Airline Travel: Passengers Treated Like Manure


JETBLUECEOPIC

This is Robin Hayes CEO of JetBlue Airlines.  He is seated one JetBlue’s newest plane the Airbus A321.  This picture is in current USA Today (6/29/2015) and I noticed the arm rest is up in the picture.

Mr Hayes, seems like an average size man. Yet in the seat, he looks a bit Snug.

JetBlue is one of my favorite airlines. I’ve flown them for years without incident. A big man, I chose Jet Blue (and most airlines flying the Airbus) because of its superior seating space.

In the USA article Mr Hayes says he was tasked with delivering value to passengers and the carrier’s shareholders at the same time.

Which in passenger speak,  means higher prices and tighter cabins . Passengers now pay for baggage on Jet Blue.  Leaving Southwest as the lone carrier without bag fees for now. Profitability mean the single cabin Jet Blue will have tired cabins on their coast to cost flights like the monster carriers.   With a deluxe and business and economy seating.

Beginning sometime in 2016  we will lose that precious space on the A320 as the carrier plans to squeeze in 15 additional seats.  I’m sure if were  feeling  nostalgic about the former space, we can buy it back.  This practice is common on the big three ( American, Delta, and United)

From the picture, I am convinced Hayes and other airline executives are not passengers on their airlines.

On most airlines anyone over 5.9 and 180 pounds is obese. Southwest Airlines is one of the better airlines however if your are large, you may have to purchase an extra ticket.  From my experience their person of size policy is the most aggressive.

Alternatives and the absence of competition

Before airline deregulation in the late seventies.  The average American took the Bus or the train.  Deregulation brought the cost of the ticket down.   Deregulation took its toll on interstate bus travel leaving Greyhound as the only intercity buses system and today it serves fewer cities.   Passenger rail collapsed  leaving the government run Amtrak.

At one time there were more than 25 airlines, today there are more planes in the air, but fewer airlines.  In the last few years, the giant carrier United merged with giant Continental.   Giant carrier US Airways is now apart of giant American.

With fewer airlines to choose from more than anytime in the last 50 years , the price of travel in the US has increased and the service has deteriorated.    More people are packed on smaller planes with smaller seats and with fewer services.

With high speed rail, decades away, what are the alternatives ?

One airline to watch is the Las Vegas based Allegiance Airlines.  Their fares are often much lower than Frontier, Jet Blue and Southwest.   The carrier buys and refurbish  older planes, notably  the  MD-80 have room to spare at the fraction of the cost of new aircraft. Many of their routes are in third tier airports which have lower fees.  In Northern California, they fly out of Stockton, Fresno and Oakland.    With fares as low as $100 to Hawaii.     I have found the staff is attentive and the airline clean.

This this isn’t an airline for the business traveler.   There are often one to five flights a week to a dedestination.  If a flight is cancelled, you may have to wait a few days up to a week for the next flight.    You cant plan too far ahead  with Allegiance, the carrier has a reputation of cancelling unprofitable routes.

Megabus and the Bolt Bus (Operated by Greyhound)  offers real a alternative to air travel.   A Bus?  Yes.  These buses are equipped with free WiFi and they have power outlets to charge your phone and PC.

Unlike Greyhound, their are no brick and mortar stations.  Only a designated bus stops.  Tickets are pre purchased online and a boarding pass is required for travel.     The buses are generally non stop and is very popular with college students.

Pricing is much like the airlines.  You save $$$$ by purchasing tickets in advance.  It is possible to travel for as one dollar.   Megabus has grown by word of mouth.  All my experiences in the south, here in California and last year on the east coast (The Picture Below is their mammoth bus stop in New York City)  has been positive . The Buses are clean and on time.

NycMega2014 059

The Los Angeles-San Francisco corridor is one of the busiest in the world.  Its an hour flight. When you include wait time its about  3hours and 15 minutes* each way.   Average cost  of an advance ticket is $111 each way.

Travel time on Megabus : Seven hours and 30 minutes. Average Cost $40 each way.  The seats are wider, more legroom and no baggage cost.

A long time ago, there was only one real phone company in America AT&T

 The giant airlines really don’t care about customer service scores.  They are not concerned about the high scores of smaller Carriers  like Virgin ,Alaska and Jet Blue.   A few years ago, the airlines said they needed to charge to baggage to off set high fuel costs.   With fuel cost at their lowest in years, have the airlines reduced costs or eliminated baggage fees?

NO they don’t have to!

CityFella

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