Friday, January 27, 2006

Beware the bait and switch

American Airlines began its “More Room in Coach” campaign in 2000, giving all travelers an ample 33-35 inch seat pitch compared to the usual 31-32 inch pitch in most coach class cabins. American was the airline to fly, and I stocked up miles accordingly though the AA credit card. Awkward connection through Dallas? No problem, I thought, if I could stretch my legs.

I can stretch no more. Three years later American added more seats, and its planes became just as cramped as those of other airlines. What to do with the tens of thousands of frequent flier miles I’ve been hoarding? I suppose I can fly business class now.

At first, I seethed at the gall American had to hook me as a loyal customer. But they had their reasons. Not enough new customers flew American to fill the planes to capacity. The old model, more seats that are sometimes full and sometimes not, generated more revenue.

It’s too bad, though, that American became more like other airlines. With the trunk carriers more alike, the airlines that stand apart, like JetBlue or Southwest, are in a better position to win customer loyalty.

2 Comments:

Blogger Ben said...

Thanks, Patrick, for what I'm sure will be the first of many great posts. Airlines are quite fond of the "bait and switch." For example: Delta gave me elite status, whetted my appetite for first-class upgrades, and then removed the first class cabins from a route I regularly fly. It's disappointing, to say the least.

3:23 PM  
Blogger Evan said...

American sucks. Yes, they once had extra legroom, but now they are no better than Southwest. For your future travel itineraries, look into the budgets...Southwest, Airtran, Jetblue, and (while it lasts) Song. American, after all, has the worst safety reputation at the moment (among US based airlines)...perhaps because they fly Airbus planes. Try Continental or Southwest or Airtran for the tried-and-true American made planes. I trust them better, because American trained pilots say for themselves that the Boeing models are more reliable and better flown by todays pilots. This, of course, is another post in the making.

10:14 PM  

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