Folks, it is time to face reality

Old Sep 16, 2005, 6:43 pm
  #16  
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Originally Posted by ByrdluvsAWACO
That's a very myopic view, and for the sake of HP's future I hope it's not true. Any company that doesn't cater to their best and/or most frequent customers is probably not looking at a long prosperous future.

US has a poor image already. Taking a "We don't care about frequent flyers" attitude in only going to ensure higher load factors on competing airlines. . .
I would have thought that was true, as well. In fact, you may recall I made some very similar points back when HP made those elite unfriendly changes last year. They didn't seem to care about us. They just made them and when we voiced our displeasure, they didn't back down. And time has proven that their business improved -- more passengers and higher yields. I think that, to a certain degree, they proved to themselves that they could risk alienating some of the hard core, most frequent travelers and, at the end of the day, it wouldn't hurt them.

As I see it, HP's management approach under Parker has been consistent if it has been anything. That's made them relatively predictable. Based upon that, I expect to see them roll out what they'll consider a proven model on a grander scale, under the belief that it doesn't take frequent fliers with 1.5 million miles in the bank to appreciate the value of (and therefore buy) a $2,500 round-trip business class ticket to Euope or a $1,000 transcon. The bet is that they'll gain more of those passengers than they'll lose by cutting the benefits of the most frequent travelers. You can't deny that it worked at HP.

I don't know if the HP model will work in the east, to Europe, etc. In truth, I don't even really know if they'll roll it out in the same way across "the new US." But based on their unfailing consistency in recent history, I'd be willing to bet on it.
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Old Sep 17, 2005, 12:21 am
  #17  
 
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I think the original post was well stated. It is not an either or situation. Of course, folks will still comment. But air travel has radically changed and longing for the days of old is not dealing with reality. I remember when Delta was the pride of the South. You couldn't get more stable than Delta. And few of us got to be in the front in those days unless you were a big shot executive or really rich. I started flying as a college student in the late 1960's and I wore a suit the first few years that I flew. In economy on Piedmont. Well, my friends who are FAs lament for the passengers to return to that style as well. It ain't happening. It's changed. Bottom line, the new US has got to make money.

I don't want US to be like WN but hell WN keeps making money. So, the trick is for HP/US to find a way to blend the best of WN and the best of old fashion travel and do it with out of control oil prices. Keeping every amenity won't do it.
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Old Sep 17, 2005, 6:13 am
  #18  
 
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Originally Posted by AZ Travels the World
I would have thought that was true, as well. In fact, you may recall I made some very similar points back when HP made those elite unfriendly changes last year. They didn't seem to care about us. They just made them and when we voiced our displeasure, they didn't back down. And time has proven that their business improved -- more passengers and higher yields. I think that, to a certain degree, they proved to themselves that they could risk alienating some of the hard core, most frequent travelers and, at the end of the day, it wouldn't hurt them.

As I see it, HP's management approach under Parker has been consistent if it has been anything. That's made them relatively predictable. Based upon that, I expect to see them roll out what they'll consider a proven model on a grander scale, under the belief that it doesn't take frequent fliers with 1.5 million miles in the bank to appreciate the value of (and therefore buy) a $2,500 round-trip business class ticket to Euope or a $1,000 transcon. The bet is that they'll gain more of those passengers than they'll lose by cutting the benefits of the most frequent travelers. You can't deny that it worked at HP.

I don't know if the HP model will work in the east, to Europe, etc. In truth, I don't even really know if they'll roll it out in the same way across "the new US." But based on their unfailing consistency in recent history, I'd be willing to bet on it.
AZ,

You are correct that the industry is changing. While there may be some adjustments here and there, I do not think that HP cares that little about its most loyal customers. Our recent experiences with hostile management at US have led us to some contact on the inside at Tempe, and indications are that they will listen to us, and that they would like to work with us.

In the past our organization, FFOCUS, has had a quiet effect on attempts to cut back on frequent flier benefits (not just elite). We originally organized as the Cockroaches to protest US' attempt to change Dividend Miles 3 years ago--it took about 10 days for them to rescind the changes.

Since then, we have been in and out of mismanagement's good graces. BUT, we have been a part of getting blankets and pillows back, getting hot meals back in F class, and getting the LAX club reopened (although I think the merger honestly had MORE to do with that). We remain a customer AND employee advocacy group, and are looking forward to working with the new management.

That said, while fares are going up, and we do not support $99 transcon fares, I think the $1000 transcon is also gone forever, as no one will ever pay $2000 again for a r/t transcon.

RATIONAL fares do not equal CHEAP fares. The frequent business traveler wants FAIR fares, not ridiculous ones. My tag line on a number of boards is "It's the fares, stupid".

While your post makes sense, I would HOPE that Parker realizes the value of a loyal customer, and all indications we have had so far indicate that he does.

I am looking forward to the NEW US Airways.
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Old Sep 17, 2005, 8:10 am
  #19  
 
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Originally Posted by AZ Travels the World
The model does not include. . .free pretzels.
AZ,

The electrons were barely dry on your post and you were already wrong

Could it be that the HP fliers who know this airline and its management team inside and out need to face reality?? That they are no longer part of a mini-regional airline in a shoot-out with WN for the back-pack and flip-flops crowd headed to the desert???

The new US is now a major airline with a global presence that I hope and should include expanded travel to Europe, Asia and South America.

Welcome to the big leagues folks, the new management will have to play like the pros because global airline industry does not suffer fools lightly. . .
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Old Sep 17, 2005, 10:21 am
  #20  
 
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Originally Posted by AZ Travels the World
They didn't seem to care about us. They just made them and when we voiced our displeasure, they didn't back down. And time has proven that their business improved -- more passengers and higher yields. I think that, to a certain degree, they proved to themselves that they could risk alienating some of the hard core, most frequent travelers and, at the end of the day, it wouldn't hurt them.

The bet is that they'll gain more of those passengers than they'll lose by cutting the benefits of the most frequent travelers. You can't deny that it worked at HP.

You are right...the model worked for HP, probably more so becuase of the simplified and reasonable fare structure. However, you are overlooking a sgnificant difference between HP and US. HP's main competitor in PHX is WN, the only airline offering less in terms of in-flight services. Also, the LAS hub is one that is maintained largerly by leisure / convention travel, again with WN being the largest competitor.

Out east the competiton is fierce and involves multiple airlines: AA, DL, CO, NW and UA. Each would be more than happy to poach off the elites from US and with them a huge chunk of higher-fare paying customers. The only city out east where US has a major presence that isn't a battle ground for them is CLT. Even PIT is in play now. In addition, Amtrak is in a position to chip away at business in a number of key markets and people still have the option to spend a few hours in the car. That's a very different set of circumstances than out west.

The "we'll do what we want without regard for our best customers" model may well work when your competition offeres tha same or less service but when another competitor comes along and offers better services for the same price your east cost base will speak with their feet.
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Old Sep 17, 2005, 11:50 am
  #21  
 
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I agree with my fellow cockroach SOBE above. There is a difference between competing with WN and with the rest of the pack. As I said in my previous post, the little things add up to make a difference. Here are a couple of examples:

In February, US tried to devalue the first class service on transcons even further by removing hot meal service on its longest domestic flights. They instead tried to offer the barf in a box meals being offered for sale in coach. There was a significant backlash, and a constant flow of complaints. It took a while but our voices were heard.

I had told my contact in Consumer Affairs that I would not take another US transcon until the hot meals returned..that was in late February. Since that time, US has lost approximately $7500 in revenue from just one customer (me). The beneficiary of that revenue has been United, and I have been frequenting the PS service of late.

Now that the meals are back, I have returned, honoring my word--I flew ISP-PHL-LAX a couple of weeks ago. While not up to the par of UA's catering, the food was fine, and the FA's outstanding as usual. It's not really about the food itself--it's more a concept.

Out of the thousands of complaints received over the lack of hot meals, how many others do you think went elsewhere? How many do you think won't be back? It's hard to calculate the actual cost, but I would bet the lost revenue outweighs the savings from canning the decent meals.

Another example is the Club system. Over the past 2 years, US has reduced their club count to barely more than half of its original number. They have, however, not reduced the cost of membership, and have in fact, added insult to injury by charging a separate fee for UA RCC access. One can only hope that the reopening of the LAX club is the first of many. BUT, I have had to join the RCC, which for me costs less than a US membership with the UA addon. More lost revenue....

Bottom line, the competition is completely different in the east, and I think Mr. Parker realizes that....I believe he will listen to the customers, and plan on giving his team the benefit of the doubt.
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