Saturday, January 26, 2013

Better planning for travel

Flying is unnerving in more ways than one. There is the queuing, the booking of interconnecting flights, reading extended 'terms & conditions' by airlines which strike one as extortionate 'hurdles' than fair practice. This is my latest bugbear. My travel from the Philippines to Australia was stressful because:
1. These discount airlines often do not amalgamate their flight schedules so you can book through fares. Sometimes this is because they are code-sharing, and under different rules. 
2. These airlines don't have clear terms
3. These airlines have a propensity to change terms, or depart from long-standing tradition.

There is a revolution going on in the airline industry, and its seeing the airlines change the way they charge for flights. The telecommunications and electricity industries went through the same process, and because everyone needs electricity, the experience was both unsetting and costly for customers. Electricity and telecommunication services in small markets went through the roof, or did not fall as other markets. With flying, consumers have the discretion not to fly as much...and they don't if they don't like their experience.

This brings me to the airline industry. Flying is discretionary, and discount airlines are troubling passangers with silly rules, and some of them are not even their fault. Its amazing how hard it is for them to realise that:
1. Passengers don't want to be punished for making late choices that don't affect the airline, i.e. An airline will on average know how much weight, many many passengers, how much average luggage passengers will take, so why do they need to be punished for it. 
2. Passengers don't want to be extorted: Passengers want choices which empower them. They don't want airlines to use this discretion to extort from them. Most particularly they don't expect to pay $A4 for a bottle of water in order to replace the water they 'stole' by maintaining dry air on the plane. I lost my bottle in customs because they thought it was a bomb. Passengers don't want to be fussed carrying on empty water bottles. Just sell them a reasonably priced bottle of water for God's sake. 
3. Passengers want a pro-rata price for baggage. We understand you need to plan your fuel requirements, or luggage availability, but why can't we take as much luggage as you have space to fill, and pay a pro-rata fee for that, and only a penalty to the extent that our changes impact you.

At the end of the day, consumers expect to pay a single pricing point, and everything else to be priced at cost. This is the model which would maximise competition, as if any industry has any interest in that. This is ultimately the standard which makes maximises competition.

In future, it remains to be seen whether this occurs. But given the greater strictness of airline baggage limits...maybe we might expect greater passenger awareness of what we travel. Maybe we will see an evolution in the design of clothes for travel 'lightness' and flexibility. I have been accustomed to piling everything into a 30-kg case and taking off. Maybe new lightweight luggage will be matched by lightweight, flexible clothes designs. I recall travelling to Colombia years ago and having items stolen from my bag. How travel has progressed in recent times.
Andrew Sheldon
Global Mining Investing $69.95, 2 Volume e-Book Set. Buy here.
Author, Andrew Sheldon

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