Airline Contortions

Via USA Today‘s Today in the Sky are two stories that show airline executives making statements that just aren’t credible. Scratch that. The executives are doing verbal backflips and come off looking silly.

USAirways is closing four airport lounges. Why? Because it’s “a key element of our Transformation Plan to offer our customers the full service associated with the Club network” … Since clubs are important, we’re closing them! Huh?

The truthful answer is “clubs are important, they’re part of our plan to make money, but we can’t spend too much money on them or we’ll lose money.” But that would be too straightforward.

Meanwhile, Delta is verbally contorting itself over service to Beijing.

Since a new route to China is something to be doled out by the government, and the justification for a decision is supposed to be based on benefit to the public, airlines have to disingenuously argue that they’re the only ones whose service will be of benefit.

Delta says that American’s Chicago service should be rejected, because there’s already Chicago service. But then when objecting to Continental’s Newark plan, they emphasize that non-stop markets are less important than their hub opportunities. So while there’s already non-stop service and that’s a reason to reject Chicago, we shouldn’t pay attention to non-stop service and should focus on hubs like Atlanta.

Oh, and residents of the Southeast need to fly through Atlanta or they have no real access to China. Because a flight from Charlotte to Atlanta to Beijing is doable, while a flight from Charlotte to Newark to Beijing takes so much more time…

I really prefer it when I’m told the truth. “We want the route because we think (hope?) it will be profitable.”

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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