Scott Mayerowitz – April 28, 2016
“The fact that you can change is generally made clear. They don’t make it clear what you can change to,” says Brett Snyder, who runs an air travel assistance company called Cranky Concierge. “The rules are crazy and complex.”
“They tend to be pretty flexible as long as it is a legitimate change,” Snyder says.
Linda Loyd – April 21, 2016
When airlines announced the change, the fares generated on booking computers for a multi-city reservation became “fully refundable fares, which were insanely expensive. You saw $2,000 differences on some of these,” said Brett Snyder, author of CrankyFlier.com, an airline industry blog.
In the last two weeks, after public outcry, airlines have been backtracking and tweaking their fares, said Snyder, who recommends that passengers compare the cost of purchasing each flight separately with the price for a single ticket with multiple stops.
“Just because you never know how something is going to price,” he said. “Airlines have made this so opaque and so confusing.”
American, Delta, and United changed the pricing on multi-city trips “to try to solve a different problem,” CrankyFlier’s Snyder said. Low-cost rivals Spirit and Frontier have been rapidly expanding, offering cut-rate fares.
The major airlines “have been struggling to find a way to control how many people have access to those really cheap ultra low-cost carrier matching fares,” Snyder said.
Under the new policies, a traveler flying from Washington to Dallas, staying awhile, and then flying to San Francisco, staying for a while, and flying back to Washington on American would pay $1,837.20 on a single ticket. It would cost $412.80 if the flights were bought separately, Snyder wrote in a March 31 blog post.
“To fix the problem, airlines dropped the hammer,” he said. “They made it so that fares could not be combined with other fares on a single ticket, except for simple out-and-back round trips (from Point A to Point B and back to Point A).”
Justin Bachman – April 15, 2016
“The airlines just really screwed this whole thing up,” said Brett Snyder, a former airline pricing analyst who first wrote about the multicity fare changes on March 31 on his blog. “They had a problem, and they just didn’t think it through on how to solve it.”
Jamie Biesiada – April 10, 2016
Brett Snyder, president of CrankyFlier.com, said, “Alaska has a heritage as a traditional mainline carrier, but Alaska has also invested a lot in technology, has focused a lot on the operation. They have a fanatical following in the Pacific Northwest for sure, and so they are well-loved.”
As for Virgin America, Snyder said, “They’re the cool kids, right?”
Time will tell if Alaska will adopt any part of Virgin’s onboard experience.
“Ultimately, I’m not convinced that you need to have all of the things they have,” Snyder said of Virgin America’s accoutrements. “Does it really matter if you have mood lighting? And, by the way, Alaska’s new planes can do mood lighting, too, but does that matter? Does in-seat video matter? Maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t. … Ultimately, what really matters is an airline with a good operation that treats people well, has decent fares and can get you where you need to go.”
Snyder agreed: “They have little overlap with each other, so it doesn’t really remove much in the way of direct competition. … And there are plenty of competitors on the routes that they do overlap.”
Kalea Hall – April 10, 2016
“Smaller airports have really struggled,” said Brett Snyder, author and founder of the airline industry blog, CrankyFlier.
With ADI only having one flight on some days, local business travelers may see an inconvenience.
“If you are a business traveler you generally are going to need that flexibility,” Snyder said.
“Most cities think they have demand and they don’t,” Snyder said.
Scott Mayerowitz – April 6, 2016
Brett Snyder, who runs an air travel assistance company called Cranky Concierge, put it differently: “They haven’t found a way to solve it eloquently so they solved it with a sledgehammer.”
“They’re making you overpay,” Snyder added. “Airlines for years have made it clear that when you book a roundtrip it would be cheaper or the same price as a one way. Now they are flipping that, penalizing you and not even telling you.”
David Koenig – April 5, 2016
There are serious students of the airline industry who dismiss reports like the one from Wichita State and Embry-Riddle. Brett Snyder, who writes the Cranky Flier blog, said the rankings don’t tell travelers whether an airline is good or bad at what matters to them.
“It lumps everything together in a way that doesn’t make sense for most travelers,” Snyder says. “You should research what matters to you. If you’re flying a specific route, you can look at on-time performance on that route.”
Dominic Gates – April 4, 2016
Brett Snyder, founder of the airline-industry blog Cranky Flier and a resident of the Los Angeles area where Alaska’s reach will be greatly extended, welcomes the increased opportunity to redeem the miles earned on his Alaska Airlines Visa card.
“I’m excited about having more ability to use Alaska to go different places,” said Snyder. “From a passenger perspective, I’m really OK with it.”
Of course, said Snyder, the Cranky Flier, “I’m sure he’s not going to cry over it that much longer.” Branson’s stake in an airline that financially was never hugely successful will be sold for a stratospheric price.
It may be a blow to Virgin America loyalists to lose that experience, Snyder said, but most travelers are more concerned about a comfortable, affordable, on-time ride to wherever they want to go.
“This aura around Virgin America of just being cool, for some people is really appealing,” said Snyder. “For others, it doesn’t matter as much.”
And as for fares, both Snyder and Harteveldt said that because Virgin has a relatively light schedule on routes that are also flown by multiple other carriers, there’d still be plenty of competition if it were eliminated.
For example, Delta, United and Southwest as well as Alaska all fly on Virgin America’s routes from Seattle and Portland to the Bay Area.
“It’s not like this is a route going to no competition, said Snyder. “I doubt there’ll be a huge impact on fares.”
Liz Ruskin – April 4, 2016
Also radio interview to accompany written article:
“There will be the added benefit, of course, for people that are loyal to the frequent flier program,” says Brett Snyder, who blogs about the airline industry on CrankyFlier.com. “They’ll have more options, be able to do more through San Francisco, LA and head east … but I don’t really expect to see a ton of changes for people who are in Alaska itself.”
Snyder says whenever there’s a merger, consumers want to know the practical effects, like how the two airlines will merge their frequent flier programs and whether the seat amenities will change.
“And the reality is these guys don’t know,” Snyder said, referring to airline executives. “They know that the numbers make sense. They’ve created a story from their perspective where the combined networks are going to work. And this is going to help them grow and achieve their goals. But the specifics we just don’t know, and so these will be revealed over time.”
It will be a meeting of two very different brand personas. Alaska, at more than 75-years-old, is all traditional and buttoned up. Snyder says young Virgin, with mood lighting and rock music, is far cooler.
“You know, Virgin –you feel like you’re going to the club,” Snyder said. “Anytime I walk on a Virgin airplane, I kind of look like there should be a bouncer who’s telling me I’m not allowed on.”
Andrea Rumbaugh – April 1, 2016
Brett Snyder, author of the airline industry blog crankyflier.com, said on-time performance has to be the “No. 1” priority.
“If you get me somewhere late, no matter what else you do, I’m not happy,” he said.
Snyder said it might be misleading to compare the pre-merger Continental data with post-merger United because they flew from different airports with different levels of congestion.
But in passenger satisfaction, United placed last among traditional carriers in the J.D. Power 2015 North America Airline Satisfaction Study. Since the survey began in 2005, United has always ranked below average for its category. By comparison, Continental ranked No. 1 – or tied for first – among traditional airlines in 2006, 2007 and 2008.
“I think there’s definitely some truth in what you’re seeing there with Continental being at the top and United not being at the top,” Snyder said.
While these sweeping reports have a kernel of truth, he said, results often aren’t insightful enough for airlines to take specific actions toward improving.
Interview with Spencer Raymond – March 31, 2016
Cathy Bussewitz – March 31, 2016
“My general opinion on this is that it’s ridiculous, because people say they want more room on planes, but what they really want are cheap fares,” said Brett Snyder, president of Cranky Concierge and author of the travel blog The Cranky Flier. “The airlines respond to that and have effectively tried to provide a variety of options for a lot of things.”
Andrea Rumbaugh – March 2, 2016
Brett Snyder, author of the airline industry blog crankyflier.com, said United will not get all of the flights it’s requesting.
“There’s no way that everybody is going to get what they want,” he said.
If United is awarded service, Snyder said, Newark seems most likely, though it’s hard to tell how the Transportation Department will divide the routes.
Kelly Yamanouchi – February 18, 2016
Although Delta is concerned that the deal could cause its Narita hub to unravel, “whether that happens, who knows?” said Brett Snyder, a former airline manager who runs a consumer airline blog at crankyflier.com.
Snyder was doubtful, though, that the deal will scuttle Atlanta-Tokyo flights.
“This is a big route between two major world business centers,” Snyder said. “If you’re the only game in town between Atlanta and Tokyo, you’re probably still going to be flying.”
Snyder said Delta’s problem was that its position “happens to be against the interest of all the other airlines,” Snyder said.
Delta was arguing against gradual liberalization, while in U.S. aviation policy, “all trends have been toward liberalization,” he added.
Matt Coyne – February 12, 2016
Brett Snyder, who covers the airline industry on The Cranky Flier blog, believes the market for an air taxi-style service is generally confined to places where people can pay.
“The convenience factor is huge. If you live in Westchester and you want to go to Martha’s Vineyard, do you really want to sit in traffic or go to JFK (airport)? It’s a pain, right?” Snyder said. “The problem is, the cost factor is still there.”
“It’s a niche… but it’s a niche that can work,” he added.
Air taxi services can also help solve the problem of ensuring smaller markets retain air travel links, Snyder said.
Thom Patterson – February 10, 2016
But Brett Snyder of the consumer airline blog CrankyFlier isn’t so supportive.
“This is absurd,” Snyder said. “Without question, the FAA should ensure that passengers can quickly and safely get out of an airplane in an emergency, but that should be the only requirement on seat size and pitch.”
If passengers choose, they can pay for extra leg room, Snyder said.
“But by requiring minimum seat size and pitch, Congress would effectively be pushing the cost of plane tickets out of reach for the most price-sensitive travelers.”
Alexandra Talty – February 2, 2016
“ If there are low-cost carriers in that market, you are likely to have one-way fares on all airlines ,” explains Brett Snyder, founder of airline industry blog, The Cranky Flier.
However, one-way tickets can be more expensive to and from smaller markets, where low-cost airlines do not fly . If you live near a smaller airport, Snyder advises to drive to a bigger a city or expand your search beyond non-stop flights. This allows a route through a popular hub, which adds more competition and potentially cheaper one-way flights.
“It is often better to book on the airline directly than an agent,” says Snyder.
“It started with Southwest Airlines,” explains Snyder. ”Legacy airlines had to become more competitive as low-cost airlines moved into more markets”
Linda Loyd – February 2, 2016
“The airlines are now competing beyond price,” said Brett Snyder, author of CrankyFlier.com, an airline-industry blog. “They are all now trying to compete with each other, and make sure they are offering products that people are willing to choose.”
Hawaiian Airlines, based in Honolulu, is the only U.S. carrier to still offer a free meal in coach, Snyder said. “Hawaiian says it’s a cultural thing, that when people come into your home, you offer them food,” he said. “Hawaiian views food as an important symbol of their welcoming people.
“So the other airlines are seeing that there is some value in doing that as well, I guess.”
Harriet Baskas – January 19, 2016
“Finding airplanes is easy, but getting enough pilots to keep them in the air is hard thanks to stepped up federal regulations on pilot qualification and rest,” said Brett Snyder of The Cranky Flier.
Steve Grzanich – January 15, 2016
Susan Glaser – January 13, 2016
“Try every tool you have,” said Brett Snyder, president of Cranky Flier, an aviation blog, and Cranky Concierge, a travel agency. That means: work with gate agents, call customer service, enlist the help of a travel agent (Snyder’s company offers “urgent assistance” for $150).
It may come as a surprise to some passengers, but gate agents really do want to help you, said Snyder. “People think that gate agents are sitting there with some nefarious plot. But what they really want is to get you on your way so they don’t have to deal with you anymore,” said Snyder. “Your interests are aligned.”
“They [Frontier] will not put you on another airline – that’s something you need to know,” said Snyder. “The trade-off for your cheap fare is that you’re not going to have as many options when something goes wrong.”