Desperate to drive revenue and profit to combat rising fuel costs and declining travel, airlines are now seeking to extract additional money from the remaining people who fly—and in turn are rapidly and systematically degrading the flying experience. I can’t think of another category in which the major players consistently make moves that make the experience worse. Technology, hospitality, automotive…all these industries seem focused on innovation and improvement—driving better value and experience for consumers. Meanwhile, the airlines steadily chip away, layering fee upon fee for bags, scheduling changes, leg room, aisle seats, food, you name it….
A recent NYT article about how airlines are starting to use social media to allow passengers to connect (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/24/business/global/selecting-a-seatmate-to-make-skies-friendlier.html?_r=1&src=me&ref=business), showcased one of the latest innovations in air travel. Some airlines in Asia and Europe are now charging passengers up to $60 to let them request to have an empty seat next to theirs. Wow. Passengers are now paying, literally, for nothing. Somewhere, the accountants are doing handsprings.
Originally published 2/24/12