Thursday, 28 August 2014

Pay me not to use Knee Defender - don't throw me off a flight

If you havn't noticed the great debate about the Knee Defender - which stops the person in front of you on a flight reclining their seat, and got two passengers thrown off a flight in the USA recently, then read this article in the NYTimes.  People get awful upset about this stuff - but here is a kind of economically rationalist view:
"The economists Anne Case and Christina Paxson advanced the theory that tall people earn more because they have higher I.Q.s. Taller men on the dating website OkCupid receive more messages from women and have more sex partners than their short counterparts.

Instead of counting their blessings, or buying extra-legroom seats with some of their extra income, the tall have the gall to demand that the rules of flying be reconfigured to their advantage, just as everything else in life already has been. Sometimes — one Upshot editor who shall remain nameless included — they even use the Knee Defender to steal from their fellow passengers.

Now that’s just wrong."

Read the full Josh Barro article here: Don’t Want Me to Recline My Airline Seat? You Can Pay Me

Nick Xenophon gives a great summary of the decline of Qantas

Independent Senator from SA gives a great roundup of the Joyce years at Qantas.

Joyce has earned $22.2 million as chief executive and in the 2012-13 financial year his $5.1 million package matches the combined salaries of the Cathay, Singapore and Air New Zealand chiefs. Shareholder value seems inversely proportional to Joyce's pay packet. Qantas shares today are worth 40 per cent less than when Joyce took over.

 Read the full article: Qantas chief Alan Joyce has plenty of questions to answer

Qantas and Alan Joyce - worse than expected, and that's just their financial performance

Qantas today reported an underlying loss before tax of AU$646 million - with a statutory loss after tax of AU$2.8 billion, but Alan Joyce is not to blame.

It was all the other airlines fault, for being more competitive and putting too many seats on the market. Oh, and fuel got more expensive (wasn't it more expensive for all airlines?). Oh, and we did some restructuring, and sacked people and had to pay them out - which cost us quite a lot of money - but really that is a saving! Oh, and less people decided to fly (with us), so its really their fault. Oh, and we did save quite a lot of money by giving people shittier meals and less service (Ahem!) I mean more efficient service.

Let me do some translation from Alan Joyce's opening remarks about underlying results:
  • 'The cumulative effect of two years of market capacity growth outstripping demand,'
    = we put on too many flights that no one wanted to travel on in an attempt to beat Virgin
  • 'A record high fuel cost of $4.5 billion, up $253 million on the prior year, and'
    = compared to other airlines we got our fuel hedging strategy wrong?
  • 'Weaker demand due to an environment of lower consumer confidence, with reduced activity by business, particularly the mining and government sectors'
    = we fiddled around with other stuff while consumer demand burned
He goes on to say that that 2.6 billion write-down is really just an accounting thing now that they are doing a corporate restructure in line with the legislative changes so that they can have greater foreign ownership, and the amount is soooooo big because they bought the aircraft when the Australian dollar was low, and now its high, but since they're not planning on getting rid of the planes, this doesn't really affect anything (so it means they will keep those old tired planes?).

Now - I have a lot of sympathy for Alan Joyce, he took over an airline that had kind of been coasting because its management was more focused on selling to private equity, and making a lot of money for themselves rather than bringing the airline in to the 21st century. But he has been there quite a while now (CEO since 2008), and along with the board, made some very bad decisions. The airline seems bent on contraction, rather than finding a way to expand. It has become way meaner to both its staff and customers on its path to becoming leaner.

Have a chat to any Qantas staff member who engages with the public, and you will only see eyes raised in disbelief at management decisions, and hear polite but none the less derisive comment about Qantas public pronouncements. So whatever they are doing, and whatever they are saying, they are not bringing staff and their customers with them.

Over the pas year I have travelled a lot with Qantas. They gave me Gold Status, and so in return I have remained fairly faithful - but the recent changes in the Frequent Flyer scheme - effective lowering of points and status credits on most of my regular routes and fare catagories has made me question their loyalty to me. I havn't flown with them longhaul international for years on the basis of cost and service. I am about to do so next month. I'll tell you then what I think all this 'transformation' means for the international customer.

Further Reading:

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Which of these Apps accepted my Hotel Booking info: Tripit, TripCase, Kayak or WorldMate ?

I sent this, emailed to me by my travel agent, to tripit, TripCase, Kayak and Worldmate.

Only one of them came back to me with the booking details recognised: KAYAK

All the others came back with messages like this:
Or this:

 But only KAYAK came back with this:

So, I guess KAYAK wins the prize.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Australian Domestic Airlines - ontime Arrival

The Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics recently published its June airline arrival statistics.

So to save you the drudgery - here are the major findings:

Want your flight cancelled ?
- Travel on Tiger or Qantaslink, or
- Travel on the Canberra / Sydney route

Want to arrive on time ?
 -  Travel on Qantas or Regional Express

Want to Depart on time ?
- Travel on Qantas or Regional Express

On the whole, on time arrivals and departures as well as cancellations are worse than the same time last year.

For the full report, in case you have an insomnia problem, you can download here

Friday, 15 August 2014

OOOPS! I'm flying with this potential clown airline in September

Authorities are investigating how a Jet Airways aircraft dropped more than 1500 metres in airspace over Turkey while the pilot was reportedly asleep.

An aviation regulator is looking into whether the co-pilot was also dozing as the Boeing 777-300 travelled from Mumbai to Brussels last Friday, the Times of India reported.

Apparently the pilot was taking a “controlled rest”, which means napping as allowed. The co-pilot, who was supposed to be in charge during this time, claimed she was busy on her tablet and didn’t notice the aircraft had lost altitude.

The pair were unaware of the situation until they received an emergency call from an air traffic controller asking why the plane had moved from its assigned flight level of 34,000 feet (10,363 metres).

The change in altitude meant the 300-passenger jet was flying awry in busy airspace.

Read more: SMH

Monday, 11 August 2014

Best and Worst American Airlines 2014

USA Airlines are not known for their spit and polish. In fact they are more likely to be remembered for their lack of service, than anything else. It's odd that the self proclaimed 'best country in the world' has some of the worst airlines in terms of customer service, ontime arrivals, cancelled flights, mishandled bags, and customer satisfaction.

For the 3rd year running airfarewatchdog has compiled the statistics - and here they are in summary:


Top 3

  1. Delta
  2. Virgin
  3. Alaska

Bottom 3

  • American
  • US Airways
  • United



Top 3

  1. Delta
  2. Alaska
  3. Virgin America

Bottom 3

  • American
  • US Airways
  • Jetblue



Top 3

  1. Alaska
  2. Delta
  3. Virgin America

Bottom Three

  • Frontier
  • Southwest
  • AirTran


Top 3

  1. Virgin America
  2. Frontier
  3. JetBlue

Bottom 3

  • US Airways
  • Southwest
  • AirTran

BUMPED! (denied boarding)

Top 3

  1. JegBlue
  2. Virgin America
  3. Alaska

Bottom 3

  • Sowthwest
  • Airtran
  • United


Top 3

  1. JetBlue
  2. Southwest
  3. Delta

Bottom 3

  • American
  • US Airways
  • United
See airfarewatchdog for complete details

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

British Airways make Pam Ann unfunny

You may know Pam Ann from her international live shows, or from her website or video's.

British Airways has employed her to front a little ad campaign about the quality and the training of their staff. Unfortunately, they have succeeded in making her less funny than she really is, and have just reinforced the usual view of BA staff being a bit stuffy and self serving. Or have they?

Here she is in all her glory: Pam Ann