Cranky in the News Archive – 2014

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LAX, Ontario, John Wayne airports see passenger numbers grow

Brian Watt – December 31, 2014

Brett Snyder, founder and author of the Cranky Flier air travel blog, says part of this year’s passenger increase is because two major domestic airlines have focused on the airport as key to their business strategies.

“Delta started this a couple of years ago, building up their schedules, and more recently, American has made more of a push as well,” says Snyder.

On the international front, Snyder says carriers have either launched or added service at LAX, or increased the size the airplanes they use. Etihad Airways introduced service to Abu Dhabi. Cathay Pacific, Transaero, Aeroflot, and Korean Air added service as well.


Nearly $5 billion allotted for new LAX concourse and connector train projects

Brian Watt – December 19, 2014

While the rail connection has been on L.A.’s wish list for decades, Brett Snyder of the Cranky Flier blog says the planned Rental Car Center will make the biggest immediate impact. He says LAX’s rental car locations are currently scattered in different places around the airport.

“Building this central rental car center that’s now connected by a train to the terminal area is going to make a big difference for people who are coming into town to visit,” Snyder said. “The train is helpful in terms of pulling rental car buses out of the central terminal area.”

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With new A380, Emirates brings highflying luxury to Houston

Erin Mulvaney – December 3, 2014

“Extravagance is becoming a way of life for the premium cabins,” said Brett Snyder, author of the consumer air travel blog The Cranky Flier.

Snyder said most of the ultra-luxury offerings come from carriers such as Emirates, Qatar Aiways, Singapore Airlines, Etihad Airways and Korean Air. With the A380 in particular, he said, there is a lot of extra space on the upper deck that airlines are finding ways to fill in order to better compete forthe high-end flier who might typically fly in a private jet.

Snyder said other U.S. and European airlines are leaning away from the ultra-luxury of first class and opting for business first class. He said that as business class gets better, fewer passengers care about first class on those airlines.

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Thanksgiving’s Busy Week in Air Travel Is Now a Daily Routine

Jad Mouawad – November 25, 2014

Brett Snyder, president of Cranky Concierge, an air travel assistance website, also saw benefits for consumers. “You are seeing better reliability, you are seeing more attention to the experience itself, and in general I think there is a better product out there,” he said.

Those include investments made by many airlines including American, Delta and JetBlue to upgrade seats on transcontinental flights, or to improve airport amenities and business lounges.

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Investigation: Allegiant has low prices, high complaints

Jason Williams – November 8, 2014

“If you need to check a bag and carry on a bag, make sure to include those costs when you’re comparing to other airlines,” said Brett Snyder, a Long Beach, California-based airline expert and author of the Cranky Flier blog. “In general, Allegiant is going to be cheaper, but that won’t always be the case.”

Said Snyder: “If you book on Allegiant’s website – which, other than over the phone or at the ticket counter, is the only way to book – then it’s incredibly clear what’s included and what isn’t.”

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The Ugly Truth About Airline Prices

Charlie Zaharoff – November 2, 2014

Moreover, the Cranky Flier argues that these day-to-day differences are so miniscule, and summarize such a massive and varied set of data (think route-to-route particularities), that the averages simply aren’t helpful.

Ultimately, when booking flights, follow this simple advice from the Cranky Flier: “Look for flights when you need to book them. If you’re happy with the price, buy the ticket. If not, then keep checking back later and see if the fare has gone down…. Trying to play this game of booking on a specific day to save a buck is not a reliable way to find cheap fares.”

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Southwest tries to get back on schedule

Dan Weissmann – October 23, 2014

“They would have had to go in and manually re-book every person,” says Brett Snyder, who runs the site The Cranky Flier. “So they said, ‘Well, this isn’t really feasible.'”

USA Today

World’s largest passenger plane gets more U.S. routes

Ben Mutzabaugh – October 5, 2014

“Emirates has a lot of A380s and they need to put them somewhere,” says Brett Snyder, author of The Cranky Flier aviation blog. “They’re growing all over the U.S.”

Similarly, other international carriers have looked to the U.S. as they’ve taken new A380s.

Snyder also notes that a number of big U.S. airports couldn’t handle the oversize A380 when it debuted in 2007, but have since made upgrades to accommodate the jet.

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Airlines go à la carte: Why travellers should get used to baggage fees and more ‘unbundling’

Kristine Owram – September 20, 2014

While ancillary fees take many forms, depending on the airline — everything from advanced seat selection to printed tickets — baggage fees are by far the most important, said Brett Snyder, founder and author of the blog

“The first bag fee can bring in so much money, more than any other fees,” Mr. Snyder said in an interview. “The others are helpful to the bottom line but nothing is like a first bag fee.”

“When the legacy carriers all put this into place — it was around 2007, 2008 — they were just desperate for money because they were bleeding so bad,” said Mr. Snyder.

“They couldn’t reduce fares because they needed to stem the tide.”

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Are low-cost carriers key to CVG’s future?

Jason Williams – September 17, 2014

“The hallmark of these ultra-low-cost carriers is they’ll come in and try things and never be certain if it’s going to work,” said Brett Snyder, an aviation expert and author of the Cranky Flier blog. “This is not a proven success for anyone yet, so (the uptick at CVG) isn’t any kind of sign until we know if it works.”

USA Today

The grind of air travel: Where did it all go wrong?

Charisse Jones – September 15, 2014

To some, “9/11 was a huge turning point,” says Brett Snyder, founder and author of “The security process just made everything far more difficult and, I think, scared a lot of people as well. So it just made it a much more stressful process.”

Snyder of says some of the new slimmer seats that some airlines have added can be uncomfortable. A more crowded feeling is even tangible on the ground. “You have more seats on the airplane and more people waiting in the gate area, but the gate area isn’t any bigger,” he says.

Yet Snyder and other fliers believe that in many ways, the travel experience has gotten better.

“In 1995, you were lucky to have an airplane that had a drop-down monitor to watch a terrible movie,” Snyder says, “You were maybe served a meal but it wasn’t very good. … The tools and amenities on the plane are no worse and are generally way better than what you used to have.”

Fliers, he says, can get what they’re willing to pay for, whether it’s a business-class perch that allows them to lie in a bed as they cross the Atlantic Ocean or a little extra space to stretch out in coach.

“International premium cabin travel is without question the best it’s ever been,” Snyder says. And there are perks to be had in coach as well. “The beauty of the a la carte system is you can pick and choose what matters to you. If price matters, you can get a cheap fare, but you’ll have to deal with these issues along the way. And you can pay more if you want more.”

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When luxury ruled the skies: Flying in the 1950s and ’60s

Sam McManis – September 7, 2014

Brett Snyder, founder and author of the travel website, said we are in the halcyon days for flying. Certainly, he says, it’s cheaper. He came across a TWA flight schedule from June 1959, which listed a Los Angeles-to-New York fare of $168.40. In today’s dollars, that equals $1,225 – hardly a bargain. And, he notes, it took more than 12 hours to make the trip. “Once you put actual numbers out there and adjust them for inflation, it does stop to make people think a bit,” Snyder said. “Certainly on longer flights, the price was truly outrageous compared to what you get today.”

But Snyder, 37, also qualifies his point that air travel is better today by saying he doesn’t necessarily mean that cattle-car Sacramento-to-Las Vegas slog; rather, he says the lavish perks and grandeur so celebrated in the past can be found on first-class and overseas flights.

“Anyone today can garner enough miles over time to fly in business or first class on an intercontinental flight without having to pay thousands of dollars,” he said. “And the flat beds you get today put any seat from the golden age to shame. Would it have been nice to have hand-carved prime rib over a silver cart? I mean, I guess. But I’d take that flat bed any day. In coach, I’m much happier today with in-seat video filled with entertainment or with Wi-Fi than I would have been back then.”

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Should airline seats recline? As Cleveland Hopkins travelers weigh in on recent passenger squabbles, tell us what you think

Alison Grant – September 4, 2014

Ultra-low-cost carrier Spirit Airlines is taking delivery on planes that have fixed, “pre-reclined” seats that are angled back slightly but can’t be adjusted, said Brett Snyder of The Cranky Flier blog.

Since the budget airline has some of the tightest legroom space among U.S. carriers, fixed seats may make sense because it can get ugly if someone tries to recline, Snyder said.


Allegiant Air now charging $5 for check-in at airport

Brian Watt – September 2, 2014

Brett Snyder, founder and author of the Cranky Flier air travel blog, says Allegiant and Spirit airlines are “ultra-low-cost carriers” like Europe’s Ryan Air, which also charges the airport check-in fee.

“Their whole goal is to make the ticket price as cheap as possible for you and ‘you get to pick and choose what you want'” says Snyder. “That’s a way that helps them to make more money, of course, but if they’re not earning a lot of fee-related revenue, then the base far itself is gonna go up.”

Snyder says he does not expect the airport check-in fee to take off with legacy carriers like United and American because they rely more on airport agents to handle check in.


Dodging Airline Fees the Hard Way

Susannah Snider – June 27, 2014

Brett Snyder, of, says the biggest U.S. airlines may follow suit, possibly charging for carry-on bags and seat assignments.

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Is the Airbus A380 This Generation’s Concorde?

Robert Klara – June 24, 2014

“It’s just too big for most airlines and most routes,” said Brett Snyder, who tracks the airline industry at “The only airlines that really can use this airplane well are those in large, highly slot-restricted airports. British Airways should be the perfect target, but it only ordered a handful of these things.”

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American’s new 777-300 planes bring luxury to long overseas flights

Andrea Ahles – June 22, 2014

Frequent fliers and high-spending business customers want two things on a long flight: aisle access and lie-flat seats, said Brett Snyder, founder of With the introduction of the Boeing 777-300ER, which has both features in business and first class, American is finally catching up to competitors United Airlines and Delta Air Lines, which already have lie-flat seats in business class on their long-haul aircraft.

“If you’re looking to compete with international carriers, you need these premium products,” said Snyder, who experienced American’s new 777-300 aircraft on a flight from Los Angeles to London’s Heathrow Airport last summer. “I think it’s a great product, and it’s something they can build off of.”

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Long Beach Airport’s interim director embraces challenge

Pat Maio – June 20, 2014

Concerns also are growing about JetBlue itself, which announced a shakeup of its management in April to improve its operational efficiences, said Brett Snyder, a Long Beach-based aviation industry analyst who runs the Cranky Flier airline industry blog.

The management changes have Snyder wondering how committed JetBlue might be to Long Beach given its falling passenger traffic count.

“You don’t know what a new leadership team with a new culture might want to do,” said Snyder, who is cautiously optimistic that the airline will stay.

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Cheaper fares from CVG? Yep, CVG

Jason Williams – May 30, 2014

“It’s a great way to get people to fill hotel rooms in places they weren’t going to go to otherwise,” said Brett Snyder, a former airline executive who publishes the Cranky Flier blog. “It’s all about getting people off the couch who are super-price sensitive.”

“A lot of these charters come and go,” Snyder said. “They don’t have staying power because they don’t own airplanes.”

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Embraer Sees More Jet Sales With Big Bag Space: Corporate Brazil

Christiana Sciaudone – May 20, 2014

Airlines are also cracking down on passengers trying to lug aboard everything from cowboy hats to musical instruments, said Brett Snyder, who runs the Cranky Flier airline industry blog.

“People get really wound up about carry-ons, and part of it is they don’t trust the airlines to not lose their bags, and part of it is they don’t want to pay to check in,” Snyder in a telephone interview. “I hate checking a bag.”

Passengers should be happy with Embraer’s change, said Snyder, of the Cranky Flier. The lack of overhead bin space had previously defined regional jets and frustrated passengers connecting into the smaller planes from mainline aircraft.

“Storing your bag in an overhead bin — that is a constant battle for everyone on every flight,” Snyder said. “This will create a more standard product.”

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Head of Long Beach Airport leaving to run Indianapolis International Airport

Brian Sumers – April 21, 2014

“Mario came into Long Beach at a time when the airport was trying to build a new passenger concourse,” said Brett Snyder, a Long Beach-based airline industry analyst and blogger. “He made sure it was done with a focus on passenger comfort while also keeping a close eye on costs. The result is one that travelers love the convenience but airlines also love the low cost of operating there.”

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American makes changes to its frequent flier program

Andrea Ahles – April 8, 2014

“If you’re going to make a change to the program, people have a certain expectation that they’re going to be able to use those miles and when,” said Brett Snyder, founder of CrankyFlier, a travel concierge website. “But in a sense, it’s all about revenues. [American] was giving away more seats than they felt comfortable giving away.”

USA Today

Airline industry pours millions into new terminals

Charisse Jones – March 17, 2014

“The terminal experience sets the tone for the entire trip,” says Brett Snyder, founder and author of the airline industry blog “If you have someone sitting in a dingy facility with one chain restaurant and a newsstand, then people are going to walk on that airplane feeling worse than if they are able to get a nice meal and do a little shopping. That matters to the business traveler who spends his or her life in airports.”

But a massive terminal upgrade may not be so appealing to other travelers. “For those people who just want cheap tickets, an expensive … renovation is the worst thing you can do,” Snyder says. “Those costs ultimately result in higher ticket prices or fewer flights.”

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Beyond rocking chairs: Airports race to upgrade

Ely Portillo – January 19, 2014

“Having all these great things in an airport encourages people to spend more money,” said Brett Snyder, a former airline executive who runs the website The Cranky Flier and operates a travel-booking service. “When they spend more money, it means the airport can charge airlines less to operate there. That’s another reason why airlines love Charlotte.”

Snyder said amenities and flashy buildings don’t matter to travelers as much as the airport’s reputation for on-time flights and ease of connection.

“I don’t think people choose where to connect based on things like restaurants and amenities offered,” he said. “I do think all these amenities help people to enjoy their trip more, and that does have a halo effect on how they remember the experience.”

But he said an airport’s reputation can affect whether people want to connect there. For example, he has clients who don’t want to connect through Chicago in the winter. He has a US Airways elite flier from Charleston who insists on flying internationally from Charlotte instead of Philadelphia because it’s easier to connect in Charlotte.

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Airline merger will hurt some cardholders

Linda Loyd – January 15, 2014

“The reality is there are two very simple ways to solve this problem: You can buy lounge access, or you can get a different card that would provide you with access,” author Brett Snyder said in an interview.

“If travelers think that every single change that happens will be pro-consumer, then they are mistaken. That has never happened in the history of mergers. It’s always a trade-off, and the hope is that the end result makes people happier on the whole than the previous situation.”

Cancelled Flight for LAX’s Iconic Encounter Restaurant

Steve Chiotakis – January 9, 2014

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