To see the archives, go to crankyflier.com/media
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.
“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.