This Week’s Featured Link
If Everyone Hates Spirit Airlines, How Is It Making So Much Money? – Marker by Medium
Good read on Spirit. I keep waiting for the airline to do something playful with Trevor Noah the same way Arby’s did with Jon Stewart back in the day. Separately, I love Ben Baldanza’s quote “Businesses that look at what people say don’t do as well as businesses that look at what people actually do.” Truth.
Two for the road
The return of the legendary US airline you’ve probably never heard of – CNN Travel
Well if that doesn’t make me feel old…. I’ve flew the old Eastern as a kid, and I have absolutely no affinity for the brand. I’ve written this up before. No airline is a good name to bring back, but Eastern especially does not have a positive connotation, and I’m not sure it ever really did. Its founder was stingy, and well, in the end, things got worse.
Newsletter: Some pricing trickery from JetBlue – Los Angeles Times
I find myself wanting to agree with David Lazarus most of the time, but in the end I rarely do. In this case, he starts off strong. JetBlue raising the bag fee to $35 and then calling it a consumer benefit is the worst kind of PR attempt. And bag fees have the potential of becoming outrageously high, just like change fees. But then he loses me.
The solution is for businesses to offer a single, all-inclusive price for goods and services.
That’s how they do it across the Atlantic. The European Union says consumers “have to be clearly informed about the total price, including all taxes and additional charges.” In other words, the price you see listed is the price you pay.
Hmm, someone should probably tell Ryanair, easyJet, and Wizz about that. It’s just completely not true. Bag fees are good, and a la carte structures benefit those who don’t need everything when they fly. But that doesn’t mean airlines can’t go too far.
I wonder how young the author of that Eastern piece is.
I have nice memories of flying Eastern Lockheed Electras to visit my grandparents. Of course, I was too young to be aware of any negative aspects of the airline. I was just excited for the flight.
You took the words right out of my keyboard! Is CNN hiring 19 year olds now? It wouldn’t surprise me. And the tone of the article tends to dismiss just how big Eastern was back in the 60s, 70s and 80s. If you were east of the Mississippi, it was huge. In Latin America, it was huge as well. The new iteration using the name is doing a lot of dumb things (which are pointed out in the article), but to take a tone that “you’ve probably never heard of….” Eastern Air Lines is absurd and belies a clueless author.
You are no doubt correct in that most people don’t know the Eastern brand. I do. In the late fifties and early 60’s, while young, I flew on both the “Silver Falcon” and the Golden Falcon”. When I went to pre-flight in Pensacola from Newark in 1964, I flew on the brand new 727.
Good article about Spirit. They have defied image vs. profitability because they have defined a market that customers want even if they say they don’t. No one wants to be the one that buys store brand coffee but it clearly sells so someone obviously buys it.
Spirit has figured out not only how to gain the upper hand against Frontier and Allegiant but also to move quickly for opportunities throughout the industry. Its greatest moment right is swooping into big Southwest leisure markets right now during the MAX grounding and Airbus delivery delays. NK becomes the largest carrier at FLL this quarter, gaining a big leg up in a heated 3 way race between B6, NK and WN. NK has also added huge amounts of capacity in MCO and LAS, cities where WN is the largest carrier. WN’s CEO yesterday vowed they would regain market share in cities where they are losing it but the difference in CASM between NK and WN means it will be a very large uphill battle to do so.
As for B6, they noted on their earnings call that ancillary revenue is growing rapidly even in the midst of a very competitive environment in their largest cities which is limiting fare growth. Given that B6 built its image around being a premium, chic leisure brand, they are now toying with the same growth of fees that created image problems for NK as well as legacy carriers that added economy basic type fares.
The best amenity that an airline like Spirit can bring to a traveler is the non-stop flight. Offer me a non-stop at a reasonable price and you will get my business over the legacies with their ATL/CLT/NYC/WAS connecting flights. Frontier and Spirit have won a lot of my business as they continue to expand in my market.
Even if their non-stop flight is delayed, I can remain comfortably at home until I see that the inbound flight is going to arrive. As mentioned in the article, Spirit had improved their on-time performance to acceptable levels.
Convenient, on-time, and low cost will guarantee success in most markets.
Curious, what market are you in?
They have fairly significantly built up BWI too, going head to head with WN (and others) on a number of non-stop routes. They have basically assumed AirTran’s old role at the airport.
And they just released this today:
Likley to become an official focus city soon.
The article on Spirit misses one part of their value proposition: the Big Front Seat. For those of us who want a little more room but don’t care about food or free booze, the BFS is a great deal. My last flight on Spirit was TPA-LAS-OAK, and the BFS on the TPA-LAS leg, along with on-time performance and very friendly, helpful employees, made it a very pleasant experience.
The Big Front Seat is the best value in air travel, especially for their long-ish routes like BWI-SEA and all the East Coast routes to LAS.
Once they have WiFi it will be my preferred choice for business flights where it’s an option.
I have no love for Eastern. Even as a kid I couldn’t stand them. Delta on the other hand was cool with me as I flew from LGA – FLL numerous times over my childhood & could recognize the quality of the service between them.
I’m not sure if I’ve ever flown Spirit, but have enough concerns about seat pitch, operational reliability, and frequency that I’ll gladly pay $50 more on a $200-300 ticket to book away from them. The same for Allegiant and Frontier, to be honest, though I have flown them years ago.
That said, ULCCs like Spirit have their niche and I can understand why they are doing well. Stores and services that cater to the lowest common denominator are always easy to hate on (see also: Walmart, dollar stores, etc etc), usually by those who can afford more expensive options, but they serve a purpose and can be godsends to those of more moderate means.
I know Cranky and others praise NK’s Big Front Seat as one of the better values in the airline world, and that’s something I’ll have to price out the next time I’m booking a flight… Definitely something I’d love to try with an open mind.
I think that’s a fair description of the ULCC’s. As a frequent flyer, I would not want to fly in a plane with a sub 30″ pitch all the time because that would be uncomfortable.
But, my sister who lives in Denver, loves flying F9. She knows how to maximize the allowable personal item space that comes with a ticket and when to check in in order to get the best seat. She likes the low fares and can live with the conditions associated with them.
1) NK is fine as long as you know what you are buying. You can get a great deal and as long as you don’t expect anything other than a ride from point A to point B in a tight seat, you’ll be fine.
2) I have no clue why anyone would want to resurrect EA. All my memories of them were negative. There was no romanticizing Eastern.
3) I see David Lazarus hasn’t really changed since his days at the SF Chronicle. I do find it interesting that a week after B6 announced the hike in bag fees, no one has matched them (yet). I also do agree in saying that an increase in fee is for the customer is corporate chutzpah.