Well, that makes all the majors

With Alaska Airlines’ announcement that they are going to offer “basic economy” fares, that means that all the majors now offer complete no-frills fares.  Why?  Because they have to compete with the likes of Spirit and Frontier.  Instead of pulling fares – and service – up, the airline industry is now having to compete at the very lowest common denominator.

I mean I personally get it.  I once paid $24 for a one way flight from SNA to DEN on F9 (Frontier), even though with fees that are required to make the travel liveable (meaning advanced purchase and carry-on bag fees) brought cost an additional $70, which brought the fare – including taxes – to around $110.  And airlines love their fees.

The business traveler is a dying breed these days, and airlines aren’t seeing as many of us.  Just in the last four years since I’ve been traveling between PDX and SNA, the number of regular business travelers on my flight has decreased from more than half a dozen regulars per flight to just two.  So they have to make up the empty seats somehow.

So welcome to the club, Alaska Airlines!  You, Delta, American, and United should only have to compete with each other, and not the likes of an airline that is one step above charging for access to lavatories in flight.  But this is our world!

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Shame on every airline – except Alaska, Hawaiian, and Spirit

This is disgusting.

Because of the House GOP having a temper tantrum and shutting down the FAA, taxes of 7.5% were no longer able to be charged to tickets purchased from the airlines.  And what did almost all of the airlines out there do?  Increased their fares by 7.5%.  That’s bullcrap.  Bullcrap, wrong, nasty, short-sighted, and just plain wrong.

But not Alaska, Hawaiian, and Spirit.  They passed the savings on to the consumers.  I actually purchased an Alaska Airlines ticket this morning.  And because the full-fare ticket (without the 7.5% tax) was less than the value fare tickets that I usually buy, I purchased a full fare – meaning more money for the company that’s being FAIR to their customers, and not just trying to make a buck.

So thank you, Alaska, Hawaiian, and Spirit.  Keep up the good work.  And the rest of you guys out there?  Shame on you!

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Are you f’ing kidding me?

So yesterday, they announced Spirit Airlines was going to start coming to my home airport, Portland, Oregon.  Okay, so now I get to make fun of them in person.

But this new news is beyond crap.  Now they’re going to start charging a fee to check in at the airport.  $5 to check in with a person, $1 to check in at one of their kiosks.  That’s just insane.  Nickel and diming people on bags and shit, that’s one thing.  But charging you to check in?

I have one thing to say: FU, Spirit Airlines.  I’ll take my business elsewhere.

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A whole new way to lose your luggage

Okay, so there have been some bonehead business ideas.  The Microsoft “Kin” phone, which was supposed to be an iPhone killer, but lasted all of about 4 weeks.  When Dell decided to fire the Dell Dude and get rid of that ad campaign, because he was caught with marijuana.  Spirit Airlines wanting to charge for carryon baggage.  Ryan Air wanting to install pay toilets and standing-only “seats” to pack more people on to flights.

But this one mostly takes the cake.  UPS wants to start sending your luggage to your destination instead of you taking it on the airplane.  And not just your luggage, but actual cardboard throwaway boxes.  You pack your stuff in them, they’re not as protected as if they were in a real suitcase.  You have to pack and send them out WAY in advance, because if you send them the same day, you might as well plan on vacationing with no clothes or necessities.  And just think of the extra carbon being created, extra fuel being wasted, etc because you chose to send via UPS instead of in the belly of the plane.

But here’s what gets me.  A quote from the article:

She conceded that airlines can usually deliver luggage faster than UPS but said luggage shipped by UPS can cost $30 to $80 less per package, depending on the route and the weight of the box.

$30 to $80 less?  Per package?  I mean hell; if you don’t have status, first bag is usually $25.  Second bag another $25 so $50 in fees total.  The plane goes with you to the airport, goes through fewer hands (and thus is harder to lose – and less options for it to be stolen), arrives with you at your destination, and is ultimately convenient.  No packing a week ahead of time.  What, when you use this service, you pack your stuff, then realize that the weather is going to be drastically changed, but you’re going to be stuck with jackets and skis when all the snow will be melted and you’ll want shorts when you show up.  Is that how it goes?

Oh but there will be suckers that fall for it.  There’s one born every minute.

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Attn LCCs: WTF else do you want?

So people give LCCs (low cost carriers) a rash of shit.  And you know what?  It’s worth it.  RyanAir wants to charge people £1 or €1 to use the onboard bathroom, and wants to take away most bathrooms onboard to make room for more seats.  Spirit Air first infuriated everyone by wanting to charge up to $45 for carryon bags.  Now, there is a new headline — but the true story is beneath it.

So the headline over at the Orlando Sentinel is that two of Spirit’s new airliners do not have seats that recline.  That’s the big complaint for the reporter of the story.  But the REAL story, in my humble opinion, is that the seat pitch — the distance from one spot on an airline seat to the exact same spot on the seat behind it (the reporter mis-defines seat pitch in their story as something else) — has been decreased to 28″.  SeatGuru.com said on Twitter,

Spirit Airlines introduces no recline seats and 28″ seat pitch. The new Ryanair of the US?

Dude!  Even RyanAir gives their passengers 30″ of pitch on their planes!  I remember getting on a KLM Intra-European flight one time that had 30″ pitch, and felt that I had no room to put my bag at my feet, much less sit comfortably for the few hours I had to spend going from Geneva to Amsterdam.  I cannot even begin to fathom taking two MORE inches away from that seat.  You aren’t going to be able to get in and out of your row at all anymore; you’re going to have to crawl across the seats.

It’s going to be interesting to see what the FAA and other Federal regulators say about this.  Airlines, as a safety standpoint, MUST get all passengers off a plane within 90 seconds.  With the idiots that waste time trying to get their bags and take with them, and with the piss-stained wheelchair seat grannies, coupled with this new 28″ pitch row of seats, HOW in the HELL is 90 seconds still going to be possible?

So LCCs.  WTF else do you want?  First born?  You want female passengers to harvest their eggs and male passengers to provide sperm so you can make a little money on the side with artificial insemination to folks?  You want pints of blood to sell on the black market?  You’re crossing into bad territory here; once you cross that line, it’s done.

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Excellent article on Airlines from SmartMoney.com

There is a really excellent article on “which airline should you choose?” posted over at SmartMoney.com.  It goes through four different aspects of air travel, and tells you what airlines do good, and what airlines do bad.

Seriously – can things get any worse for Spirit Airlines?  They are getting a ton of bad press about their $45 fee for carryons, $5 surcharge for using their WEBSITE (which is a load of crap!), paying for a preassigned seat, etc.  Spirit Airlines truly has made some sucktacular decisions.  Maybe they’ll reconsider, if their traffic drops off.  I mean paying for a discounted fare from Spirit, then paying for where to sit on the plane, the convenience of using their website, to bring on a carryon bag.  Hell, you’ve paid your way out of your discount up to a regular fare!

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