Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Thank you, sir! May I have another? Two oddball pieces of travel news

 Tweeting for a cab in London

Yes, you no longer have to suffer the indignity of exposing your armpits when hailing down one of London's cabs. The Guardian reports that 100 cabbies are now on the service "@tweetalondoncab", and some 7000 riders are following them on Twitter.

Which leads me to ask the pertinent question the Guardian missed: should one actually ride with a tweeting cabbie? I, for one, will not be using this service as I'd be damn worried about my cabbie's ability to navigate London's heavy traffic while tweeting. (Not that I take cabs in London anyway. Just too expensive.)

You Like Them! You Really Like Carry-On Bag Fees!

 Okay, so it seems that I was wrong to presume that passengers would be rioting in the terminal in protest of Spirit Airlines' new fee. The dumbfounding headline on Ben Metzbaugh's terrific Today in the Sky blog reads "Spirit: Customers like carry-on fee".

Metzbaugh quotes a Spirit spokesperson Misty Pinson as saying that "reporters had to work hard to find disgruntled customers to interview."

Of course, that's what you'd expect this poor, beleaguered employee to say (and I use the term 'beleaguered' with some good cause. Not only did the carry-on fees hit over the weekend, yesterday the CEO Ben Baldanza of Spirit announced that he was mulling over another fee to talk with a human being at the airport. Yup, a fee to speak to someone should something be going desperately wrong, such as not being able to locate the gate or one's luggage. I would lose my faith in humanity if Pinson didn't have to field a LOT of reporters calls about that statement).

But some of the reporters at the airport have backed her up, saying that passengers are so grateful for Spirit's low rates, that they'll willingly put up with any additional fees.

Really? Really?!? I have to wonder if these happy flyers have to ability to do addition. When you add in all the fees, the vaunted low fares of Spirit usually come in at par or even above competing airlines.

Since nothing is black and white when it comes to flying, I'll note that a number of reporters were able to find passengers grumbling loudly and vowing never to fly Spirit again.

I'd be among them, although I vowed to never fly Spirit again after enduring a middle-seat flight last fall, because I refused to pay the extra fee for choosing my seat.

(Photo by Neovain)

1 comment:

  1. The issue with these fees is not the fees.
    A passenger/client should be indifferent between paying an $180 ticket with a $10 carry-on fee and a $190 ticket without any fee.
    If the client took this fee into consideration when making the original purchase, that's fine (and since Spirit's decision was well publicized, a large proportion of August 1st passengers fall in that category).

    The problem, is for that when the fee differs between every airline and clients don't know the fee for each, can not easily figure it out, they tend to simply remove it from their thinking process - so they think that a $190 ticket (for which they'll incur carry-on fee, check-in fee ...) is cheaper than a $200 ticket without any additional fee.

    ... that causes the market to be inefficient, which is what the airlines want since that allows them to charge more overall.

    If flight search engines could disclose the fees that one would incur on top of the "sticker" fare, markets would be more efficient.

    An unexpected fee is very similar (from the passenger's perspective) to a "bait-and-switch" strategy - and beyond the cost, that is source of anger ...