The airline business is tough. As many investors have discovered, even the best airlines sometimes struggle just to survive, never mind generating a profit.
Further complicating the situation, it often seems like the normal rules of business and economics don't apply to commercial aviation.
As discussed in a recent blog post, Delta is simultaneously squeezing its best customers and generating enough cash to resume dividend payments to its shareholders after a decade. Business 101 warns that mistreating your best customers is not a recipe for financial success. And yet, Delta is doing just that. ... read more»
The DOT's Bureau of Transportation Statistics released its report on U.S. airlines' 2012 financial performance, including data on individual carriers' operating margins, profit, operating costs, and both total revenue and revenue from baggage fees and cancellation fees.
According to the report, total revenue for all U.S. airlines in 2012 was $159.5 billion. Of that, $6.1 billion was from bag fees ($3.5 billion) and change/cancellation fees ($2.6 billion). That's about 3.8 percent, and the percentage would be higher if all "ancillary fees" were factored in. (The DOT only collects data on bag and change fees. Fees for food, drinks, inflight entertainment, preferred seating and the like are not reported separately.) ... read more»
Have you been happier with the airlines lately? According to this year's J.D. Power & Associates 2013 North America Airline Satisfaction Study, more people must be, as airline satisfaction is at its highest level since 2006.
Results are based on seven factors: cost and fees, in-flight services, boarding/deplaning/baggage, flight crew, aircraft, check-in, and reservations. Amazingly (especially if you've flown lately), satisfaction improved year-over-year in all seven areas.
And while low-cost carriers yet again outperform traditional carriers, even the legacy lines are doing better. A senior manager at J.D. Power commented "traditional carriers have improved significantly across all seven factors, and it is a positive sign to see them turn a corner and starting to rise again, even as there is still more opportunity to improve." I give the phrase "more opportunity to improve" the understatement of the week award. ... read more»
Oh, American Airlines. Whenever I see your fare come up as the lowest in my flight search, I'm always torn. Is the amount of savings worth the near-guarantee that I'll be delayed? Recently, when I booked a flight from Boston to San Juan, I had to choose between flying non-stop on sweet, sweet, JetBlue, with their free checked bag, delicious in-flight snacks, comfortable coach-seats and always-entertaining free seat-back TVs— or saving $300 and flying American (with a connection) thereby doubling my chances for delays. Since I get paid a writers' salary, I cheaped out and chose American Airlines. I regret my choice. ... read more»
Find out why travelers are hiring professionals to take vacation photos in our weekly roundup of travel news and stories.
Travelers Hire Professional Vacation Photographers
Given the planet's abundance of cheesy staged engagement photos, awkward family portraits, and contrived wedding-party snapshots, one might consider travel the last bastion of imaginative, unplanned photography. No longer, it seems. According to a report from Today Travel, more travelers are hiring professional photographers to shoot them on vacation. ... read more»
The travel press has been full of reports that the four giant legacy lines—American Airlines, Delta, United, and US Airways—just hiked the fees to reissue "nonrefundable" tickets. The new fees are $200 for domestic travel and $250 to $300 for most international travel. The basic idea of the exchange fee is that when you cancel a "nonrefundable" ticket, you can retain that ticket's dollar value, less the fee. But the amount of the fee isn't the whole story. My friend Don recently had to cancel a trip to Europe on US Airways, booked with nonrefundable economy tickets costing $862 each, but when he tried to book a replacement trip he found five additional stumbling blocks: ... read more»
Your best chances of scoring a "free" frequent-flyer domestic seat are on Southwest and JetBlue, concludes the latest Switchfly Reward Seat Availability Survey; you'll have the toughest time on Delta and US Airways.
IdeaWorks just released its fourth annual survey of frequent-flyer seat availability, now covering 25 "global" airlines. As before, during March, the researchers made 7,560 booking inquiries for two lowest-reward-level seats in economy class for travel sometime during a specified set of outbound and return travel dates from June to October on several of each airline's "top routes." Key findings for the North American airlines conform to what most of us suspected: ... read more»
Following is our regular summary of the latest travel news and best frequent traveler promotions reviewed during the past week.
If it was a good deal—or a notably bad deal—from an airline, hotel, or car rental loyalty program, you can read all about it here, and plan your travel accordingly.
Delta was in the news twice this week. And the two stories would seem to be of two very different companies. ... read more»
Just as they do in their hotel rooms, today's travelers expect to stay Internet-connected when buckled in to their airline seats at 30,000 feet. Industry-wide, more than a quarter of U.S. domestic flights currently feature inflight WiFi. And it won't be long before coverage approaches 100 percent.
But the online experience is more waiting than it is surfing. Because of the technology used to transmit the digital signals, inflight Wi-Fi speeds fall far short of what travelers are accustomed to even from their home Internet connections.
Adding insult to injury, that dodgy connection is costing you. Prices for Gogo Internet service, featured on many U.S. domestic flights, generally range from $2 for 30 minutes to $49.95 for unlimited monthly access. ... read more»