough way to start a merger, and it’s going to breed distrust. It also indicates Mokulele has been unprofitable, something I had been led to believe wasn’t the case.
California Pacific Airlines says it will rise again – Escondido Grapevine
Uh, right. I suppose it could happen, but if it does, the only question will be whether it fails quicker than last time or if it manages to live slightly longer. (via @quanterium)
Re: your stance on Hidden City.
Your payment is on the way. Check your PayPal account and look for the one from Ben Dover, Foxtrot Yankee enterprises.
For tax purposes, we have to keep the actual source hidden and blind.
I suspect that, at least in the EU, lawsuits like the Lufthansa one will result in hidden city ticketing becoming explicitly legal.
A better answer would be to make it unprofitable / unreliable. Use machine learning to figure out which bookings are likely hidden city (the airlines have tons of training data), and ‘upgrade’ those travelers to a direct flight or ‘better’ connection when seats are available.
This, exactly. Kill the hidden city crowd with customer service. When people start complaining that, “I tried to do hidden city ticketing, but the airline forcibly upgraded me and put me on a better schedule, without a connection,” they won’t get much sympathy from other travelers or the media.
> A better answer would be to make it unprofitable / unreliable. Use machine learning to figure out which bookings are likely hidden city (the airlines have tons of training data), and ‘upgrade’ those travelers to a direct flight or ‘better’ connection when seats are available.
I used to be a ticket counter agent, and had a customer booked from my airport connecting in BOS and then to MCO. The segment to BOS was canceled, and the passenger was automatically rebooked on a nonstop to MCO. She purchased through skiplagged and had no intention of ever flying to MCO at all, and begged me to rebook her back to BOS. She ended up having to purchase a last minute ticket to BOS.
And that’s exactly how you address the problem. All it takes is one bad experience (I had mine on a return flight from LHR one time) and that passenger will never attempt that again.
The other issue that could happen is that if you board late and there is no room in the overhead bin, you might have to check your bag all the way to the final destination you have no intention of traveling to. The risks aren’t worth the rewards IMO.
Re: Hidden City ticketing: it is difficult to feel sorry for the airlines, given that they have made air travel into a horrible process and are constantly looking for new ways to rip people off.
Re: California Pacific: stick a fork in it.
California Pacific . . . is it worth the price of persistence, or is it suicide by stubbornness? While I have to applaud Ted Vallas for his “stick-to-it-iveness”, perhaps he should heed the words of another famous Californian, the late, great head coach of the San Francisco 49ers Bill Walsh, who said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results”.
A variant on hidden city: I recentluy came across a sitution where a round-trip ticket was significantly less expensive than a one-way. (LHR-SFO) I only need to go one way, but the airlines wanted £8000 for a one-way business class ticket. A round trip was £2500.
So I bought the round trip even though I have no intention of using the second leg.