To see the archives, go to crankyflier.com/media
Legacy airlines drop change fees on domestic economy tickets
September 5, 2020
American Airlines axes change fees on all but the cheapest tickets, following United and Delta
August 31, 2020 – Kyle Arnold
“It makes me feel a lot better as a consumer,” said Brett Snyder, a travel blogger and founder of CrankyFlier.com. “It makes me feel more willing to book something now.”
Need to fly somewhere? You may have to connect
August 18, 2020 – Kelly Yamanouchi
“What the airlines did is they said, okay, we’re going to retain service to all these cities but we’re going to start off by connecting them to their nearest hub,” said Brett Snyder, a former airline manager and author of a blog at crankyflier.com. “A lot of the point-to-point markets, those are going to be some of the last ones to end up getting service restored.”
“It’s just something people will have to get used to until there are more people traveling again,” Snyder said. “The impact will lessen over time. It’s already better than it was in May.”
He said the longest lasting impact may be on international travel, with airlines operating flights to only select global hubs and connecting passengers through there to other destinations around the world. For Delta service to Europe, that means connecting passengers through partner carrier hubs in Paris and Amsterdam, for example.
Smaller markets could be at risk, Snyder said, particularly ones that are not vacation destinations and mostly benefited from business travel.
“The underlying reality is some of these markets don’t make sense,” he said. “There’s just not going to be enough demand.”
American considering cutting flights to many smaller cities
August 13, 2020 – David Koenig
American is telling the federal government that if relief money is extended, it won’t drop cities, but if the money is not extended, it will, said Brett Snyder, a travel agent who writes about the industry at CrankyFlier.com.
“This isn’t an idle threat,” and it “is going to happen at all the network carriers,” Snyder said, referring to the biggest airlines.
Ontario airport adding flights to major US cities
August 8, 2020 – Steve Scauzillo
Mexico is one of the few countries open for business to U.S. air travelers, said Brett Snyder, creator and editor of crankyflier. Ontario airport has flights to Guadalajara, Mexico via Volaris Airlines.
Most of the passengers taking flights to Mexico are visiting friends and relatives, Snyder said. “That bodes well for Ontario,” he said. ONT seeing longer flights to major U.S. cities is also a good sign, he said.
“Houston, Chicago and Denver: Sure, that is significant,” Snyder said Friday, Aug. 7. “The fact that these flights are coming back, shows they are seeing some demand.”
Snyder surmised there is a more willingness for air travel by passengers from Inland areas of California than along the coast, because the inland regions were not experiencing the same frequency of coronavirus cases and deaths as coastal areas.
Cases and deaths have surged in Riverside and San Bernardino counties since early July, when the study was taken. Snyder says that fact, along with shutdowns ordered by Gov. Gavin Newsom in July, have softened flight bookings since then.
“It is not going well. Demand is down. The recovery they had seen in June has stalled and they are pulling back now,” Snyder said, citing cuts nationally in scheduled flights by Southwest, American, United and JetBlue for August and September.
The Future of Air Travel in the Age of COVID-19: Route Networks, Hubs, Scheduling, and Connectivity
July 26, 2020 – Chris Sloan
Cranky Flier blog founder Brett Snyder is more optimistic about less point-to-point flying and fewer frequencies, “I see that as a medium-term thing. In the long run, people will still want to go to all these places. In the shorter term, yes, there will be fewer point-to-point routes, and airlines will pull back to strengthen their hubs. However, if this is a long-term look, those trends that led the airlines to build their networks out the way they have aren’t going to change. It’s just a matter of how long it’ll take for demand to catch up once the threat is over.”
‘Important step’ or ‘gimmick’? No consensus on seat blocking
July 10, 2020 – Robert Silk
“It seems like Delta is willing to take a hit to be promoted as the most health-safe airline,” said Brett Snyder, a travel advisor who pens the Cranky Flier blog. “They are making some bet that they think that it is going to help them in the long run.”
That bet could backfire, Snyder added, if Delta ultimately drops the policy before the pandemic has ended.
Bye-bye Long Beach, hello LAX: JetBlue exiting longtime Southern California base
July 9, 2020 – Dawn Gilbertson
Snyder said Long Beach, which is about 20 miles south of Los Angeles, “is just kind of in the middle so it doesn’t pull (passengers) from a lot of places.”
“If JetBlue could have grown … maybe it would have had more gravitational pull,” he said.
Snyder was surprised JetBlue is shifting the Long Beach flights to LAX and isn’t a fan because of the intense competition there on the routes it will be adding, such as Los Angeles-Las Vegas.
“Trying to be like the No. 6 or No. 7 airline in an airport that doesn’t need more competition doesn’t really seem like a smart move,” he said.
JetBlue to open LAX base, end flights to Long Beach in West Coast realignment
July 9, 2020 – Edward Russell
The exit from Long Beach and build up at LAX seems an example of this, if one that many expected. In fact, if was anticipated even prior to the crisis with Cranky Flier writer Brett Snyder asking “Why bother keeping it as anything more than a spoke?” following the cuts JetBlue announced in January.
“This is stupid,” Snyder told TPG on Thursday. “It’s smart that they’re finally leaving Long Beach. However, instead they’ve decided to go into one of the most competitive airports in the world on routes where they’ll really add little value and I don’t see how this works.”
American Airlines will book flights to full capacity
June 26, 2020 – David Koenig
But another expert, travel agent Brett Snyder, who writes a blog called Cranky Flier, said American probably has data to back up its decision from a business perspective.
“If they are making this change to sell every seat, then they know that people talk a lot” about preferring empty middle seats, “but in the end they will still fly if the price is right,” Snyder said.
Since April, American offered to rebook people whose flights might be full, but only about 4% of passengers have taken that option, according to the airline.
Snyder said most people flying now are leisure travelers who have decided that it’s an acceptable risk. He said rules on face masks, extra cleaning measures, and high-efficiency air-filtration systems make planes “a relatively safe place.”
U.S. Airlines Seek Revenue From ‘Visiting Friends and Relatives’ Travel
June 24, 2020 – Brian Sumers
“VFR is the easiest thing to do, and that’s where the demand should be right now,” said Brett Snyder, an airline analyst. “You are not relying on a destination to open. You are not relying on social distancing. You just get on an airplane and go see someone you wanted to see for months.”
How JetBlue Just Flouted Airline Industry Norms by Launching New Routes
June 18, 2020 – Brian Sumers
“It is not like they are fighting for the loyalty of the Pittsburgh market,” said Brett Snyder, an industry analyst. “They are just looking for someone who wants a cheap flight to Florida.”
JetBlue may lose money short-term, Shabat said, but this may be more of a long-term play, with JetBlue trying to leverage a crisis to expand its New York presence. Now might be the right time, because Southwest Airlines recently pulled out of Newark, while Alaska Airlines is shrinking, Snyder said.
JetBlue is also invading American’s turf in Philadelphia, with five new routes — four to Florida and one to Puerto Rico. Both Snyder and Shabat said this is less of a long-term play than a short-term cash grab.
Also, if JetBlue is going to be New York’s top airline in the future, Snyder said, it probably needs these routes.
And if that happens, JetBlue may not want to fight for Newark.
“It’s easy enough for JetBlue to walk away if the heat gets too hot,” Snyder said.
Flights double at Southern California airports as summer travel season nears
June 12, 2020 – Steve Scauzillo
“This is true: They (airlines) are ramping up from the lowest point,” said Brett Snyder, a Long Beach resident who writes a blog on the airline industry called crankyflier.com. “It is choppy at this point but it is absolutely growing from where it was.”
American Airlines will move the needle slightly, going to 55% scheduling capacity in July, as compared to the same month last year, Snyder said. United Airlines will climb to a modest 30%.
Sometimes, mid-level airports are seeing more flight cancellations, he said.
Delta Airlines pulled all its flights from Hollywood Burbank Airport and Long Beach Airport until at least September, Snyder said.
Southwest Airlines is the most bullish and has become the air carrier to watch, Snyder said. By the middle of December the airline will be back even with last year, according to Southwest.
Masks or some kind of face-covering are required at all local airports. While most airlines do the same, there’s no enforcement mechanism without government oversight, Snyder said.
“Even for those airlines requiring masks, it is only airline policy,” Snyder said. “Let’s say someone takes their mask off and refuses to put it back on; there is nothing you can do about that.”
Air circulating inside the cabins passes through air-cleaning filters, according to airline websites and officials. Snyder said the air is constantly being filtered for viruses, including SARS-CoV-2, the scientific name of the virus strain that causes COVID-19.
“The risk appears to be fairly low for people traveling by air. It is a measured risk,” Snyder said, adding he believes the risk is lower than going into a sit-down restaurant.
“The reality here is you will not be able to social distance if you are flying: You just never will have 6 feet distance between you and someone else,” Snyder concluded.
Snyder predicts a return to 2019 levels in three to five years. “No one knows for sure,” he said.
Flights double at Southern California airports as summer travel season nears
June 12, 2020 – Zach Wichter
“I think it’s actually quite effective,” he said. “Having masks, encouraging cleanliness, those are the things that will have a real measurable impact on an airplane.”
In comparison, he said, social distancing practices like blocking middle seats are probably less effective.
Snyder doesn’t expect cleaning supplies to be a regular fixture on planes forever, especially on short-haul flights. But, he said that he hopes some other parts of airlines’ COVID-19 responses will become a more permanent part of the travel landscape.
“Handing out individual kits, that’s pretty specific to a severe threat,” he said. “I hope that the stepped up cleaning procedures that airlines are using, I hope that that continues.”
While Snyder suggested that such clean kits could fade away on short-haul flights over time, he said he thinks it’s likely that hand sanitizer and other personal cleaning products could stick around longer as part of updated amenity kits on long-haul international routes.
To Mask or Not Mask?
May 26, 2020 – Madhu Unnikrishnan
Flying during the pandemic? Here’s what you need to know
May 24, 2020 – Leslie Josephs
Traveling now is an “intensely personal decision,” said Brett Snyder, a former airline manager, who runs an air travel assistance company, Cranky Concierge, and writes the Cranky Flier blog. “Ultimately, you’ll never be able to socially distance if you’re traveling by air.”
Major Airlines Expected to Shrink After Pandemic
May 22, 2020 – Natalie Fiorilli
Brett Snyder, editor of the Cranky Flier aviation blog, explained that airlines project it could take years to recover from the crisis, so it makes sense that they would retire parts of their fleets.
“All of the airlines have parked a certain number of airplanes, even if it’s not an entire fleet,” said Snyder. “They may have not announced a retirement yet, but for some, it’s for sure going to happen. The reality is that nobody is buying airplanes new right now, so you might as well get [some] out of your fleet. You can always pick up new airplanes down the line.”
So, what will happen when the CARES Act expires?
It’s all dependent on demand, Snyder said.
“No one knows, but hopefully capacity will be closer to 50 percent instead of 20 percent,” Snyder said. “It all depends on what happens with the virus. It’s absolutely going to be much lower than it was last October, and what that means, we just don’t know.”
Here’s What Summer Travel Might Actually Look Like, According to Experts (Video)
May 12, 2020 – Eric Rosen
That’s not to say travelers won’t eventually book trips closer in, according to Brett Snyder, founder of Cranky Flier and Cranky Concierge. “People likely won’t set their plans until closer to travel, so they can get a better picture of what the health situation will be.”
On the other hand, these strategies might not work for airlines in particular, according to Snyder. “Airlines are doing what they can, but ultimately, there is no way to properly social distance when flying, so it’s a tradeoff that each person will have to evaluate,” he said.
Silver lining in flight refund fight? A California law that may recover your money
May 6, 2020 – Catharine Hamm
Ditto, said Brett Snyder, formerly an airline employee and founder of the Cranky Flier website. “Air Canada has been refusing refunds. The Canadian government effectively gave them a free pass, but DOT has not, so they do need to give refunds for travel that touches the U.S. if there’s a significant change in schedule.”
Airlines had been raking in billions in fees. What will they do now?
May 6, 2020 – Zach Wichter
“They will likely have to stay suspended until there’s a vaccine, herd immunity, or treatment. But after that, I would expect them to return, possibly sooner at a lower level,” he said in an email.
Snyder seemed to agree that broader carry-on bag fees are a possibility.
“The airlines have shown in previous crises that they are willing to slap together a revenue-generating idea without thinking it through fully,” he said. “If they think that they have a fee that will raise money fast, they’d consider it. Then they’ll deal with the fall-out down the line.”
Q&A: Why some planes are crowded even with air travel down
May 5, 2020 – David Koenig
Brett Snyder, who runs the Cranky Flier website and a travel concierge business in California, said it was a great product for Frontier to sell during the downturn in travel.
“Why not make money on a seat that is going to be empty anyway?” he said.
Traffic “will be light, you will have to wear a mask, there will be social distancing on planes and reduced on-board service to limit contact,” Snyder said. ”If there really isn’t a vaccine until the first half of next year, you’re not going to see anything approaching a new normal until next summer at the earliest.”
May 3, 2020 – Courtney Miller
United Airlines may change route map post-coronavirus, says no hub is ‘sacred’
May 1, 2020 – Edward Russell
Brett Snyder, founder of the travel service Cranky Concierge, thinks United’s Los Angeles (LAX) hub is the “most up for grabs” on its map. The airport, while located in the second-most populous metropolitan area in the U.S., is a center of airline competition. American, Delta and United all consider it a hub, and Alaska Airlines and Southwest Airlines maintain significant bases there.
“They’re going to go back to their basics, and then grow back,” he said on how airlines may rebuild the maps after the crisis at the beginning of April.
After coronavirus: Your next flight may look like this
April 29, 2020 – Catharine Hamm
“There are so many different touchpoints in a travel experience, that you are bound to see social distancing rules violated,” said Brett Snyder, who runs the Crankyflier.com blog. “And even if the middle seat is empty, you are still surrounded by people.”
What will the future of travel look like? TPG asked 16 industry experts
April 28, 2020 – Laura Motta
Brett Snyder, founder of Cranky Flier: I don’t expect we’ll see the return of much international travel until summer at the earliest. It’s hard to know without knowing the ultimate trajectory of the pandemic, but restrictions and xenophobia will drag this out longer.
Snyder: Technically, I’m still supposed to be taking a Baltic cruise in Europe in July. If that somehow happens, I’ll be amazed and thrilled. But in my mind, I’ve resigned myself to that not likely happening. Domestically, I’d like it to be Hawaii. I was supposed to be taking my team there in early May to celebrate a great 2019. That is obviously now postponed. I mean, I’ll be happy to go anywhere.
Flight Deals Abound For Fall and Winter Travel, But Is It Smart to Buy Now?
April 17, 2020 – Billie Cohen
This is an interview I did talking about future travel, among other things.
Evaporation of travel sector threatens airlines’ very survival
April 16, 2020 – Paul Solman
These were relatively healthy companies that could withstand significant downturns, just not a complete destruction of all demand. I think that’s hard to say that a company should hold on to multibillions and billions of dollars of cash just in case this type of thing were to happen.
Crisis Spurs American Airlines Into Being More Customer Friendly: Will Anyone Remember It?
April 16, 2020 – Brian Sumers
“American is looking at this saying, ‘Yes, we are losing money on this but we are doing the right thing,”‘ said Brett Snyder, a high-end travel agent and blogger. “In contrast to United, it looks so different.”
On the back end, American built IT to handle refunds, so fewer customers would have to call the reservations department. It’s a small but notable improvement, Snyder said.
“They are devoting resources to doing this work, which means it has to be a proactive strategy,” Snyder said. “They are putting effort into it. I think that’s a pretty admirable thing to be doing. You are basically watching your ship sink but you are still making sure that everyone gets to take their personal belongs will them.”
Still, there’s some question whether customers will remember American’s actions during the crisis, Snyder said.
“I would like to think they will, but it may be difficult because United may have done enough damage to everyone with the stuff that they are doing,” travel agent Snyder said. “Everyone is focusing on what United has been doing to prevent refunds. Not as much attention will be paid to American doing the right thing.”
How to get a refund for coronavirus-canceled travel, from hotline help to ‘the nuclear option’
April 15, 2020 – Lori Rackl
The air travel assistance company Cranky Concierge recently launched a new offering called Refund Hunter to help airline customers figure out their options for postponing or getting a refund on a particular flight. Once the customer decides what to do, the company tells them how to handle that request with their airline or travel agent.
The service costs $30 per reservation, no matter how many flights or passengers. It’s been in high demand, said company President Brett Snyder.
“Airline policies are changing all the time, and it’s really hard for the layperson to keep up,” Snyder said. “We help them cut through the clutter.”
As infuriating as it can be for customers to languish on hold for hours on end, people should be prepared to make repeated phone calls if they’re getting the runaround, said Cranky Concierge’s Snyder.
I-Team: Customers Fighting To Get Money Back After Canceled Trips, Events
April 8, 2020 – Ginger Allen
“We’ve had a lot of people that are just frustrated,” says Brett Snyder, owner of the travel site Cranky Flier.
Snyder is a former airline employee who is focusing more on helping customers navigate refund and credit options than booking flights right now.
“There are different policies for different airlines and it can be tough for people to follow,” explains Snyder.
DOT tells airlines to refund canceled flights, but don’t count on cash just yet
April 6, 2020 – Catharine Hamm
Brett Snyder, a former airline employee who founded the CrankyFlier site that focuses on airline issues, said in an email that the statement “seems like guidance but it isn’t actually an enforcement action.”
Time to Look for a Vacation Deal? ‘Travel Addicts’ Are Planning Ahead
April 6, 2020 – Barbara Peterson
Brett Snyder, of the Cranky Flier website, said he’s noticed that airlines are quietly releasing more seats in the lowest fare bucket. And they’re easing up on award travel, making it easy to grab the lower-mile “Saver” tickets. “There is much greater availability at the lowest level of mileage redemption,” he said.
Meet Rocco. He Owns a Dairy Queen. The Government’s Flawed Coronavirus Plan Might Not Save It.
April 5, 2020 – Jordan Weissman
For businesses that spend the vast majority of their money on salary wages, it’s an excellent deal. “This is a perfect program for us,” Brett Snyder, president of the travel blog and concierge service Cranky Flier told me. The key is that his firm doesn’t have much of a rent burden, and other than staff pay, it just covers some things like server space. “If we get this, then salaries get restored and the people who had to cut back hours will be able to come back. That will handle everything.”
Airline cancel your flight due to coronavirus crisis? You’re still due a refund, DOT says
April 3, 2020 – Dawn Gilbertson
Brett Snyder, who runs the Cranky Concierge travel service and recently launched Refund Hunter to help travelers sort through the confusing flight change and cancellation options during the crisis for a fee, said United faces among the biggest changes.
“The use of the word prompt (refund) means United needs to get its act together,” Snyder said. “Because United is playing games.”
Snyder said the only thing unclear about the DOT”s enforcement notice is that it doesn’t define “signficantly delayed.” In addition to United, JetBlue has been criticized for its policies.
“There is a still a Texas-size loophole here,” he said.
How will airlines rebuild their route maps after the coronavirus?
March 27, 2020 – Edward Russell
“That’s where American has been growing and will probably grow there [again],” said Brett Snyder, founder of the travel service Cranky Concierge and author of the Cranky Flier blog, in an interview. “It’s the stuff around the edges that will go.”
Asked what American’s “edges” could be, Snyder pointed to Los Angeles (LAX) as a possibility. The hub has underperformed financially for the airline since its rapid build-up there after American’s merger with US Airways in 2013. Executives even acknowledged at the outset of the coronavirus crisis that the carrier could permanently end service to China from the airport, a move that would be a setback for the carrier’s long-held desire to build a gateway to Asia in Los Angeles.
Airline employees grapple with tough decision — take leave or stick it out?
March 27, 2020 – Evan Hoopfer
Brett Snyder, an industry expert who runs the Cranky Flier blog, said each employee’s decision depends on where the person stands financially and what their employers are offering. For those able to take the leave, this could be a good opportunity to take advantage of why they got into the industry in the first place.
“If you’re young and have a bit of savings, take that chance to travel the world and have a good time,” Snyder said. “You know, if there’s a flight that still exists.”
What does the airline aid package mean for travelers? Not much
March 26, 2020 – Zach Wichter
“This isn’t really about consumers, as funny as that sounds.”
“I’d expect more flights to operate than demand would normally indicate,” Snyder said in an email. “To me that’s the biggest potential consumer impact.”
Can you get an airline ticket refund due to postponed Olympics or coronavirus crisis?
March 24, 2020 – Catharine Hamm
And now? “At last check — and this may very well change again — United won’t allow refunds on international travel,” Brett Snyder, who runs CrankyFlier.com, a consumer advocacy site, said in an email Tuesday.
“If your flight changes by more than six hours, you can hold that in a credit. If you don’t use the credit within one year from the original date of ticket issue, then you can get a refund.”
You usually can cancel up to about the time of departure, but as the rules shift, Snyder said in an interview, you should give yourself a bit of a buffer — a day or two before your flight. If you don’t cancel and you don’t show up for the flight, you’ll be considered a no-show and you’ll get nothing back.
But, Snyder said, “I have seen Japanese airlines be pretty generous with refunds through this coronavirus mess. So it wouldn’t shock me if they added a policy themselves that would allow refunds for Olympic tickets.”
How Biscoff Cookies Became the Snack We Crave on Planes
March 23, 2020 – Kaitlin Menza
Because of its association with flying, the Biscoff cookie can also lock into the sensory memory. “We were on a flight to Hawaii when I was a kid, and my dad was like, ‘I need more of these.’ They gave him a whole bag,” remembers Brett Snyder, the president of the airline blog Cranky Flier. “It’s this treat you get when you fly, like ginger ale.”
And they tick a lot of boxes, when you consider the factors that make up for a perfect plane snack. “You want something that’s not a mess. I always think about those Nature Valley granola bars [where] the second you open them, there’s just crumbs everywhere. You generally want to avoid something like that,” Snyder says. “You want to avoid anything that requires a specific temperature. The default snack of choice used to be peanuts, but all the concerns about allergy really quashed that one.” The ideal bite, in Snyder’s estimation, is “something that’s either salty or sweet to really get people’s taste buds working—which they do differently at altitude than they do on the ground.”
14 Things to Do When Your Flight Is Canceled or Delayed
March 19, 2020 – Kyle McCarthy
Brett Snyder, president of the Cranky Concierge air travel assistance service, says, “In the event of a delay, the best thing to do is everything. Get in line to talk with an agent; while waiting, pick up your phone.” Call your travel advisor or travel insurance provider if you have those resources. If not, try to rebook yourself through the airline’s app, by phone or by using their Twitter or Facebook accounts to contact customer service.
Also know your airline’s partner carriers, especially if you’re traveling internationally. “Take American Airlines [as an example],” Snyder says. “If you are going to Europe and there’s a problem on one of their flights, you can say they should put you on British Airways.”
“If agents have an airplane leaving with an empty seat during IROPS (irregular operations),” Snyder says, “they will do everything they can to put you on that plane and reduce the number of stranded passengers later in the day.”
American Airlines jobs on the line, DFW Airport stores closing in coronavirus fallout
March 16, 2020 – Gordon Dickson
“The number of flights will be slashed, and it’s entirely possible we’ll see a full shutdown of the airline industry for a period of time,” said Brett Snyder, president of the popular air travel blog Cranky Flier.
“For airlines, this will be dire,” Snyder said in an email. “Even though they are in better shape financially than in past crises, this one looks to be more impactful than anything we’ve seen previously. Every airline will be in a world of hurt. The government will have to offer bail-outs or every airline will likely file for bankruptcy protection. Though it’s too early to say, the impact so far could easily surpass what we saw after 9/11.”
Q&A: What you need to know about Trump’s travel ban from Europe due to coronavirus
March 12, 2020 – Andrea Mandell, Chris Woodyard and Dawn Gilbertson
It doesn’t matter that Trump mentioned only flights from Europe to the USA, not flights in both directions, said Brett Snyder, a former airline employee who runs the Cranky Concierge travel service. Travelers will cancel flights en masse during the busy spring break travel season.
“If they can’t come home, they’re not going to Europe,” he said.
One small perk of the coronavirus outbreak: Faster airplane Wi-Fi
March 11, 2020 – Rob Pegoraro
“Airlines have already shown a willingness to put up new technology if it means a more functional system,” e-mailed Brett Snyder, an airline analyst who runs the Cranky Flier blog. “Delta and American have both replaced their old air-to-ground systems with satellite offerings.”
Delta trims capacity 15% as coronavirus cuts into travel
March 10, 2020 – Kelly Yamanouchi
Brett Snyder, president of air travel assistance firm Cranky Concierge, said: “It’s really going to be an individual decision for every person — is it right for me to travel or not?” For airlines, “the question is how long it will last. That’s the multi-million dollar question.”
Coronavirus airplane travel: How US airlines are cleaning planes
March 5, 2020 – Madeline Merinuk
According to Brett Snyder, president of Cranky Concierge, a site that provides air travel assistance, the basic sanitation process includes a cursory clean to get trash off the ground, but it’s usually not very in-depth since there’s typically not much time between flights. If it’s a long-haul flight, there’s usually a deeper clean that includes wiping down surfaces.
But as COVID-19 continues to spread, certain airlines are changing their policies and procedures to help prevent the spread of the virus. “There are already some procedures in place that are above and beyond normal cleaning,” said Snyder.
Coronavirus is upending air travel. Here’s how to navigate flight cancellations, changes during the outbreak
March 5, 2020 – Dan Catchpole
Airlines around the world are waiving change and cancellation fees. The specific terms and conditions vary from carrier to carrier and are changing day to day as the coronavirus outbreak unfolds, says Brett Snyder, who runs the travel blog Cranky Flier, as well as Cranky Concierge, a travel assistance company.
And since no one can say where coronavirus might pop up next, making travel plans right now might feel like rolling dice. For instance, Snyder says, imagine booking a summer trip to South Africa. Coronavirus is not there now, but what if it shows up by the planned trip?
“Will South African Airways put a waiver out?” he asks. “Hopefully, they would, but your guess is as good as mine.”
With that in mind, Snyder recommends American travelers book international flights through a U.S.-based airline, even if it is through a codeshare on a partner airlines’ aircraft. In general, airlines have restricted when they grant refunds, and they are more likely to offer vouchers or credit for future travel, Snyder says.
“If you have that credit on an American airline rather than (a foreign carrier), you’ll have lot more use for that credit,” he says.
Southwest Didn’t Have the 737 Max for Nine Months in 2019, but Still Boosted Its On-Time Rankings
March 5, 2020 – Kyle Arnold
Passengers only file complaints with federal regulators after they’ve exhausted their options with the airline, said Brett Snyder, an air travel blogger with CrankyFlier.com.
“Southwest’s reputation is better than statistics would show,” Snyder said. “Their customer relations team tends to be more flexible and more friendly and they do have certain policies that make it friendlier, such as no change fees and no fees for checked bags.”
But Southwest’s decentralized network also helps the airline recover from cancellations, Snyder said. Most large airlines operate a “hub and spoke” network so when there are weather problems or delays at a hub, it’s tough to put customers back on a path to their destination. Southwest can route customers through its “spiderweb” of airports, Snyder said.
Here’s looking at you, Blue: JetBlue looks to the next 20 years
March 2, 2020 – Chris Sloan
“When they were founded, it was brilliantly pitched as a better way to fly. It used live television, more legroom and those famous Terra blue chips to feed into the narrative that it was something better,” says Brett Snyder, analyst and founder of the Cranky Concierge air travel assistance site.
“But in reality, the root of JetBlue’s early success was based primarily on its ability to corner the market on slots at JFK where it was the only low-cost operator for years,” Snyder says.
“JetBlue certainly had missteps over the years including a never-fully-formed West Coast strategy. It tried to grow too fast, and that caused severe teething pains. It has matured into a well-liked, but under-performing carrier (both operationally and financially),” says Snyder.
The Frommers Travel Show
February 29, 2020 – Cranky Radio Interview with Pauline Frommer
What to Do If Your Flight Gets Canceled
February 25, 2020 – Amy Marturana Winderi
“The most important thing is to make sure that the airline or travel agent has your day-of-travel contact information on file,” says Brett Snyder, president at Cranky Concierge, an air travel assistance service that helps travelers deal with this exact situation. “If there are any problems, they will rely on that information to reach out to you. If they don’t have info, you won’t get a notification from them.”
Snyder suggests also checking the for airport-specific delays. “That doesn’t mean your flight will be delayed, but if there’s fog in San Francisco or thunderstorms over New York, then chances are higher that you’ll face a delay,” he says.
“The agents at the airline usually just want to get you out of their hair, and I don’t mean that in a bad way,” says Snyder. “That means both of yours goals are aligned. If you can help them find an option and get you moving, then everyone is happy.”
The airline will look up your reservation and book you on the next available option, says Snyder, but the automation process in their booking system won’t always get you the best flight. So, while you’re waiting in line to speak with the booking agent, use your phone to look up other options.
Some airlines cut back on inflight service to combat coronavirus. Will those changes stick?
February 25, 2020 – Zach Wichter
Brett Snyder, who runs the Cranky Flier blog and Cranky Concierge service, agreed.
“I’m sure some of this is a good and well-thought out precaution, but I imagine more of it is really about reassuring customers,” he said. Customers will probably respond well to the airlines’ measures overall, he added, “as long as they don’t go too far and scare the hell out of people.”
Both Snyder and Harteveldt agreed that the measures are likely to last only as long as the coronavirus threat is imminent for travelers. Snyder said such measures will likely be in place “until the threat is very clearly eliminated.”
Harteveldt and Snyder added that passengers will likely respond better to some of the precautionary service changes than others.
Flight solutions from Cranky Flier
February 24, 2020 – Jamie Biesiada
This article is a summary of a speech I gave at Wendy Perrin’s Global Travel Summit. Click the link to read details.
Inflight Movies: Does Anyone Really Want to Watch Them on a Phone?
February 14, 2020 – Barbara Peterson
“The airlines’ thinking is that ‘if we give you power and a bunch of stuff you can stream on your own, and you don’t have to pay for it, that should be enough’,” said Brett Snyder, who runs the Cranky Flier website.
What the American-Alaska partnership means for Delta
February 14, 2020 – Zach Wichter and Edward Russell
“At this point, it’s certainly not good news for Delta,” said Brett Snyder, who runs the Cranky Concierge travel service and writes the Cranky Flier blog about air travel.
The main issue for Delta is that Alaska has gained some footing with a big partner like American, something that allows it to pack a greater punch as a competitor, said Snyder. But, he added, it’s too early to tell exactly how much the partnership will affect Delta’s long-term outlook in Seattle.
“Whether it makes a dent or not, that what we don’t know,” Snyder said.
“When was the last time someone has really tried to challenge Delta where Delta had the upper hand? It’s not something we have really seen, and for that reason I think there is more uncertainty here than you otherwise might expect,” Snyder said.
Doctors Urge Travelers Not to Fly With Flu
February 6, 2020 – Chris Coffey
“Always check the fine print to see what’s covered, but travel insurance is something that would help get your money back if you get sick and aren’t able to travel,” said travel expert Brett Snyder with Cranky Concierge.
According to Snyder, booking through a travel agency may provide a benefit because agents may have connections with airlines that could improve a sick customer’s chances for a cancellation fee waiver
Due to the Coronavirus Outbreak, These Travel Brands Have Suspended or Altered Service to China
January 31, 2020 – Mónica Marie Zorrilla
Brett Snyder, founder and author of the popular airline industry blog Crankyflier.com, confirmed to Adweek that airlines have seen dramatic decreases in demand to China thanks to the concern around the coronavirus outbreak, and that many of these airlines have canceled all flights to mainland China for a month or more.
“It remains to be seen whether this will remain isolated to panic around China travel or if it will expand,” Snyder said.
JetBlue drops Oakland, shrinks Long Beach amid broader route shakeup
January 16, 2020 – Edward Russell
“This looks like a half-measure by JetBlue,” Brett Snyder, a former airline employee who runs the Cranky Concierge travel service and writes the Cranky Flier blog, told TPG. “It angers employees and makes the airline even less relevant than it already was in Long Beach. Why bother keeping it as anything more than a spoke?”
Is Delta Air Lines going to shake up those onerous airline change fees?
January 14, 2020 – Dawn Gilbertson
If Delta simply is more transparent about change fees and why it charges them, that’s no benefit to travelers, he said. But if it changes its policies or fees, say by waiving any fare difference or changing the fee, “That’s a big deal.”
“Can they find a way where they think it actually will not be revenue negative?” Snyder said.
Snyder said airline fees tend to go in only one direction: up. And that hefty change fees in particular force travelers who can’t afford refundable tickets to make “bad” decisions, like not changing a flight when a child gets sick.
“You’re like, ‘God, I want to, but I can’t pay that money.’ ”
When movies make airplane fanatics cringe
January 4, 2020 – Chris McGinnis
“Inevitably you see a 747 take off, a narrow body cabin, and then a DC-10 land. Few pay attention to what it should be,” said Brett Snyder, editor of the Cranky Flier aviation blog.
Airlines Are Offering Passengers Plenty of Choices — but Does It Make a Difference?
December 29, 2019 – Alison Fox
Brett Snyder, the founder of airline industry blog Cranky Flier, said while he doesn’t necessarily think that’s true anymore, explaining a strong economy has started to dictate a more discerning market, the idea of having control over what you pay for is an intriguing one. In fact, he said it’s the “a la carte model,” or unbundled fares, that has been a huge financial help for airlines (which also happens to work both for price-conscious customers and those who want to add on services like lounge access or Wi-Fi).
“The ability to let people pick and choose also encourages airlines to offer more products if there’s a revenue stream that’s there for them,” he said. “In the last decade especially… the airlines have been doing well and they’ve said ‘we’re going to try to invest in this and see what we can do.’”
LATAM and British Airways, Iberia-parent IAG drop partnership plans
December 10, 2019 – Edward Russell
Brett Snyder, founder of the travel service Cranky Concierge and author of the Cranky Flier blog, recently called IAG’s Air Europa deal a “second act” in the surprising saga that was LATAM’s pivot to Delta.
Asked by TPG about LATAM and IAG’s decision to drop their planned partnership, Snyder said regulatory hurdles to the LATAM-IAG tie up likely trumped the Air Europa deal.
“It would be a mistake if this were in any way related to the IAG acquisition of Air Europa since it is far from certain that will be approved,” he said. “Certainly regulatory problems, along with the realignment away from Oneworld, made it more challenging to push this through.”
United’s Scott Kirby Finally Gets a CEO Job: Now What?
December 5, 2019 – Brian Sumers
“He was an imposing figure,” said Brett Snyder, an airline analyst who worked for Kirby from 1999–2002 at America West Airlines. “He certainly cast a long shadow, and he was very blunt. He was not going to play games. You would know where you stood pretty clearly when you were interacting with him.”
“For Scott, revenue management and pricing, these are his babies,” Snyder said. “When you hear him talk about it, he has incredible ability to grasp the situation and understand the right way to go with something. I think it is because his brain is actually a computer.”
Is Southwest Airlines considering a no-frills ticket? (Just don’t call it basic economy)
December 5, 2019 – Dawn Gilbertson
Brett Snyder, a former airline employee who runs a travel service called Cranky Concierge and writes the Cranky Flier blog, said he can’t see Southwest introducing anything like a traditional basic economy fare or doing away with its free bag policy, at least while Kelly is in charge.
He said Southwest frequently studies new initiatives but is slow to make any changes.
If the airline ends up changing up its fare categories, Snyder said it’s certainly possible travelers who buy the lowest fare would see reduced benefits. That could include fewer frequent flyer points earned and maybe one free checked bag instead of two. He called the latter a “no brainer” for Southwest.
“You can still say bags fly free,” he said. “You can still maintain that moral superiority that Southwest likes to have, yet you can find another revenue stream.”
Yes, you are being asked if you want travel insurance more often
November 28, 2019
“These travel insurance policies can be quite lucrative for whoever sells them,” said Brett Snyder of the airline industry blog Cranky Flier.
Make the Most of an Overbooked Flight
November 25, 2019 – Brett Snyder
AARP asked me write an article about strategies for getting bumped.
“It’s almost cult-like, and I don’t mean that necessarily in a negative way,” Brett Snyder, an industry expert who runs the Cranky Flier blog, said about Southwest’s culture. “It’s an important attribute for the airline. You’ll hear Gary Kelly say that over and over again. Maybe future management would stray further away a little bit and take more risks. But, they seem to put culture toward the top of what matters when they’re doing things.”
Brett Snyder, who operates airline industry blog Cranky Flier, got to see one of the planes during a recent media day and called it a “beautiful plane.” But passenger amenities are not the only reason for introducing this type of plane, Snyder said.
United, American and Delta all have agreements with pilots for how much flying the airline can outsource to regional partners. United has a restriction on the number of 70- to 76-seat airplanes it can operate but no restrictions on 50-seat planes, Snyder said.
“United is trying to catch up to the competition by doing this,” Snyder said. “They have rolled out what is by nature an incredibly generous product: a big airplane with a lot of extra room. It benefits every flyer that goes on this airplane, no question.”
Snyder said another perk is fewer people on board, which provides a better experience for travelers.
“It’s an easy on and off, even if you’re in the back on coach,” he said. “Generally it’s a nicer experience.”
Boeing Takes Out Full-Page Ads Before CEO Testifies
October 29, 2019
“It doesn’t sit well with me. This is anything but an apology,” said Brett Snyder, an aviation expert. “It’s unlikely that any of the friends or families of the victims care about The Wall Street Journal. And if they do read it, they don’t care that Boeing took out an ad.”
“This [message] isn’t targeted at families; it’s targeted at the people who buy airplanes or working for the airlines,” said Snyder.
How Will Airlines Handle the Return of Boeing’s 737 Max 8?
October 17, 2019
“Boeing has put the airlines in a difficult position,” said Brett Snyder, an aviation expert and founder of the blog Cranky Flier. “No consumer is buying a Boeing product; they’re buying the airline product. On the one hand, you want to reassure people that it’s safe and your pilots are qualified, trained and tested. But on the other hand, the more visibility you bring to this, the more it sticks in people’s minds.”
Brett Snyder, founder and author of CrankyFlier.com, an airline-industry blog, said United and other airlines have already looked at data to decide whether to hold flights for tight connections. But those decisions have been made by humans looking at a variety of factors rather than technology that makes the call automatically.
“This is just putting more rigor behind it,” says Snyder, who wrote about the new tool in June. And, he said, it’s a great marketing ploy to contrast United with other airlines.
“It’s helping people, it’s great,” Snyder says. But he wonders whether the travelers who are making their flights only because of the new tool even know it. His suggestion? The airline should send a notification in those cases: “ConnectionSaver to the rescue — you just got saved.”
Brett Snyder, an airline observer who authors the Cranky Flier blog, said the airline’s departure is not a huge surprise.
Kansas City is a longer — thus more expensive to fly — flight than many of Icelandair’s U.S. destinations.
“It seemed like a stretch,” Snyder said. “And Kansas City had no other long-haul international flying at all, which made this definitely more of an experiment.”
Icelandair rapidly expanded into underserved U.S. markets. But a price war with Icelandic competitor WOW Air drove ticket prices down. WOW went bankrupt earlier this year, though new owners have announced plans to relaunch service soon.
With its rival out of the way, the market has become more “rational,” Snyder said.
“And Icelandair is probably rethinking it’s risky markets like Kansas City,” he said.
During Inconvenient SFO Construction, Airlines Offer Waivers
September 16, 2019
Sabre says DOJ suit mischaracterizes Farelogix acquisition
August 22, 2019
Brett Snyder, who runs the aviation blog Cranky Flier, characterized the acquisition as one that would help Sabre better its offerings for airlines and, in turn, travel agencies.
“It feels like Sabre has finally, after years of neglecting the trends of the airline industry — of how they want to sell tickets — new management has finally come in and said, ‘We need to compete in this space, or we’re going to be left behind,'” Snyder said. “This acquisition helps them do that. In my mind, it doesn’t seem like an effort to simply kill a competitor. It seems like an effort for Sabre to catch up to what it fought against for so many years.”
Brett Snyder, an airline industry analyst who also runs a high-end travel concierge business, said he has heard from clients that the seats are “poorly thought out” and “desperately in need of help.” Given the importance of premium customers, Snyder said he’s not surprised American is changing course.
“For American, the people who sit in first class are the people they care about the most,” Snyder said. “They have to make sure those people are happy.”
Snyder said he’s not surprised American is leaving economy class alone.
“I hadn’t heard many complaints about coach,” he said. “People seem to like whining about the number of seats on the airplane but it doesn’t actually seem like it is that uncomfortable.”
Brett Snyder, who writes the aviation blog Cranky Flier, says creature comforts aren’t what matters most about plane-spotting.
He organizes an annual event called Dorkfest where spotters gather at an In-N-Out Burger outside LAX.
“When a plane comes, it looks like prairie dogs — everyone stops talking and looks in the same direction,” he says.
Brett Snyder, whose Cranky Concierge travel service includes help rebooking canceled and delayed flights, has heard an earful about American recently.
“People are just mad,” he said.
Passengers don’t care whether their flight is canceled for a mechanical issue, weather or other reasons, Snyder said.
“All they really know is that American is not running a good operation,” he said.
Snyder has a flight to Hawaii coming up on American and, like many passengers, is worried. He’s not going so far as to booking a pricey back up ticket, as one of his clients did, but said he is “mentally preparing” for a delay.
“If you are an agent, you should love this,” said Brett Snyder, an aviation analyst and owner of the air travel service Cranky Concierge. “It allows you to find and book places that are halfway around the world really easily.”
American Airlines says mechanics are causing delays. Now, a judge could force the union to pay for it
June 30, 2019 – Kyle Arnold
It comes on top of a particularly challenging period for American where travelers have been complaining about delays and cancellations, said Brett Snyder, a travel and aviation blogger with CrankyFlier.com.
“Blaming this on the mechanics issues is a little complicated because American hasn’t been running a great operation even before this,” Snyder said.
Typical fliers probably haven’t connected delays to labor issues, but frequent travelers are aware, Snyder said.
“If anyone is really noticing, it’s the road warriors,” he said.
Have We Reached Peak Airline Complexity?
June 13, 2019 – David Kaplan
This is a wide-ranging interview with me, so there are too many quotes to copy here.
BHM confident in airport traffic growth despite losing Via Airlines
May 30, 2019 – Angel Coker
Brett Snyder of Cranky Flier LLC said the airline will face issues if it decides to offer commercial flights again in the future.
“As for going back to scheduled operations, the only real hurdle they’ll face (other than pilots, apparently) is the complete and total loss of consumer confidence that they can deliver a product,” he said.
Why American Airlines is adding nonstop flights from DFW to these cities in Europe
May 17, 2019 – Gordon Dickson
“This should help pull travelers from Texas, the Southwest, California and even parts of Latin America,” Brett Snyder, president of the popular Cranky Flier air travel blog, said in an email. “The markets are already well-served from the east coast, but they are big summer leisure markets and American thinks it can fill those flights. Part of American’s big push at DFW is adding service from … places like Flagstaff, Monterrey, etc. These summer routes can help fill those airplanes by offering good connections via DFW since there are no one-stop options to these cities via other hubs.”
An American Airlines passenger says she was ‘assaulted’ by a gate agent. Now, she wants an apology
May 3, 2019 – Dom DiFurio
People generally tend to be anxious about air travel, setting up a scenario that can sometimes turn volatile when problems arise, said industry blogger and travel consultant Brett Snyder, who runs the CrankyFlier blog.
“One little thing goes wrong and it just sets them off and it just creates these really ugly situations that don’t have to escalate as far as they do,” he said. “It’s usually on both sides that something happens that pushes it to that next level. Then somebody goes over the line.”
The 737 Max is out until August, so how will Southwest Airlines handle it?
April 12, 2019 – Mitchell Schnurman
American picked up corporate customers during that time, especially in Chicago, said Brett Snyder, who writes the aviation blog Cranky Flier. But most cities don’t have a similar level of competition.
“In most places, Southwest is still the most convenient option,” he said.
And Southwest still has a great reputation. Last year, Southwest had the fewest complaints to federal regulators among the large airlines — and far fewer than the average for all carriers.
That doesn’t mean travelers have fewer problems on Southwest; but it probably means that Southwest does a better job of resolving them, Snyder said.
“The difference with Southwest is it usually takes care of those complaints itself,” Snyder said. “They just make their customers happy.”
If you’re going to miss your flight, call the airline. Immediately. And be nice
March 11, 2019 – Catharine Hamm
“If someone simply opts not to take a flight in the itinerary and it’s not due to an airline-related issue, then they are generally out of luck,” Brett Snyder, formerly an airline employee and now president of CrankyFlier.com, which deals with airline questions, and CrankyConcierge.com, which offers air travel assistance, said in an email.
Even if it’s not your fault (you miss a connecting flight because your first flight was late), you should call. “If the traveler misses a flight due to an airline-related issue, then it is always best to talk to someone at the airline to make sure that the return isn’t canceled,” Snyder said.
“The systems are automated so that if that flight is missed, the rest of the itinerary cancels. Usually in a situation where the airline knows it’s a missed connection, there are other automated systems that will rebook the passenger on the next flight.”
Call. Don’t leave it to chance. I asked Snyder if my return ticket would have been OK because it wasn’t my fault. “If someone decides to drive the last leg, then that would still cause problems down the line,” he said.
Why American Airlines’ DFW fortress hub isn’t so scary anymore
February 24, 2019 – Mitchell Schnurman
“DFW isn’t really a fortress hub anymore,” said Brett Snyder, who writes the aviation blog Cranky Flier. “Some people will always complain, but with the breadth of options and the affordability, most [travelers] are in a good place these days.”
Southwest Airlines Cancels More Flights Because Of Unspecified Mechanical Issues
February 20, 2019 – David Schaper
SCHAPER: Brett Snyder writes about the airline industry on his Cranky Flier blog.
SNYDER: From their perspective, this is something they think is necessary to make sure that the fleet is fixed and flying, but it certainly would be taken by the union as a shot across the bow. It’s going to ratchet up tension, I would think.
SNYDER: That’s just labor negotiations (laughter). This is almost a standard pattern. You know, one side will claim safety issues, then the other side will push back. It’s part of the tug of war.
50 Years On, Boeing’s 747 Is Fighting for Survival
February 11, 2019 – Sam Blum
Brett Snyder, another industry analyst, echoes what Boeing executives have admitted in recent years: “There isn’t a long-term future for the 747 as a passenger carrier,” he says. “But for the airplane to have served for 50 years as successfully as it has is quite the testament to an incredible design.”
A Hacker Exposed the Ancient Flaw That Makes Airlines So Hackable
January 17, 2019 – Sam Blum
Another airline industry analyst, Brett Snyder points out that airlines rely on a multitude of services to manage their business, many of which are separate from GDS. Writing to PM in an email, he explains that IT is stronger than it used to be:
“Overall, the airlines have started to put a bunch of money into IT and that’s going to pay dividends, but there have been years of under-investment due to chronic financial problems. So there’s a lot of catching up that needs to be done overall, but this doesn’t seem like as big of a security issue as it’s made out to be in my mind. Without knowing the full story, however, that’s just speculation.”
Why issues that delayed flights at BWI are an industry-wide problem
January 15, 2019 – Pete Muntean
Airline seat selection fees: It’s pay to play
January 5, 2019 – Matt Villano
Brett Snyder, a former airline employee who now writes the Cranky Flier blog, described the phenomenon as “effectively a money grab” on the part of the carriers.
Skyrocketing seat selection fees enrage flyers, enrich airlines
December 18, 2018 – Dawn Gilbertson
Brett Snyder, a former airline employee who writes the Cranky Flier blog and runs a travel service called Cranky Concierge, calls that a “completely ridiculous comparison.”
“It’s not like you need a view of the pilot here,” he said.
Snyder calls preferred seat fees a form of bait and switch. Airlines like Delta, United and American created no frills Basic Economy fares for budget sensitive travelers in the past few years, with restrictions including no free advance seat assignments. During booking, they try to get travelers to pay more for a regular economy by touting the perks you get over a basic economy ticket.
Except one of the biggest perks, a seat assignment, now carries a caveat: Fees may apply.