Titling posts is really the hardest part for me with blogging. I always endeavor to provide a descriptive title without running it so long that it no longer looks like a title (except for the Sunday Summaries). There have been only a few times when readers get frustrated with my choice of words (or at least only a few times that they expressed it!) since they felt I was providing click-bait to get my posts read. I am telling the truth – I am not trying to do that!
It is amazing to see what other people’s perspective is of a particular story and the relation to the headline that I have sometimes felt surprised and wondered how I missed the confusing way I titled it. So, believe me, titles are something I agonize over so that I can give the best title possible and let the content of the post speak for itself instead of drawing you here with some title that has nothing of substance to back it up or is just a lame excuse for a post.
That brings me to this title – this is the first time I honestly did not know how to title a post! Help me out a little in the comments with some suggestions so I can see what I missed for a good title. Best title will be the one I replace this one with! 🙂
Not Sure What To Call This!
I was going to go with something like reality of airplane economics, but that is really not the best title either. 🙂 Basically, this is something I have observed across my travels and it always surprises me to see the relation to the value of money when it comes to spending that money in airports and with airlines.
Let me preface it with this – I am not trying to tell anyone how to spend their money! This is just to point out how values seem to really shift when things are introduced in airports or on airplanes! I have done some of the things on this list, so I am certainly not judging anyone’s actions. PLEASE do not take it that way! 🙂
Example 1 – Gate Upgrades
When I use to fly Delta (quite a bit), they would often offer upgrades at the gate after upgrading their elite passengers (and sometimes before, ahem). What shocked me was how many people would often take them up on these upgrade offers! We are not talking about $200 to fly in a BusinessElite seat on a transcon flight – I am talking about paying $150 for a short hop on a CRJ-700 where you are going to get a nicer seat, a snack basket, and a bottle of water at your seat when you board. On these flights, many people had not paid much more than $150 (if that) for their entire ticket (one way) yet they step up and slap down the card to buy that hour long upgrade at the cost of $150 per hour.
A recent example was on a flight from Athens to Abu Dhabi aboard Etihad’s A330. I have flown that same route before in business class and it is an excellent ride. When I checked at the counter for a better seat, I was offered a price of about $400 for the little over 4 hour flight to Abu Dhabi in business class. I actually stopped to think about it, even though I knew that there was no way I was going to do it! $100 per hour for a better seat? As it turned out, I had a pretty good seat already in economy and great service. But, I gave pause to spending money on a short span of time that I would not normally do.
Ok, take that $150 for an hour or so of sitting in a nicer chair and you could get a lot better value with it! For example, put it towards an actual nicer seat that you can use in your house! In fact, $150 can buy a nice desk chair that is very comfortable! Another example of comfort that $150 can give is a nice hotel room with a very comfortable bed and a couple of comfortable chairs – for about 20 hours!
In the case of my offer on Etihad, I could have taken that $400 and bought a ticket for a sporting event that would have been an excellent seating area – for about the same amount of time as the flight was long. Unlike the flight upgrade, that $400 would have put me someplace that I would not have otherwise been while, had I used it for the upgrade, it would have simply changed my comfort level on a flight I was already taking.
Example 2 – Onboard Food
It is amazing what airlines can get away with when charging for food onboard! I have seen some pretty nasty food being purchased at prices that would get you a decent lunch at someplace like Panera. Again, this is something I have actually done before and thought about many times – I mean, who wouldn’t want a mini container of about 15 Pringles for $4.50? 🙂 Yet, airlines do pretty well for themselves by selling this overpriced food onboard the aircraft.
When compared to prices in airports near the gate, most of the time travelers would still get a better deal buying food from normal food chains before boarding the aircraft. At the very least, the price would be the same to buy something like a Five Guys burger as it would to buy a small snack pack onboard. Yet, the airlines are still doing well with their onboard sales routine!
Example 3 – Baggage Fees
This is one area that airlines have definitely realized tremendous profits. Baggage fees are a huge item on their profit sheets and it is amazing to see the amount of money they make on single flights. I have many times seen people pay $200 for a bag (on an international flight) because it weighed too much and they didn’t want to get rid of anything in the bag! I’m talking about just a couple of pounds (which the airline should definitely not be so heavy-handed charging on – maybe something like a per pound fee for the first 5lbs over or something). They kind of agonized over some of the stuff and even put back in the bag things like shampoo, sneakers, and similar items – basically, items that could be purchased for far less than $200 (this was on the flight back to the US). Again, I do not know everyone’s circumstances and what they are packing and I am not criticizing their decision to pay the overage fees. It is just another example to me of how prices and value sometimes can be skewed in the airport.
Obviously, we have things like bottles of water in the airports (which I do buy), magazines (that cost as much as you can get an entire year’s subscription for), a couple extra inches of legroom, and many other things. It is very clear that the airlines (and travel industry in general) has done an excellent job in training us to view things like a 1 hour flight in a regional first class seat as a great value. But, take us out of the airport and that money seems to gain a lot more in value to us.
What are some examples you have? Or, what are some things in the line of travel that you have thought of paying for (or maybe did) that you may not have otherwise thought of spending? Hey, that is one reason I love seeing the Best Buy kiosks in airports – at least they are selling electronics at the same price there that they sell them for in the store!
So, what would you title this post? 🙂