Thursday, 21 August 2014

Load Factors Are Important Calculations During Lean Seasons

Why are the air tickets so lowly priced during the lean season? Well, the answer is obvious-due to the lesser demand during this season. This is the usual practice for all the airlines around the globe. They will offer you unimaginably low prices during the lean season travel and will push these up during the high-demand season. Travelers, whose itineraries are not bound by seasons, make use of this fact and travel during these periods in order to make most of the savings.

Load factors, or the percentage of seats filled by the carriers, are important indicators of this demand. During the lean season, one can expect to see the reduced load factors for airlines. In order to generate greater occupancy of their planes, the airline companies resort to heavy discounting- even to the extent of being irrational. What is the reason for this heavy discounting?

Price of air tickets is composed of two factors: fixed and variable costs. The fixed part is something which the airline has to pay due to its committed scheduled flights, irrespective of whether it is flying full or not. This is generally composed of the government taxes and fuel charges. The variable components are, on the other hand, dependent on a number of factors such as passengers being carried, distance flown, etc. By resorting to heavy discounting the airlines try to recover at least the fixed costs of the price of tickets.

If, during the lean season, you find that the airline is reporting better load time than its competitors, then the first thing to analyze is whether the carrier has resorted to heavy discounting or not? There are good chances that passengers have turned to it for the price factor. In fact, this practice initiates price-war among carriers, all for the benefit of passengers. Only those carriers that have a strong customer loyalty might be able to maintain respectable load factors, though even those might see somewhat decline due to lower prices being offered by competitors.  

Monday, 18 August 2014

Annual Performance Card of US Airlines

The report card is out and it is time to know what marks did US airlines score on various parameters of service in the last one year. These figures, compiled by airfarewatchdog, could serve as pointers to the airlines to improve their performance further.

Customer Satisfaction Score: JetBlue stole the march over other carriers in this category. Southwest scored the second best points in this respect. Though Delta Airlines was at the third position, three airlines, Alaska, Frontier and Virgin America tied for the fourth place.

Denied Boardings: It is quite common for airlines to overbook their flights. However, this also causes inconvenience to passengers since a few among them are denied boarding. While voluntary denials are welcome, there are also instances of involuntary denial of boardings. In the latter case, it is the United Airlines which ranks at the bottom, having involuntarily denied boarding to more passengers than any other. Southwest is the next biggest culprit. JetBlue scores well here as well.          

Mishandled Baggage: Which airline is worse at taking care of you baggage and which one is the best and, why? Virgin America has emerged ahead of others to win this race for least mishandled baggage instances while Southwest is the biggest culprit of all. Virgin has a little proportion of its flights of connecting nature. Most of these are direct and non-stop which reduces the instances of loss of or damage to baggage. Southwest is the main culprit in this respect but it is also the carrier which allows you to carry 2 pieces of luggage without any charge.

On-time arrival time: Another important parameter through which airline performance is judged is that of punctuality. Passengers want airplanes to depart and arrive on time. Alaska airline has recorded the best on-time performance despite operating from a very difficult climatic region. Its on-time performance is helped by the fact that it mostly flies to those destinations which does not see much rush in air traffic. So, traffic congestion is not an issue most of the time. Next best airline in terms of punctuality is the Delta Airline while worst performer is Southwest airline. It is quite ironical that an LCC is recording the worst on-time performance because its business model is oriented to achieve better punctuality rates. The reason is attributed to its being a popular carrier operating in highly busy sectors.

Flight cancellations: JetBlue is the worst performer in this segment. It has recorded the maximum number of flight cancellations last year, causing inconvenience to passengers. Delta has emerged as a leading carrier in this respect with fewest cancellations. This shows that its flights have high reliability for taking off but it can cause some delay.  

In terms overall performance, it is the Delta Airlines which has scored the top ranks and can be considered the best airline.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Pre-paid Excess Baggage Charges For Checked In Luggage At Indigo Airlines

If your checked in baggage is more than 15kgs on Indigo Airlines flight, you can buy the excess baggage allowance up to 30kgs. However, the applicable charges are not based on per kg calculations. Rather, there are pre-defined slabs of 5kg, 10kg, 15kg and 30kg attributable to these charges. So, if your excess baggage is, say 7kgs, you will have to pay the charge for a 10kg slab.
Since Indigo also operates flights to international destinations, there are charges for Indigo baggage allowance, for more than the free allowance, in the currency of that country.
Earlier, Indigo had price slabs for only 5 and 10kg weight categories. Recently, it has also introduced 15 and 30kgs slabs for convenience of passengers who have to carry more luggage. You can check these charges here.
Please note that these slab rates are prepaid in nature, meaning that you will have to pay for them in advance of your checking in time so that there are no last minute hassles.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Rats on Air India Flight- What is so ‘Rat’tling about it?

A rat was found on an Air India flight recently and it made news worldwide. So, what is wrong about it? After all, the rat was enjoying the hospitality of the Maharaja which we, the human passengers, often rue. While the AI official maintained that there was only one rat noticed, some of the passengers complained that there were more than one on board. This is not a question of whom shall we trust but a question of how much of eaten food got uncharged. AI is already reeling under its fiscal losses and now even the rats are adding to the woes.

The news also had that the plane would have to be fumigated so that the rats can be smoked out. Poor animals! They will soon die without getting the right to be informed about their wrongful act which is punishable by death. If the airplane was not been cleaned properly or maintained as per guidelines, which caught the attention of the mice, then why shall they lose their right to live and AI staff go free.

It is also being said that the mice would have caused much damage to the aircraft by cutting the aircraft wires which would have led to any disaster. That is a real serious threat to the lives of passengers. Mice must pay for being a territory which is forbidden for them. 

No meals on AA short haul flights from September 1, 2014

AA is now doing which was most often the rule of low-cost carriers (LCCs). American Airlines has taken a cue from the LCCs which means that it will no longer be serving free meals to first and business class passengers on flights of less than 2 hours and 45 minutes of duration. However, some of the most popular short haul flight routes will be exempt from this general rule. So, next time when you would be boarding the AA short haul flight of under 2 hour 45 minutes, you would be wiser not to travel empty stomach assuming that you will have it for free on-board the airplane. This measure has been adopted as a part of the overall effort to develop consistent policies for US Airways and American Airlines for merger.

Not serving free meals on short haul flights would also improve the efficiency of the airline as it would no longer have to make arrangements for meals, clean up the seats and aisles of aircraft and would save on the costs of maintenance as well as time. Saving time would also result in improving the turnaround time of the airplane. This is not expected to be too inconvenient for the passengers as meals are generally not needed for short duration journeys. Secondly, while meals will not be served free, passengers can buy the snacks or the meals. This will also see increase in the ancillary revenues of American Airlines as these offer cheap air tickets to the passengers by cutting down the expenses of meals.

If you want to check the meal options being provided on board the AA flights, for different classes of travel, then these can be found here:

Monday, 4 August 2014

Spicejet Ordered to Refund Full Fares

The financially jittery Spicejet airline of India has been asked by the aviation regulator, DGCA, to refund all the fares of a Delhi-Mumbai flight which was delayed by as much as 4.5 hours. Acting on the complaint of a passenger, the DGCA also ordered the airline to refund the money it earned by selling snacks on the plane.

It is a normal practice for the airlines around the world to offer free refreshments to passengers if the flight is delayed for more than 2 hours. In this case, the airline made a cool Rs.15000 by selling snacks. Passenger also complained that the flight crew failed to give any explanation on what caused the delay and the airplane cockpit opened only after 2.5 hours. It was also mentioned that the AC of the plane was not turned on and there was misbehaviour by aircraft crew members. After investigating the case, the DGCA found that the airplane had serious engineering issues which led to the delay. Considering this matter as serious, it has also ordered engineering audit of all the Spicejet airplanes for ensuring passenger safety.

You can have a look at the refund rules of Spicejet here