Alaska Airlines is making some common sense improvements to its website. Others should follow — especially in making it easy to view all of the rules associated with a fare before purchasing.
Heading to Iraq? At least you can still fly first class when you get back. According to the Detroit News, Northwest Airlines said Tuesday that if WorldPerk Elite members are called to active military duty, the airline will extend their 2003 Elite status through the 2004 year. The extension also will apply to current active duty military members who receive deployment orders. To qualify for the extension, qualifying WorldPerk Elite members should fax their activation or deployment orders along with their WorldPerk number to 218-254-7566.
Pay your taxes with the Starwood American Express and earn double miles. The following language is apparently included in this month’s statement (Mine won’t come for a couple of days, so I haven’t seen it myself yet): You can earn double Starpoints on your first $4,000 in taxes when you use your card to pay your 2002 individual federal income taxes from 3/15/2003 – 4/15/2003. File your 1040 on time, via paper or electronically, then use your Starwood Amex card to charge your taxes onlione or over the phone by calling Offical Payments Corporation at 1-800-2PAY-TAX or visiting www.officialpayments.com.
Southwest Airlines has a campy feel to it. It’s part of how they make their low-end product more enjoyable. On a flight two years ago, a flight attendant tried to get passengers to sit down in order to expedite departure with the following announcement: “Eenie, meenie, minie, moe; pick a seat, we gotta go.” A judge has now set a trial date in the discrimination lawsuit that followed where two passengers claimed emotional injuries because the rhyme has a racist history.
Follow the leader… off the cliff? American Airlines acknowledges that noone has figured out how to make a low cost carrier within a carrier work, but they’re considering it anyway because Delta and United are talking about it.
Joe Brancatelli has some basic lessons for business travelers traveling for leisure. Hint: approach leisure travel differently.
The Chicago Sun-Times has a piece today on the new low-cost “airlines-within-airlines” being started at United and Delta including a summary of failed past attempts by the major airlines to create low cost subsidiaries as a way of competing with Southwest and others. It’s never worked before (e.g. Continental Lite, United Shuttle). The majors simply retain too high a cost structure and dilute their premium brands by trying to mimic Southwest or JetBlue. Smaller airlines pick and choose niche markets and clean the majors’ clocks. United’s early concept was simply to re-introduce a low cost carrier with their older planes like they had with the United Shuttle on the West Coast (which they set up to compete with Southwest, but they shut down because it lost money). However, low cost carrier JetBlue offers leather seats…
USA Today reports on the trend towards airlines rewarding high revenue flyers instead of high mileage flyers. For instance: Delta has moved towards a revenue model for elite qualification. United has formalized its VIP program. American and Northwest offer revenue tracks (parallel to mileage tracks) towards elite status. The article doesn’t point out that in most cases the perks for high revenue flyers aren’t new perks. In several cases they are even less generous than the old perks for high revenue flyers. The airlines are simultaneously cutting back and transitioning perks to a revenue-based approach. I think this is ill-advised. They run the risk of losing the loyalty of the high volume flyer who while not necessarily as lucrative are certainly built into their current businesss model. If the planes were completely packed solid, there…
Homeland security takes a bite out of economic productivity. The two biggest issues on the domestic agenda right now are terrorism (and all that goes along with it, including Iraq) and the sagging economy. Either one has the potential to undo this administration. But the silliest of policies aimed at the former have the potential to do real damage to the latter. Real productivity growth was the engine of expansion in the 90s, through the widespread adoption of such inovations as electronic communications and just-in-time delivery. But new U.S. Customs rules may require giving the government as much as 3 days notice before shipping anything into the country. That means making decisions about what materials are needed in production earlier (possibly with less information, leading to bad decisions and waste). That means stockpiling inventories to…
Clothing for dignity? The Tri-Cities Regional Airport in Blountville, Tennessee, is giving away free socks to passengers whose shoes are inspected by airport security.