Monday, October 1, 2007

On My Flight Home........

After spending five weeks in Dayton, OH, the return flight this past Friday from Chicago was an eye opener as to the current state of the airlines.

I was on TED, which is United's low cost carrier, reading a book and relaxing.....kinda. The beverage cart began it's first trip through the cabin shortly after takeoff on the 3 1/2 hour flight from Chicago back to Phoenix.

With the exception of dirty floors, a delayed departure, and an overall nauseous feeling from watching the majority of overweight guests scarf down McDonald's during the safety video, I guess it was business as usual.

The flight attendants were very nice; but I happened to notice they were only pouring beverages into the plastic airline cups, and not providing the whole can. Just for fun, when it was my turn, I asked for the can. The flight attendant responded that she had been instructed NOT to give the whole can, even if a passenger asks for it. Although there are certainly bigger tragedies in life than not getting the entire can of ginger ale on a flight, I guess the larger issue with the airlines hit home, which is why I don't invest in them.

Considering inflation and rising oil prices, how can they afford to offer a ticket under $200 round trip? The answer......they shouldn't be, which is why many carriers have filed for bankruptcy protection. If they are so squeezed as to not provide a $.25 can to a paying customer, why don't they just charge more upfront? I guess anyway they can save a buck helps the bottom line; however, it seems like an unreasonable tradeoff in my mind.

Even an airline like Southwest (LUV), which continues to do very well despite overall industry troubles, may have a hard time in the future when their oil hedges run out. In my opinion, there are just to many problems affecting the industry in a negative way that I don't see going away.

In the words of former Virgin Atlantic Airways owner Richard Branson when asked the best way to become a millionaire, he responded: "Start as a billionaire, and then buy and airline."

10 comments:

Andrew Pratt said...

I always thought that they didn't want the extra trash from giving everyone cans. I do like getting the whole can though. I would pay and extra quarter on the ticket cost to get the whole can. Then it would be $232.25 insteaad of $232.00. If I was an investor in the company, I would like to see the price of tickets go up, but as of now, I will continually enjoy the competition that airlines have that keep the prices down.

Andrew Pratt said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
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