Skies or Skyway Robbery?
wife and I have just, and very reluctantly decided
that given the exorbitant cost of air (approaching
for the five of us, $10,000), when we had anticipated
using the extensive aeroplan points I had accumulated
for four of our tickets, that this is all just too
expensive, at least, for this year, for all five.
airlines really our friends and as friendly as they
when I flew to Europe in 1968. I was dressed in my
Sunday Best as we headed off to what would become
6 years of living in Athens after my father took a
job teaching at the American Community Schools. This
was a mere 10 years after the introduction of the
Boeing 707 jetliner that had revolutionized transatlantic
also the beginning of affordable air travel for the
masses. The market was expanding and there was enough
business for everyone.... and it sure is easy to be
freindly when your business is going well. When you're
making money you can give all those free perks and
not feel the pinch..... back then, I think the skies
were truly friendly.
went on markets began to level off and competition
became greater as smaller regional and low cost airlines
began competing for the somewhat finite number of
passengers. Giants of the airline industry started
to disappear...Pan Am and Eastern were US casualties....
or file for chapter 11... Delta, USAir, United....
As well as the more recent SwissAir and Sabena.
built momentum after September 11 and airlines were
forced to cut back flights and use smaller planes.
The end result(although it's picking up a bit) is
that there were less seats on planes traveling to
Europe...meaning less competition...meaning....you
got it... higher prices.
friendly airlines that would happily(or so it appeared)
do anything for their passengers now are in a battle
for their very surivial! Every penny could mean the
difference between survival and extinction for any
airline. Their decisions are made for the sole purpose
of keeping the airline in the skies. If it means cutting
back on blankets, pillows, meals and magazines and
service....then they will go(as they have on many
to agents have mostly been taken away, so you can
no longer work with your local travel agent who can
coordinate flights and use their local knowledge to
help you plan your trip. So it has made it both harder
for you to plan your trip and has cut off a stream
of revenue to the travel agent.
As if that
isn't enough they've made it even harder for agents.
I'll use Delta as an example. They were one of the
first airlines to cut out the Agent commission This
was a step by step process. At first we could sell
a ticket for the same price as Delta and collect a
5-10% commission which was a nice arrangement that
worked for everyone. Passengers could work with an
agent that knew the intricacies of traveling to Greece,
agents were paid for their services and the ariline
recieved 90-95% of the fare.
time that was not enough and Delta needed to keep
more of it's ticket revenue. (I
like to call it mis-management or greed- Did you ever
wonder why five different airlines have to fly the
same route at the same time with 5 planes only a quarter
full? My logic tells me that they want to squeeze
every last penny out of the passenger for themselves
instead of cooperating with other airlines and sharing
passengers. They're like a greedy old miser who falls
overboard and drowns because he holds on to his bag
of pennies instead of letting go!
step was to leave the commission but put a cap of
$50 commission per ticket(a $1500 ticket which paid
a $150 commission was now reduced to $50). Most agents
could live with that(although we were a little upset
by the move!). But that wasn't enough, the next step
was to cut out all the commissions so we would have
to add our fee to the published fare if we wanted
to make a commission. That left the passenger with
a choice- purchase directly from the airline for the
published fare or through an agent for the published
fare + the commission the agent added. That's not
a hard choice for anyone to make.
agents decided to live with that since we still had
net fares to offer. Those are tickets at wholesale
prices to offer the agents. We could sell those and
add a commission to them that would allow us to make
a little off of each ticket sale...but lo and behold...
Delta changed some of it's pricing so many of the
net fares are the same price as if a passenger went
directly to Delta to purchase... so much for that...
looking bad, but there was still a bright spot....there
are still some tickets that are lower fares than the
published...so I tried to book a flight from Boston
to NY. The net fares had to be purchased in "L"
class and the price looked great! The only problem
was that the passenger had to switch from Laguardia
to JFK airport in NY.