17 April 2009

Whadya Want ? Skyscanner Knows!

OK OK - I have to admit that this one really got me. I thought I knew a little about passengers. But clearly I am humbled with the knowledge - now - that what passengers (at least those who use Skyscanner) really want is a seat in the cockpit. The stats are interesting:

The Skyscanner poll revealed that
16% of users would happily pay extra to be seated in the cockpit
15% of users want “internet access” tied with
14% of users want “to be seated away from babies/young children”
13% of users want “extra legroom”
10% of users want to board late
9 % of users want seat back entertainment

and the best option of all...

7 % of users want a parachute. Doesn't anyone remember DB Cooper?

So now you know... gotta love statistics


Arpey Awarded Golden Foot Award

Today's winner of the Golden Foot Award goes to the CEO of AA - Gerard Arpey. But there is a catch... he is not wrong.

For the lively debate on the subject go to Travel Weekly to see him being skewered royally.


Now why do I say he is not wrong?

Well AA is paying for commissions and Booking fees in total, so it is a semantic use of words. But the fact is that there is a cost for distribution that the Airline is paying and that he thinks that is too much. Despite the removal of TRAVEL AGENT standard commissions from the lexicon (at least in most major markets), it doesn't mean that some agencies - particularly larger Corporate Agencies, OTAs and their ilk who are not in receipt of "commissions and booking fees" in some shape or form.

Can AA do anything about this? Yes they can and to a large extent they are attempting to do this. I need not re-hash some of the initiatives but there are a number of them out there.

All airlines are paying distribution costs. Not only is this true but there are new costs for distribution which have arrived and these are not cheap. For example at the recent CASMA conference last month the CPA for a reservation via Google was quoted at $20. That is more costly than a conventional GDS based booking. Yes there is an elephant in the room called Google. Perhaps Mr Arpey should have a look at those costs.

Still - AA's PR folks must be reaching for the heartburn medicine today and doing damage control.

So Mr Arpey - Your virtual Golden Foot award is hereby awarded for bravery in the face of adversity and perhaps for not being explicit enough in your comments.


PS thanks to whoever owns this image...

Crisis - What crisis? Ryanair Takes 22 Planes

Delivery numbers for both Airbus and Boeing are now in for the First Quarter of 2009.

Earlier I reported that Ryanair (FR) had taken what I thought was a record 8 planes in February up from 6 in January. Actually they also took 8 in March as well to total 22 for the first Quarter of 2009. That's a new plane EVERY 4 DAYS!!!

Next highest player was EasyJet with 11 (A319s plus one 320).

Ryanair was the largest starter of new routes also in Q1 of all airlines worldwide.

Absorbing these new planes in a down market will be a challenge. Anyone want a slightly used 737-800 low days but quite high hours - please contact aircraft sales FR/DUBLIN?

One interesting tidbit - most destinations out of the UK are now clearly served by LCCs. How does this breakdown?

The UK generates just short of a quarter billion passengers a year. 240,000 in 2008. Total traffic breaks into 33% for Legacy carriers, 14 % for charters and misc - the lion's share is 53% is LCC. (Source Anna Aero)

'Nuf said Brian...


Privacy & Bad Phorm. A Brit Phenom?

Here is a somewhat scary story. The EC (European Commission) is going to sue the UK government for a nasty bit of web spying by a UK company now called PHORM in collaboration with Telecoms giant BT.


Read the story and then think if that is going on in your market.


16 April 2009

Southwest Sounding Like A Legacy Carrier

Southwest - now the largest airline by passengers numbers - is sounding like a regular legacy carrier. It has just announced a consecutive quarterly loss. That hasn't happened in well almost forever.

But WN is no ordinary airline.

They do things better, faster, simpler and more profitably (generally) than the other guys. Their secret sauce has been much studied. Now they are going to have to be just like - well any other airline. Cutting back hiring, offering early retirement - volunteer time off etc etc.

I noted 2 years ago that you actually had people retiring from WN after more than 30 years. Since the airline has been in business for 37 years this is understandable.

So some of the fun and spunk has gone. Herb has left the building. But I would still bet money on WN ahead of the other guys. Maybe just not quite as much as I used to.

Look on the bright side. Their performance was not as bad as China Southern who lost money at the rate of about $150,000 an hour last year.


LionAir Wants You To Know This!

In the category of strange but true....

I am a big believer in cultural diversity. Some things just sound weird to other cultures. Some are amusing - some even disturbing.

So in the spirit of educating our broad community of readers I present - without editorial comment - a part of a web page and the link from Lionair's website.

Lionair is the independent Indonesian Airline that has become a large customer for Boeing's 737-900.

The link can be found here:


Thanks to Professor's Brian and John for alerting me to this story.


* Circumcision of 1500 kids at Taman Mini Indonesia Indah On June 30, 2004, Lion Air celebrated the third anniversary by holding a mass circumcision for more than 1500 kids lived around Jakarta area at Taman Mini Indonesia Indah. The event was being noted at Museum Record of Indonesia."



"Everyone's Gone To The (Twitter) Moon"

(Parody with a tip o' the hat to the original by Jonathan King 1965)

Web full of people, all alone
Facebook full of users, never home
Idol full of singing, out of tune
Everyone's gone to the Twitter moon

MySpace full of sorrow, completely wet
Obama's full of money, all in debt
Wall Street disappears in the middle of June
Everyone's gone to the Twitter moon

Long time ago, life had begun
Everyone went to Google's sun

Teens full of Tweets, engrossed and full
140 Characters full of nothing at all
Hands that can only lift a Phone
Everyone's gone to the texting moon
Everyone's gone to the Cell phone moon
Everyone's gone to the Twitter moon


"Twitter's growth has accelerated from 33% in January, to 55% in February and now 131% in March. At a growth rate of 131% a month, literally every single person alive on the planet will have a Twitter account by the end of this year." www.revenuetoday.com

Warning: Facebook is FOREVER

I cringe - as I am sure most of us do - when I think of some of the really stupid things I did as a teenager and "young" adult. However since I am old the capturing of these indiscretions and events was limited to first hand experiences and perhaps the odd, bad and decaying photograph.

This past weekend one of my old school friends came by and we hadn't seen each other in a very long time. Pulling out the old photo albums was a big laugh for us all. We did get around to discussing the difference between our own generation and those of our offspring. He even has grandchildren. What a frightening thought and we were born on the same day.

So what of today's teens and young adults. Yesterday I did a post on the use of Twitter. Today there is some additional research out on behavior of Teens and Social Networking. Despite the staggering sheer numbers and percentages (75% of all teens access a social network site or use one of the many tools in 2009), the impact of their behavior seems to be well understood.

These virtual hangouts are rarely private. The relationships undertaken and engaged are not just bilateral but multilateral and very fluid.

I suggest you check out eMarketer's piece on the subject.


One paragraph really caught my eye:

"Over 60% of those surveyed acknowledged that the things friends wrote in their profiles could harm their careers. In addition, 48% said they could be embarrassed by what they themselves wrote, and 38% said they regretted some of the items that had appeared on their pages already. "

That has become the price for the value. It somewhat de-sensitizes the participants. Just because everyone is doing it doesn't make it right - in my public and personal opinion - this is not something I am going to give up easily and never without question. Definitely not for all time and for every situation.

Speaking from my perspective - I have been tracking people on the social network sites for purposes of understanding them. When it comes to hiring people (which my team does on a fairly constant basis) for both contract and full time recommendations - I ALWAYS check. (and not just Google alone). From the social networking side - I am always looking to see if there is someone we know and have in common that I can get an opinion on rather that just relying on the polished public version of what is being said.

The Wayback machine can actually reveal some pretty horrid stuff about you as does Google and other tools. And yes Virginia it is FOREVER... This blog too!

1979's tag line for the first Alien movie is updated...

On the web EVERYBODY can see you...

You have been warned

Ryanair Wins Screen Scraping Round

Seems like a Ryanair day today. More good news for them. TUI has agreed to stop using a screen scrape tool to obtain FR inventory access and sell FR product. TUI UK had already lost an initial injunction issued several years ago but finally agreed 2 weeks ago to cease and desist.

Thomas Cook UK now receives the full attention of FR's legal beagles. FR claims that TC is charging a "Fuel Surcharge" of 40 pounds to take onto each FR booking. Thus obfuscating the price. (The fact that almost every seller is doing this may have escaped their notice!).

I will restate my position on this issue. Ryanair and any other airline if they make their policies clear and unequivocal, can prevent people from screen scraping. This indeed is on the terms and conditions. This is not a question of good versus bad, rather what is legally right. So I disagree with Multicom's John Howell on this subject.

Here is the statement on their T&Cs.

"3. Permitted use. You are not permitted to use this website other than for the following, private, non-commercial purposes: (i) viewing this website; (ii) making bookings; (iii) reviewing/changing bookings; (iv) checking arrival/departure information; (v) performing online check-in; (vi) transferring to other websites through links provided on this website; and (vii) making use of other facilities that may be provided on the website. Use of this website for any purpose other than the aforementioned private, non-commercial purposes is prohibited. In particular, use of any automated system or software to extract data from this website for display on any other website (“screen scraping”) is prohibited. In addition, the website may not be used without Ryanair’s prior written consent for providing on a commercial basis details of Ryanair flights to others, offering Ryanair’s services for sale to others, purchasing of Ryanair’s services for resale to others, or the like,."

You can download it from here:


Oh yes - and Chaps (and Chapesses) in Dublin there is a typo in the paragraph. Not that I am the paragon of spelling and punctuation virtue (thank you Professor Addison).


Ryanair and Hertz Re-Up Until 2014

In what must be one of the most successful ancillary revenue partnerships out there - Hertz and Ryanair have extended their partnership until 2014.

This partnership, which was forged in the early days of Ryanair's transformation from local Irish carrier to LCC powerhouse, is blessed with simplicity and value to both parties.

Initially just a few lines of code and some links on the airline's side and a very simple model on the Auto Rental giant's side, the deal could not be easier to comprehend and manage for both.

Essentially the deal is - we fly there you drive there. Every place that Ryanair chooses to fly to - Hertz must have a booth of some description and a person there when the planes land to rent to them and to accept the returns when the planes take off. In Return Ryanair promotes Hertz and Ryanair directs car hire from the car tab to Hertz. Hertz was very smart in agreeing to match any lower price on the website.

Oh yes and Hertz sends barrels of cash between the two.

Unlike the now famously unhappy relationship between Ryanair and Expedia, this deal works.

There is a cautionary tale to be told here. A lesson for all.

Any deal has to be good for every stakeholder involved. You cannot make things work without the basics being right. I hope someone in Bellevue is paying attention. Just having customers is not enough. Just having good overall product is not enough.


Ryanair To Introducte A Fat Tax?

This is one I also missed... but seems that over at Ryanair.com the votes are rolling in for the Fat Tax.

OK so its not exactly an open voting. The choices were somewhat limited (only5 pre-selected).

If you want to go and cast your vote (BTW its not easy to find the link!) go here:


Oh joy...


OK So... What Is Twitter?

I get a lot of invites to Twitter. I doubt that I am alone. I have been on Twitter for a while and as regular readers know - I am not enamored with the concept of Twitter.

So I have taken to asking people what they like/dislike about it - but more importantly what they think Twitter is.

Using the famous barstool research methodology, the most common response is "Web 2.0" or "its a social networking thing."

And what does Twitter think it is? And I quote:

"About Twitter

Twitter is a unique approach to communication and networking based on the simple concept of status. What are you doing? What are your friends doing—right now? With Twitter, you may answer this question over SMS or the Web and the responses are shared between contacts."

So anyone using Twitter to communicate more than status s\is not playing the game properly.

Well I think that's about 8 Million.. or so - including that well known Tweeter John McCain who personally approves his Tweets...

Web tracking firm Comscore did a study in February on Twitter users. Here is part of the study results:

...Twitter users who are in the 35-to-44-year-old age group spend nearly 20 minutes on the microblogging site at any given visit, according to comScore. That's compared to those aged 18 to 24 who only spend 5.3 minutes on the site, and 25- to 34-year-olds who spend 5.8 minutes tweeting and reading tweets. However, after the 35-to-44-year-old age group, time spent on Twitter drops off again. Users aged 45 to 54 spend 7 minutes on Twitter, but the number bumps up to 9.3 minutes for those aged 55 to 64.

Personally I think the numbers have more to do with dexterity and ADD than a usage profile.

What do you think?


Delivery Slots Anyone?

They used to be like gold dust.

I remember in 2007 being at a restaurant in my home town listening to a chap I presume who worked at a local airframe manufacturer boasting that his narrow bodies had no open slots until 2011. Last year slots opened up - in some cases even for the same year delivery. I noted before that the strike may actually have saved Boeing's behind by taking some of the heat and pressure from the production line. Boeing indeed has not ramped up production to quite the same level as it was pre-strike. They took their sweet time.

Still in February some airlines were still taking large numbers of aircraft. Ryanair must have held some sort of record when it took delivery of no less than 8 737s in one month.

Now - any slot on any line is negotiable.

Qantas shook everyone yesterday when it announced a delay not only in A380 positions but also the first 787s which were destined for Jetstar. This time last year QF was hunting for extra capacity. Now it has already cut quite a few 767-300s and 737 Classics.

Unions may wish to take note if they are planning any industrial action in the next 18 months at any manufacturer. It would not really be a wise move.


New Ancillary Opportunity - Fat People?

Southwest Airlines used to be unique with its "peoplewise" human size-wise measuring tool. (In case you have never seen it - I would be happy to show you...)

Not any more. In an ever increasing lust for new revenue opportunities - United Airlines has now implemented a somewhat popular program to charge people who don't fit into a conventional seat a - er well - surcharge.

Both United and Southwest agree on one thing (other than Denver is a nice place) that if you are unhappy about it - they will refund your money if you show up and fail their size test.

The NAAFP is none too happy about this - but there are others who are very happy.

Now it will remain to be seen how they deal with this for Canadian boarding passengers where it is illegal to discriminate against someone due to their size.

United on a generally up day on the market finished higher over 8% probably driven by all the Wall Street Fat Cats....

No word on whether Ryanair will charge for Seat Belt Extensions....


15 April 2009

Alaska Tries Deal-A-Day

So as the airlines have to get creative about their marketing, Alaska is dialing for dollars using a Deal a Day concept for 14 days.

At 12.01AM (PDT) they put a new destination up for sale at 30% off.

Whether this is a good deal depends on your perspective. Yesterday, the first day, was PHX - today is EWR.

Randy Petersen describes the current Elite Membership deals out there as the best he has ever seen in 23 years. So I guess the converse is also true - this is the worst its been for the airlines in 23 years.

That is a long time...


Online Ad Spending Plummets

All media is suffering in the economic downturn. In some cases we are seeing dramatic shifts from offline/Traditional media especially non-broadcast to online. However how is online doing.

I have been trying to get some definitive predictions and right now things are all over the place. Finally someone has come up with a set of numbers I think I can believe in.

eMarketer has actually given us a synposis. I usually like eMarketer as they base their stats often on a compilation of other stats. Using the wisdom of the crowd approach, I usually find them a little more accurate if a little later than others.

(NOTE if you have a better predictor for one of these categories then let me know!)

So they are saying that online ad spending will fall to a growth of only 4.5%. That is down from the growth of nearly 27% in 2007. Growth will recover a little in 2009 but slowly.

The eMarketer study information contained here also includes a table of different sources who are reporting different numbers. So you can pick your poison.


Anyway you cut it - its still a blood bath out there.


Scientists Warns of Twitter Dangers

OK - I just could not resist this one...

Several Scientists including Professor Mary Helen Immordino-Yang - lets call her Prof 18.57% as that is how much her name takes up out of the standard Twitter message space of 140 characters - have issued warnings in recent studies.

According to CNN there are a wide variety of de-sensitizing influences at work on us as a result of such things as Twitter.

I recommend you read this article from the post on the news channel...


You be the judge but I for one - am just drowning in all these Tweets....


14 April 2009

So Do You Like The New Layout?

Its been a while since I changed it - this hopefully will be more neutral but the content I hope will continue to be as relevant and irreverent as usual