Cranky in the News Archive – 2015

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Last flight of US Airways evokes ‘golden age’ of air travel

Thom Patterson – December 27, 2015

On Bombardier’s C-Series…

“It has struggled mightily to get sales, and Bombardier has found itself in financial trouble trying to support it,” said aviation/travel analyst Brett Snyder.

“But the aircraft’s performance looks to be solid, and there’s the potential for a rumored order from United on the horizon.”

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LA City Council approves Ontario airport agreement

Liset Marquez – December 16, 2015

For L.A., it takes away what could have been perceived as a conflict of interest, said Brett Snyder, an aviation expert and former airline executive.

Besides the modernization, there are other key issues on the horizon for LAX, such as the current cap on passenger traffic, said Snyder, who runs the website

“There have been a lot of talk that they can do better but how are they going to do that?” Snyder said, referring to the new authority.

It has to either look at ways to increase airlines’ revenues or decrease costs for airlines, he explained.

“They need to start acting quickly,” Snyder said. “There is public and private sentiment to have them make changes soon — they promised so much.”

But getting airlines to make route changes could take months, up to a year. That’s because airlines plan their routes months in advance, and ONT will have to demonstrate it is a viable option, he said.

If this deal is going to work, Synder has advice for travelers in the Inland Empire: Use ONT.

“Airlines don’t care what people say, they care what people do,” he said. “Fly from your airport, it’s the best thing to do as it gains independence.”

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Holiday travelers may prefer road trip to airline flight

Keith Morelli – December 14, 2015

“A lot of people taking trips out there over the holidays are going well beyond what most people want to drive,” said Brett Snyder, president of Cranky Concierge, an air travel assistance service, and founder of the air-travel blog “The Cranky Flier.”

“The reality is that if you have a family and if the trip is under 500 miles,” he said, “then 99 percent of the time, it’s going to be cheaper to drive.”

That doesn’t mean the falling price of fuel won’t help air travelers. Airlines over the past few months have been lowering fares because the cost of jet fuel also is coming down, Snyder said. The fear of terrorism won’t have much of an impact on domestic flights, he said.

“It’s always something that goes into people’s minds,” he said, “Even in the movie theater, that fear is not going to stop me from going into the movies.”

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United again offering free snacks

Andrea Rumbaugh – December 9, 2015

Brett Snyder, author of the airline industry blog, said free snacks are a nice gesture by the airline. And with industry consolidation, he said it’s important to compete with products in addition to price.

“Little things like this have the ability to have a meaningful impact on travelers,” he said.

Yet this and United’s other recent food improvements could fall on deaf ears if the airline can’t get the basics right: getting passengers to their destination on time, Snyder said. United has improved in this area, but he said it still has a ways to go.

Snyder is optimistic next year will be better as United said it will give select corporate accounts a services credit if the airline doesn’t meet one of two goals: have a better on-time arrival rate in 2016 than American Airlines or Delta or have fewer canceled flightsin 2016 than American or Delta.


Travel to Europe for Less

Miriam Cross – December 9, 2015

To discover which airlines serve your location or destination, Brett Snyder, of, recommends starting with an airport’s Wikipedia page (usually a more up-to-date starting point than an airport’s own Web site), then booking directly through the carrier’s site, where you can prepay for extras.


Why do so many people hate US airports?

Miriam Cross – November 30, 2015

Brett Snyder, author of the Cranky Flier, says the lack of space at US airports “drives [him] nuts… they were designed for a different era”.

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PHL a top place to make connections

Linda Loyd – November 9, 2015

Brett Snyder, author of, an airline-industry blog, said they were “fantastic” for passengers in terms of “the breadth of opportunities and the frequency of flights.”

However, ticket prices can be more expensive on some routes. “If one airline holds a dominant position, and has a significant advantage in terms of number of nonstop flights vs. anyone else, they are going to be able to charge more for that,” Snyder said.

“Where it gets much tougher are the midsize hubs that we’ve seen slowly disappearing – Memphis, Cleveland, and Cincinnati. For them, the fares get really high,” Snyder said.

USA Today

Era of airline merger mania comes to a close with last US Airways flight

Ben Mutzabaugh – October 15, 2015

Brett Snyder, author of The Cranky Flier blog, says that “with fewer competitors, there’s a better chance that fare increases will stick.” But Snyder also says the airline profits that have accompanied airline consolidation also has an upside for fliers.

“Airlines are more stable,” Snyder says. “They now are able to invest in operations, to invest in a better product, all that kind of stuff that we’re seeing happen now.” Logo

Last flight of US Airways evokes ‘golden age’ of air travel

Thom Patterson – October 15, 2015

“I don’t think it’s bad at all,” said Brett Snyder of airline industry blog The Cranky Flier. “Fares have come down lately. You still see these guys fighting with each other. But is there as much competition as there was? No, of course not, because there are fewer carriers.”

Snyder, who spent more than a decade working for United, USAir and America West, called it “rational competition” among “smarter airlines” that know how to make a profit. “I guess from the customers’ standpoint, you could argue that it would be better to have 20 tiny airlines losing money and taking you places cheap. But that’s not sustainable.”

“Looking back to when it was Allegheny, US Airways was the local service airline that could,” Snyder said. “Its legacy was being able to break out of a pack of local service airlines to pull itself up by its bootstraps and build itself into something much larger.”

Snyder, who cut his teeth in the business as an intern at USAir, admits a soft spot for US Airways. Nonetheless, he said, the airline’s record during the 1980s was “somewhat checkered at best” after it acquired Pacific Southwest and Piedmont airlines.

In 2005, US Airways merged with America West, keeping the US Airways name. “Here’s the reality: US Airways effectively died in 2005,” Snyder said. “There’s no question about it; America West took over. Despite the US Airways name sticking around, it just became a bigger America West.”

USA Today

U.S. airports lead the world in offering connections

Charisse Jones – October 5, 2015

Brett Snyder, founder of says that “megahubs are fantastic for passengers in terms of providing an astounding breadth of options. People connecting over the hubs can get nearly anywhere in the world with just one stop. . . . Overall, these hubs provide tremendous benefit to travelers.”

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What’s it going to take to get JetBlue?

Jason Williams – September 22, 2015

“It seems like a perfect opportunity for JetBlue,” said Brett Snyder, a Long Beach, California-based airline expert and author of the Cranky Flier blog. “But if Delta has everyone locked up in a corporate deal, then there just might not be enough support there to make it work. You know JetBlue has looked at it, but to this point, you haven’t made the cut.”

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Southwest no longer cheapest airline

Linda Loyd – May 5, 2015

“This is a circle of life in the airline world, or in any world, where as companies get more mature, their costs rise, and then somebody new comes in that’s younger and leaner, and able to be the next generation of low pricing,” said Brett Snyder, author of, an airline industry blog.

“The one thing that Southwest still has, and it’s their hallmark, is very good customer service,” said Snyder, the CrankyFlier author. “When little problems come up that other airlines will say, ‘Too bad, pay the fee,’ Southwest will often just fix it.”

USA Today

Hotels on track to collect record surcharges and fees this year, report says

Charisse Jones – August 25, 2015

“I don’t mind fees, in general, as long as it’s for optional services,” says Brett Snyder, president of Cranky Concierge, a travel-assistance service. “Where I see the greatest issue is when there are mandatory fees that you can’t avoid, but (which) aren’t required to be included in the advertised price.”

USA Today

Call your airline toll-free? Not if you’re on an ‘ultra-low-cost carrier’

Ben Mutzabaugh – August 16, 2015

However, Brett Snyder — author of The Cranky Flier blog and operator of the Cranky Concierge travel service — expects the moves ultimately will affect only a small number of fliers.

“It’s a smaller corner of the market,” he says. “In general, I think most people don’t think twice about long-distance phone calls. For the most part, it just doesn’t matter anymore.”

Snyder suggests it’s really the “perception that is the big thing” with the change.

“It makes them seem cheap,” he says of the ultra-low-cost carriers. “But they want to seem cheap. That’s their message. ‘We have low costs and that lets us offer low fares.’ “

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What city of Ontario must do to keep ONT in the air

Larry Mantle – August 6, 2015

I spoke with Larry Mantle on AirTalk about Ontario Airport’s transfer back from LAWA. Listen here.

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Ontario airport settlement with LAWA avoids lengthy, costly litigation

Liset Marquez – August 6, 2015

But Brett Snyder, an airline industry expert, said the shift to settle out of court may have happened when Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti took office in 2013.

“The mayor doesn’t really care about the issue. He wants to cut ties because it’s not a big enough benefit for the city,” he said.

USA Today

What you need to know about JetBlue’s new bag fees

Ben Mutzabaugh – July 1, 2015

“It’s customer friendly,” Brett Snyder, author of The Cranky Flier blog and operator of the Cranky Concierge travel service, said about how the carrier worked to integrate bag fees into its new fare structure.

He doesn’t expect JetBlue to suffer lasting push-back from its customer base.

“The JetBlue experience in coach is much better than on other North American carriers,” Snyder says. “That will outweigh the new bag fees. Most people won’t even notice.”

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Missed airline connections? Use Twitter to get help quickly

Gregory Karp – June 12, 2015

“You don’t need to be a power user to get results from airlines like American, Delta or JetBlue that put real effort into their Twitter customer service presence,” said Brett Snyder, a blogger at and operator of a small travel concierge service. “If you need help, then just try asking for it. Some airlines will help quickly, some will take a while, others may not help at all. But you can always look through their past tweets to see if that airline is particularly proactive or not.”

“The biggest mistake people make is ranting instead of asking for help,” Snyder said. “You only have 140 characters. Don’t waste precious space by saying how horrible x or y is. Just ask for help politely, and if it’s urgent, try to make that clear.”

Using direct message has another benefit, Snyder said. “It indicates you are actually looking for assistance and don’t just want to shame the airline in a public rant,” he said.

“The best situations for Twitter are those that can be resolved quickly and with minimal back and forth,” Snyder said.

“If you have a quick question with a simple answer — like where’s the lounge in Atlanta? — that can work well too,” Snyder said. “If you don’t like how a flight attendant treated you, you’re better off emailing, calling or snail-mailing customer relations to explain the whole situation.”

“Some airlines do a great job, others do not. It’s really a mixed bag,” Snyder said.

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Call it Atlanta-hyphenated-Jackson International Airport, or else

Kelly Yamanouchi – June 11, 2015

“It’s ridiculous. … Talk about a waste of time,” said Brett Snyder, who runs a travel concierge service and blogs at “The reason people don’t use the full name is because it’s long and nobody cares.”

Snyder said airports are often renamed to honor someone, but “very rarely do people associate it with that person,” Snyder said. “Even JFK — when people say JFK Airport I don’t think they’re thinking about the president.”

USA Today

Frontier removes departure time from boarding passes

Ben Mutzabaugh – June 9, 2015

One industry expert describes Frontier’s boarding-pass change as a relatively minor one. But he says it could be helpful to passengers nonetheless.

“I like the idea,” says Brett Snyder, author of The Cranky Flier blog and operator of the Cranky Concierge travel service.

He notes most airlines already close their boarding doors before a flight’s scheduled departure time. So Frontier’s decision to list that time on its boarding passes instead “just makes it more clear to customers” about when they should be at the gate.

“They’re going to close the door anyway, but hopefully this means there are less people still on the other side of it,” Snyder says. “I don’t see a downside.”

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Looking back on Southwest fare sale, website meltdown

Dawn Gilbertson – The Arizona Republic – June 5, 2015

Brett Snyder, a former airline employee who writes the Cranky Flier blog and runs the Cranky Concierge travel assistance service, said he wouldn’t call it a disaster because flight operations weren’t disrupted. But he said Southwest has major explaining to do.

“This is the annual fall sale,” he said. “They do this all the time. They should be prepared for this kind of thing.”

He and Harteveldt said the booking problems and other issues from the website failure underscore the risk of Southwest’s reliance on its website and reservations center. Unlike other major airlines, it does not sell tickets through online travel agencies and is only a limited participant in the giant computer reservation systems travel agents use. Logo

Bomb Threats, TSA Security Failures Mark Start of Summer Travel

Erin McClam – – June 2, 2015

Brett Snyder, who runs the popular airline industry blog The Cranky Flier, told NBC News in an email that he doesn’t think the episodes will have an impact on summer travel demand.

The threats were “hoaxes as usual,” he said, and he pointed out that TSA breaches have been exposed many times before.

“If there was an actual bomb found on an aircraft, then that would potentially change things,” he said. “I really don’t think this is going to impact how people feel about flying. It’ll just increase the anger at the government for how security is run.”

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Did airlines jack up fares after Amtrak wreck? It’s unclear

Linda Loyd – May 28, 2015

“In general, they didn’t change their fares. What happened was the flights filled up,” said Brett Snyder, author of, an airline industry blog. “As planes get fuller, the fares go up for the remaining seats – the rule of supply and demand.

“That’s what you see on every flight, and this was no different,” Snyder said. “It’s just that these markets had higher-than-normal demand just because there was no Amtrak train. They were filling up more quickly, and so fares in some cases were going up.”

“You see this on a ton of very short routes that go into airline hubs: very high fares,” said Snyder, the CrankyFlier author. “The route is not really in that market for the local traveler. It’s in the market to connect people to the airlines’ global networks.”

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Travel Websites Allege Delta Air Lines Is Shutting Them Out

Jack Nicas – May 20, 2015

Brett Snyder, author of, an airline-industry blog, said it is unlikely that other airlines would cut off the travel sites entirely. Delta is simply choosing to deal only with the sites that have the most reach, he said.

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Flights from Boston to Europe nearing normal levels

Katie Johnston Chase – April 21, 2010

One family of four flew from Los Angeles to Tel Aviv to Madrid, took an overnight train to Barcelona, then rented a car to drive to Toulouse, France, to attend a theater-on-ice competition, said Brett Snyder, president of Cranky Flier, an air travel assistance business. Snyder has been helping people find “crazy ways to go” during the major travel disruption

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How to get to New York while Amtrak is down

Perry Stein – May 14, 2015

“You’re not seeing anything above the norm,” said Brett Snyder, who writes the Cranky Flier, a travel blog. “It’s just doing what airlines do, managing supply and demand. This is already an extremely expensive market for buying last minute flights. … The fluctuations that you’re seeing probably have to do with the fact that the planes are more crowded.”

Cincinnati Enquirer logo

Is the runway finally clearing for JetBlue at CVG?

Jason Williams – May 10, 2015

“Delta is still in all of JetBlue’s East Coast focus cities – Boston, New York, Orlando and Fort Lauderdale,” said Brett Snyder, a Long Beach, California-based airline expert and author of the Cranky Flier blog. “That doesn’t mean JetBlue can’t make a go of it, but it means that it may have other opportunities that are better.”

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Southwest no longer cheapest airline

Linda Loyd – May 5, 2015

“This is a circle of life in the airline world, or in any world, where as companies get more mature, their costs rise, and then somebody new comes in that’s younger and leaner, and able to be the next generation of low pricing,” said Brett Snyder, author of, an airline industry blog.

“The one thing that Southwest still has, and it’s their hallmark, is very good customer service,” said Snyder, the CrankyFlier author. “When little problems come up that other airlines will say, ‘Too bad, pay the fee,’ Southwest will often just fix it.”

Cincinnati Enquirer logo

CVG unseated as No. 1 – and it’s a good thing

Jason Williams – April 28, 2015

“This is great for travelers going to the leisure destinations served by both Allegiant and Frontier, but options to other locations are likely going to continue to shrink as Delta continues to decrease the size of its operation,” said Brett Snyder, an airline expert and author of the Cranky Flier blog. “In the long run, that may create more opportunities for ultra-low-cost carriers in certain markets, but only time will tell.”

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Spirit Airlines lifts fortunes of Arnold Palmer Regional Airport

Debra Erdley – April 25, 2015

Aviation watchdog Brett Snyder of Long Beach, Calif., who blogs as “The Cranky Flier,” agreed that caution is merited.

“There is nothing that anchors an airline. Just because you build it, there’s no guarantee they’ll come,” Snyder said. “Airlines come and go. In particular, at smaller airports where it’s one or none, you run into concerns about ‘should we do this for this one?’”

USA Today

Airline customer satisfaction up, but industry ranks low

Charisse Jones – April 20, 2015

Brett Snyder, founder of the website, says airlines have done a lot to improve their service, and should be given more credit.

“The airlines in general have really been investing in their product a lot lately,” he says. “Even in coach you’ve seen upgraded meals, and in some cases, like with Delta, dramatically increased on-time performance compared to historical averages. … If people are looking at this and saying I want first class for the price of coach, then you’re never going to get that.”

Cincinnati Enquirer logo

Delta downsizing flights to 14 more cities

Jason Williams – March 11, 2015

“I’d say it already stopped being a hub,” said Brett Snyder, an airline expert who publishes the Cranky Flier blog. “If you look at any (Delta) press release, Cincinnati is not included as a ‘key hub and market’ in the boilerplate type. Delta is now running Cincinnati flights to match local market demand.”

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Southwest CEO sees BWI as international gateway

Kevin Rector – February 20, 2015

But according to Brett Snyder, an aviation consultant and founder of, the change means customers will know less about the value of their points, which will vary based on which flight they want to take, how popular it is, and what algorithm Southwest uses to assess its point value.

“Maybe this is only going to apply to some crazy full flights on Christmas Day, and otherwise it will be normal,” he said. “But they won’t give any details and we don’t know what the impact will be.”

In terms of managing seat inventory, the airline already does that through fares — which its rewards program is tied to — so tying the rewards themselves to seat availability just makes the program more complicated, Snyder said.

“It’s the trend towards, ‘You don’t need to know. We’ll tell you what you need when you’re ready,'” he said. “These points are supposed to be aspirational. People want to save up for things. They want to have a goal, and this makes it harder and harder to do that.”

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A year after United Airlines dismantles its hub, scrappy new airlines, gaps in service

Alison Grant – January 27, 2015

“Some thought this was Spirit smacking their little brother a bit,” said Brett Snyder, author of the Cranky Flier blog, who sees emotion mixing with cool business logic in the airlines’ rivalry.

Frontier’s new owner knows Spirit’s playbook, which has to sit uncomfortably with Spirit, Snyder said. The two airlines also have swapped several top executives.

“There’s definitely this element of the early days of the gold rush,” Snyder said.

Snyder and other industry watchers say they expect Spirit, Frontier, JetBlue, Southwest and the “legacy” carriers at Hopkins – United, Delta, American – to continue tweaking schedules.

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Cleveland Hopkins fares in wake of United dehubbing: A tale of two airports

Alison Grant – January 27, 2015

“Airplanes today are way more full than they were 10 years ago and insanely more full than they were 20 years ago,” said Brett Snyder, author of the Cranky Flier, an industry blog.

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Winter storm Juno impacts Southern California travel

Liset Marquez – January 26, 2015

Aviation blogger Brett Snyder, who also runs the air travel assistance site Cranky Concierge, began getting cancellations Sunday night. One of those was a flight from Tel Aviv into Newark on Wednesday but other clients were able to fly into New York early Monday morning, he said.

“The majority of the cancellations starting pouring in on us (Sunday),” he said. “A lot of (Monday) is wait and see how long it will take for airports to be fully operational.”

The longer the blizzard conditions take to pass through the East Coast, the more impacts on air travel there’s most likely to be, Snyder said.

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SkyMall Lands in Bankruptcy as Air Travelers Shun Catalog

Tiffany Kary – January 23, 2015

“Now, even if you’re not connected, you can at least have your phone in front of you for the entire flight,” Brett Snyder, an aviation consultant and founder of, said in a phone interview. “There’s just not that same draw that there used to be to go pull some reading material out of the seatback pocket.”

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Ontario-LA feud over ONT airport reveals limits to regional planning

Liset Marquez – January 10, 2015

No such authority was ever formed however, and despite its apparent independence from the city, management of LAWA is still heavily tied to local politics, said Brett Snyder, an aviation expert and former airline executive.

“In Los Angeles, city politics is involved,” Snyder said. “Anytime you have a politically charged airport – and LAWA is not alone – it basically becomes very difficult to run, especially when you have competing noses trying to run the agency.”

Snyder noted that Los Angeles mayors are heavily involved in issues related to the airports.

Snyder concurs, but notes that real regionalization, if it ever occurs, will not come easy.

“The only way people would use Palmdale would be that you force them. If you give them no other option,” he said.

The purpose of regional airports like Ontario, John Wayne and Burbank is to offer regional routes to nearby locations such as San Francisco, Vegas and Phoenix, but as fuel prices have spiked during the recession, traffic has fallen, Snyder said.

“Short-haul has become less economical, and it becomes a tight market,” he said, adding that it makes sense for carriers to pull back to the major hubs.

Snyder believes LAWA could have and should do more to lower operating costs at ONT.

Any efforts to boost a marketing plan or offer time-sensitive incentives are not sustainable, he said. The agency should be focusing it efforts to support the service it already has.

“You need to get these costs as low as humanly possible. That can make a huge difference for short-haul carriers,” he said. “Ontario is saddled with high employee costs and a management fee.”

While current Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has said he would be willing to let go of ONT if the price was right, Snyder is skeptical of claims by the Inland delegation pushing for local control that they can do better.

“It’s not going to become a major international airport overnight,” he said.

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Southwest’s on-time rates: Better but not best

Gregory Karp – January 9, 2015

“It’s definitely not nearly as horrible as it was before August,” said Brett Snyder, a blogger at and operator of a travel concierge service.

“Southwest has built an incredible following after years of providing low fares, frequent on-time flights and excellent service,” Snyder said. “While the excellent service remains, fares have skyrocketed while on-time performance has fallen.

“It’s a different airline than it used to be, but the reputation is so strong that it will take time for it to reflect reality again.”

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Passengers stranded on tarmac for a day bemoan rules

Katherine Chiglinsky and Kari Lundgren – January 8, 2015

“They were acting in response to some very high-profile incidents,” said Brett Snyder, founder of the blog. “People were clamoring for something to be done.”

Cranky Flier