Has Delta Tamed AirTran?

 
Old Jan 27, 04, 1:44 pm
  #1  
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Has Delta Tamed AirTran?

I don't generally follow the ATL market in much detail, but recently I've been pricing a trip involving an AirTran route and I get the impression things have changed. The prices and restrictions appear to have returned to more of a Delta-dictated level.

Maybe this is a false impression, but if accurate it's sad. DL hasn't driven AirTran from ATL, but they appear to have blunted their impact at the fortress hub to some extent. All those DL flyers who took advantage of the limited time promotions DL offered to keep pax off AirTran may soon reap their reward, and I'm not talking about SkyMiles.
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Old Jan 27, 04, 4:36 pm
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Hmmmmmm. I have a hard time following your logic. After reading your post, I hopped over to Delta.com and typed in a trip ATL-LAX-ATL leaving tomorrow and returning two days later. In other words, ATL-LAX on a Wednesday, return LAX-ATL on a Friday.

Prior to AirTran that fare would have been $1400 or more. It's pricing out today (one day advance purchase, mind you) at $264 roundtrip. And, of course, now it's upgradeable.

So, I would respectfully submit that the AirTran impact on Delta remains in full effect.

And, I would point out that AirTran made $100 Million in 2003, while Delta lost around $700 Million or so (I'm going from memory on this, but I'm close).

[This message has been edited by Robert Leach (edited Jan 27, 2004).]
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Old Jan 27, 04, 8:04 pm
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AirTran's LOWEST fares (14-day advance sale fares, non-Fri/Sun) have indeed been climbing steadily.

Gone are the $39/49 promo fares ATL-Florida, gone are the $59/69 ones to BOS/NYC.

AirTran is not a Ryanair, or even a Southwest or JetBlue. They're good for keeping the higher spectrum of the fares low. However, AirTran does not seem to super-discount seats in markets it has a stable hold in. I guess this leads to higher profits for them, however, as a very price-concious consumer, I would rather have them cut their costs to Ryanair/JetBlue levels and offer lower fares. AirTran has never been my choice for 'luxury travel'.

They are the business traveller's low-fare carrier, but they ain't no flyin' Greyhound
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Old Jan 27, 04, 11:27 pm
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<font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif" size="2">Originally posted by Robert Leach:
.So, I would respectfully submit that the AirTran impact on Delta remains in full effect.</font>
I just booked my third “A” fare RT between ATL/ONT in the last two months. Double MQM’s, fully refundable, upgraded at time of booking and a third of the price it would have been before Air Tran, B6 and others.
So, yes, RobertLeach...I agree 100% that the AirTran impact on DL is still in full effect. Long live AirTran and the other LCC’s....but maybe I should start flying them once in awhile to show my true appreciation.

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Old Jan 28, 04, 7:30 am
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<font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif" size="2">Originally posted by Cholula:
I just booked my third “A” fare RT between ATL/ONT in the last two months. Double MQM’s, fully refundable, upgraded at time of booking and a third of the price it would have been before Air Tran, B6 and others.
So, yes, RobertLeach...I agree 100% that the AirTran impact on DL is still in full effect. Long live AirTran and the other LCC’s....but maybe I should start flying them once in awhile to show my true appreciation.
</font>
That's what I've been doing also Cholula. The A fares are pretty good deals, especially if you expect an itinerary change.

One minor nit: They aren’t really “upgraded” at the time of purchase; they are true F (albeit discounted F).

Thank you AirTran for providing competition in the routes I primarily fly. I believe it was AirTran’s hugely successful A-Plus Rewards Elite Matching Program, targeted directly at Delta elites, that was responsible for DL’s surprise move to unlimited upgrades.


[This message has been edited by BertBamboo (edited Jan 28, 2004).]
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Old Jan 28, 04, 8:37 am
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<font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif" size="2">Originally posted by BertBamboo:
One minor nit: They aren’t really “upgraded” at the time of purchase; they are true F (albeit discounted F).</font>
You’re correct. I note the “Request” Upgrade button is disabled when you select FC. I’m so used to buying a coach fare and upgrading it that I guess I just got carried away.
I finally looked at the rules regarding the “A” fares and was surprised to see the number of blackout days listed for 2004. I was blissfully booking these fares in a virtual minefield of blackout dates and, ironically, the fares I booked were intermingled among those days, just missing the blackouts by a day on either side.
Guess even a blind pig finds an acorn once in awhile.

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Old Jan 28, 04, 9:36 am
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<font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif" size="2">Originally posted by Cholula:
.....I’m so used to buying a coach fare and upgrading it that I guess I just got carried away .......</font>

Cholula
It just struck me…. you and I have fallen under the evil mind-control scheme of Delta. We are paying higher-than-K fares with all of that ill-gotten, excess revenue going directly into Delta’s coffers, which will be used for who knows what terrible purposes (taking rear seats out, buying new RJs, upgrading JFK, new routes to South America). The horror!!

I wonder how many other easily swayed DL Medallions are mindlessly marching down the same path and selectively buying A fares instead of K?
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Old Jan 28, 04, 9:59 am
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<font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif" size="2">Originally posted by BertBamboo:

Cholula
It just struck me…. you and I have fallen under the evil mind-control scheme of Delta. We are paying higher-than-K fares with all of that ill-gotten, excess revenue going directly into Delta’s coffers, which will be used for who knows what terrible purposes (taking rear seats out, buying new RJs, upgrading JFK, new routes to South America). The horror!!

I wonder how many other easily swayed DL Medallions are mindlessly marching down the same path and selectively buying A fares instead of K?
</font>
Adding to the overall topic of this thread, you can fly FC (A) from ATL to SFO (and back) for $574, thanks to Air Tran being in the market. A year ago, you would have shelled out close to $2000 for FC. And I believe LUT type fares (currently $261) were over a $100 more. Interestingly, the K fare is about the same--low $400s.

Addressing BertBamboo's comments, we bought several FC(A) tickets to SFO (at $568), but it wasn't mindless. I think $568 is a pretty good fare for a fully refundable, changeable FC round-trip from ATL to SFO, and double MQMs to boot. When the difference was $2000 versus $428 (a typical K fare last year) it was a no-brainer to go with K. But if DAL is willing to charge a "reasonable" amount for a FC ticket (due to Air Tran or for any other reason), I don't mind them making a little more money if I perceive it benefits me as well.
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Old Jan 28, 04, 12:09 pm
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My point was that (based on my limited observations) AirTran seems less aggressive in some markets lately. It's certain that their continued operation is a good thing for all pax on the routes they fly. I'm just hoping they don't transform themselves into a "me too" player in the way Frontier did when they were terrified of United's wrath (the fears weren't unfounded, UA drove Western Pacific into Chaper 7).

From all the examples cited it appears that the ATL to California market remains the most competitive. Maybe this is because DL feels especially vulnerable there becaue of both AirTran and JetBlue.
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Old Jan 28, 04, 3:40 pm
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<font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif" size="2">Originally posted by gilpin:
From all the examples cited it appears that the ATL to California market remains the most competitive. Maybe this is because DL feels especially vulnerable there becaue of both AirTran and JetBlue.</font>
I would be curious to know if AirTran is actually making money on these west coast routes given the low fares and the fact that AirTran is still using someone else's leased equipment and crews to operate them.

I personally love the A fares. The presence of them (which I hope is permanent) makes it easier for me to no longer be PM effective 3/1/04. If I want to fly Delta because it's convenient, I can skip playing the upgrade game and just buy the A fare.
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Old Jan 28, 04, 8:46 pm
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Bert, are these "discounted" fares, the same as "full-fare" tickets and refundable?
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Old Jan 28, 04, 9:06 pm
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<font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif" size="2">Originally posted by Robert Leach:
I would be curious to know if AirTran is actually making money on these west coast routes given the low fares and the fact that AirTran is still using someone else's leased equipment and crews to operate them.
</font>
During Airtran's quarterly earnings call, they admitted that they are losing money on the ATL-LAX route.

I don't think DL has really tamed Airtran. Instead, Airtran's high-speed growth is beginning to catch up with them. They've admitted that they will slow down a little bit and allow their existing markets to mature. Airtran has said they will not add any new cities in 2005...opting instead to use new planes to connect the dots between existing markets and add more frequencies.

So for all those folks in CHS, TYS or SRQ that have been begging for Airtran, you may have to wait a while.




[This message has been edited by ConnFlyer (edited Jan 28, 2004).]
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Old Jan 28, 04, 9:08 pm
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<font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif" size="2">Originally posted by lofly:
Bert, are these "discounted" fares, the same as "full-fare" tickets and refundable? </font>
A fares may or may not be refundable depending upon the market.
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Old Jan 30, 04, 4:56 am
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<font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif" size="2">Originally posted by lofly:
Bert, are these "discounted" fares, the same as "full-fare" tickets and refundable? </font>
lofly;

Yes, as far as I know they are fully changeable and refundable, with the exception of listed blackout dates; Christmas, Valentines Day, etc. I am not sure if A fares are not available on blackout dates or not changeable to blackout dates. I don't see how the issue of refunds applies to blackout dates.

The A fares are found (in the available markets) by selecting the "Refundable" option at the bottom of the online reservation form.

I have never had any trouble changing to desired dates (never asked for a refund yet) but so far no surprises.


[This message has been edited by BertBamboo (edited Jan 30, 2004).]
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Old Jan 31, 04, 12:47 pm
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To echo indufan, Delta is fiddling a bit around the margins with the A fare rules -- and not on AirTran. If the ticket doesn't say "A" beware. (B2F or M/F or M/D or things like that.)

And these blackout dates are an issue -- one you avoid entirely with AirTran itself.

The real difference is treatment. On AirTran you ARE their highest revenue passenger, pure and simple. On Delta, you are someone that wiggled through and got a cheap deal.

Nevertheless, a Delta "A" fare is a breath of fresh air when it comes to making changes or getting a refund. I am certain I saved money in second half 2003 just on eating cancelled tickets or paying big change fees on old-fashioned Delta K-M type travelling.
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