Cranky in the News Archive – 2013

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Chicago Tribune Logo

Southwest Airlines struggles with being on time

Gregory Karp – December 26, 2013

Brett Snyder, a blogger at and operator of a small travel concierge service, said he has noticed a problem lately with Southwest flights being delayed.

“It’s been worse in the last month from our perspective, though to be fair, we’re a pretty small snapshot of the entire picture,” he said.

WNPR Coline McEnroe Show

Scrambling Toward Christmas with Sad Songs, Oscar Isaac, and Tight Flights

Colin McEnroe Show on WNPR – December 23, 2013
I was on the radio to talk about the decreasing amount of personal space on flights in coach.

LA Daily News Logo

What does American Airlines merger with US Airways mean for Los Angeles?

Brian Sumers – December 9, 2013

But under new management it could change the mix of its LAX flying, adding destinations and taking away others, said Brett Snyder, a Long Beach-based aviation analyst. He said the new American might add flights to business destinations and cut them to smaller Western cities now served by American Eagle, the commuter airline.

“It’s hard to know exactly what’s going to happen in L.A,” Snyder said. “If it were me running the show, I would be asking, ‘Why are we running these flights to smaller cities like El Paso and Albuquerque?’ ”

Now four airlines — American, Delta, United and Southwest — control the vast majority of the nation’s air traffic.

“This is sort of the capstone on U.S. airlines consolidation,” Snyder said.

Ft Worth Star-Telegram Logo

Consumers can expect gradual changes after American Airlines merger

Gordon Dickson – December 8, 2013

“One thing that should greatly improve is operations performance,” said Brett Snyder, founder of the travel website “US Airways is very good at running an on-time airline. It should be a dramatic improvement in quality, reliability and even safety.”

APM Marketplace Logo

Bad weather, cancelled flights: You’re not getting home for Thanksgiving that easily

Dan Gorenstein – November 27, 2013

“If you are staying with the same airline, they want to get you on your way, just as much as you do,” says Brett Snyder who runs the travel service Cranky Concierge — and calls himself Chief Airline Dork.

“If you can find another itinerary, it may have two stops, it may have an overnight somewhere, they are going to be able to do that and it won’t cost you anything extra.”

USA Today

Thanksgiving fliers wait: How bad will Wednesday be?

Ben Mutzabaugh – November 26, 2013

“This shouldn’t go down as being one of the historical monster storms, especially since temperatures are warm enough to keep snow away from the main airports,” says Brett Snyder, founder and president of Cranky Concierge air travel assistance.

“It’s just that the timing is so bad, hitting on one of the busiest travel days of the year,” adds Snyder, who also authors the highly-regarded Cranky Flier blog.
“If there are a large number of cancellations on the East Coast then that could impact flights elsewhere in the country,” says Snyder.

He cites an example of a New York-to-Phoenix flight that may be scheduled to continue on to another destination – perhaps San Diego.

“If that airplane gets stuck in New York, then there could be an issue for those flying just between Phoenix and San Diego,” Snyder says, which. “The biggest problem is that because of the holiday, flights are extremely full. So there won’t be easy re-accommodation options” for other flights.

As bad as that sounds, Snyder suggest that those in their cars may end up in even worse shape on Wednesday — at least in the Northeast.

“At this point, it looks like drivers may see the biggest problems,” Snyder says. “The biggest impact will be on drivers that are west of the main east coast cities. There could be some difficult travel conditions.”

USA Today

Cellphones on a plane? Please don’t phone home

Nancy Trejos – November 22, 2013

Brett Snyder, founder of the travel-assistance website and blog The Cranky Flier, points out that planes were once equipped with seatback phones that people could use with the swipe of a credit card.

“That’s just like back in the old days when they had the GTE Airfones on board,” he says. “People didn’t use them unless it was very important because it was so expensive.” Logo

Speaking out against cell service on planes

Heather Kelly – November 22, 2013

Brett Snyder, who blogs about the airline industry on, agrees with lifting the restriction and thinks each airline should be allowed to set its own policy.
“The public in the U.S. seems to be strongly against cell phones on airplanes, but let the airlines make the decision on whether or not they want to move forward and allow it,” said Snyder.

APM Marketplace Logo

Selling to a captive audience, at 30,000 feet

Queena Kim – November 8, 2013

Brett Snyder runs the blog Cranky Flier and he says we shouldn’t be too cynical. He says fliers have been complaining that they feel like cattle. A little data mining could change that

“And so if we know it’s your birthday, it’s just a nice thing if a flight attendant says, oh happy birthday, thanks for flying with us,” Snyder said.

WOR 710 Radio Logo

The Joan Hamburg Show

Len Berman – November 1, 2013
I spoke with Len Berman about the new rule allowing passengers to use electronic devices below 10,000 feet.

Orange County Register Logo

Airlines get the gadget go-ahead

Mary Ann Milbourn – November 1, 2013

Brett Snyder of Long Beach, who writes the blog, said the new rules probably won’t make a lot of difference.
“From the passenger perspective, you will be able to do what you’ve already been secretly doing,” he said. “But you still have to be in ‘airplane mode’ so it’s not like you can talk with someone or surf the Web.”

Bloomberg logo

More Device Use on U.S. Flights to Be Allowed by End of Year

Alan Levin and Todd Shields – October 31, 2013

Brett Snyder, who writes the blog Cranky Flier and does consulting work for airports and airlines, said the rules “will create a bit of policing problem” for flight crews because they differentiate between device usage in airplane mode and on Wi-Fi signals.

“For me, I think one of the concerns is that people are going to pay less attention on the ground to safety demonstrations — not that a ton of people pay attention anyway — but it’s just going to cause more distraction,” he said. Logo

FAA allowing most electronic device use throughout flights

Jason Hanna and Katia Heller – October 31, 2013

Travel blogger Brett Snyder said he expects a lot of consumer satisfaction related to the new policy.
“This is exactly what travelers have wanted,” said Snyder, the Cranky Flier columnist, via e-mail. “It will, however, mean people have more distracting them from paying attention during the safety briefing, so airlines are going to really have to step up their game to make sure people understand how to be as safe as possible.” Logo

The longest flight in the world

Thom Patterson – October 19, 2013

“Now, engines are way more reliable,” says travel expert and former airline manager Brett Snyder of They’re also more powerful and fuel-saving.

“We’ve never seen an issue where a twin-engine plane has lost one engine during a transoceanic flight and can’t make it somewhere with the other engine,” says Snyder. “And engines almost never fail. With high reliability, airlines are free to look at economics and say, ‘Why would we have aircraft with four engines when we can have one that performs the same mission with two and save us money?'”

That’s right — after nine years of service, Singapore Airlines Flights 21 and 22 are scheduled for cancellation.

Snyder and most other experts suspect the airline got tired of dealing with poor profit margins on the fuel-guzzling four-engine Airbus A340. “They do use a ton of fuel, and that’s always painful,” says Snyder. “But the schedule advantage isn’t that great either when you fly so far.” Logo

World’s largest airliner: Is bigger better?

Thom Patterson – September 6, 2013

“The reality is that if you’re on the upper deck, you don’t know there’s another deck below you,” says Brett Snyder of “And if you’re on the lower deck, it’s like sitting on a 747.”

Snyder points out that Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner, which seats up to 300 and has been in service for two years, has surpassed 900 orders. Compare that to the A380, which has been in service six years and has yet to crack 300.

Is the A380 opening new routes? Not really, says Snyder, although the Superjumbo has “enabled airlines like Emirates to put more seats on existing routes at a lower cost.”

Press Telegram Logo

JetBlue Airways eyes future growth of Long Beach Airport operations

Brian Sumers – August 28, 2013

Meanwhile, as airline officials have asked for concessions, JetBlue has been quietly cutting from its schedule at the airport, according to Brett Snyder, a Long Beach-based aviation industry analyst.

But Snyder notes Long Beach is unusual because other airlines cannot add flights when JetBlue drops them. City rules allow a maximum of 41 daily flights on jets weighing more than 75,000 pounds, and JetBlue has the rights to all but nine of them.

Each departure authority is called a slot in industry terms. Under city rules, airlines may keep their slots so long as they use each one at least four times a week. JetBlue has been careful to fly every slot four times a week, Snyder said, which keeps competition out.

“If you’re the airport, your goal is to try to get as many people through your doors as possible,” Snyder said. “JetBlue has a different motivation. Theirs is to make money. The question is, how can they best do that. At this point, what it seems they are saying is, ‘We’ll fly the heck out of the schedule in the summer and trim it in the shoulder seasons.’?”

But the Long Beach City Council controls slots, and it’s not clear whether members will budge. “A lot of the people in the surrounding community would be more than happy if the airport shut down,” Snyder said, noting that noise remains a major issue for neighbors, who likely do not want more flights on any size plane.

Orange County Register Logo

JetBlue cuts reduce Long Beach passenger volume

Mary Ann Milbourn – August 19, 2013

Brett Snyder, a Long Beach resident and author of the blog, said JetBlue is simply being more strategic in its operations and is cutting flights during off-peak times.
“They are sculpting their schedule,” Snyder said. “But they haven’t given up any slots.”

Inland Valley Daily Bulletin Logo

Ontario making a case for LAX lawsuit

Liset Marquez – July 18, 2013

“It could be Ontario trying to put the pressure on LAWA to let Ontario go,” said Brett Snyder, a former airline manager who blogs as The Cranky Flier. “What if Ontario says, ‘If you let us go, we will drop the lawsuit’?”

Snyder believes Ontario may have a thin argument and it should be happy that LAWA is modernizing LAX. The project is said to be estimated at $4 billion, but as Snyder said, “someone is going to have to pay for that.”

Those costs generally get pushed onto the airlines, and unless the airport creates more shopping options to bring in more revenue, the airlines will pass it on to the travelers, he said.

The potential increase in ticket prices has not been determined, but one thing it could do is increase airlines’ costs of doing business, Snyder said. In 2011, the cost per enplaned passenger at LAX was $11.23 and $13.50 at ONT.

“It’s a mistake to think this will hurt regionalization,” he said.

Even if the costs rise, Snyder doesn’t foresee many airlines leaving LAX. At most, some low-cost carriers such as Allegiant and Frontier may move out operations.

“Did they not get the memo that regionalization is dead?” Snyder said. “You can’t force airlines to fly to an airport. Ultimately, they will go to where the demand is.”

Inland Valley Daily Bulletin Logo

Ontario officials will face challenges if the city gains control of ONT airport

Brian Sumers – July 11, 2013

“There is this belief that if we take our airport back, we can get everyone to fly here,” said Brett Snyder, an airline industry analyst who lives in Long Beach. “I absolutely agree with their premise that they can do better than LAWA. But you’re not going to see crazy growth.

“They are not going to become this mecca for amazing air travel.” Logo

The Dreamliner returns: 5 things to know

Thom Patterson – May 20, 2013

Travelers have such high regard for the safety of the U.S. aviation system they don’t pay much attention to the kind of plane they’re flying, says Brett Snyder, travel adviser and self-described “president and chief airline dork” of Most aren’t worried about flying the 787, but if Dreamliner develops another problem “then that might change things.”

On the other hand, Snyder believes the “average everyday traveler isn’t looking at the specific aircraft type. They’re looking at the flight times and they’re looking at the prices.”

“I’m sure there are some people that are feeling like they don’t want to get on it,” says Snyder. “They’ll probably feel that way in the short term until the Dreamliner develops a “track record of being reliable and safe.”

“It looks pretty awesome, although I’d just rather not have turbulence — then you don’t need the gust suppression,” jokes Snyder. “But I think it will be interesting to see how that feels, and how the plane handles it.”

LA Daily News Logo

Financial incentive plan could boost flights at ONT

Brian Sumers – May 4, 2013

“A lot of airports do it, and it’s a good thing to offer to get new service,” said Brett Snyder, a Long Beach-based aviation analyst who runs the blog. “But something like this is not generally a make-or-break proposition.”

USA Today

US Airways ups change fee to $200

Ben Mutzabaugh – April 24, 2013

Brett Snyder, author of The Cranky Flier blog and a proprietor of the Cranky Concierge travel service, says the move by US Airways increased the likelihood that Delta and American may follow, though it wasn’t inevitable.

Since the change fees won’t affect the way customers see fares, Snyder said, United and US Airways may have more patience to test the water with the increase than airlines typically do when they attempt fare hikes.

APM Marketplace Logo

When airlines outgrow their computers

Queena Kim – April 17, 2013

An appearance on Marketplace discussing American’s computer outage

Cleveland Plain Dealer Logo

United Airlines says 2012 Airline Quality Rating doesn’t tell the whole story

Janet Cho – April 8, 2013

Brett Snyder, author of the blog in Long Beach, Calif., said the rankings are misleading because they measure the rate of mishandled bags per 1,000 passengers instead of against the total number of bags, even though fewer people are checking bags.

Although 11,445 complaints were filed in 2012, Snyder said more people are still likely to complain to the airlines themselves.

Time Magazine Logo

Southwest Airlines: We’re Not Really About Cheap Flights Anymore

Brad Tuttle – March 26, 2013

Among travel insiders, the ad is being viewed as a sign of a possible “identity crisis” within Southwest. The CrankyFlier bashes the commercial, which is probably unsurprising given the name of the blog. “This ad is just pure… bleh,” the post states. “It says nothing to me. This could be for Southwest or any other legacy airline.”

No song lyrics are audible during the ad, but the CrankyFlier’s Brett Snyder identifies the tune playing in the background and notes that the chorus ironically includes the line: “Oh, Lord, I’m still not sure what I stand for.”

Though the CrankyFlier’s Snyder is obviously not a fan of Southwest’s new commercial because it makes the airline seem like every other airline out there, he says that Southwest is still different from the competition in a few key ways. “The most obvious difference is that Southwest hasn’t gone with the a la carte model of pricing and instead continues to bundle things like bag fees and change fees into the price of the ticket,” Snyder said via e-mail. “That’s why you often see that Southwest isn’t the cheapest anymore.” Also, Southwest’s customer service model, loaded with “employees that are empowered to solve problems,” is generally superior to the ham-fisted bureaucracies in other airlines’ customer service departments, according to Snyder.

So even as fares have risen, Southwest still sets itself apart with good customer service and the checked-bags value proposition. But for how long? Southwest has already been following the industry’s lead by adding new fees for services like priority boarding, and more nickel-and-diming practices seem inevitable. Snyder worries that Southwest will struggle to maintain top-notch service, especially after it swallowed AirTran—which was also known as a “low-fare” carrier, but one with a very different customer service environment.

USA Today

Critics: United frequent-flier lawsuit is ‘absurd’

Ben Mutzabaugh – March 26, 2013

“This is completely absurd,” Brett Snyder – author of The Cranky Flier blog – tells the Plain Dealer.

Snyder notes airlines that award miles tend to use the so-called “great-circle” distance calculations, which accounts for the curvature of the earth in calculating the shortest-possible distances between two destinations.

“It is downright silly to think that the airlines are going to compute the exact distance flown on every single operated flight and award it that way,” Snyder adds. “United and other airlines offer mileage calculators where you can compute what you’ll earn before you even buy your ticket,” he adds to the Plain Dealer.

Snyder says he was so “worked up” after learning about the lawsuit that he also decided to do his own blog post on the suit.

“I for one hope that this suit disappears quickly, because it’s pretty much everything that’s wrong with the court system,” Snyder writes via his Cranky Flier blog. “It’s a waste of taxpayer resources that will only provide a significant benefit for the lawyers involved.”

Cleveland Plain Dealer Logo

United Airlines MileagePlus member files class-action lawsuit over frequent flyer miles

Janet Cho – March 23, 2013

Brett Snyder, president of Cranky Flier LLC in Long Beach, Calif., and author of the blog, put it even more bluntly.

“This is completely absurd,” he said via email.

“It is downright silly to think that the airlines are going to compute the exact distance flown on every single operated flight and award it that way. United and other airlines offer mileage calculators where you can compute what you’ll earn before you even buy your ticket.”

He said airlines calculate their miles based on “great circle distance,” the actual number of miles between two points, instead of miles via a straight line.

“Because of the curvature of the Earth, the great circle route is the shortest distance between two points,” he said.

According to, for example, the distance between Dulles and Beijing is 6,921 miles, one mile more than United’s 6,920 miles.

“This is pretty much everything that’s wrong with the court system. Even if it goes nowhere, it’s already wasting taxpayer dollars and time that could be used for legitimate cases,” he said.

“This is a guy just trying to game the system while wasting everyone’s time. I hope this gets thrown out.”

LA Daily News Logo

Delta to add destinations, increase flights at LAX

Brian Sumers – March 5, 2013

Aviation analyst Brett Snyder, who operates the website, called the new flights interesting, but noted that large airlines tweak their schedules often, starting and stopping new routes as market forces change.

“What it seems like is they are seeing a lot of different random opportunities and they are trying to roll it up into one big L.A. story,” he said. “It seems like they are looking at L.A. and saying, `Do we have any markets where we can make some money?”‘

LA Daily News Logo

American Airlines, US Airways merger means change in Los Angeles market strategy

Brian Sumers – February 14, 2013

With US Airways executives now running the combined airline, it might make sense for the new American to pare down its Los Angeles flights while building them up at other airports in the region. But Brett Snyder, founder of the aviation website, said US Airways executives know the world’s largest airline must have a strong presence at the nation’s third-largest airport, where it will compete with United and Delta.

“The US Airways management team has always had a pretty clear strategy that, if you can’t be No. 1 or have a serious presence, then why be there?” Snyder said. “If you go with the current US Airways strategy, they would just walk away from LAX except with flights to their hubs, because it’s a bloodbath with all the airlines fighting. But now you’re one of the big three. You need to be relevant.”


Merger expected to improve choice for American customers on both coasts

Yamil Berard – February 13, 2013

In recent years, Brett Snyder has lamented the absence of American Airlines in Long Beach, Calif.

At one time, the Southern California native could fly from Long Beach to DFW Airport and head almost anywhere in the world. Later, he could come home to his local airport — a hop, skip and a jump from his beach town home. But then American ended its flights into Long Beach, leaving Snyder with fewer options.

That’s why Snyder, like hundreds of other passengers around the country, may have reason to cheer for a merger of American Airlines and US Airways.

“People are going to get to go to more places,” said Snyder, who runs the blog. “There should be more destinations within the American network for sure.”

But Snyder believes that higher-than-average fares would be limited to few cities.

“There are very few markets where they (American and US Airways) today have overlapping services,” he said. “They operate pretty independently from each other.”

The other guessing game, Snyder said, is what culture will emerge at the new American.

“There’s a general perception that US Airways is a much more frugal type of airline and that people don’t get the same frills,” as with American or others, Snyder said.

“Some people are afraid that this will rub off on American, but I don’t think it’s realistic to think that will be true,” he said.

Inland Valley Daily Bulletin Logo

ONT passenger traffic decline continues in December

Liset Marquez – January 29, 2013

Brett Snyder, a former airline manager and author of The Cranky Flier, said December’s drop can be attributed to a trend among ONT airlines.

“It was mostly a combination of airlines shedding away one flight a day in a variety of (destinations). The issue is losing one frequency and optimizing their flights,” he said.

Snyder compared a week’s flight schedule for carriers in December 2011 to the same time frame in 2012 and found that some of the decline was offset by airlines who added seats on other flights. Logo

Southwest charges extra to board first

Katia Heller – January 22, 2013

“This is yet another of several recent attempts by Southwest to add peripheral fees so that it can raise revenues without tarnishing its image,” wrote Brett Snyder, president of The Cranky Flier, in an e-mail. “Southwest’s elite travelers won’t like that people can buy their way to the front of the line, but it will be welcomed by those at the back. This is the first effort Southwest has made to allow people to better their position once they know their boarding number.” Logo

2013: Wishes for smooth journeys

Katia Heller – January 3, 2013

Brett Snyder of has more magic wand-intensive wishes.

“My wish for the airline industry is that instead of increasing storm intensity, climate change results in exactly the opposite: Bad weather disappears completely,” Snyder said.

“Further, aircraft manufacturers come up with a new manufacturing process that not only guarantees airplanes will never have mechanical problems but also allows them to run solely on garbage.

“Without storms and broken airplanes, airlines run 99% of their flights on time. Free from the high cost of oil, airfares plunge, and the world learns to love them again. As the owner of an air travel assistance business, this would put me out of work, but it would be well worth it.”

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