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Old 07-29-2017, 10:36 PM   #1
Edward64
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Thread on Airline travel

I've traveled quite a bit since the late 90's, primarily with Delta and its partners. I know the airline industry has been very competitive and high fuel prices really hurt.

In general, I do feel like cattle when I am travelling domestically. I stand a fair chance of getting upgrade to comfort/business and feel for those in economy (especially for the 5+ hour coast-to-coast flights).

I'm glad to see the bad press airlines are getting now. It'll force them to provide better services.

The ‘Incredible Shrinking Airline Seat’ Gets a U.S. Court Rebuke - Bloomberg
Quote:
Flyers Rights argued that the average seat width has narrowed from approximately 18.5 inches in the early-2000s to 17 inches in the early-to-mid-2010s. In recent decades, the distance between seat rows, known as "seat pitch," has gone from an average of 35 inches to 31 inches, and as low as 28 inches at some airlines, the group said in the suit.


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Old 07-30-2017, 12:05 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by Edward64 View Post
I've traveled quite a bit since the late 90's, primarily with Delta and its partners. I know the airline industry has been very competitive and high fuel prices really hurt.

In general, I do feel like cattle when I am travelling domestically. I stand a fair chance of getting upgrade to comfort/business and feel for those in economy (especially for the 5+ hour coast-to-coast flights).

I'm glad to see the bad press airlines are getting now. It'll force them to provide better services.

The ‘Incredible Shrinking Airline Seat’ Gets a U.S. Court Rebuke - Bloomberg

How Airline Ticket Prices Fell 50% in 30 Years (and Why Nobody Noticed) - The Atlantic

[/thread]
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Old 07-30-2017, 02:35 AM   #3
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Why would airlines provide better service when they already operate at a loss and always have?
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Old 07-30-2017, 10:15 AM   #4
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Is "always have" accurate?

Airlines have an incentive to maximize profits. They cut "services" so they can lower their fares. I think in theory, an airline with bad services won't survive but in today's domestic airline, it seems most/all major airlines have equivalent poor-mediocre domestic service so there is no incentive to get better.

So publicizing stuff and having government intervene seems to be the options to apply pressure to all airlines. The best successes I can think of from a passenger pov is the 3 hour (?) tarmac rule and of course, the now "we'll do better when we bump you off a flight"

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Old 07-30-2017, 11:18 AM   #5
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Overall service is not consistent which leads me to believe its who they hire, how they are trained, union/how they are treated by the airline etc.

My observations just off the top of my head, I'm sure there are others. All Delta for the first section ...

(1) Sky lounge staff is really pretty good
(2) Pilots are pretty good. The only quibble is once in a while, the pilot does not do a good job keeping us informed when we are delayed after boarding or on the tarmac
(3) International flight attendants tend to be much better than domestic
(4) Domestic flight attendants are hit and miss
(5) Check-in is pretty good but may be because the only time I use it is when I am travelling internationally and have to check in a bag
(6) Gate agents are also hit and miss. There are some that are pretty good and some that are just plain awful (and I'm not talking about during a system wide failure due to storms etc. when everyone is stressed out)
(7) Phone support is pretty good (except for system wide failures)

And not Delta specific

(8) Lost luggage is just plain awful However, this is likely due to inability to scale and quickly help the inevitable long queues. To be fair, I've not experienced this recently but when I have lost luggage its been bad
(9) TSA customer service is pretty bad. I'm not sure what their true efficacy is but I'm not commenting on that


Some possible remediation approaches

(a) I think there is a lack of feedback - the ability to capture it and airlines acting on it. Add a feedback mechanism on the TV screen (hey, you can play games so there's got to be a relatively easy way) or on my mobile Delta app. Show the face and names of all pilots and flight attendants and give the ability to rate and provide a comment ala Uber; same with gate agents

(b) If not already, airlines should have anonymous QA staff playing the role of the passenger and documenting their passenger experience

(c) Do a better job of screening who you hire, make sure they have the client facing skills. Beef up training and awareness programs, and certainly transition out those without good client facing skills to backoffice

My observation and I'm sure I'm biased somehow -- younger flight attendants have a friendly, customer centric approach than older ones. They smile more and look & fit better in the uniforms which lends to a more professional approach.

(d) Allow international carriers to fly domestic routes, I think Air Emirates was interested in doing this? I've heard arguments that it would be unfair competition as international carriers are subsidized by their government. If there was a way to do this equitably, I am believe customer service (especially re: flight attendants) will rise considerably

(e) TSA just needs to be more professional. The ones checking ID and tickets are the best of the lot. The others doing bags, x-rays and screenings mostly pretty sad. I'm sure some are the same staff that gets rotated so its a matter of discipline and focus. Get rid of the ones that yell instructions and have patronizing attitude

To be fair, I think Atlanta is the worse I've seen. Smaller airports are much better

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Old 07-30-2017, 11:43 AM   #6
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(c) Do a better job of screening who you hire, make sure they have the client facing skills. Beef up training and awareness programs, and certainly transition out those without good client facing skills to backoffice

My observation and I'm sure I'm biased somehow -- younger flight attendants have a friendly, customer centric approach than older ones. They smile more and look & fit better in the uniforms which lends to a more professional approach.

Read this in today's paper so had to look it up, first 20 seconds is best. Kinda cute but I stand by my statement

Delta flight attendants fight back against Qatar CEO's 'crap' service remarks | Delta News Hub
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Old 07-30-2017, 12:30 PM   #7
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Name one other industry where you are exposed to customer service longer than the airlines?

It's going to be exposed, by someone just by the sheer numbers of people that work through the system. On a 13 hour flight, with 300 people on it, it only takes 1 person to have a bad exchange. From the ticket counter, to security, to boarding, to the plane ride, to baggage claim, it's a non-stop service encounter. Except that along the way safety comes before service, and sometimes you can't get what you want, or something doesn't go the way it should.

The sheer scale and mathematics make it nearly impossible for everyone to be happy all the time. That doesn't mean that it can't be better, but I think that all this is lost in the expectations and not thought much about.
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Old 07-30-2017, 02:12 PM   #8
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Name one other industry where you are exposed to customer service longer than the airlines?

It's going to be exposed, by someone just by the sheer numbers of people that work through the system. On a 13 hour flight, with 300 people on it, it only takes 1 person to have a bad exchange. From the ticket counter, to security, to boarding, to the plane ride, to baggage claim, it's a non-stop service encounter. Except that along the way safety comes before service, and sometimes you can't get what you want, or something doesn't go the way it should.

The sheer scale and mathematics make it nearly impossible for everyone to be happy all the time. That doesn't mean that it can't be better, but I think that all this is lost in the expectations and not thought much about.

But that has nothing to do with shrinking seats, decline of leg room, overbooking nightmares and trying to nickle and dime the customers to death.
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Old 07-30-2017, 02:25 PM   #9
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But that has nothing to do with shrinking seats, decline of leg room, overbooking nightmares and trying to nickle and dime the customers to death.

See post #2 for those answers.
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Old 07-30-2017, 02:25 PM   #10
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Had this issue with American recently.

Flight from Philly to Buffalo on a Monday morning. First a delay and two gate changes (no big thing). But then we are told they are bringing a plane from the hangar to use. They get us a plane and we are on board and take off.

Right around the time that the pilot usually could come on to tell us that we are about to be landing in Buffalo we are instead told that we are landing in Harrisburg due to a mechanical issue.

That led to a bit of an "oh ****" moment but also brings up the question of why we were up there for that long only to get to Harrisburg. We could have been landing in Buffalo with as long as we were flying.

We land in Buffalo with no issue. No emergency vehicles waiting, no rush to the plane, nothing. This tells me that there wasn't a mechanical emergency as they would have had something prepared for an unscheduled "emergency" landing at a different airport.

When we inquired what the problem was they would not tell us anything. Just a "probably better not to ask" response. If it was "better not to ask" that would mean it was a serious emergency and they would have been prepared for that where we landed.

Our bet is that they took a plane that wasn't cleared for that flight and they could probably hide their mistake by landing in Harrisburg (a 20 some minute flight instead of an hour and 20 something).

We sit in Harrisburg and then get put on a plane and flown back to Philly. Don't even get me started on the "pass them off to another gate" approach of getting people re-booked. First they tell us to see the gate agent where we landed to be re-booked. Then that agent tells us another gate to go to, after the line has grown and 15 minutes passes. We get to that gate and wait and are told another gate to go to. That happens again and we are told to go to customer service, where there is one overwhelmed person working.

Awful customer service, negligence and lies.
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Old 07-30-2017, 02:27 PM   #11
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The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced that it expects the global airline industry to make a net profit in 2017 of $29.8 billion. On forecast total revenues of $736 billion, that represents a 4.1% net profit margin. This will be the third consecutive year (and the third year in the industry’s history) in which airlines will make a return on invested capital (7.9%) which is above the weighted average cost of capital (6.9%).

All this talk of the airlines losing money...

This was from December of 2016 prior to the final end of the year numbers.
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Old 07-30-2017, 02:48 PM   #12
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I might be barking up the wrong tree here, but I feel like the best thing that could happen to the airline industry in the US is a legitimate, modern high speed rail system or other ground transit like hyperloop. Anything that takes shorter flights to big metros out of the equation will likely help.

Philly to Buffalo is about 280 miles. Bullet trains do 185-200 mph for the most part. There's really no necessary stopping point between those two cities. Philly to Denver or LA makes sense by plane. Philly to Buffalo, NYC, Pittsburgh, etc really doesn't. The obvious flaw with this idea is that the high speed rail plans all have Philly as part of a Boston to DC line and a separate line from NYC through Albany and then across upstate NY. That puts the trip around 480 miles with probably 4 stops.

Build a real ground system and let the airlines focus on the longer trips. Charge prices that make sense for those and provide the kind of customer service that those prices warrant.
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Old 07-30-2017, 03:07 PM   #13
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Name one other industry where you are exposed to customer service longer than the airlines?

It's going to be exposed, by someone just by the sheer numbers of people that work through the system. On a 13 hour flight, with 300 people on it, it only takes 1 person to have a bad exchange. From the ticket counter, to security, to boarding, to the plane ride, to baggage claim, it's a non-stop service encounter. Except that along the way safety comes before service, and sometimes you can't get what you want, or something doesn't go the way it should.

The sheer scale and mathematics make it nearly impossible for everyone to be happy all the time. That doesn't mean that it can't be better, but I think that all this is lost in the expectations and not thought much about.

I don't expect near perfection. On feedback, option is toss out the bottom 5-10 percent, over time a trend will emerge which will airlines to keep and reward the high performers.

I think a good equivalent is Disney/other theme parks, they are open more than 12-14 hours and they are pretty good -- from their parking team, to retail store associates, to their actors, to hotel staff etc.

My guess why they are consistently good is screening & hiring of right candidates, training, customer centric mantra etc. I'm thinking most of their customer facing staff are not paid more than airline equivalent either.
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Old 07-30-2017, 03:15 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by CrescentMoonie View Post
I might be barking up the wrong tree here, but I feel like the best thing that could happen to the airline industry in the US is a legitimate, modern high speed rail system or other ground transit like hyperloop. Anything that takes shorter flights to big metros out of the equation will likely help.

Yup, I'm all for this. Not practical for the short term and routes probably won't be as extensive or convenient but more alternate transportation options would be nice.

My vote is let foreign carriers do domestic routes. Not sure how to resolve the fairness argument re: subsidy.
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Old 07-30-2017, 03:35 PM   #15
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I think a good equivalent is Disney/other theme parks, they are open more than 12-14 hours and they are pretty good -- from their parking team, to retail store associates, to their actors, to hotel staff etc.

Darned good example IMO, (though Disney service has taken a hit over the past decade).

But it wasn't long ago when even I -- a fairly tough arbiter of good/bad service -- could go days without a bad experience on Disney property.
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Old 07-30-2017, 03:37 PM   #16
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Yup, I'm all for this. Not practical for the short term and routes probably won't be as extensive or convenient but more alternate transportation options would be nice.

My vote is let foreign carriers do domestic routes. Not sure how to resolve the fairness argument re: subsidy.

Good question. Wikipedia's high speed rail page for the US gives a good look at the overall map proposed in 2009.

I feel like the only thing missing is going beyond Vegas to add in Phoenix, Provo, SLC, and Denver.

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Old 07-30-2017, 04:11 PM   #17
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{scratches head}

A lot of the grief consumers experience with airlines could be eliminated if, en masse, we decided that a lot of stuff simply wasn't worth the hassle.

Sure, there are situations that are difficult to impossible to avoid - emergencies, work-related stuff, etc - but we still do a lot of optional air travel here. I'm not talking about those.

It's been, give or take, a little over a decade since I've been on a plane & somehow {gasp} I've survived. And that's after flying several times a year for a few years prior to that. Pricing & aggravation simply made it not worth it anymore yet, OMG, I didn't die from not jetting hither, tither,and yon.

As long as you keep hand-feeding the machine, hard to be legitimately shocked if it bites you.
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Old 07-30-2017, 04:19 PM   #18
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{scratches head}

A lot of the grief consumers experience with airlines could be eliminated if, en masse, we decided that a lot of stuff simply wasn't worth the hassle.

Sure, there are situations that are difficult to impossible to avoid - emergencies, work-related stuff, etc - but we still do a lot of optional air travel here. I'm not talking about those.

It's been, give or take, a little over a decade since I've been on a plane & somehow {gasp} I've survived. And that's after flying several times a year for a few years prior to that. Pricing & aggravation simply made it not worth it anymore yet, OMG, I didn't die from not jetting hither, tither,and yon.

As long as you keep hand-feeding the machine, hard to be legitimately shocked if it bites you.

That's where I think reducing the need to fly to mostly longer trips makes the most sense. There's no good reason to have to fly from Philly to Buffalo most of the time. A good rail system is nearly as quick and much cheaper to maintain. Cross country flights make sense. I'd rather fly Philly to LA or Boston to Miami than any other method of travel between them. I'd rather hop on a train, or even in the car if traffic isn't bad, to handle those short and mid range distances.

When I was in Honolulu flight was mandatory to go anywhere else in a short time frame. Since then I've only been on 3-4 flights and those where paid for by universities that interviewed me for jobs.

You're spot on about how we've made air travel too common when it's not necessary. It feels like we've overburdened a travel method that doesn't scale to the level at which we are using it and then complaining about the result.
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Old 07-30-2017, 04:26 PM   #19
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I was on a plane last month, BWI to Boston for an interview. It was the first time I'd been on a plane in a few years, and I didn't pay for it. So that was ok -- though for the return trip, I still started the trip to the airport at about 1PM, waited because I got there early to make sure I got through security ok, waited some more because the plane in was delayed. Got to BWI then had to drive home...finally got home around 9PM. I could have just driven and gotten back around the same time.

My wife wants to go to AZ sometime, and for that we'd probably need to fly. But it's hard to want to spend much for four of us to travel. Even if each ticket is somewhat reasonable, there's still four of them. We'd also probably have to rent a car. It would still likely be worth it just to save time for that far a trip, but for anything less it doesn't seem worth it. We've basically committed to driving from MD to FL for visits to the in-laws.
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Old 07-30-2017, 04:30 PM   #20
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I'd rather hop on a train, or even in the car if traffic isn't bad, to handle those short and mid range distances.

Then again I see no reason to think it wouldn't be as bad or worse than what we're seeing with air travel.

Changing the method doesn't solve the problem of people that simply aren't cut out for customer service. That's a breeding issue, not a transportation issue.
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Old 07-30-2017, 04:52 PM   #21
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Then again I see no reason to think it wouldn't be as bad or worse than what we're seeing with air travel.

Changing the method doesn't solve the problem of people that simply aren't cut out for customer service. That's a breeding issue, not a transportation issue.

If you get a chance to see the trains in Europe, especially in Germany, in use then you would see the difference. Much more efficient, much easier and cheaper to maintain, and much less hassle than flying. You don't need nearly as much customer service for train systems, especially when they're designed well.

I spent the summer of 2014 in Europe. Went to an academic conference in norther Finland and then a bunch of us decided to just travel for the next 6+ weeks before going back to Hawaii for the fall semester. We went across Scandinavia (skipping Norway), down through Denmark into Germany, Czechia, and Austria, then wrapped around and came back up through Eastern Europe finishing in Estonia before taking a ferry back over to Helsinki to start the eternal flight back to Honolulu. I honestly don't remember a single time that a train required more than a 15 minute wait and the information about schedules/routes/price was so clear that I don't think any of us spoke to a customer service person a single time after getting our passes at the very beginning.

Of course, that's the rub, hoping that it would be designed and implemented properly in the first place.
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Old 07-30-2017, 04:59 PM   #22
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Of course, that's the rub, hoping that it would be designed and implemented properly in the first place.

Yep.

Plus scale does become an issue.

When you're talking about having states that are the size of a lot of those countries you mentioned, the sheer volume (even for short hops as under discussion here) becomes an issue.
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Old 07-30-2017, 05:36 PM   #23
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Yep.

Plus scale does become an issue.

When you're talking about having states that are the size of a lot of those countries you mentioned, the sheer volume (even for short hops as under discussion here) becomes an issue.

The Eurail system covers an area bigger than the US.
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Old 07-30-2017, 07:08 PM   #24
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The Eurail system covers an area bigger than the US.

I've taken the rail in Europe (Brussels to Paris, London to Paris). I didn't know it had that large of coverage.
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Old 07-30-2017, 07:20 PM   #25
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I've taken the rail in Europe (Brussels to Paris, London to Paris). I didn't know it had that large of coverage.

The easternmost part of the EU (Moldova, Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia), including western Russia, isn't officially part of Eurail, but they almost all have a similar system that you can transfer onto. I believe we had to take a car once in Moldova and a bus into Estonia, but that was it. Eurail goes as far north as northern Sweden and Finland, and as far southwest as Istanbul.

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Old 07-30-2017, 07:45 PM   #26
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If you get a chance to see the trains in Europe, especially in Germany, in use then you would see the difference. Much more efficient, much easier and cheaper to maintain, and much less hassle than flying. You don't need nearly as much customer service for train systems, especially when they're designed well.

I spent the summer of 2014 in Europe. Went to an academic conference in norther Finland and then a bunch of us decided to just travel for the next 6+ weeks before going back to Hawaii for the fall semester. We went across Scandinavia (skipping Norway), down through Denmark into Germany, Czechia, and Austria, then wrapped around and came back up through Eastern Europe finishing in Estonia before taking a ferry back over to Helsinki to start the eternal flight back to Honolulu. I honestly don't remember a single time that a train required more than a 15 minute wait and the information about schedules/routes/price was so clear that I don't think any of us spoke to a customer service person a single time after getting our passes at the very beginning.

Of course, that's the rub, hoping that it would be designed and implemented properly in the first place.

This is really cool. I would love to travel around Europe like this one day.
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Old 07-31-2017, 10:05 AM   #27
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I think short-haul airplane travel will die off one day, but not due to high-speed rail. I think it will be self-driving cars that spell the doom.

Think about it - with self-driving cars traffic delays/accidents will be minimized, and cars will become more of a moving office/living room rather than "the ultimate driving machine."

I'd much rather drive (sit in the back seat) from Philadelphia to Buffalo in a comfortable atmosphere, watching movies or working on my laptop without the drudgery of baggage check, long security lines, wasted time in the airport, etc.

Sure, when I have to go cross-country, flying will still be necessary. But for convenience and flexibility, self-driving, utility cars will be the bees knees.
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Old 07-31-2017, 10:17 AM   #28
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I think short-haul airplane travel will die off one day, but not due to high-speed rail. I think it will be self-driving cars that spell the doom.

Think about it - with self-driving cars traffic delays/accidents will be minimized, and cars will become more of a moving office/living room rather than "the ultimate driving machine."

I'd much rather drive (sit in the back seat) from Philadelphia to Buffalo in a comfortable atmosphere, watching movies or working on my laptop without the drudgery of baggage check, long security lines, wasted time in the airport, etc.

Sure, when I have to go cross-country, flying will still be necessary. But for convenience and flexibility, self-driving, utility cars will be the bees knees.


I'm there today, even having to drive.

My intersection point is roughly 10 hours.
In the past I had a client in Miami, FL. That's a 10 hour drive for me.
Charlotte to Miami is a 2 hour flight. I am 1 hour south of the Charlotte airport. Add in 2 hours to get through security successfully. Then an hour de-boarding and getting through the terminal and another 30 minutes at the rental counter and its
10 vs 6.5 hours.

Then cost factors in and that flight costs ~$300 1 way. Add in $50 for a rental car.

Compared to 700 miles. It costs me roughly $100 in fuel

Now balance out I can talk on the phone and do business the entire way down. Never have to go "out of pocket" Stop where I want when I want. And have much more comfort in my plenty wide air conditioned and heated seats. I drove it every single time.

But I've driven 50k+ miles every year for the last 15 so Im probably an anomoly.

Thanks.
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Old 07-31-2017, 10:29 AM   #29
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I think we probably need to go back to post #2. We pay relatively little for airfare, yet expect it to be luxury (that's where I think the comparison with Disney falls down). Totally understand efficiency when factoring in drive time vs security, etc., but I think that's a different issue.
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Old 07-31-2017, 10:36 AM   #30
JonInMiddleGA
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Originally Posted by CrescentMoonie View Post
The Eurail system covers an area bigger than the US.

Eurail seems to think otherwise
Quote:
It's good to know that Europe is smaller in size than the USA or Australia. Its major cities are relatively close to each other and well connected by train.
European Railway Map | Eurail.com

Istanbul to London looks like the longest route.
Google says that's 3,038.2 km
Google says that's just under 1,888 miles.

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Old 07-31-2017, 10:45 AM   #31
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I think we probably need to go back to post #2. We pay relatively little for airfare, yet expect it to be luxury (that's where I think the comparison with Disney falls down). Totally understand efficiency when factoring in drive time vs security, etc., but I think that's a different issue.

So technology reduced costs, as a result we shouldn't expect creature comforts?

I mean the cost of computers has fallen dramatically in the last 30 years, should we just learn to live with slow processing speeds?

Airline costs are greatly decreased by technology I'd imagine. Not to mention I think pilots are paid considerably less comparably. Etc.

That doesn't even bring into conversation the economies of scale created by increased fliers etc.
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Old 07-31-2017, 11:00 AM   #32
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Well, you continue to hold the title as the champion of false equivalency. We're talking about two different things here, but if you want to go with your comparision...

We've brought the cost of home computers down and many can get a stripped down version of a powerful machine when they didn't have access before. But if I want a top of the line rig, I have to pay for it.

Airlines have become less luxurious for travel, but there are more options than there were 20 or 30 years ago and it costs less. If I want to be treated royally, then I pay more. They still get me to where I need to go on time about 90% of the time.

If you want to view airline travel as an "experience" that's fine. You have to pay more for that. But it really has become just a mode of transportation, moving millions daily, safely and mostly on time. We, as a market, don't want to pay luxury prices for that. Could airlines run better or differently? Sure, but the market isn't really demanding that right now.
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Old 07-31-2017, 11:19 AM   #33
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And you can get a big screen TV for 10% of the price that it would have cost 20 years ago. The cheap, stripped down version would be pretty much indistinguishable to the average person from the top of the line version that also gets sold now (which would also be at a way lower price than 20 years ago).

There's a big difference between "being treated royally" and having your knees being pushed into the seat in front of you for hours. The cost for that is maybe another $50-$100/one way. Add that back in and how are we doing in comparison to prices of a couple decades ago?

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Old 07-31-2017, 11:20 AM   #34
CrescentMoonie
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Originally Posted by JonInMiddleGA View Post
Eurail seems to think otherwise

European Railway Map | Eurail.com

Istanbul to London looks like the longest route.
Google says that's 3,038.2 km
Google says that's just under 1,888 miles.

#JusSayin

I corrected that above. The EU itself is larger (3.931m square miles to 3.797). Eurail covers much of it and connects to trains in eastern Europe that take the overall distance farther than the US. Also, London to Istanbul is not the farthest trip as there are stops in northern Finland and Sweden. There are also trips from Portugal to Istanbul. The trip from Kiruna (northern Sweden) to Istanbul is about 4500 kilometers or just under 2800 miles.

Now remember that what I'm suggesting is the infrastructure be built out to chop off a lot of the short range flights and it makes much more sense. A train from Philly to Denver (which is about 1600 miles, so less than London to Istanbul), or maybe even Kansas City, isn't really different than a flight. A train from Philly to Pittsburgh or even Indianapolis for business is. Eliminate the flights that are going 200 miles, and even the ones that are going 500-600 miles, and replace them with a much better transit option whether that's a real rail system, hyperloop, self-driving cars or whatever.
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Old 07-31-2017, 01:00 PM   #35
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Well, you continue to hold the title as the champion of false equivalency. We're talking about two different things here, but if you want to go with your comparision...

We've brought the cost of home computers down and many can get a stripped down version of a powerful machine when they didn't have access before. But if I want a top of the line rig, I have to pay for it.

Airlines have become less luxurious for travel, but there are more options than there were 20 or 30 years ago and it costs less. If I want to be treated royally, then I pay more. They still get me to where I need to go on time about 90% of the time.

If you want to view airline travel as an "experience" that's fine. You have to pay more for that. But it really has become just a mode of transportation, moving millions daily, safely and mostly on time. We, as a market, don't want to pay luxury prices for that. Could airlines run better or differently? Sure, but the market isn't really demanding that right now.

Yeah I obviously made my point very poorly based on your response.

My point was the cost to operate an airline is (dramatically) lower today than it was. The cost build a plane is lower than it was. The cost to operate the plane is lower than it was. And yes the price of a ticket is lower than it was. When you combine lower costs with competition sales price decreases.

Profits are up across the industry.

Yet airline employees today are less happy than ever before and airline passengers today are less happy than ever before.

That's not a properly run and sustainable business model in my opinion.

I'm not asking for luxury. I'm simply asking for reasonable accommodations. Again you point out that ticket prices are cheaper, but you also get less for your dollar.

Today's first class domestic is inferior to the 80s coach, smoke free air excluded.
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Old 07-31-2017, 03:55 PM   #36
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R&D for planes is massive. It takes 10-15 years to get a new model in the air. You can't, not throw that into the cost to build it. Planes are cheaper to operate because the PRASM it tightly controlled by the airlines. That is how costs are controlled and it's decided what routes are worthwhile or what carriers are efficient or not. Whether or not expansion or contraction should occur. Margins have been crammed down for years. Employees were all taken through bankruptcies and lied to by management.

Airlines are pouring millions into the operation to get back on track from a lost decade. I mean lost. As in no infrastructure investment because of 9/11 and the resulting financial recessions. Yes, airlines are making money, but people act like nothing is changing. But companies are investing in new jets, investing in employees, investing in better tech to help passengers. It's a massive, wide ranging operation. We aren't talking about Disney that upgrades it's hotels in Orlando. We're talking about companies that fly to hundreds of cities in hundreds of planes that all have to be scheduled, maintained, upgraded. Airports where the airlines are working with the local authority to make things better for passengers.

There are thousands of wheels turning, but because you may not see it, or remember what it was like before doesn't mean that they are raping passengers and piling money into big piles for execs to shower with.

My airline employees are happy for the most part. There are over 20,000 flight attendants at United. All it takes is for 1 of them to say the wrong thing and the entire operation takes a hit. Hell, all it takes is for one flight attendant, working for a completely different airline to do something wrong, and my FA's pay for it. That is an impossible standard. People are individuals, and try as you might, there will always be some person, or some situation that gets out of hand. You cannot micromanage the personalities out of people. Are there plenty of FA's that should probably move on, hell fucking yeah, but unless you want the govt to come in and allow discrimination to where the airlines can age out, or size out FA's it's not happening. I'm not even talking about gate agents, or pilots. That's an organization of hundreds of thousands in one company that is expected to never have a bad day. And if they do, someone with a cell phone will be there to record it and demand millions because of it. I can't wait until I can do that to everyone else.

It's totally a sustainable business because there are survivors that have made it decades. It's going to change, for sure. They already are looking at reducing the number of pilots from 2 to 1 or 0.

Then this...
Quote:
Today's first class domestic is inferior to the 80s coach, smoke free air excluded.

Where are those airlines now? Gone. Almost all of them. Regulation provided profitable airlines at 65% load factors. Now, with deregulation, airlines need to be nearly 92-93% load factors to maintain profitability. That is the straight change in ticket price and efficiency. Yes, deregulation made the industry more competitive, made it cheaper, made it more efficient. The result was that those airlines in the 80's thought they could survive with the same operation, but they all went away. We have now, what we have because it's what the industry will bear.

It's a massively complex, way more than meets the eye operation. Every day, flight after flight, we get most places on time, and safe.

The idea that flying is comparable as an operation to trains is laughable. Trains don't worry about volume delays into the train station on the level we do, because if a train has to wait, it doesn't run out of gas and fall out of the sky. Trains don't worry about weather, in such a way that it keeps you from leaving. Trains don't lose power and make emergency landings. No shit, someone once asked me if we fly on cables in the sky. That's how the public views flying. Like it's some kind of magic show where we make up a lot of shit, but only they know the real truth.

Like EF up above who totally knows all the lies about emergency equipment and how it wasn't a real emergency because they didn't do what he thought they should. I mean, what am I supposed to say? He totally knows.

Reasonable accommodations.

I'll admit that the flying experience from check in to boarding is fucking stress ridden and bullshit. It's crowded, busy, loud, you can't ever seem to do it right. You need a the right identification....hey KY resident, yeah, your drivers license won't work anymore because your governor is a jackass who vetoed the bill that was going to resolve this, so now, you're going to need your birth certificate or a passport. This starts next year. Most of that isn't the fault of the airline, it's the result of the FAA, and TSA and learning from what people will do and still want to do to airplanes. I pretty much despise the TSA. I talk as little as possible to them, I say thank you, but when I'm a passenger it almost always seems like I'm about ready to get into a fight with them because they act like jackasses.

The domestic operation and the international operation work almost like 2 different airlines. Each international 777 flight costs us 1 million dollars to operate. How many of those per day, every day. It's crazy. I read through this and it's over-generalization after over-generalization as if those things would remedy all the problems. Take things as part of the bigger puzzle. A gate agent in LA isn't going to be the same as a gate agent in BUF no matter how you train them. You can't turn them all into robots. Not yet anyway.

Airlines have changed the American experience. You don't have to fly on them. I much prefer to drive where I can, but they play a vital part to our economy and to our way of life.
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Old 07-31-2017, 04:21 PM   #37
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FWIW, I don't think there is a single thing wrong with the banking industry either. So there!
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Old 07-31-2017, 04:26 PM   #38
CrescentMoonie
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I strongly suggest people watch the PBS miniseries from earlier this year on the airline industry. It really is as complex as it is massive. That's a big part of why I push for alternate means of travel for shorter distances. Save the complexity for cross country or international flights and charge accordingly.

I think the smartest way to approach it nationally is to work out a meaningful formula that places time as the biggest factor. With the added time air travel takes, figure out where the threshold is for high speed rail, driving, or whatever and drill that into people's heads while adjusting the infrastructure to match it. If the difference in time ceases to be statistically significant at 500 miles, then build for trains to hit the major travel points that are less than that. If it's 1000 miles, then aim for the trips that are less than that. Find that level and build a multi-modal transit system that makes sense.
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Old 07-31-2017, 04:34 PM   #39
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A better train system would have been a great area to focus on for a new President who was supposedly going to take advantage of historically low borrowing rates to invest in the infrastructure of this country.

That being said, I think we're too far past the point for this to be feasible, at least in a large portion of this country where you just won't be able to start laying down high speed-capable tracks through fairly decent sized cities. We're just too late in trying.
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Old 07-31-2017, 06:09 PM   #40
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Hyperloop?
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Old 07-31-2017, 06:19 PM   #41
JonInMiddleGA
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Find that level and build a multi-modal transit system that makes sense.

If there was one, private industry would have already attempted it.

Alas ... and the one thing I figure could actually make a more miserable experience out of travel than the airlines (and the associated gov't entities already involved, to be fair & thorough) would be the government to do it.
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Old 07-31-2017, 06:21 PM   #42
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Hyperloop?

Underground transport system that Elon Musk dreamed up. They've now run tests and he just got verbal approval from the federal government to build the DC to NY line of it. Supposedly will be able to go NY to DC in 29 minutes.

Elon Musk says he has ‘verbal govt approval’ for D.C.-to-New York Hyperloop - The Washington Post
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Old 08-01-2017, 07:16 AM   #43
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Was a response to Logan in regards laying track down in cities
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Old 08-01-2017, 10:23 AM   #44
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A good 50+% of the problems and absurdities with airline travel could be solved by eliminating the security theater we've implemented post 9/11.
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Old 08-01-2017, 02:45 PM   #45
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Most air travel inconveniences aren't a big deal to me. I think we romanticize the old days a little bit, I'd much rather get where I want to be cheaper, and I love having all of the technology that makes traveling easier - knowing where my flights are at any second, being able to get online at airports, being able to arrange ground transportation and knowing where the best place to kill time at any particular airport is, having the tools to quickly mitigate any delays or travel interruption.

It also helps to live next to a smaller airport where the time to get through security averages about 3 minutes, including the line. Though I still haven't seen these multi-hour security lines people talk about even when coming back through bigger airports.

But the one thing I find completely unacceptable, and which fortunately hasn't happened to me yet, is sitting out on the tarmac for hours. I think the newer DOT rules have helped with this, and reading around it looks like long tarmac delays are down significantly from 2009 peaks, and maybe we don't have as many issues like this as we used to:

'You can't do this to us': Fuming passengers stuck on planes for hours call 911 - Ottawa - CBC News

But, you still sometimes hear about it. I can entertain myself in the airport, but stick me on a hot plane for 5 hours and I might hit a breaking point.

The airlines have been great at re-routing me automatically when I miss connections due to delays. There have been times when I see I'm going to miss my connection, I get in that long, angry line at the customer service desk, but then I check the airline app and see that they've already re-booked me and I don't have to wait in that line. I wonder how many pissed people in that line didn't have to be there if they were better prepared. It's great to have those tools. I remember in 80s once being stranded somewhere and being tracked down by a airline staffer in a restaurant after she figured out a way to get us home. Great service, she must have ran all over the airport looking for us - but I'm glad we're not in that era anymore.

Last edited by molson : 08-01-2017 at 02:47 PM.
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Old 08-01-2017, 05:02 PM   #46
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I don't really have a hard time with security. I mean, once you fly long enough, you understand what needs to be done, what shouldn't be done, etc.

Yes, I've had had things confiscated - a battery pack (in China), some toiletries, etc. But seriously, if you're not being a jackass, odds are they won't be a jackass to you.
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Old 08-01-2017, 05:05 PM   #47
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I don't really have a hard time with security. I mean, once you fly long enough, you understand what needs to be done, what shouldn't be done, etc.

Yes, I've had had things confiscated - a battery pack (in China), some toiletries, etc. But seriously, if you're not being a jackass, odds are they won't be a jackass to you.

I've been "randomly" selected for pat downs around 50% of the time. Oddly, about 20% of the time I've been told I don't have to go through the line and have been fast tracked through. I have no idea why either has happened.
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Old 08-01-2017, 05:08 PM   #48
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I'm not saying there aren't valid complaints but this is still how I feel most of the time in regards to airline travel.

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Old 08-01-2017, 05:58 PM   #49
Toddzilla
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I bring candy for the flight attendants and have been treated like a king on every flight.
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Old 08-03-2017, 09:11 AM   #50
Edward64
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I bring candy for the flight attendants and have been treated like a king on every flight.

Great idea, I'm going to try it.

What type of candy and how many FA do you give them to?
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