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                               Tuesday, October 21, 2014
What could be worse than economy class? “Economy Minus”! 

A U.S. legacy airline is shopping around the idea of an “economy minus” cabin in a move to a new four-tier cabin service, reports the blog RunwayGirlNetwork.
“Economy Minus” would offer a bare-bones, reduced-amenty, extremely low-cost E-fares to attract passengers away from Spirit and Allegiant, the two most profitable airlines in the country.
Frontier has already switched to the Spirit-model.
 
The new configuration would comprise a premium cabin, enhanced economy, regular economy and then “economy minus”, reports the blog site.

No, this doesn’t exist, yet, but you could’ve fooled us. So what additional amenties can they remove from coach-class? Seats?

 
The Fight To Be The Lowest Fare On The Search Engine
This huge growth of the Ultra-Low Cost Carrier (ULCC) market is almost entirely due to the major carriers abandoning an entire segment of the traveling population over the past five years.


The mergers, capacity tightening, and lack of competitors have led to fares rising above what highly budget-conscious and discretionary passengers could afford.

The major carriers have been chasing that high dollar fare (corporate contracts, first class passengers, international itineraries) while neglecting those at the lower end of the fare scale.
Majors Want A Piece Of The Action
As much as we complain about Spirit’s service, fees, and lack of leg room onboard, passengers still book flights on them because they value price over comfort.
The ULCCs have been racking in the money. Now the majors want a piece of the action.
They see Spirit, Allegiant, Ryanair and the others making very real, regular and solid profits to their shareholders with their a la carte, cheapskate business model.
The major carriers are in business to make money for their shareholders so if that means squeeing people into a 28 inch pitch or less, limiting carry-ons, no in-flight entertainment and overpriced snack offerings, they will do it and passengers will book it to save $10-20 on a ticket.
As the Associated Press’s Scott Mayerowitz points out, Wall Street is rewarding airlines for the profit-boosting practice of cramming passengers on planes.
Where Is It Going To End?
This will certainly fan the fl
ames of discontent. Where is it going to end? When a passenger dies from the crammed seats?

It’s time for public action to curb the airlines. FlyersRights is asking Congress to pass a Passenger Bill of Rights that calls for regulations on seating space, fees and pricing.

It remains to be seen whether this “Economy Minus” plan actually pans out.

But it’s clear that airlines are intent on boosting profits by taking away from economy class. Worse airline service is now the norm rather than the exception.

You may as well mail yourself there in a big box!

Fear-bola

We have it all covered now, airplanecruise shipbus and now a train station. Last week, all four modes of mass transit in our country suffered Ebola “scares”.

According to the Associated Press, travel agents say customers are asking whether it’s safe to fly, and what steps they should take to guard against Ebola.

And some travelers are reconsidering their holiday plans amid Ebola fears, according to KTAU.com.

Anxiety was high last week when officials disclosed that a nurse tested positive for the virus just over 24 hours after getting off a Frontier Airlines plane from Cleveland to Dallas-Fort Worth. Frontier has grounded the plane and notified hundreds of passengers on seven flights involving the same jet.

Frontier President Barry Biffle emailed employees Friday to tell them the nurse may have been at a more advanced stage of the illness than previously thought. He said the CDC has assured the Denver-based airline that crewmembers on the flights she took are at a very low risk of exposure.

The airline put the pilots and flight attendants on leave for 21 days, which health experts consider the outer limit of how long it would take someone exposed to Ebola to become sick. Biffle said passengers on the flights have also been notified.

Tim Husted, a traveler-services executive for Carlson Wagonlit Travel, a huge agency with offices around the world, said that fewer than 1 percent of the company’s leisure travelers have changed a booking because of Ebola. There is even less of a reaction among business travelers, he said, although a few have requested routes that avoid Dallas.

Maryann Cook, a travel agent in New York, said that a Florida doctor who booked a $197,000 family safari trip to South Africa for 30 people next year wants to rebook it for 2016, even if it means losing a $60,000 deposit.

“He didn’t feel a real urgency because South Africa is so far away from the problem spot,” Cook said, “but he got a lot of stress from his children and his children’s children.” She said most of her other customers are still booking and still traveling.

Blake Fleetwood, another New York travel agent, said that a client who booked travel to India is worried about a stopover in London, where there could be a greater chance of exposure to travelers from West Africa.

“We’re hearing from everyone. Even people flying domestically are very nervous,” Fleetwood said. He reassures them that flying is safer than other forms of trave
l. But he understands – and shares – their anxiety.

“I wouldn’t fly on Frontier Airlines,” Fleetwood said. “I know that’s a crazy thing to say, but I just wouldn’t want my mind to be bothered. I would take another airline.”

Calls about travel insurance are also rising. Some people who bought insurance and now want to cancel their trip because of anxiety are finding out that the insurance won’t help, said Megan Singh, marketing manager for SquareMouth.com, a travel-insurance-comparison website.

“That really is canceling out of fear, and it’s not covered by most standard policies,” she said.

Singh said consumers can buy a policy that lets them cancel for any reason, but it will cost 40 to 50 percent more than standard policies that run about 6 to 11 percent of the trip’s cost.

Some notes about Ebola and travel:

– The U.S. government cautions against nonessential travel to Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. The Obama administration has resisted Republican calls for a ban on travel from those countries.

– Travelers leaving those three countries are screened at the airport for fever, a symptom of the disease. U.S. officials say about 150 passengers a day from one of those countries enters the United States. They are screened again if they enter at one of five big international airports.

– Health experts and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say the risk of getting Ebola in the U.S. is extremely low and can happen only by direct contact with vomit, diarrhea or other bodily fluids of an infected and sick person. Dr. Robert Murphy, director of the Center for Global Health at Northwestern University’s medical school, said there is only a minuscule chance of catching Ebola on an airplane in the U.S. because the virus is not airborne. His recommendation for travelers? Use hand sanitizer – to protect against the flu virus, which is airborne and much more common.

– Airlines say they clean their planes every night according to CDC recommendations, including the use of heavy-duty cleansers on armrests, tray tables and in lavatories.

FlyersRights Comments To DOT on Ancillary Fees

Read our comments to the DOT regarding the need for transparancy on airline ancillary fees. The DOT received over 700 supporting comments or over 98% in favor.

The DOT must now go through the comments and respond to them and then issue a final rule.  

Note our comments support the forcing airlines to disclosure of the ancillary fees in real time but do not support the extremely broad and vague definition to regulate ticket sellers, as it could apply to virtually anyone publishing airline fare info, as potentially chilling to free speech etc.

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