The Customer is Always Right

TomBascom

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Since this is drifiting way off topic in the a330-200 thread...
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X-U said:
So if the FF program is eliminated, the hassles will disappear.
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What would disappear would be many of the perks that reduce hassle for the frequent flier -- dedicated phone lines, express check-in lines, pre-boarding, and upgrades to name a few.
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Why run a program with all of its administrative costs?
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Why assume that it's so costly? Because management said so? You guys don't believe anything else that they say why believe that?
Until they open the books on the subject I'm certainly not taking their word for it. What little hard data does exist does not back up the idea that these programs are at all costly to operate. In fact they suggest that they're quite a bargin.
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Reduce the price of the tickets and you can buy another with the money you saved from the first.
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The airline accounts for free tickets at a rate of something like $20 each. (Which is more or less consistent with the number of trips that you need to take to earn one divided into the cost of a typical V fare.) That isn't going to save me as much as you're suggesting.
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It seems like the complaint is from those who are travelling on company business and collecting the miles for themselves.
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I'm not sure what your point is? The genius of the frequent flier programs is that they get individuals to channel corporate spending in just this way. But that doesn't work when the margin for discretion is skewed to the point that an individual flier can no longer justify selecting one airline over another merely so that they can participate in a FF program. The bean counters won't buy that and the airline loses the business. There has too be value to the traveler that translates in some form into value for the sponsoring company. Or it doesn't work.
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Service has been cut because demand has evaporated. Many former business travellers are now conducting business electronically or flying on fractional jets. Major airlines need to concentrate on the leisure traveller. To be cost-competitive in that arena means ditching first-class, airport clubs and frequent-flyer programs.
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Only a trivial percentage of business travel has been redirected to fractional jets or technologies such as video-conferencing. Travel has either been cut outright or it has been re-directed to so-called leisure fares.
Travelers are not a monolithic market segment. This is an area where even a marketing intern has more sense than B. Ben. The skies are not exclusively filled with leisure travelers. Get on a plane and take a look at those supposed leisure travelers some day -- isn't it interesting how many of them are traveling alone and lugging a laptop onto the plane?
Nor is a leisure traveler always a leisure traveler. Last week I was on vacation. This week I'm working. Do I want the airline treating me like pond scum when I take the wife and kids to Disney? Or do I want them to recognize all the money that I've spent with them to earn this little break?
Business friendly services are something that travelers will pay for -- they just won't pay 8x a V fare for it. The services in question do not cost 8x the lowest fare to provide. At worst they probably cost 50% to 75% more to provide.
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What reduced fare? Have you ever purchased a Y fare? Trust me -- they haven't been reduced.... We've collectively decided that walking through security backwards isn't such a bad idea -- it gets us an 80% discount after all.
I don't remember that Y-class fares lost their mileage benefit. Look, I'm no fan of Ben B. either but he did say the awards were meant to reward the full-fare passenger. As I said in an earlier post, I agree Y-class fares are ridiculous and I'd be surprised that ANYONE bought them.
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Ben's bright idea included fares that cost thousands of dollars. They might not have had a Y designation but they were plenty expensive.
One of his muddle headed justifications for his proposal was the idea that some poor suffering souls who are supposedly buying Y fares are being closed out of upgrades by cockroaches on V fares. No evidence has been provided to back up that claim. My personal opinion is that these people were probably simply snookered into buying restricted fares at ridiculous rates and that they assumed that because they paid a lot of money they were Y fares. Even if his claim is true there are many other, far simpler, ways to address the problem.
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Why can't safe, and reliable transportation be enough?
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If that's all that you're selling then you have no differentiating factors to separate you from SWA etc. You become a commodity and need to play the lowest price game. Prepare to bend over for more concessions to get your costs down to SWA levels if that's the plan.
 

usfliboi

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Aug 20, 2002
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Im not sure i agree with your headline, in fact customers are not always right. Now as a employee do we tell you that u r maybe but in reality in todays world, Americans are spoiled and that old line doesnt apply any more. Not saying that the company has any defense just saying ITS A DIFFERNT WORLD!
 
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On 2/4/2003 9:14:29 AM Hope777 wrote:

PLEASE...pay me SWA wages. I wouldn't mind getting a raise at all.
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Well Bob (Barker), I bid 1 buck less than SW and a new CEO with a SW mindset and morals,..i.e. fly away Seagull.
 

X-U

Senior
Feb 1, 2003
278
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TomB:
"I'm not sure what your point is? The "genius" of the frequent flier programs is that they get individuals to channel corporate spending in just this way. But that doesn't work when the margin for discretion is skewed to the point that an individual flier can no longer justify selecting one airline over another merely so that they can participate in a FF program. The bean counters won't buy that and the airline loses the business. There has too be value to the traveler that translates in some form into value for the sponsoring company. Or it doesn't work.
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This IS the whole point. Travelers don't get to pick who they will fly on anymore, the beancounters do! So the lowest price is THE competitive advantage. U could offer the most lucrative FF program and they would not get the passengers because lowest fares trumps everything else. BTW, do you really think it only costs U $20 to fly you on a FF ticket? If that is how they are accounting for the cost of a passenger/trip, that is why they are losing their arse. And they aren't the only ones. It looks like AMR will file Chapter 11 soon. SW will soon be the only carrier flying. And they DON'T subscribe to the customer being ALWAYS right. Ask any obese passenger...
 

usfliboi

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Aug 20, 2002
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Airlines are no different from any company in america. It effects u because u have to fly and like most men cant control it. I dont think Us is arrogant just because they dont do what u say . If you know so much about running an airline my i ask why u dont have your own fleet? Better yet rent a bus. Movie stars do it alll the time because its more private. Customers can be spoiled and i think airlines in particular went to far with the ff thing. Too many perks not enough money to provide for them. (Well im trying to keep up with your idea of how us airline people are, hope im succeeding)
 

W:EXCH:INVOL

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Aug 20, 2002
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I have to admit, you're a hard one to figure out sometimes. I do feel good about the job I DO, it's just when someone says something like, "Not really, I hate ALL airlines, I just hate yours alot less because of nice people like you", it's not so much about the way I do it, it's the job, period. I hope you never hear, "I hate all passengers, I just hate you less because you're nicer."

INVOL
 
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TomBascom

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On 2/4/2003 1:26:31 PM X-U wrote:

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This IS the whole point. Travelers don't get to pick who they will fly on anymore, the beancounters do! So the lowest price is THE competitive advantage. U could offer the most lucrative FF program and they would not get the passengers because lowest fares trumps everything else.
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Lowest fare does not trump everything.

Business travelers retain far more discretion than you imagine. They cannot, however, in good conscience justify paying full fares.

This "price always wins" mentality is regurgitated management kool-aid. It isn't true. Value wins. That's why SWA wins with higher, not lower, prices than US Airways.

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BTW, do you really think it only costs U $20 to fly you on a FF ticket?
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More or less. Give it the sniff test -- how many paid flights does it take to earn a free flight? What does the average paid fare go for? Divide. Imagine that -- it's certainly in the neighborhood...

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If that is how they are accounting for the cost of a passenger/trip, that is why they are losing their arse. And they aren't the only ones. It looks like AMR will file Chapter 11 soon.
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Free flights are capacity controlled. The seats in question would have otherwise gone out empty. The marginal cost to fill that seat is very low. A few months ago some people here got into a "discussion" about the fuel cost to move that passenger. Those numbers checked out too.

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SW will soon be the only carrier flying. And they DON'T subscribe to the customer being ALWAYS right. Ask any obese passenger...
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Re-read PineyBob's post.

SWA certainly does subscribe to the idea. It's why their customers are in LUV with them. A concept that CCY shows no signs of ever being able to comprehend.
 
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TomBascom

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On 2/4/2003 3:31:06 PM usfliboi wrote:

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Airlines are no different from any company in america.
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In many ways that's exactly what I'm saying.

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It effects u because u have to fly and like most men cant control it.
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5 "major" airlines and SWA all fly to my most frequent destinations. Only one destination, PHL, somewhat out of my control although I could take a connection and get there without too much trouble. I have plenty of choices and lots of control.

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I dont think US is arrogant just because they dont do what u say.
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They're not arrogant because of that -- they're arrogant because of their behavior.

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If you know so much about running an airline my i ask why u dont have your own fleet?
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Maybe if I had a spare $100 billion or so I'd give it a whirl In the meantime I think I'll limit myself to providing unsolicited customer feedback.

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Better yet rent a bus. Movie stars do it alll the time because its more private. Customers can be spoiled and i think airlines in particular went to far with the ff thing. Too many perks not enough money to provide for them. (Well im trying to keep up with your idea of how us airline people are, hope im succeeding)
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You seem to be confusing my opinions regarding your management with my opinions regarding those of you who work for a living. I'm not nearly as touchy feely as some people so you aren't going to see me launching off into rah! rah! love you all! speeches with every post... But just to be clear -- I think your management, and the structure that they have inflicted on you, is where the problem is. The employees who take my calls, check me in, fly me from point A to point B, check my seatbelt and do all of the behind the scenes stuff are, IMHO, superb. They are the main reason why I stay with the airline and bother to share my thoughts. I don't agree with a lot of what some of you have to say -- I think that too much of it is based on the very mistaken assumptions (or deliberately spread misinformation) that management has been and continues to operate under. But that doesn't mean that I don't respect and admire the work that you do every day. You do a great job under some of the worst imaginable conditions. I don't have the words to make that any better. I do harbor a hope that somehow the right steps will be taken to get you out of this and on the road to a better future and that maybe if we expose some of the claptrap for what it is you'll have the tools to advocate for positive change.
 

skyflyr69

Senior
Dec 11, 2002
439
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i have to agree that the customer is 99% right. Since airlines fall under the FAA in regards to safety etc. it is the SERVICE that an airline provides that will make the difference. Customers want friendly personnal attention a good price, convenient schedule. Just look at Singapore Airlines. They provide superior service!
A f/a at jetblue,Airtran, Spirit, SWA can evacuate an airplane just as well as one at U, delta, AMR etc.The FAA demands it.
So its the SERVICE that f/a's provide which will win over most passengers. Same with res, gate agents etc.


 

PITbull

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Dec 29, 2002
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Many passengers have stated that they would pay higher price tickets if the flying process was easier.

Exp: They hate waiting in long lines at the ticket counter with only 2 agents checking folks in. Being one agent for first class passgrs; and one agent for coach passgrs.(ORD O'hare's Airport to cite one example). Lines are sometimes wrapped around down the corridor, especially for the a.m. departures. Folks will go on another carrier if they provide less hassle.

"We need more agents, Mangement"!
 

X-U

Senior
Feb 1, 2003
278
8
Tom and Bob

You both get on here and say what a great job the employees are doing, you fly U only because of the employyes. Then you turn around and say they need to bite the bullet on pay, benefits and pensions, otherwise U won't survive. Why? Because U's costs are higher than their revenues. You say you don't want to pay a higher fare, thus the revenue side of the equation can't be raised leaving the only alternative to cut costs. But when the cost cutting hits you, you refuse to give anything, so it all gets dumped on the employees. So who gets stuck with the bills? Don't come on here and say how much you appreciate the employees when you aren't willing to pay them for the work they do. "Attaboys" are great, and are surely appreciated, but they don't pay the mortgage and living expenses.
 

X-U

Senior
Feb 1, 2003
278
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skyflr69:

"A f/a at jetblue,Airtran, Spirit, SWA can evacuate an airplane just as well as one at U, delta, AMR etc.The FAA demands it."

That is a misconception. The FAA provides acceptable MINIMUMS in the performance of F/As, pilots, mechanics, dispatchers and any other safety personnel. The Major Airlines have always strived to go over and above those minimums.
 
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TomBascom

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On 2/5/2003 8:46:08 AM X-U wrote:

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Tom and Bob

You both get on here and say what a great job the employees are doing, you fly U only because of the employyes.
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I didn't say "only". The employees are certainly a large part of what keeps me coming back. But they aren't the whole story.

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Then you turn around and say they need to bite the bullet on pay, benefits and pensions, otherwise U won't survive. Why? Because U's costs are higher than their revenues.
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Feel free to provide a citation. You're putting words in my mouth.

None the less -- costs must be reduced, if you're still disbelieving that I don't know what to say.

There are many ways to reduce costs. We've both been strong advocates of improving productivity through simplification -- especially in the area of fare rules and restrictions. That sort of approach does not necessarily imply a cut in pay or benefits. It does likely lead to lower staffing levels unless there is offsetting growth in travel.

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You say you don't want to pay a higher fare, thus the revenue side of the equation can't be raised leaving the only alternative to cut costs.
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You haven't been paying attention. While it's true that I don't especially "want" to pay any more than I have to (who does?) I have gone into quite a bit of detail about how I'm more than willing to pay the absolute lowest fare, would in fact welcome an opportunity to do so and do spend quite a lot of effort looking for alternative fares. Nor am I alone in that position.

Like most business travelers I'm willing to pay a reasonable fare for reasonable value. I think that the service that I want is worth more than $99. Management thinks it's worth $1,000. The market is telling management that they're wrong. Management's response is to lower the $99 fares to $89 and raise the $1,000 fares to $1,250. I suspect that I'd be pretty darned happy at around $250 (in this made up example...) and I really don't care if the lowest fare goes down to $29 or up to $200 because if there's a $250 option that brings the right value I'll buy that (assuming that someone can figure out how to offer it to me and let me buy it -- which is another thread...)

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But when the cost cutting hits you, you refuse to give anything, so it all gets dumped on the employees.
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This is also untrue. We have in fact taken substantial cuts in service.

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So who gets stuck with the bills? Don't come on here and say how much you appreciate the employees when you aren't willing to pay them for the work they do. "Attaboys" are great, and are surely appreciated, but they don't pay the mortgage and living expenses.
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It's a business not a charity.

Differentiating yourself by asking your customers to sacrifice will have very predictable results. Just as it does in any business. The "WalMart with higher prices and surly management" strategy has been tried. So far it hasn't stopped WalMart anywhere that I know of...