You may not believe it. The US largest carrier, which many say is not the best of all times, has got a 5 star rating. This rating has been awarded by APEX, popularly known as Airline Passenger Experience Association. The organization is known to rate the airlines on the basis of the passenger feedback. Since the survey are conducted with sample population of the passengers who have actually flown on the carrier, and it is conducted in utmost transparent manner, there is no disputing the fact the results would be arrived on the basis of genuine and transparent survey.
APEX gets the feedback from the passengers who have not just made the American Airlines reservation but have also flown in recent past on it. The survey was conducted in association with travel app TripIt. The sheer scale of the exercise was astonishing. More than a million flights were rated world over, being flown by about 600 airline companies and spread over a period of 1 year. The five parameters on which the ranking of the airline was based were comfort level of the seat, cabin service, food and beverage, wifi facility and entertainment. These are basic product offering from any airline to its passengers and these are used as parameters to judge the opinion of passengers.
This rating has given AA something to cheer about, especially after the flak that all US airline companies received from Skytrax for 2018, another reputed body which rates the organization. The AA was not in the top 10 list of Best Airlines of the World in any cabin class of service be it Economy, Business and First Class, neither was any other US carrier. This drew a flak from the aviation circles as US has some of the biggest airline companies of the world.
It shall however be noted that Skytrax makes use of a range of different criteria for providing its outcome.
United Airlines is one of the top airline companies of USA. It is a full service carrier operating flights in and out of the country. The airline has 8 hubs from which it coordinates all its domestic and international flights. United is a member of the Star Alliance which is one of the three global aviation groupings. Company has about 88000 employees making it one of the largest employer in the US. The airline was in news a few days ago as it announced discount of 10 percent for the young adults.
The news of discount offering is for the travel bookings done till 31 December. This for people who have attained adulthood and are in age group of 18-22 years. Of course, they would be required to show the age group in order to avail this offer. Further, this offer is meant for the Mileage Plus members only. So, those your adults who have not been the frequent flyer members are required to join it. Please note that the membership can be joined by filling out a form which is available online on the website of the airline. Now, since the date of birth proof would be required, the airline wants passengers to enter the date of birth in the Mileage Plus account while doing enrollment.
Another condition for availing the discount is that the mobile application of airline shall be used. This means that this has to be downloaded into the smartphones, if this is not already installed. This is an attempt to change the user behavior by asking them to use smartphones for United Airlines flight booking.
The last two conditions which shall be met for getting this discount are that only one passenger is shall be in reservations and the seat shall be in the economy class of airline. The three countries which are covered in this offer are United States, Canada and Mexico.
Airline brands shall be compared with one another. Though each would have created its own brand identity and there could be many uncommon grounds, but then the success of one being more than that of the other does require comparisons to be done. A recent study comparing Delta airlines with American has come up in news. This comparison is not so much into their operations dynamics but with respect to the small gestures which these make or fail to make which make people make do or not do reservations.
It has been noticed of late that Delta airlines reservations are growing but the big brother American is not able to keep that pace. And, according to the experts, the difference lies in the way the airline deals with customers on one end of the spectrum and with its own employees, unionized or non-unionized, on the other. Now, it does not really add too much of significance when the customer service promises are left to the pieces of paper and are not delivered in reality to the airlines in general. Delta has scored ahead of American in that front. The singular focus of American on gaining more revenues has meant that it has added more seats in its narrow bodied planes making the experience less than satisfactory not just for the passengers but also for the cabin crew. This does no good.
The second important factor is that the mergers and acquisition spree of the airline has resulted in financial mismanagement which has been rued by the workers. This has made things a lot more difficult for the airlines as there are more strikes in recent times. This is also partly due to the fact that labor relations have not been managed all that well. Delta has recently offered a 4% hike for some its employees on labor day. This was not offered as a largess but as a recognition of their hard work. This has gone a mile to make them motivated and feel appreciated. American failed on that front, even after giving nice offers. However, the American has been struck with many instances of labor unrest leading the strikes or deliberate slowdown of work. Experts blame this to the work culture developed by the American. While giving a raise in money terms increases the motivation level in Delta, it does not stop employees from going to strike in American. The difference lies in how the employees see these hikes.
Airlines play a critical role in development and security of a region. The development of airport in an area is a signal that the pace of economic development in the region is slated to pick up. Therefore, the regions which already have airports do have an established and diversified economy. It is the airlines which bring people and materials into the region which makes their role significant. It is the government policy and the wish of airline to decide whether to fly to the new regions or not. Since the government want airlines to fly to those regions where the airports have been constructed with the purpose of ensuring fast paced development, it offers sops to the airline in order to encourage them to fly here. These sops or incentives could be in different forms, such as relaxation on payment of government duties and taxes.
These sops allow airline companies to make sustainable operations by preventing losses. This can be done for a couple of years till the time the market of that region grows substantially to permit airline companies to sustain operations on their own. However, do the airlines pass on the benefits derived from these incentives to the passengers? The answer to this question cannot be given in yes or no. If the airline is not able to maintain its operations without these incentives, it will be in no position to offer the benefits to passengers in terms of cheap air fares. However, if it is able to do the same after a period of time, it will be able to pass on some of these benefits to them to begin with. It may not be able to pass on all benefits as it will try to be sustainable on its own. One of the thing which helps in increasing the pace of passing on these incentives to passengers is growth of air traffic over a period of time.
Therefore, there is no guarantee as such to suggest that the benefits will be passed on to the passengers. After all, the airline is a private enterprise which seeks to make profits to the maximum possible extent. The airline cannot be expected to just serve the government purpose without exploring opportunities for increasing its own revenue.
Loyalty was rewarded by the airlines in US. Achievement of good customer experience and total customer satisfaction counted the most. But, this is no longer the case. Loyalty reward points are now considered a liability by the airline. This has been evident for a long time now. The way airlines have been fiddling with their programs, earning the miles or points has become difficult and redeeming these has become even more difficult. Most of the US carriers earlier had an expiry date to the points or miles. Now, United, Delta and Jetblue airlines have done away with this provision, allowing passengers to maintain their points for full life. Alaska airlines is one of those airlines that are still to cross over the line. It still expires the earned miles or points. Alaska Airlines flight deals could have got even cheaper had the airline not expired miles due to inactivity.
When the loyalty points are to be expired, how can the customers be expected to retain their loyalty? Or, is it that the airline has already come to terms with this reality that the passengers might not be all that loyalty, so why not cut down on the efficacy of rewards. Either way, this shows that the loyalty points are now a liability which the airline feels that it has wrongly been putting on itself and needs to be done away with in a gradual manner. This disinclination is clearly visible in removal of ease of earning and redeeming the points.
Another way in which the airlines have fiddled with loyalty rewards programs is by of not publishing the award flights chart. This chart used to tell how much of miles or points would be consumed for flights of a particular distance. When these charts used to be published, the flyers knew precisely how much of miles could be used. The benefit of this measure was complete transparency. AS these charts are not going to be published by many US airlines, this non-transparent measure will lead to lowering of loyalty of passengers with the airline.
There is some effort put in finding the deals which can make the air fares cheaper. This effort is made every time a flight has to be booked and the person has to fly on an airline. The search effort is elaborate or restricted depending on the time a person has to expand on this effort. Quite naturally, if there is a limited time availability, the search will be limited as well. This will be limited to cover only those websites or web resources which you use very often for this purpose. There will be intention to make more creative searches. However, if there is a good amount of time available, the person can go on hunting for deals on various types of web resources, such as social networking sites, deals and discount websites, forums and other types of websites.
There is another method of availing cheap flight tickets. This method is as simple as taking up the phone and speaking to a few flight agencies for the cheap airfares. You can take their best quotes for your travel, make comparison with one and another and go with the one which is the most reliable. Speaking to agents has one big advantage. And, this advantage is that the agents have unpublished fares with them which are not available online. These fares can be dirty cheap and could save you hundreds of dollars. If this works, then nothing can beat the fares which the agents can give you. This will also save you considerable time which you would have otherwise expanded in making searches for cheap fares or deals.
So, as a matter of practice of finding the cheap tickets, it is always a good idea to first speak to a flight agent over phone for the unpublished fares as this brings more savings. Thereafter, you can resort to searching the web for these.
If you have to fly cheap, there is a no dearth of airlines offering cheap fares. These include both the low cost carriers as well as the legacy carriers. The business of low cost carriers (LCCs) is modelled around providing cheap air tickets. There is only a single cabin class in these airline companies, that of Economy class, or may be two cabin classes but not more than these. This model ensures that the cheap domestic flights would be offered and the prices would be cheaper than even the economy class of legacy carriers.
Let us come to legacy carriers as well. These are full service carriers which provide not only economy, but also premium economy, business and first class of service. The ticket prices of these seats are generally higher than those of the LCCs. Even the economy class tickets are expensive as compared to those of the LCCs. So, if you are caught in a situation wherein you have to choose between the two, which factors would govern your actions?
The first factor is that of comfort. What is the size of seat and the legroom? These two are the important parameters which define comfort level of the seats. You will be willing to pay more for the comfortable seat of the legacy carrier. However, if this is a short haul flight and there is no significant difference between these two carriers with respect to comfort levels, then LCC is preferred.
The second factor is that of the amenities and privileges that are provided in the cabin. You can expect better amenities in legacy carriers than LCCs and many of these could be for free. However, if these are not required during the course of flight, then it is meaningless to have it.
The third factor which will determine the choice is that of service quality. This is where the behavior of airline staff and cabin crew comes into consideration. That varies from airline to airline. This is not related to the airline being either the LCC or full-service one.
Traveling in a group is joyous. Whether with family or with friends, there is no match of enjoyment in group travel. There is no doubt that people can take of themselves in a much better way while traveling in a group even to distant and unknown lands and amidst totally unknown people. There is also a high level of confidence in venturing out for adventure. There is also a greater saving of money in many respects while traveling in a group.
The first benefit is of availing the group flight deals from airlines or agencies. While online booking can be done for 8 or 9 people at a time for traveling on same PNR, the tickets for larger groups are provided through flight agents over the phone. These discounts can be sizeable and help in saving hundreds of dollars. The saved money can be used for spending on other travel products, such as hotels, and on shopping or eatables.
An important aspect of group travel is that the return dates are fixed. Therefore, the air tickets booked are generally of round-trip. The discounted round trip flights help in saving of money further. These are less expensive than one-way flights and the difference can again be of good sum of money. Even if some or all members of the group do not return on same flight but opt for cancellation of return leg journey, ticket cancellation charges apply and further one-way flights have to be booked which are more expensive.
Group travel allows for availing discounts from hotels and local transportation as well. Advance booking of accommodations and transportation also works to reduce the costs and all these discounts reduce the costs of travel significantly.
Other Methods of Reducing the Fares
Advance booking of group tickets is an effective way of reducing the fares.
Appropriate selection of flight dates, times, airlines, airports and connecting stopovers can also help in reduction of flight fares. This can be done by spending some time searching for appropriate flights on search engines.
JetBlue is one of the major US airline companies. The company has its base in John F Kennedy airport of New York. The airline flies on US domestic sectors and on some international sectors. The company has focus cities at Boston, Fort Lauderdale, Long Beach, Orlando and San Juan. The international cities it flies to are in countries of Canada, Mexico, Caribbean, Central America and South America. Besides the destinations it serves, the airline is an environmentally sustainable carrier. It has a well-organized program to reduce the carbon footprint without having any impact on fares of Jetblue airlines reservations.
Some of the measures it has taken for this purpose are given below:
- Climate Leadership
- Sustainable operations
- Sustainable tourism, and
- Sustainable reporting
- Committed to use of renewable jet fuel.
- Reduction of about 1.73% in Greenhouse gases by reducing CO2 emissions.
- 3 billion pounds of CO₂ offsets bought by the airline.
- Investing in NextGEN tehnologies to reduce 500000 gallons of fuels per year.
There are set objectives of sustainable operations by the airline. These objectives are to be achieved by:
- Having a more sustainable fleet
- Electric ground support equipment
- Use recycling, composites and other methods of waste disposal
- Investment in sustainable businesses, such as innovative food choices.
- Developing better buildings, such as airports, with innovative concepts like urban farming, having green spaces and designing in such a manner that air and light are received.
Electric Ground Support Equipment
- Moving away from fossil fuels driven equipment to electric ones
- Installation of charging stations
- Converting conventional vehicles to electric ones
With the growing awareness and concerns regarding the damage to environment, airlines have taken to the path of environmentally sustainable growth. Jetblue has its own course well laid out in this respect.
Video on JetBlue Airlines
Searching for cheap flights is a usual affair whenever there is a need for flying. The search is essentially done online on different web resources. These include the social media websites, meta-search engines, agencies and airlines. Basically, the inventory of seats is of the airline and this is distributed to the agencies through aggregators. The deals on the airline inventory can be provided by the airline companies which might be passed on to the customers directly or through the agencies. However, when the deals are being offered by the agencies, it might not necessarily be the same as those provided by the airline. The agencies have different travel products in their offerings. So, these are in a position to provide greater deals on total packages of flights and hotels or of flights, hotels and sightseeing vacations. This way the cheap plane tickets are provided.
However, one shall not fall for the incredibly lower cheap flights. This is so because the airline might be providing these offers with certain terms and conditions and these shall be read through beforehand. These might contain some eligibility criteria which cannot be fulfilled by most of passengers. At the same time, if this is coming from an airline company which is likely to go out of business or is already facing financial issues of serious nature, then the cheap flight tickets offer could be a trap which shall be avoided at all costs. The airlines which are having trouble in financial management are likely to cancel flights. With high cancellations, the charges for ticket cancellation will generate revenue but you will not be able to fly. Further, there could be a situation that cheap flight tickets being provided are non-refundable. So, if you do not have confirmed travel plan and are likely to change the itinerary, you shall not book these cheap plane tickets.
These are some of the situations where offer of cheap air tickets is essentially a trap wherein you are most likely to lose money rather than being able to fly with low airfares. You must take a considered view of the lucrative offers being floated and read through the fine print of terms and conditions.