Back at the WHQ today. More from me later today. But first — as they say in TV land — an update on something I wrote earlier this week in regard to US Airways. In my post the other day about how quiet the flights were — sans the usual drink service — I alluded to the fact that perhaps the airline was also saving some money in terms of not having to provision as many soft drinks, etc. on board.
The airline continues to stock just as much, in terms of provisions, as it did before. I heard this first from one of the flight attendants on my flight yesterday and a quick check with the folks in Tempe today confirmed that yes, this was the case.
So the airline is not really saving any money, in terms of any weight issues onboard. And no — there is no danger of passengers being without ample refreshment should a long delay occur.
Where the airline is saving money is in the fact that fewer people are drinking soft drinks, which, obviously, means that in the big scheme of things the bill from Coca-Cola or whomever is lower than it would be normally.
Then there is the actual revenue the airline is making from charging for drinks.
Another point — several readers wrote me the last two days and asked more or less the same question. “Does this mean I think all airlines should do this? Have I lost my mind?” Or words to that effect.
As I said in my speech at TheBeat Live Conference on Tuesday, we are in the middle of an extremely creative time for the airlines right now. The question is — given an airline’s brand and the level of service it wants to provide — against its current revenue and cost structure — what is an airline going to do in terms of ancillary revenues?
In the case of US Airways — the airline has continued to push to be more of a low cost carrier since America West merged with US Airways. In effect the airline really has no definable “brand” right now. So for them, I don’t think it is that big of a problem.
But — would I recommend that Continental Airlines do it? No. Never. It would be a total 180 degree turn to the airline’s continued attempt to stress a particular level of passenger service.
And I doubt Continental Airlines will do it. They may do some other things. But they are not going to charge for Cokes.
Just how to tweak an existing airline brand right now is a huge question — given the revenue and cost scenarios. But I don’t see this as a negative. I see it as a very opportunistic time for the industry. Or at least for those who are willing to break the old mold of “well if airline A is doing it, we must all have to do it.”
I just don’t think that holds anymore. Some things are going to work well for some airlines. But they are not going to work for all airlines in the same manner. Yes — those “marketing” people at airlines may just have to start earning their stripes. Instead of simply thinking about what routes to add next week.