Got a complaint about the travel industry? It’s got one about you, too

“I’m weary of those entitled passengers who are continuously whining and complaining,” says Lisa Thomas, a veteran flight attendant based in Denver. “I feel like telling them, ‘Take some responsibility for your choices.’ ”

Thomas’s comments, made to me after a recent column about the rise of fees in the travel industry, triggered a fascinating debate. Many travelers say that they think fees are out of control, particularly in the airline business. The top 10 airlines collected more than $28 billion in revenue from extra fees and services last year, up from about $2 billion a decade ago, according to a recent study by the consulting firm IdeaWorks.

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At the same time, many in the industry say that they think people are getting exactly what they paid for: a quality product at a ridiculously low price. Industry employees like Thomas suggest that travelers have become spoiled.

So who’s right?

That’s a difficult question, particularly if you remember flying before the airline industry was deregulated and the travel industry grew dependent on extra fees. But considering it might ensure a smoother trip, no matter how you get there.

Whether you’re flying, cruising or checking into a hotel, you probably want to pay as little as possible — and maybe nothing — for travel. The “nothing” part is no joke; that’s the implied promise of loyalty programs, with their “free” flights and stays. Insiders call this the deal economy, and they blame it for opening a chasm between what travelers pay for and what they anticipate.

Say, for example, you find an amazing bargain at a five-star hotel through an online travel agency. The hotel knows you only care about a low price, and will invariably give you the keys to a broom closet.

“So, despite getting a deal on a resort experience, the customer is then relegated to the lowest possible room type, regardless of occupancy,” says Amy Draheim, who has worked as a marketing director for a dozen award-winning hotels. “I know what the deal economy can do to tarnish a guest experience. The truth is — at risk of cliche — that you get what you pay for.”

This rift between expectation and experience may be widening, experts say. “Part of it stems from a tremendous information gap,” explains Samuel Engel, a global managing director for aviation at ICF, a consulting firm based in Fairfax, Va.

He says nearly half of all airline passengers take fewer than two trips per year, so they don’t know where to get information about extra fees or the quality of their travel experience. Perhaps they don’t even care. “Most of them are simply buying a ticket based on time and price,” he says. “How can they possibly know what to expect?”

But there’s a little more to the story. True, travelers are interested in — even obsessed by — saving money, but one reason is that they’re barraged by advertising messages that promise they can have it all: a low price, great service, and eventually, if they book enough trips, free flights and hotel stays. There’s plenty of that kind of information being transmitted to travelers, but not enough information about the travel experience. Fees, surcharges and other extras are often hidden deep on the travel companies’ websites, revealed only at the last moment when you book a trip.

For travelers, it all adds up to a feeling that somehow, travel, and especially air travel, isn’t as good as it used to be. And that often triggers a defensive reaction from people in the business.

“It was expensive to travel back then,” recalls Thomas, the flight attendant. “Tickets typically went for $600 to $700. That was 40 years ago, when a house cost $19,000, and a brand-new car was probably only a few thousand dollars. Now, you can fly somewhere at 36,000 feet, at 500 miles per hour, for $100 — round trip!”

But travelers who flew during the days when the price of an airline ticket was the actual price you paid remember things differently. John Madden, a retired civilian Army employee who lives in Troy, Mich., took his first commercial flight in the early 1950s, and recalls paying just $72 to fly from Washington to San Francisco in 1967. He still has the ticket. In economy class, the flight attendants served passengers steak on real plates, he says.

“You didn’t pay to reschedule a flight, to catch an earlier flight, to select a seat or to sit with family or friends,” he says. “We weren’t charged for checked or carry-on bags, and the people who crammed oversized bags in overhead compartments were businessmen in suits in a hurry to deplane.”

The math is more confusing when some airlines can offer no baggage fees and have no change fees while others continue to raise theirs year after year. And it’s even more perplexing when other travel companies follow the airline industry’s lead, adding fees to their products that used to be — and probably should still be — included in the product.

Even if the economic model has shifted, making it necessary to quote a low price and then add fees, couldn’t the travel industry be a little nicer about it?

“Maybe, if the airlines were not so busy trying to grab every dollar and would be a little kinder to people, customers would react in kind,” says Cynthia Kelley, a retired driver from Sandpoint, Idaho. In other words, cut back on commercials that promise free travel, tell us what’s included in your product — and remember that you’re in the hospitality industry.

In the end, the answer to the question of “who’s right?” may be “everyone.” Fees are too high — and so are customers’ expectations. And while the reasons may be complicated, the solution isn’t.

Now more than ever, travelers have to look past the hype and the come-ons for loyalty programs and familiarize themselves with the product they’re booking. Eva Doyle, a professional speaker from Columbia, Md., says she researches every reservation she makes.

“I read up as much as I can on what I’m really getting for my travel dollars,” she says. “I prepare for long waits and indifferent employees. I play a lot of solitaire on my phone. I join loyalty programs when it makes sense to do so, and try to take advantage of whatever benefits I can.”

Doyle says she often encounters the “you-get-what-you-pay-for” attitude, and there’s no argument that will prevail against it. Instead, she tries to reinforce good behavior. When she receives outstanding service, she sends a message to that person’s supervisor, praising their helpful attitude.

Focusing on the positive in this standoff may be the best advice of all, and that doesn’t just mean recognizing the best employees. It also means giving your business to an airline, hotel or car rental company that treats you fairly and honestly, instead of the one that quotes you the lowest price.

55 thoughts on “Got a complaint about the travel industry? It’s got one about you, too

  1. I am really sick of the “people asked for it” analogy. I believe that people assumed there would be minimum standards, and that is what’s missing from the equation. The “industry” got carried away with low prices, and then when they figured out it was not so profitable, they went the route of cutting everything in sight and then adding fees for anything they could, all under the guise of “people asked for it”.

    When people ask for a lower price, they mean to cut the excess from the costs, not to cut the product to a below acceptable level.

    In the absence of regulation, certain people cut things like seat size, and due to the nature of how things show up on the internet, they were able to show lower prices, which then caused everyone else to follow suit.

    It is a fool’s game. We now have no regulations that I know of to govern a lot of the things that can be cut, people have a very strange mentality where they will switch carriers on a whim – or if it is a dollar cheaper, for example, and won’t pay any regard to what’s been given for that price UNTIL they get on the plane and find out the seat is much smaller.

    There is a reason that higher quality (and higher priced) restaurants survive. It is because some people are not willing to have absolutely the cheapest food for the cheapest price. The results are almost immediate as in a few minutes, you will get horrible food in a cheap place and you realize your folly.

    Somehow, with advance purchases in the travel business, this has not been the case, people find out much later.

    There are not just “two” choices – the overpriced and extremely expensive regulated (pre-1978) options versus the ultra low price and low quality products that seem to be happening now. The problem is that there is no way for the more premium services to survive in the current environment. Right now, the ‘premium” services are charged many many times as much as the cheap seats. And bean counters say things like you “must” get the cheapest fare, etc.

    There has been a mess created here, and it is not all the fault of the passengers. Someone started offering these sub standard services, then dangled the carrot of the low price, and then was stuck dealing with providing their services at much lower costs – dragging everyone else with them.

    1. As long as people buy solely on price, its not going to change. The best modern example of this was AA’s “more room in coach.” They took seats out and gave everyone more leg room but had to charge more (fewer seats per airplane). Guess what happened… people went to their competitors for the cheaper fare.

      Until the buying public as a whole starts making buying decisions for something other than price, its not going to change.

      1. thank you – you cannot have champagne on a Budweiser budget, nor can you expect the taste to be the same.

        1. but look for more disruptors like Wow Air who a few days ago were advertising NYC to Europe for USD$99 including taxes(which are more than USD$99). No food or bags but incredibly cheap, loss leaders get people in. Do you need to check bags ? Do you need much food ? Most of you are obese anyway.

      2. How much more did AA charge for these roomier seats? Did they charge the actual difference, or did they try to charge more?

        Just as an example, a plane has 7 seats across a row, 2-3-2, and has 40 rows in economy class. If the tickets sell for $500 each, that flight earns $140,000. If 3 rows are removed to make the extra room, at $500 per ticket that flight would now only earn $129,500. so, a loss of $10,500. If the airline takes that lost $10,500 and shares it among the remaining number of seats, thats about $41 per seat. Did AA raise the fare only $41 per seat, or did it raise the price by $100?

        Yeah, some would still buy the $41 cheaper seat, but many others might be interested in paying only $41 more for a seat with much more room.

        1. a good % of people don’t care what the airfare is, to have more legroom for a number of reasons:
          1) they aren’t paying, someone else is
          2) they have plenty of money & will pay almost anything
          The more the airline can get for these seats with extra legroom, the more loss leader seats it can sell “down the back”.
          It’s called price elasticity & what the market will bare.

        2. yes – it was a nominal rise in price – but even $20 in some markets meant thy did not make the cut – sad

          1. exactly, when most people still buy through an online travel agent who ranks flights based on price, even a $1 increase can relegate you to the bottom of list or dreaded “page 2”. And it is hard to convince those OTAs to tell customers the experience on one flight is better than that of another. Afterall, while some care about legroom, others care about free wifi (jetblue), no change fees (southwest), best completion percentage (delta) or other metrics…

            so AA spent money to have a better experience, but ended up having to price at same level as everyone else and couldn’t earn a real premium to justify the loss of seats, especially when the economy picked up and more people travelled.

      3. very hard to compare legroom room on aircraft, when there’s no measure of this. Seat pitch isn’t it.

    2. Most people buy solely on price…until this change…nothing is going to change.

      As John Baker commented, AA is a prime example of people refusing a premium serviceproduct and going with a lower price and lower quality product.

      Personally, I like to use the Walmart analogy. When Walmart was aggressively expanding during the 90s, people were excited when a Walmart opened up in their town except for the small-town retailers. There were a lot of small retailers that went out of business because 1) they couldn’t match the prices of Walmart and 2) people were not willing to pay for the serviceexpertiseetc. that you generally received from a small retail store.

      Like other big box retailers, service is non-existent today. It is my preference to go an Ace Hardware or a True Value Hardware store instead of Home Depot or Lowes. It is hard to find someone at HD or Lowes…especially Lowes…and once you find someone, they generally don’t have a clue about what you are inquiring about.

      1. And if one does their homework, many times I have found prices to be better at my local Ace or True Value than at Home Depot. Not on everything, but it happens enough times to cause me to pretty much always make the stop at the local H/W store before heading over to HD or Lowes. The real bonus though is usually at the local store, there is a knowledgeable person that can actually help with questions.

        1. My rule is that Home depot costs me one hour vs. the local hardware store. It’s not just the slightly longer drive. It’s parking, finding the thing, looking for one that hasn’t been opened and maybe returned, waiting to pay, etc. And there is no one who can answer “What do I need to do xxx?” Years ago HD did have older retired hardware and handyman types on the floor to do that, Now no one even knows where something should be, let alone if they have one. On the other hand, the hardware store won’t have bulk sizes or multiple brands.

          And so it goes.

    3. airlines provide what people want. Look at Spirit, Frontier etc. Ryanair, probably the most successful LCC have come out & said, all their airfares might be $0 one day & you’ll pay for everything.
      Do you really need to check 2 x 50lb(23kg) bags ?For most people probably not, but fly Southwest & they give you this(even more bags if eg. carrying sporting equipment like skis), but then the same people fly another airline that doesn’t give you any checked bags in basic airfare & they complain.
      They get used to flying with everything but the kitchen sink & they think they have a right to & not pay for it.
      Suggest checked baggage limits will decrease on legacy airlines especially internationally, very soon, as airlines look for ways to be able to advertise cheaper airfares, cos that’s what majority of people want.

    4. in one recent Southwest sale(who we consider BY FAR the best U.S. airline), they were selling LAX to DEN for $27. Yes, most of the seats at this price were early am or late pm & virtually none on Fridays or Sundays, BUT it included up to 3 bags.

      At same time we looked at frequent flyer tickets, which cost expensive to earn, points/miles + $5 + $25/bag.

      Think many frequent flyer programmes are dying.

    5. the myth of the smaller seat again !!!

      On narrow bodied aircraft, B737, B757, A318/19/20/21 which make up most of the worlds narrow body fleet, seat width hasn’t change 1mm, but butts have got wider, much wider. Maybe rather than talking about seat width, we should be talking about butt width & the looming health crisis, ie. heart disease, diabetes, etc. related to the crappy diet we all eat & how the food industry fill much of our processed food with tonnes of sugar, salt, fat etc.

      1. But that would require people taking personal responsibility for things that in fact are within their control. Not likely. Just read about so many of the cases that are advocated here. Personal responsibility is definitely not a “PC” thing to say.

    6. Delta, for instance, has been aggressively pricing first class (especially domestically). I fly LGA-RSW most weeks and F is routinely <$200 more expensive each way. But that includes a meal, multiple checked bags, priority security, etc. all of which have value, especially if added on top of a regular economy ticket. The upcharge over all of those add ons separately isn't much if anything. And the upgrade cost can be <$100, making it potentially cheaper for someone checking 2-3 bags.

  2. The airlines have decided (with good reason) that the only way they can compete with each other is on price. There’s no airline that is offering better service at a higher price (although Southwest and JetBlue kinda hint at this.)

    But in doing “lowest cost”, the airlines have gotten deceptive about their pricing with all the fees, causing at least confusion on the part of the consumer for what the “delivered” cost is. More importantly, in their drive to lowest cost, their customer service policies produce a “grab what you can get, before they charge you” attitude on the part of the consumers. The complicated pricing models and fee structures frustrate consumers, who often take those frustrations out on the gate and flight crews. (I have a lot of sympathy for airline employees, particularly those who have been in the business a long time and have seen their pay and benefits eaten away.)

    A combination of minimal re-regulation (to make things less confusing, and to provide better standards of behavior for flight interruptions, etc), consumer awareness, and a change in airline corporate attitudes towards the value proposition for customers and employees, are all needed to fix this.

  3. “John Madden, a retired civilian Army employee who lives in Troy, Mich., took his first commercial flight in the early 1950s, and recalls paying just $72 to fly from Washington to San Francisco in 1967.”

    1. $72 in 1967 is $540 today.
    2. As a retired civilian army employee, was he traveling on a government fare?

    1. A couple years ago, I paid $18 to go from Washington to Detroit on Frontier.

      But then I had to pay $450 on United to get back home to Washington. 🙂

    2. Mr, Madden probably also forgot that in the 1950s, airfares were regulated by the CAA/CAB (the precursor agencies to the FAA.) Airlines had to compete based on service, if there was competition on the route in question.

    3. Unless he was traveling on a special fare (like the government fare you mentioned) the airfare would have been set by the government. This was not a start up fare, like People Express fare which was charging $99 one way to fly from the East Coast to Europe in the 80s.

  4. When I was a kid, my family never flew on vacation. We always drove to vacation with relatives 4-5 states away. This gave us the opportunity to see other many sites along the way. Of course, this was also back in the days when my parents got a lot of vacation time from work, so we had the time to travel by car. We only flew one time when I was a child, from CA to FL (Disney World before Epcot) and then back, PA to CA, for a two week trip up the east coast. That was a treat.

    It wasn’t until over a decade later that we then did a vacation to Europe. I have no idea what my father paid for the flights, but I do recall that when we were flying back (the long flight) and the airline couldn’t sit us together in economy class, my father insisted the airline upgrade us to business class to sit us together. And he got it.

    These days, most people only get 2 weeks of vacation a year, which many use to take one week in the summer somewhere, and the other 5 days throughout the year as needed. They don’t have the time to drive places that use up many days of their vacation. They feel robbed of their precious vacation time when a flight change causes them to lose a day of vacation.

    People are much more used to flying these days, because the flights are relatively cheap. I certainly believe most people wouldn’t complaint about price or other issues if they actually felt they were getting helpful service with a smile. So many complaints I read are about what they believe are rude employees, or lying employees. This could be because the airline has insufficient employees or isn’t paying the employees well. I’d like to think that if the airline would just raise its prices a few dollars, it could pay the employees better and/or hire more. But it really is amazing how little people will accept from airline service to save $10 on their flight. And then they will complain about it. So yeah, you get what you pay for.

    1. Keep in mind that a customer who gets drunk and is refused service, then attacks the gate agents verbally, and this sort of attitude continues with subsequent travellers can also impact how the agents deal with the next complaint. IF more people treated the gate agents with courtesy and respect, it could also make a huge difference.

      1. So, it is OK for an airline employee to abuse all subsequent passengers if that airline employee suffers abuse?

        1. NO – but if all you get is yelled at, how can you expect them to kiss YOUR butt when you are next? I had listened to 3 people in a row give this poor gate agent grief over their own mistakes/poor choices…when I approached I could see her look. So I smiled and said I hoped I could make her day a little easier with just a single question – she smiled back and cheered right up. All I am saying is take a little time to consider what the other person has gone thru – and how YOU would feel after an entire afternoon of being someone’s punching bag.

  5. I think what I want now, everywhere, not just airlines and hotels is “the price.” Bottom line, just the price, don’t give me the base price and then add on this, that and the other thing. Tell me my flight or my room or whatever else it is is a certain dollar amount and be done with it. Drives me crazy. It’s like shopping in some stores, well the regular price is this, but that price is 15% off and if you use your store credit card it is 25% off and if you do this or do that, it is another percentage off. Enough already. Tell me the bottom line and we can go from there.

  6. I see the biggest problem today in air travel is paying for bags.
    That single thing has relegated people to bring on-board multiple, enormous bags that are obviously over-sized (and nobody checks them), rollies and other gigantic bags. You’re supposed to have 1 bag in the overhead, and one under the seat in front of you. I see people with 2 rollies plus another large bag and stuff them all in the overhead compartments (all I take is one small backpack that fits under the seat in front of me). People truly struggle to get these behemoths into the bins, and multiple times I’ve seen them hit people in the head with them.
    THEN… when the bins are full, they offer to check some rollies for free.
    Oh, did I mention all this takes time? Time we should be pulling away from the gate?

    1. Having to pay for bags is certainly part of the issue.

      The fact that airlines can and do lose bags. Or damage them. Or items disappear from them (via TSA or airport personnel) with greater frequency because we cannot lock the bags anymore has certainly added to the number of bags people bring on a plane.

      1. In more than 300 flights, my bags have only been lost (but found) once. I think that excuse is not as worrisome as you believe (in my opinion).
        Also, you can buy TSA locks (I have) and still lock your bags.

        1. correct – its just an excuse to get off the aircraft immediately and not have to wait – everyone is in such a hurry

    2. I have to say the last half dozen or so flights I’ve been on, the gate agents were pretty on top of telling people to combine carry-on bags because they had too many or to gate check. One woman was told to consolidate her 3 bags into 2 and just kept walking down the bridge and the gate agent stopped her and told her again to do it and watched her do it. She wasn’t pleased, despite 4893 announcements about the number of carry-ons allowed. A year or so ago, I saw a woman on my Las Vegas flight get on with 5 bags: a roller, a small duffel, a large tote, a purse and a large shopping bag. She shoved them all in the overhead bin. When I said, “Excuse me? Ma’am? You’re only supposed to put 1 bag up there,” she just looked at me like I was speaking an alien tongue and sat down. Total disregard like that makes me crazy. Glad to see some airlines are starting to enforce their carry on policy now.

      1. I’d also like to see them enforce a (probably nonexistent) rule about putting carry-ons in the overhead above you, and not in the first one you see. I actually yelled at a couple who were cramming stuff into the overhead space above me (and crushing my bag in the process). I guess I sounded crazy enough that they took their bags to the rear with them.

  7. At least for the airlines, one important fact wasn’t mentioned: pre-regulation, the airlines were protected by the government (e.g. postal contracts) and in return, granted exclusive or limited competition on routes, and the fares were set and everyone charged the same. In essence they were fat, dumb and happy. The only way they could compete was on service since everything else was more or less equal. Nowadays, they must face severe price competition on some routes, with no incentive to serve routes that won’t make money, and if they have exclusivity on a route because no one else wants it, they charge what they want. This is the free market as exists in most other industries in the US. Something has to give here. The airlines have found a niche where they can compete on pricing, but with the hidden or not-so-hidden fees they can make money. Not saying it’s right, but it is an adjustment to the economy as it stands today.

  8. Sorry, we never ask for cheap fare. The AIrlines/Hotels initiated the offer the hidden fees cheap fares/rates to acquire the market part,

    1. not true — as has been shown time and time again — why Spirit is sold out, why Amrican’s better seating program did not work, etc.

  9. I want value. I want to stay within my budget. I want reasonable minimum standards. I can’t get that today.

    In the regulated airline days I got value and reliability. I did my planning and knew what to expect. And I got what I expected. If things went wrong the airline was required to fix it at no extra charge. Airline personnel were awesome.

    In the summer of 1972 I saved enough money in a 3 month minimum wage job to travel in Europe for 3 months. I had an “open jaw” fare where I could fly into London and return from Rome. My return date was open (no charge). I stayed in youth hostels and traveled on a student rail pass. I came home with money in my pocket.

    I can’t get that today.

    1. It was called the jet set for a reason – MOST people today would not be able to afford to fly if we went back to regulated rates

      1. I was not a member of the jet set. I was a minimum wage earner. I got value and reliability. I can’t get that today.

    2. Airfares (including fees) are around half of what they were in the mid-1970s, adjusted for inflation. If we still had regulation, the minimum NYC-LAX round trip would be around $2400.

      1. I need to know the total cost at the time of purchase. Look at the CoCs. I can’t wait to know the total cost until after I have completed travel. Their contract only benefits them. It does not benefit customers at all.

        1. You do know the total cost at the time of purchase. That said, I have no idea what your comment has to do with my point.

          1. You responded to my post. You didn’t seem to understand my point. That is why I tried to get you to reconsider my original post.

            Look at the current terms of the CoCs. When things go terribly wrong, the airline is not obligated to fix anything. All of the risk is on the passenger. People spend thousands of dollars to fix problems that occur during a trip. That is why you don’t know the total cost of your trip until you are safely home.

            There is a high cost to the “lower” prices in terms of risk for the passengers. The CoCs are one-sided and unfair. This is perfectly legal however.

          2. If you want flexibility, you can absolutely get it. Book refundable tickets, and then you have the ability to walk away at any time and get your money back. Deregulation has brought you the opportunity to accept greater restrictions on your ticket, in exchange for a dramatic reduction in fares.

  10. They’re also trying a variant of the sunk cost fallacy. The hope is that if passengers have spent time finding what looks like the “cheapest” airfare, picking a flight, etc. they won’t cancel the transaction and decide to take a different airline or a train, drive their own cars, or stay home when they discover the actual cost. Greyhound definitely has disadvantages, but they leave from downtown, don’t expect me to arrive two hours before departure, and it’s a lot easier to find out what the ticket will cost me. So I look that up first, to use as a comparison: not just Air Canada vs. Porter Air via whoever else would fly me Boston-Somewhere-Montreal.

  11. The airline execs have lost touch with reality and their customers is the biggest problem they have today. AA CEO Doug Parker is a prime example of that. He complains about ‘giving’ away their best products, first class seats. He is not giving away anything. Those upgrades were earned by the passengers claiming them by their loyalty. He doesn’t grasp the fact that once there is no benefit to being loyal, I .e first class upgrades, you might as well always take the cheapest flight. Very few business people can buy first class seats. The travel departments see to that.

    Also it is a joke to boast about being the 2017 airline of the year. Funny thing. The white spot on the top of bird crap is still bird crap. That is what AA is in most of its service. Their are exceptions. Their are those wonderful employees who do understand and provide service. True service. But most have become lazy or disenchanted probably because of way they have been treated by their employer. Still doesn’t make it right.

    The frequent flying public is screaming for service while the average traveler is screaming for low prices. The airlines are only listening to one. Provide for both and tell the truth. The lack of truth is what is killing the Airlines today. They promise the moon but deliver crap. They promise free trips that can’t be had. They promise free upgrades that can’t be found. That is the basic problem. They lie lie lie and wonder why the public is so disgruntled.

    The Airlines have so many rules on rules to manipulate and hide that it makes the public feel cheated. Well they are cheated. The ‘contracts’ are so one sided that in my opinion are not legal. Someday someone is going to challenge that in a class action suit and win and prove it. If I am not 10 minutes early to the gate I pay a penalty by being denied boarding and haveing to buy another ticket. But the airlines are routinely late, cancel flights, or whatever without any penalty.

    The basic issue is that the airline execs are deaf and dumb and out to grab every last penny they can from the public. Somewhere in the end it will cost them. Shortsightedness always does.

  12. I like a lot of the comments below and don’t want to duplicate. I don’t want to pass a right/wrong judgement here, just throw out an alternative way to look at the state of the industry.

    One thing that separates travel from other industries, is that while prices may seem high for many people, the profit margins aren’t all that good – even now in the golden age of profits. So there is a difference in viewpoints from a customer who sees a “$500 flight” for a once-per-year trip, and an airline professional who sees “less than $50 in profit” after taxes, fees, etc. to service that one customers (Jetblue runs a 9.87% 2017Q3 margin, for instance).

    This differential is important as customers want benefits which would eat up all profits. I obviously don’t want tighter seats and worse service, and I would be willing to pay more for it, but it is important to understand that scale here. For instance, when there is a delay and a customer wants an exception to fly another carrier, that could eat the profit of 10 other tickets. Hotels are fixed in size – we get upset when they oversell, but also say that when someone cancels at the last minute, they shouldn’t be charged because the room can be resold. But the hotelier is therefore accepting the customer’s burden — and not just one customer’s one time issue, but every customer’s issues that come up and get passed back. Right or wrong, making money in the industry is difficult and it isn’t surprising that travel companies have strict rules. Those costs can add up quickly.

    High price does not mean high profit!

  13. This is why airline travel is not a good value under de-regulation, no matter how low the base fare is.

    This air traveler spent 9 pages of posts on the forum and 6 months of his time and effort. He eventually got the resolution he was looking for.

    It was so complicated that the Elliott advocates couldn’t even agree on the best course of action or the possible results of self-advocacy. Some posters even suggested that American Airlines would black list the OP and close his frequent flyer account if he pursued the matter.

    Refer to the CoCs at the airlines that currently operate in the United States. ALL the risk is on the passenger. It clearly demonstrates what a corporation can choose to do when it is de-regulated.

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