This short article from Business Insider seems to suggest we as travelers are getting exactly what we want. From the article:
The reason flying is the way it is is because that’s exactly what today’s fliers want.
Specifically, fliers want:
- Safe, rapid travel between two cities
- The lowest possible price
Oh, sure, people who fly won’t say that they’re getting what they want — because then they would reveal themselves to be cheap bastards who care mostly about price.
While it is true that travelers are getting low priced, relatively fast transportation between cities, the amenities that used to be offered on the same flights have been eroded to keep the price low.
I think what travelers want has changed a little in recent years and the above list needs to be amended to include power ports and internet connectivity. These two items have become even more important travelers over the last few years and most of the airlines are just now getting these things installed or playing catch up figuring out how to do so. I would also add “cleanliness” to the list. My last few flights on United have been on planes that were absolutely filthy and it was not a pleasant experience.
Are travelers willing to pay more for a better experience in flight? Based on Delta and United reconfiguring a number of aircraft to remove economy seats that have extra legroom and replace them with regular economy seats, my guess is no. There is a small segment of the traveling public that is willing to pay for more amenities but most just want a seat between two cities.
This is just a mini-rant. Not even a rant, more of an annoyance. Recently, on a number of social media outlets, I have noticed the trend of airline, travel, etc. rants. I have a few searches set up to see what people are saying about different travel companies and I am used to the normal “such and such sucks” and “I’ll never fly DeltAmericUnited” but recently there has been an uptick of supposed “frequent flyers” who are posting full out rants on Twitter or Facebook.
One example happened this past week during American Airlines pilot work slow-down. A complaint was made on Twitter by someone who in their own words “flies a lot”. At first, it looked like a normal release of frustration about a delay on American, but as this person’s delay went on, the rant became more inflamed. At one point the frequent flyer insisted that they would go out of their way to fly Southwest. Then, somehow, United was dragged into the fray and thrown under the bus.
I do not expect frequent flyers to know everything about an airline, but if you’re a frequent traveler and watch the news, you knew about the problems American Airlines was having. American even put out a press release giving passengers alternatives if their flights were delayed.
The traveler in question told me that this all happened after they were already on board and after a 2.5 hour delay, they were finally on their way. 2.5 hours?! While that is a terrible delay, why did no one speak up and ask to be let off the plane (especially our frequent flyer)?
At some point, if you’re going to give yourself the title of frequent traveler, you need to own up to taking responsibility for fixing your own situation when things go pear-shaped. This is not to say you should not vent frustrations on social media, it’s just a plea for folks to be a little more rational when doing so.
The Frequent Fliers Who Flew Too Much – A look at American Airlines’ AAirpass and the negative consequences (Los Angeles Times) →
American Airlines offers different forms of an unlimited first class flying pass. When originally conceived its usage potential was not completely understood by American and it came back to get them.
Mike Joyce of Chicago bought his in 1994 after winning a $4.25-million settlement after a car accident.
In one 25-day span this year, Joyce flew round trip to London 16 times, flights that would retail for more than $125,000. He didn’t pay a dime.
There are people always willing to find the different ways of making programs, deals, etc. work for them. The users of the AAirpass were no exception:
Creative uses seemed limitless. When bond broker Willard May of Round Rock, Texas, was forced into retirement after a run-in with federal securities regulators in the early 1990s, he turned to his trusty AAirpass to generate income. Using his companion ticket, he began shuttling a Dallas couple back and forth to Europe for $2,000 a month.
“For years, that was all the flying I did,” said May, 81. “It’s how I got the bills paid.”
The problem is, some of these uses were against the terms of the passes. American had let their enforcement of such terms and conditions slip and now had to react swiftly to stop any further loss.
Cade was assigned to find out whether any AAirpass holders were violating the rules, starting with those who flew the most.
She pulled years of flight records for Rothstein and Vroom and calculated that each was costing American more than $1 million a year.
On Dec. 13, 2008, Rothstein and a companion checked in at Chicago O’Hare International Airport for a transatlantic flight. An American employee handed him a letter, which said his AAirpass had been terminated for “fraudulent behavior.”
The whole story is a fascinating read and I highly recommend reading it. It is further proof that travel is a bit addictive and being able to pack up and go somewhere exotic is very alluring. And such an attractive hobby means that there always people looking for ways to maximize their value, bend the rules, and skirt attention.
I occasionally get asked why I fly so much or why I go to Europe for the weekend. Well, a few months back a documentary was made about my slight obsessive compulsive behavior when it comes to flying. It is a hobby, just like any other, except it goes around the world at 600 mile per hour. Flight has always been an interest of mine, but it was not until college and then traveling for work that I became interested in doing it for fun. There is just something about knowing that the furthest points of the Earth are only a flight away that fascinates me.
On the scale of how much I fly, I am a lightweight compared to some of the people in the movie (and know a few of them). Just like the video says, there is a whole community devoted to mileage running and travel. Watch and enjoy, maybe you’ll learn a little about my obsessive compulsive desire to travel.