Airlines may not be as hated as cable companies… but they’re pretty close. Anyone who has flown on a major airline in the past 15 years or more can tell you why: Airlines not only love cramming passengers into tiny seats but they also love nickel-and-diming them for baggage fees and other annoyances. Writing in The New Yorker, Tim Wu has written a comprehensive look at exactly why flying is such a miserable experience and why we shouldn’t expect it to get better anytime soon.
Now is most definitely not a good time to run a US (or any) airline. People are traveling less, the economy is basically in the toilet and fuel is incredibly expensive which means that everything else is more expensive. On top of everything else we just entered a historically slow time of the year in terms of air travel as summer draws to a close and kids return to school. We’re not sure how far this tactic will go, but JetBlue is trying to ease the pain a bit by auctioning off a handful of flights on eBay. This doesn’t mark the first time an airline has turned to eBay but in the past, official eBay ticket auctions have been used to raise money for charity. JetBlue apparently isn’t quite concerned with humanitarianism at the moment as the airline has listed over 300 round-trip packages including single tickets, two-ticket packages and even a few mystery auctions that include hotel stays. All auctions were listed last night with varying durations and with opening prices of between 5¢ and 10¢. The auctions are expected to close between 85% and 90% of retail value, which means that travelers will indeed get a nice discount. To those interested, all flights depart on a Thursday or Friday and return on a Sunday or Monday. Travel resulting from the auctioned tickets must be completed by October 6th.
Welcome to the future that should have been here years ago. Why airlines haven’t been doing this for years is beyond us but kudos to those who have finally started to get moving. Delta is by no means the first airline to play with the idea of mobiles to be used as boarding passes, but it has caught on. Starting with domestic flights at LaGuardia, Delta’s handset boarding pass trial is already launched and we can only hope that the practice spreads sooner rather than later. Delta passengers can now go to the company’s website on their mobile devices and download a digital boarding pass directly. The TSA can then scan the digital bar codes contained within the passes and no physical printout is required. The concept is forward-thinking in several respects. First of all, it makes travel easier; there is no longer a need need to print anything out and no more frantic searching through carry ons to find misplaced documentation. Secondly, it’s good for the environment of course. Digital passes mean less paper being printed and wasted. Honestly, who recycles their boarding passes? Good stuff Delta, now if we can only work on those delays…