In his latest column, Joel Widzer excuses complaints about major airline carriers as caused by unfair expectations
- When flying a network airline, travelers have grander expectations than they do when they fly a budget carrier. When flying Southwest or JetBlue, people adjust their attitudes to lower expectations. Psychologists call this the expectancy value.
Excuse me? People expect more from Delta than JetBlue? Customer satisfaction surveys of JetBlue are high because JetBlue offers a better coach product than the major carriers.
Seats behind row 9 offer extra legroom, matched only by United’s Economy Plus (which can’t be reserved by everyone) and American’s dwindling More Room Throughout Coach. Anyone can reserve these better seats on JetBlue, and the JetBlue website even recommends these seats. Continental, Delta, Northwest, and USAirways don’t offer any coach seats with legroom to match.
Only discounter Frontier offers similar onboard live television (for a fee, unless you’re elite) and only discounter Airtran offers XM radio.
And Southwest is famous for getting there on-time and not losing luggage. (Both American and Alaska lost bags of mine this year…)
Oh, and JetBlue’s snack basket is far superior to what passes for food on most major airline domestic coach flights.
Joel is living in a different universe if he believes that low cost carriers offer less than the majors, but that people simply attenuate their expectations accordingly.
I still prefer the major carriers because I can generally obtain a first class seat, though domestically the quality of that major airline product has declined markedly. Continental still offers reasonable onboard service, and I love United flying widebodies domestically. But the meals on Northwest, American, and Alaska are poor excuses for what used to pass as snacks in coach back when coach passengers got fed. And the seat pitch in Northwest’s first class section is no better than JetBlue’s standard seats behind row 9.
For the average traveler, many (though not all) discount carriers offer a better product for the same or less money than the major airlines.
Sure, the majors have to compete on price. And they attempt to stem their losses through service cutbacks. But the fundamental difference and competitive advantage of discount airlines is their labor costs, and in particular their work rules.