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The Sharing Economy and Air Travel

The sharing economy has brought significant changes to the travel industry. Travelers are increasingly comfortable with the convenience and value offered by sharing economy companies for ridesharing (Uber, Lyft, RelayRides, GetAround) and lodging (Airbnb, CouchSurfing, OneFineStay).

Among business travelers, a recent survey indicated that 44% used sharing economy options for lodging while 66% used sharing economy options for ground transportation.

Bringing the Sharing Economy to Air Travel

Seateroo is bringing the sharing economy to air travel. Through the Seateroo App, air travelers will be able to access preferred seats by paying other passengers to swap seats.

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Reclining Airline Seats and You

Reclining Airline Seats
Reclining Airline Seats

Passengers flying economy are faced with smaller seats with less space between seats (called seat pitch). In this cabin environment, reclining airline seats significantly can greatly reduce the space for the passenger sitting behind the reclining passenger.  A survey of international flight attendants indicated that over 60% had been involved in, or witness to, an argument between passengers on the subject of reclined seats. Is the end near for reclining airline seats?

Opinions on Seat Reclining

There are passengers that are pro- and anti-seat reclining. For the pro-reclining passengers, the rationale is fairly simple: the airlines offer reclining seats and anyone can choose to recline or not to recline as desired. In addition, particularly on longer flights, some passengers indicate that a reclining airline seat is the difference between being able to sleep and staying awake.

The anti-reclining passengers point out that the ability to recline should not outweigh the fact that the airlines have significantly reduced the pitch between seats, especially in the economy section. In addition, for taller passengers and/or passengers working on laptops, they have a right to be comfortable which is not guaranteed by also electing to recline their seats. [···]

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In-Flight Wi-Fi Update: October 2015

in-flight wi-fi

In-Flight Wi-Fi Increases

JetBlue Hits In-Flight Wi-Fi Milestone

JetBlue announced that it has completed installing Wi-Fi (or as JetBlue calls it, “Fly-Fi”)on its fleet of A320 and A321 aircraft. JetBlue’s current estimated fleet count of A320 and A321 aircraft totaled 130 and 22, respectively. JetBlue is now turning its attention to completing the Wi-Fi installation on its fleet of E190 aircraft. Totaling an estimated 60 aircraft, JetBlue has only installed Wi-Fi on 2% of its E190 aircraft. JetBlue plans to complete installation of Wi-Fi in its E190 aircraft by the fall of 2016.  JetBlue relies upon Ka-band satellite technology and hopes that speeds will reach 20 Mbps per device.

Jamie Perry, Vice President of Brand and Product Development, JetBlue, said: “Soon every JetBlue customer will step onboard knowing their aircraft is equipped with free, fast Internet and entertainment…our Fly-Fi model has proven that there is a way to offer customers more without adding extra costs to their travel.” Earlier this year, even prior to completing installation of its Wi-Fi service in its A320 aircraft, JetBlue’s Wi-Fi service was ranked the best of any U.S. or Canadian airline.

 

 

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Middle Seats: Study Reveals People Hate Them

Middle Seats

3M Study on Middle Seats

Common sense dictates that air passengers do not like to sit in middle seats. A study by commercial products behemoth 3M proves it!

Study on Middle Seats

With the help of Global Strategy Group, the 3M study highlighted the degree U.S. air passengers disliked sitting in a middle seat. The study revealed that 1% of passengers preferred to sit in a middle seat. Survey results included the following:

  • 56% would rather be stuck in traffic than sit in a middle seat;
  • 56% would rather go on a blind date than sit in a middle seat;
  • 50% would rather take an aisle seat being offered on the next available flight rather than sit in a middle seat;
  • 20% would stay overnight at an airport hotel for an aisle seat on the first flight the next morning rather than sit in a middle seat; and
  • 9% would simply refuse to sit in a middle seat on a flight longer than two hours.

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EarlyBird Check-In Program Generates $220m

Southwest EarlyBird Check-In Program

Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines introduced its EarlyBird Check-In program in 2009. Since Southwest does not offer assigned seating and only offers economy seating, the only seating preferences relate to where a passenger may sit- window, middle, or row seat in a row near the front, middle, or back of the plane. As described by Southwest, “As an EarlyBird Check-In Customer, you will have a better opportunity to select your preferred seat and have earlier access to overhead bin storage for your carryon luggage.” Starting at a fee of $10.00 per flight, the fee for the program was increased to $12.50 in 2013. Although this may seem like a relatively small cost, this fee results in significant revenues for Southwest. We’ll review the terms of the EarlyBird Check-In program and then summarize the 2014 annual data for this program.

EarlyBird Check-In Program Overview

Based upon the FAQ from the Southwest website, below is an overview of the EarlyBird Check-In program. [···]

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Brand Strategist Promotes Airline Seat Swapping

airline seat

Airline Seat Swapping

A prominent brand strategist recently promoted airline seat swapping as an innovation that could improve the commercial airline industry. At the Airline Passenger Experience Association Expo in Portland at the end of September 2015, the brand strategist presented a fictional airline that would offer alternative approaches to commercial aviation. Given the name Poppi by Devin Liddell, Teague’s Principal Brand Strategist, this fictional airline was different from current airlines in a number of ways.

Innovations to Improve Aviation Includes Airline Seat Swapping

The fictional start-up airline Poppi was created in order to illustrate the brand strategist’s view as to ways to improve and positively disrupt aviation. One disruptive approach by Poppi would be to make the middle seat more enjoyable for passengers, such as by offering additional goods and even sponsored gifts or “middle seat only” benefits that lessen the dread for passengers traveling in such seats.

Another innovation offered by Poppi would be to promote airline seat swapping via a social app. Such seat swapping would not be mandatory, of course, but rather would be based upon the preferences determined by each passenger. [···]

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Airline Seats Keep Shrinking

airline seats are shrinking

tight squeeze on airline seats is a reality

Flown via economy seating lately? Airline seats keep shrinking in size and comfort. Anyone who travels via airline on a regular basis knows this to be true. In order to increase revenues and profitability, commercial airlines have increased the seating capacity per flight by decreasing the size of seats and space between seats. In addition, airlines have decreased the amount of cushioning used on seats, which reduces the weight and space of seats, which also increases the number of seats that can be jammed into each flight.

Shrinking Seat Sizes

One measure of airline seat size is pitch, which is the distance from one point in a seat to the same point in a seat in the next row. Based upon data analyzed in a column by USA Today, seat pitch has indeed shrunk between 1985 and 2014 for the largest U.S. domestic carriers (American, Delta, Southwest, and United). In addition to pitch, airline seat width is another measure of airline seat size. The same USA Today study also shows that seat width has decreased significantly for the largest U.S. domestic carriers since 1985. For example, while Southwest offered seat widths from 19 to 19.5 inches in 1991, by 2014 seat widths had been reduced to only 17 inches. [···]

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Airline Ancillary Revenues: Up, Up, and Away!

airlines ancillary revenues

bag fees and more

Frequent air travelers are well aware that airlines have increased the types of fees charged above and beyond the base air fare. Such fees may not only include fees related to checked and carry-on baggage, but also seat selection fees, food and beverage fees, Wi-Fi, etc. Referred to as airline ancillary revenues, IdeaWorksCompany defines airlines ancillary revenues as follows: Revenue beyond the sale of tickets that is generated by direct sales to passengers, or indirectly as part of the travel experience. Airline ancillary revenues have exploded since 2007 and have become increasingly important to the overall profitability of the commercial airline industry. [···]

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Seat Upgrades from Economy Seating

seat upgrades

upgraded seat

Seat upgrades? But I cannot afford first class seating! Yes, there once was a time when air passengers had two options for seating: first class and coach. Coach, which has since been abandoned by the term “economy”, has been expanded by many airlines into two different seating types in order to offer air passengers additional seating options. Let’s review current options for seat upgrades.

Seat Upgrades by Airline

The seat upgrades available within economy seating goes by various names depending upon the airline, such as the following: economy plus (United), main cabin extra (American), Delta Comfort (Delta), even more space (JetBlue), among others. As most air travelers know, Southwest, one of the largest airlines in the U.S., does not offer any seat upgrades on its flights above economy seating. Opinions on some of the best seat upgrades offered by U.S. domestic airlines are presented here. [···]

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