.
Recently, the Centre for Asia-Pacific Aviation (CAPA) published a report which concluded that the “full-service airline model break down in the new-world order“.

“Worldwide, the number of passengers travelling on First or Business class tickets fell by 16.7% in Jan-2009, a further substantial fall from Dec-2008 levels, which were 13.3% down on the year.”

That means that legacy airlines, which made a majority of their money from premium passengers, are struggling, even as low-cost carriers see greater traffic from people downgrading and new people taking to the skies.

What does the future full service airline model look like?

Here’s my prediction.
It will consist of airlines charging for providing value added services, rather than those un-bundling their products. Moreover, customer service will become a key brand distinction for the full-service airline, as prices would generally be competitive and so would most of the in-flight products too. The savvy traveler of the future will not only hunt the lowest prices, but be loyal to the airline that treats him well. Lastly and most importantly, employees of the full service airline will be part of the family, and share the love with customers at every touch point too (up to 16 per customer!).

Which airline is closest to the future? Southwest.

A lot of you might be wondering why I picked Southwest. Since that’s the airline that led the low-cost carrier (LCC) revolution. But I feel even among the LCCs, there is a a huge disparity. At one end, there’s RyanAir, which might just charge for the loo and intends to remove all check-in counters very soon. And at the other end is Southwest, Virgin Blue and JetBlue, which offer a number of value added services, yet maintain a low price.
Here’s a comparison table I’ve drawn of Southwest Airlines and the full-service carrier of the future.

Southwest Airlines

What do you think? What does the future of full-service airlines look like to you? Do you think Southwest is a good indication of the future or are there better examples too?

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Shashank Nigam

Shashank Nigam

CEO at SimpliFlying
Shashank Nigam is the CEO of SimpliFlying and a globally sought-after consultant, speaker and thought-leader on airline branding and customer engagement strategy. He is also the youngest winner of the Global Brand Leadership Award and has addressed senior aviation executives globally, from Chile to Canada and from Sydney to San Francisco.

Shashank's perspectives have found their way into major media outlets, including CNN Travel, CNBC, MSNBC, Bloomberg UTV, Mashable and in leading publications like Airline Business, ATW, Aviation Week, and others.

Shashank studied Information Systems Management and Business Management at Singapore Management University and Carnegie Mellon University. Hailing from India, he splits his time between Singapore and Vancouver, among other cities.
Shashank Nigam
Shashank Nigam
  • Mark Gardner

    Any model where the Airline standardizes the equipment and training to one aircraft type will be the model for success. I think the days of 8 or more aircraft types, in the fleet are over… Too expensive to maintain.

  • Keith Purdom

    Yes Southwest is a model for full service airlines…but not in the way I guess you might be thinking. With a background in Ground Handling the big thing they some (not all) LCC do well is simplify simplify simplify.One simple product engineered to get cost out not to please some wet behind the ears marketing graduate who has a fantasy about Brand values and What our Custromers expect. Customers expect what you tell them to expect—thats why Sprirt have such high satisfaction levels with their customers! The other end of the scale is AF/KL who buy togther but then have two totally different product specs so no actual cost savings for the handlers but they expect competitive costs because of combined volume. Why would there be any logic in a volume discount for two different services! I could go on but will leave that to others Keith Purdom Bluechip Aviation Consulting (44… Keithpurdom@btinternet .com

  • Ronald Kuhlmann

    Probably not. One of the first observations I would make is that the current non-legacy carriers do not have the same kind of monolithic business model that has been a part of the “traditional” template. Ryanair claims to be directly descended from Southwest and yet few at Southwest would appreciate that association. Once the mold of tradition was broken, the variations on the theme are far more diverse than can be found between say, BA and SQ.

    Then we have Air Asia that began with a regionally based operation that now has an intercontinental feed/defeed network. Even the full service carriers of yore are no longer full service if one believes that taking a suitcase for free is part of the model.

    I’m not sure that from hereon one will be able to cite a clear example of what an airline is.

  • Paul Sciacca

    I think they are doing whatever it takes to stay solvent. Sometimes airlines have to make changes to policies that are totally out of their culture. How would you feel if you were a Ryan Air paxs and had to pay for the lavatory? What next, air on board?

  • Ronald Kuhlmann

    Solvency is a big consideration but Ryanair has been doing quite well and it is in their business model to provide the most basic experience possible. They do not shy away from charges that they are customer unfriendly or that they are willing to leave you stranded. These are all the consequences of the price you didn’t pay.

    Conversely, Lufthansa still provides a full service product and makes profit as well. Then we have the US legacy carriers who are in the red no matter what they do. Watch the business model and the environment and you will have a far better sense of what will happen. Almost all US carriers now charge for baggage because it is the market norm. But charging for all drinks is not and so US Air had to rescind the policy. The pack mentality amongst the legacy group remains strong.

  • Fulvio Delicato

    I sincerely don’t think so. It may serve a reference, but not as “the” model.

    In my opinion we are in the middle of a big change in the operating model for the airlines. And it is related to the economic midset worldwide change.

    Since the very first actual airline flight it is the first time in history that economics (and consumer behavior) changed so significantly. The current legacy airline model was designed to meet the desires/needs of the consumers of the past economic environment. With the environment change some realized the necessity of a new operating model to meet the new consumer desires/needs. So emerged the LCC model. Unfortunately if you follow any one of these LCC airlines upon their fight for growth (some will be more evident and others less) you will discover that at a certain stage in life (I would rather say “at a certain business size”) they have to make changes to their original model again to allow continued growth from then on. At this point, and still keeping basic differences, they come closer to the old legacy model. There are few exceptions to this observation. And we should study these exceptions carefully, if we want to develop the right airline model.

    I think we yet didn’t find the answer to fulfill the new consumers desires/need in the new economic environment. Legacy carriers used to be happy with profits of one digit. Then came the LCCs showing profits of two digits. Nowadays even the LCCs are approaching the one digit profit zone again. Some even already passed to the one digit zone. Yes, the LCC model is in the right direction but lacks some foundation definitions we should still better understand and develop.

  • Ronald Kuhlmann

    The flaw in this discussion is the assumption that there is a one-size-fits-all business model. For decades, the legacy carriers acted as a group, determining what an airline should look like. And they all looked pretty much alike in structure and service, immediately copying any innovation that appeared to be popular. When Southwest came along, they assumed it was no threat because it did not fit their definition of an airline. Unfortunately for them, the public thought otherwise. What we have now is a marketplace with a variety of options and consumers can choose the product that fits their need in a given situation.

    For the past two years I have been attending a conference in Singapore and always stop in Bangkok. The first year I bought an open jaw into BKK and out of SIN and plugged the BKK/SIN leg with an Air Asia flight. Since I had luggage allowable for the international sectors, but in excess of my Air Asia allowed weight, there were fees and charges that rapidly pushed up my cost. Last year I used Swiss on the SIN/BKK leg and paid about the same as the Air Asia flight eventually cost but got everything–including dinner.

    I believe that it is the recognition that options are now available, rather than some monolithic model, that has changed behavior. We are not going back.

  • Patrick Daykin

    I agree Ronald. There is no one size fits all model anywhere in the future. Case in point, Boeing vs Airbus. In the mid to late 90′s they both chose one of only two available directions. Boeing hypothesized that the world would want smaller faster planes. Airbus guessed that bigger was the way to go. While Airbus is milking a small lead in orders, it is evident that the world still does and will require multiple models. But most importantly they will continue to offer what is asked of them.

    The airline of tomorrow will only have to do just that in order to survive. LCC’s and legacy carriers all provide great examples of what works and what doesn’t. Ultimately though, if you provide what is asked for then you will win the race.

  • Diane Schroder

    I would love it if everyone was like Southwest. I just flew with them from CA to FL and they came around twice with the snack basket and I got a full can of soda. And I LOVE the leg room!!

  • Rick DeFiesta

    I hope not! Being someone who flies 100,000 miles per year, I do whatever I can to avoid flying the cattle cars of the sky.

  • Dominick Borzomati

    I am not certain as how you define “Full-Service” in today’s airline industry “service” is pretty much the same from carrier to carrier, that is from the traveling public’s point of view.

    The significant difference between Southwest and all the others centers on two major differences…

    Southwest operates a fleet of B737’s – they do not have to deal with the issues that other carries must deal with as it relates to training maintenances etc., This is a tremendous cost advantage to Southwest..

    Southwest also operates in and out of “satellite” airports and operates pretty much an O/D focused service. This avoids all of the costs associated with the HUB / Spoke focus of the remainder of the majors have committed to.

    While there are other reasons for Southwest’s success, these two in my opinion are at the center of there success.

  • Russ Slotnick

    I certainly hope not!

    Organized stupidity, will never take hold in the mid to upper priced categories While it seems ok for sheep, the wolfs, bears and tigers will never deal with a carrier like Southwest

  • Blake Hunter

    Well they are definitely one of the most successful as of recently so I guess only time will tell. But another thing that has been wrapped around my mind lately is that if the airlines want to stay afloat I think they would be smart to lead the charge on high speed rail. Its only a matter of time and high speed rail will either further damage their profits as a direct competitor, or can become part of their travel network. Its cleaner, uses substantially less to no fuel (magnetic trains), and would work very well on supplementing their shorthaul routes. It will either sink them or create a healthier bottom line for years to come. Its greener and cost less to the end consumer which is what personal and corporate travelers alike are looking for. I think high speed rail will be a big part of our collective traveling futures

  • Michael Landau

    Well, SWA first priority is taking care of their customers. So to have no hidden fees, access to all major cities, flight times that make sense for you and I, and they engage with customers all the time. The other major US airlines are set up completely differently and it would take a full change in a mindset and prove they are taking care of their customers by providing service at all levels of the buying cycle and actual flying, then maybe they can start to get back the trust they have lost over the last couple of years. The plan to reduce service levels to increase revenues is not really working. Full service is what everyone really wants to sub contract, i.e, additional fees for everything is not what helps the airlines and severely hurts destination resorts. We need more SWA and Virgin to choice from. Spoke and hub system has bankrupt just about every airline at least once in the last 10 years.

    Blake, I agree with the strategic partnerships with high speed rail lines, here in the states we decided that cars and roads were a better way to get around. We need about 50 Billion spent on rail, have old lines updated, give tax incentives to the exisiting train manufacturers a kick start to build the trains here in the states and we can help create a huge market for air/rail around the world.

    Michael

  • Diane Schroder

    I hope so. I love traveling on them. You get great leg room and they give you cans of soda and snacks. Great value for the price.

  • Adrian Corbuleanu

    I believe so, Southwest Airlines is an excellent airline. No questions they are one of the very few that are still profitable. Just a couple of questions that other airlines should address: (1) how can Southwest not charge for an extra luggage? (2) how can they manage a simple & flexible & efficient seat assignment (3) how can they implement great loyalty programs and keep the air fares down at all times? I predict Southwest to grow despite the slow down in the economy.

  • Walter White

    Southwest is very far from a full-service airline. They make money – but their passengers do not have full-service and never have. Only recently did Southwest even change their fare-structure to acknowledge business travelers.

  • Dietmar Kirchner

    As we can see in the present economic crisis, even business people are able to fly in lesser-sercice classes. Airlines like Southwest or JetBlue sell pure, but effecient and decent tarnsportation. At JetBlue you can even buy meals in case you are hungry. The complexity of offering full service craetes cost that is hard to recover these days on the fare side.
    Even in the most expensive hotels you usually pay for drinks, movie channels, and meals. So why do airlines catering for the same people have to give those services away for free?

  • Dietmar Kirchner

    As we can see in the present economic crisis, even business people are able to fly in lesser-sercice classes. Airlines like Southwest or JetBlue sell pure, but effecient and decent tarnsportation. At JetBlue you can even buy meals in case you are hungry. The complexity of offering full service craetes cost that is hard to recover these days on the fare side.
    Even in the most expensive hotels you usually pay for drinks, movie channels, and meals. So why do airlines catering for the same people have to give those services away for free?

  • Dietmar Kirchner

    As we can see in the present economic crisis, even business people are able to fly in lesser-sercice classes. Airlines like Southwest or JetBlue sell pure, but effecient and decent tarnsportation. At JetBlue you can even buy meals in case you are hungry. The complexity of offering full service craetes cost that is hard to recover these days on the fare side.
    Even in the most expensive hotels you usually pay for drinks, movie channels, and meals. So why do airlines catering for the same people have to give those services away for free?

  • Dietmar Kirchner

    As we can see in the present economic crisis, even business people are able to fly in lesser-sercice classes. Airlines like Southwest or JetBlue sell pure, but effecient and decent tarnsportation. At JetBlue you can even buy meals in case you are hungry. The complexity of offering full service craetes cost that is hard to recover these days on the fare side.
    Even in the most expensive hotels you usually pay for drinks, movie channels, and meals. So why do airlines catering for the same people have to give those services away for free?

  • Dietmar Kirchner

    As we can see in the present economic crisis, even business people are able to fly in lesser-sercice classes. Airlines like Southwest or JetBlue sell pure, but effecient and decent tarnsportation. At JetBlue you can even buy meals in case you are hungry. The complexity of offering full service craetes cost that is hard to recover these days on the fare side.
    Even in the most expensive hotels you usually pay for drinks, movie channels, and meals. So why do airlines catering for the same people have to give those services away for free?

  • Steven Eberly

    Simply put, full-sevice airlines have undercut themselves into a corner. They still like to differentiate themselves from low-cost rivals by insinuating a higher level of service, but cannot afford to follow through. The the truth is that there are no longer ANY full-service airlines in the US. There are large and small airlines, but service tends to look the same once on the plane.

    About the only service difference is in the reservations area. The ability to get to a destination reliably is higher at a major “full-service” airline, only because of their extensive network and spare aircraft availability. Southwest might be the exception to this, as a low-cost rival, but even they have some difficulty in this area due to the tight scheduling of aircraft.

    I expect that as airlines trim their capacity across the board, the majors will gain their second wind and begin competing again on a service based platform. When that does happen, ticket prices will be much higher in comparison with today’s prices, and they should be. Competition should be healthy, not debilitating. If the airline industry does not take the proper steps to maintain a healthy balance, perhaps the govt. should consider regulating them again as they did before the 80′s.

  • Walter White

    The answer is Regulation. The deregulated business model for airlines has not worked. It has created a business full of enormous debt, low-paid employees with little to no benefits, and cramped miserable flying experiences for the most part. Japan and other countries with strict airline regulation have airlines that invest in new aircraft and systems, provide excellent jobs and excellent flying experiences. Yes, the price for the customer will increase. However, they will be paying for a safe, reliable, comfortable flight. Deregulation has taught American air travelers to think air travel should be cheap and painful. There is also the ongoing insane fare structures that have a leisure passenger paying $99 for a flight that is sitting next to a business passenger paying $800+ for the same flight. No matter how many times the major carriers have said they would simplify their fare structure – they have always gone back to this inane business-passenger gouging practice. Then they wonder why their business customers leave for low-fare carriers. Ultimately this should be about safety. Safety will only be ensured with well-paid, experienced, happy employees running the airline. Regulation combined with modern business competition will ensure this happens. How many customers realize that their Regional Jet crews are making less than their city bus drivers? Pretty much anyone working for a US Regional airline has to live with their parents in order to survive on those wages. Don’t even get me started on out-sourced maintenance work to Central America! It’s time to re-regulate the US airline industry!

  • Jonathan Baker

    As a former airline pilot, I can assure you that happy employees are the key. For a plethora of reasons, Southwest will continue to rank among the top airlines in the world, and without a doubt one of the top airlines in the United States. Read the book “Nuts” and it will provide you with the many reasons Southwest has always been able to succeed.

  • Cyriel Kronenburg

    Personally I don’t think the Southwest model would be sustainable if all carriers would do the same. Picking and choosing only profitable routes and vacating the hub and spoke model would leave many airports in the world without service.

    The current airline model works fine, as long as Governments would stop making commercial passengers subsidize other forms of transportation and stop crazy barriers on airlines to operate in a liberalized environment.

  • Steven Eberly

    Walter,

    Sadly…correct.

  • Steven Eberly

    Dietmar,

    While I can agree with you that the business models of the major airlines in the US is seriously flawed in comparison with other service oriented industries, one must keep in mind that the aviation industry is still very highly government controlled. While a hotel can simply go out and hire an employee with zero experience and put them to work right away, airlines are faced with many, many regulatory training requirements for nearly all of its front-line employees. In these days of industry contraction, those types of costs can make a very large difference in ongoing operations costs. An airline can’t just lay off employees for a few lean months and pick them up again a few months later, they must be re-trained and re-qual’d.

    When was the last time you read an article on a major news outlet that talked about the mis-connects (wrong room, or keys that don’t work) and delays (Wiating for a hotel van at the airport?) of hotels? Aircraft engine fires vs. hotel fires?
    Aviation interests are required to train their employees and report all kinds of metrics to, and by the government…and it isn’t free. These types of costs are easily covered in good times, but in times like these, pose a nearly insurmountable problem for yield management.

    By the way, there is no such thing as competition in air service anymore. The lowest fare wins, regardless of the amenities in most cases. This does not foster service competition, only cost competition, and when a product is only differentiated by cost, the industry will inevitably drive itself to the lowest cost/value level. The only way to keep this downward spiral from decimating our country’s aviation industry further is to regulate the price and service levels again.

    As an airline pilot, I can easily see the erosion of service to many communities, and to the industry as a whole. If this contraction and reduction in services is a comfortable option for America, then so be it, but I always thought the idea was to improve and expand our national transportation system….was I wrong?

  • Dietmar Kirchner

    e: Walter’s comment,
    I disagree. Basically in a market economy companies have to succeed in a competitition by offering better products and make money with them.Most airlines (even outside the USA) live in those environments. And even within the USA Southwest would not exist and be profitable in a regulated world (nobody would have given them route licences to start with).
    Other businesses in the travel industry with high capacity cost and load-factor driven profits (hotels, rental car companies) successfully handle the yield management problem.
    There is no modern business competition in a regulated market (who decides better on fares, on market access, on service levels than the market itself?). Also salaries are driven by market forces.If airlines pay too little, they will not get anyqualified staff. Even Southwest pays decent salaries to get a motivated workforce.
    Safety is the major issue of our industry, but I see no correlation of safety maintenance or crew related accidents and the type of airline. Outsourcing heavy maintenance to FAA approved agencies around the world might make sense, but would not affect line maintenance.
    So: If you do not succeed in competition, you have to improve, but you should not change the rules of the competition.

  • Dietmar Kirchner

    e: Walter’s comment,
    I disagree. Basically in a market economy companies have to succeed in a competitition by offering better products and make money with them.Most airlines (even outside the USA) live in those environments. And even within the USA Southwest would not exist and be profitable in a regulated world (nobody would have given them route licences to start with).
    Other businesses in the travel industry with high capacity cost and load-factor driven profits (hotels, rental car companies) successfully handle the yield management problem.
    There is no modern business competition in a regulated market (who decides better on fares, on market access, on service levels than the market itself?). Also salaries are driven by market forces.If airlines pay too little, they will not get anyqualified staff. Even Southwest pays decent salaries to get a motivated workforce.
    Safety is the major issue of our industry, but I see no correlation of safety maintenance or crew related accidents and the type of airline. Outsourcing heavy maintenance to FAA approved agencies around the world might make sense, but would not affect line maintenance.
    So: If you do not succeed in competition, you have to improve, but you should not change the rules of the competition.

  • Dietmar Kirchner

    e: Walter’s comment,
    I disagree. Basically in a market economy companies have to succeed in a competitition by offering better products and make money with them.Most airlines (even outside the USA) live in those environments. And even within the USA Southwest would not exist and be profitable in a regulated world (nobody would have given them route licences to start with).
    Other businesses in the travel industry with high capacity cost and load-factor driven profits (hotels, rental car companies) successfully handle the yield management problem.
    There is no modern business competition in a regulated market (who decides better on fares, on market access, on service levels than the market itself?). Also salaries are driven by market forces.If airlines pay too little, they will not get anyqualified staff. Even Southwest pays decent salaries to get a motivated workforce.
    Safety is the major issue of our industry, but I see no correlation of safety maintenance or crew related accidents and the type of airline. Outsourcing heavy maintenance to FAA approved agencies around the world might make sense, but would not affect line maintenance.
    So: If you do not succeed in competition, you have to improve, but you should not change the rules of the competition.

  • Dietmar Kirchner

    e: Walter’s comment,
    I disagree. Basically in a market economy companies have to succeed in a competitition by offering better products and make money with them.Most airlines (even outside the USA) live in those environments. And even within the USA Southwest would not exist and be profitable in a regulated world (nobody would have given them route licences to start with).
    Other businesses in the travel industry with high capacity cost and load-factor driven profits (hotels, rental car companies) successfully handle the yield management problem.
    There is no modern business competition in a regulated market (who decides better on fares, on market access, on service levels than the market itself?). Also salaries are driven by market forces.If airlines pay too little, they will not get anyqualified staff. Even Southwest pays decent salaries to get a motivated workforce.
    Safety is the major issue of our industry, but I see no correlation of safety maintenance or crew related accidents and the type of airline. Outsourcing heavy maintenance to FAA approved agencies around the world might make sense, but would not affect line maintenance.
    So: If you do not succeed in competition, you have to improve, but you should not change the rules of the competition.

  • Dietmar Kirchner

    e: Walter’s comment,
    I disagree. Basically in a market economy companies have to succeed in a competitition by offering better products and make money with them.Most airlines (even outside the USA) live in those environments. And even within the USA Southwest would not exist and be profitable in a regulated world (nobody would have given them route licences to start with).
    Other businesses in the travel industry with high capacity cost and load-factor driven profits (hotels, rental car companies) successfully handle the yield management problem.
    There is no modern business competition in a regulated market (who decides better on fares, on market access, on service levels than the market itself?). Also salaries are driven by market forces.If airlines pay too little, they will not get anyqualified staff. Even Southwest pays decent salaries to get a motivated workforce.
    Safety is the major issue of our industry, but I see no correlation of safety maintenance or crew related accidents and the type of airline. Outsourcing heavy maintenance to FAA approved agencies around the world might make sense, but would not affect line maintenance.
    So: If you do not succeed in competition, you have to improve, but you should not change the rules of the competition.

  • Dietmar Kirchner

    Walter,
    the government control on our industry is mainly on the technical and operational quality side, which is necessary, given the cost of failure. There is similar public supervision when it comes to car or building safety. We would all be better off if the SEC would have provided the same oversight over the financial industry.
    Maintaining a high level of staff professionalism is in the airlines’ own interest, as even diruptions with no safety related consequences cost a lot of money. Yet, this does not constitue a reason for the government to look after frequencies, fares, or service features.
    The reluctance of many major airlines to really care about their brand is the reason for the “commodization” of air travel. On http://simpliflying.com/ you can read a traveler’s experience comparing old Delta with new Virgin USA. It is bitter to read that Virgin’s US competitors try everything to keep that superior competitor out of the market. Carriers like Southwest, JetBlue and Virgin USA run very simple business models, but are able to delight their customers with reliable service, helpful and professional staff, and innovative service features. And they are in better financial shape than most of the large carriers.
    The erosion of services to many smaller cities does not cry for re-regulation. It was Southwest in the USA and Ryanair in Europe that opened most of the new destiantions and brought B737 service to places formerly served with small prop airplanes. Maybe high speed trains (like in Europe or Japan) could be a better way of serving smaller cities and improve the national transportation system.

  • Dietmar Kirchner

    Walter,
    the government control on our industry is mainly on the technical and operational quality side, which is necessary, given the cost of failure. There is similar public supervision when it comes to car or building safety. We would all be better off if the SEC would have provided the same oversight over the financial industry.
    Maintaining a high level of staff professionalism is in the airlines’ own interest, as even diruptions with no safety related consequences cost a lot of money. Yet, this does not constitue a reason for the government to look after frequencies, fares, or service features.
    The reluctance of many major airlines to really care about their brand is the reason for the “commodization” of air travel. On http://simpliflying.com/ you can read a traveler’s experience comparing old Delta with new Virgin USA. It is bitter to read that Virgin’s US competitors try everything to keep that superior competitor out of the market. Carriers like Southwest, JetBlue and Virgin USA run very simple business models, but are able to delight their customers with reliable service, helpful and professional staff, and innovative service features. And they are in better financial shape than most of the large carriers.
    The erosion of services to many smaller cities does not cry for re-regulation. It was Southwest in the USA and Ryanair in Europe that opened most of the new destiantions and brought B737 service to places formerly served with small prop airplanes. Maybe high speed trains (like in Europe or Japan) could be a better way of serving smaller cities and improve the national transportation system.

  • Dietmar Kirchner

    Walter,
    the government control on our industry is mainly on the technical and operational quality side, which is necessary, given the cost of failure. There is similar public supervision when it comes to car or building safety. We would all be better off if the SEC would have provided the same oversight over the financial industry.
    Maintaining a high level of staff professionalism is in the airlines’ own interest, as even diruptions with no safety related consequences cost a lot of money. Yet, this does not constitue a reason for the government to look after frequencies, fares, or service features.
    The reluctance of many major airlines to really care about their brand is the reason for the “commodization” of air travel. On http://simpliflying.com/ you can read a traveler’s experience comparing old Delta with new Virgin USA. It is bitter to read that Virgin’s US competitors try everything to keep that superior competitor out of the market. Carriers like Southwest, JetBlue and Virgin USA run very simple business models, but are able to delight their customers with reliable service, helpful and professional staff, and innovative service features. And they are in better financial shape than most of the large carriers.
    The erosion of services to many smaller cities does not cry for re-regulation. It was Southwest in the USA and Ryanair in Europe that opened most of the new destiantions and brought B737 service to places formerly served with small prop airplanes. Maybe high speed trains (like in Europe or Japan) could be a better way of serving smaller cities and improve the national transportation system.

  • Dietmar Kirchner

    Walter,
    the government control on our industry is mainly on the technical and operational quality side, which is necessary, given the cost of failure. There is similar public supervision when it comes to car or building safety. We would all be better off if the SEC would have provided the same oversight over the financial industry.
    Maintaining a high level of staff professionalism is in the airlines’ own interest, as even diruptions with no safety related consequences cost a lot of money. Yet, this does not constitue a reason for the government to look after frequencies, fares, or service features.
    The reluctance of many major airlines to really care about their brand is the reason for the “commodization” of air travel. On http://simpliflying.com/ you can read a traveler’s experience comparing old Delta with new Virgin USA. It is bitter to read that Virgin’s US competitors try everything to keep that superior competitor out of the market. Carriers like Southwest, JetBlue and Virgin USA run very simple business models, but are able to delight their customers with reliable service, helpful and professional staff, and innovative service features. And they are in better financial shape than most of the large carriers.
    The erosion of services to many smaller cities does not cry for re-regulation. It was Southwest in the USA and Ryanair in Europe that opened most of the new destiantions and brought B737 service to places formerly served with small prop airplanes. Maybe high speed trains (like in Europe or Japan) could be a better way of serving smaller cities and improve the national transportation system.

  • Dietmar Kirchner

    Walter,
    the government control on our industry is mainly on the technical and operational quality side, which is necessary, given the cost of failure. There is similar public supervision when it comes to car or building safety. We would all be better off if the SEC would have provided the same oversight over the financial industry.
    Maintaining a high level of staff professionalism is in the airlines’ own interest, as even diruptions with no safety related consequences cost a lot of money. Yet, this does not constitue a reason for the government to look after frequencies, fares, or service features.
    The reluctance of many major airlines to really care about their brand is the reason for the “commodization” of air travel. On http://simpliflying.com/ you can read a traveler’s experience comparing old Delta with new Virgin USA. It is bitter to read that Virgin’s US competitors try everything to keep that superior competitor out of the market. Carriers like Southwest, JetBlue and Virgin USA run very simple business models, but are able to delight their customers with reliable service, helpful and professional staff, and innovative service features. And they are in better financial shape than most of the large carriers.
    The erosion of services to many smaller cities does not cry for re-regulation. It was Southwest in the USA and Ryanair in Europe that opened most of the new destiantions and brought B737 service to places formerly served with small prop airplanes. Maybe high speed trains (like in Europe or Japan) could be a better way of serving smaller cities and improve the national transportation system.

  • Jim

    As a consumer I love Southwest Airlines for their two bags checked free policy and not hidden fees, charges, or gotcha’s like other airlines have. They are foremost consumer/customer oriented in providing a quality service that will make you want to fly again with them.  I stopped flying Delta and United because of their extra fees and gothcha’s at the last minute.    Full service, not yet, not compared to the old days of the 1960′s when they gave you real metal utensils and served out meals but for today’s traveler on a short 1 to 4 hour flight SWA is the best. Airlines might take a look at SWA and become more customer friendly and then they may see ridership improve.

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