America Needs A Five-Star Airline

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Travel' started by sobore, Aug 24, 2012.  |  Print Topic

  1. sobore
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    sobore Gold Member

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    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-nicholson/america-needs-a-five-star-airline_b_1823666.html

    The U.S. has historically led the way in the air travel sector, from the early days of rapid industry development following the Wright brothers' success at Kitty Hawk to air travel's glory days during the Pan Am era. But over the past two decades, America has fallen farther and father behind when it comes to the quality of commercial airline service. Today, instead of leading the industry or even treading water to keep up, east Asian and southwest Asian air carriers have bolted ahead of their Western competition by light years. By many accounts, several European carriers occupy the second tier of international airlines, leaving U.S. airlines in a distant third-tier. If American air carriers want to at least stay relevant, or better yet catch up, they first need to wake up, recognize the trends, dump the delusional corporate talking points, and fundamentally change the nature of the products and quality of the service they offer.

    As a Diamond Medallion on Delta Air Lines, that airline's uber-elite frequent flier tier, I frequently find myself face-to-face with Delta's CEO, Richard Anderson, as he delivers a recorded greeting for passengers at the beginning of every flight's video safety presentation. Before each flight even takes off, passengers are remind of just how 20th century Delta Air Lines is via this dated and bland greeting from the company's chief executive. While Mr. Anderson and Delta's team of inside-the-box executives and marketers evidently thought that adding this short recorded message from the top was a net plus, I would venture to bet that the growing legions of ultra-savvy modern travelers, like me, see it instead as yet another reminder of just how old-school this airline's internal thinking -- and the external manifestation of that internal thinking - really is.

    Read More: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-nicholson/america-needs-a-five-star-airline_b_1823666.html
     
  2. uggboy
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    uggboy Gold Member

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    Sounds like someone has common sense. Thanks for sharing!:)
     
  3. jbcarioca
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    jbcarioca Gold Member

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    To be fair the US does not lead the league tables for excellence in five star hotels, automobiles, domestic appliances and several other such categories. Several things are involved in these situations, not least that the US orientation is towards the lower middle class and less so any other category.

    To be also fair there are Gulfstream and Cessna selling personal and corporate aircraft, giving the world a run for every sale.

    The US, Korea and Japan are leaders in serving the middle class with cars and gadgets, but the US dominates middle class airline development (how many copy Southwest?), hotel development and, thus far, airlines too. The sheer volume of middle class airline service from all the majors dwarfs taht of most of the rest of the world.

    So what is the problem? Only that the US cannot compete on high class offerings. So what, the last time that happened in scale was the 1920's. Does the US really want that era back? I don't think so.

    What is wrong with serving to the lowest common denominator? That works for US television, politics and many products. For the most part it seems to provide what the US public wants.

    This does not represent advocacy on my part; only observations.
     
  4. newbluesea
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    newbluesea Gold Member

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    Interesting..the writer indulges in the same semi-intellectual, self-important pie in the sky nonsense one hears much too often and some of his points border on the idiotic.
    The facts back down here on earth however are:

    1) If there was money to be made on domestic routes some smart investor would have done it already.
    2) Both CX and JAL have lost tons on money ( JAL what $60B?? that billions folks) by providing that so called "five star service"
    3) The American public is just not prepared to pay the costs of making say Delta the "new Singapore airlines"
    They want to fly to Disneyworld from NYC for $40.00
    4) He talks about FF sitting in the back while empty seats are up front ...do many of these 5* cariiers have as generous a program as most US carriers?:rolleyes: yet he is unwilling to pay $5000 for that ticket so who the hell is going the support the cost of such a system?
     
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  5. Mark
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    Mark Admin Staff Member

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    Our other systems of travel are completely outdated and airlines had to pick up for that and deliver with low costs. Taking a train any long distance isn't a ton cheaper at this point and takes more time... the value isn't there.

    There are a lot of factors involved in these things and it's easy to make a broad statement like the US isn't keeping up with the rest of the world when that was never any of the airline's goal... it's about bringing what it's customers want. That happens to be low price.

    As far as Delta's CEO message... that needs to be updated and changed :p

    Edit: there is also a huge division in income between middle and upper class. There is a huge amount of private planes flying around here... the rest of the higher income seems to be content with riding around in First Class.
     
  6. uggboy
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    uggboy Gold Member

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    Good one.:)
     
  7. legalalien
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    legalalien Gold Member

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    " If the likes of Singapore Airlines, Emirates, or Qatar Airways were allowed to operate domestic flights, I predict that they would shut down the likes of Delta, United, American, and US Airways in a heartbeat."

    I predict they would not. I dare SQ to implement their FA hiring practices in the US. I dare Emirates try to compete with NK and WN on "service." Good luck to both.

    If anything, the article shows how disconnected Mr. Nicholson - a "luxury and adventure travel evangelist" - is from the majority of traveling public. 80% of passengers on that Delta flight won't be on another Delta flight in a long time, so they couldn't care less whether a CEO, a cartoon character, or a celebrity deliver the pre-briefing message. They say they care about service, but in reality care about their tickets being the cheapest.
     
  8. marcwint55

    marcwint55 Gold Member

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    While I would love to see a five star airline in America, I am inclined to agree with others that Americans really are not willing to pay what it takes to run such a venture. Many of those who can afford the costs and would be willing to pay, already fly privately.
     
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  9. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    I am middle class and I am happy that in the US we still have airlines that target folks like me. If this writer's wish for 5-star carriers were to be granted, the costs for all the perks provided would be passed unto the consumer and, suddenly, middle class folks like me would have a hard time affording our hobby: travel (MRs would get expensive too). Beware what you wish for...
     
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  10. hulagrrl210
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    hulagrrl210 Gold Member

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    The author didn't seem to mention that a lot of those foreign 5-star airlines are highly subsidized by their governments
     
  11. jbcarioca
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    jbcarioca Gold Member

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    That is why I mentioned Cessna and Gulfstream in my earlier post. The people why can and will pay $16,000 for a RT to Dubai from the Americas are often the same people who own large private aircraft or charter them. DL is in that business, they do have a charter company as does LH. For most everyone else that sort of price is exorbitant. There also remain a few corporate types who pay those prices, but they also often fly privately.

    As a couple people are saying I do not see the problem. The original commenter seemed to want all the benefits with no payment. Those are the people who might actually be the "overentitled frequent flyers".
     
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  12. jbcarioca
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    jbcarioca Gold Member

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    I'm curious. Which ones, other than startups like Etihad and Qatar? I doubt that government subsidies actually explain very much. New equipment, excellent infrastructure and a young workforce that has not yet begun to retire em masse seem to me to be larger factors. Of course there is plenty of subsidy bashing to go around everywhere including the US, but those arguments on any side seem to mask greater issues of competitiveness, don't they?
     
  13. hulagrrl210
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    hulagrrl210 Gold Member

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    I think United tried offering a 5-star product back when the introduced p.s. If demand was so great for something like that I doubt that they'd still only be flying SFO/LAX-NYC
     
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  14. hulagrrl210
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    hulagrrl210 Gold Member

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    Singapore
     
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  15. NYBanker
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    NYBanker Gold Member

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    Americans, by and large, won't pay for premium service in the air. Certainly not for domestic service.

    Most customers select their flight by price over anything else.
     
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  16. NYBanker
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    NYBanker Gold Member

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    UA offered a premium service on the transcons well in advance of branding it ps. They used to run three class 767s on the route, the same as what AA currently runs. (note that AA is switching to three class a321s on these routes)

    The JFK-lax/sfo route is the highest margin premium cabin route in the united states. Demand is supported by corporate travel policies of most major financials allowing premium travel for journeys over 5 hours and specific language in the SAG contract providing for business class travel on flights over a certain distance (prior contracts provided for first class travel).

    These two factors are the main reasons why AA, UA and DL offer a special product on these two routes. http://upgrd.com/sitinfirst/the-transcontinental-business-class-comparison.html
     
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  17. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    A hint as to how successful this premium service has been at attracting high-value customers is that in the last three years, on more that 20 p.s. flights, I have failed to clear Y->C upgrades only once. In fact, this year, my upgrades on p.s. have been the easiest to clear, with my last two RT p.s. flights of the year that are coming up in October and November having already cleared upgrades since last month. Lastly, it may explain why UA is converting this "premium service" from 3 cabins to 2 cabins. Five-star air service simply does not seem to be something that common folks in the US are clamoring for...
     
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  18. dayone
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    dayone Silver Member

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    Spirit and Allegiant are growing. That should tell you all you need to know.
     
  19. Sedosi

    Sedosi Gold Member

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    Opinionators who write this type of pablum are the same people who lament that the tallest building in the world is no longer in America, or that America doesn't make a car better than the Bugatti Veyron, or that we don't have anything to rival the Chinese MagLev.

    Then you suggest to them that America could have all of these things but that it would require them paying more in taxes and they shut-up fairly quickly. It's like anything else in America, we want it, provided those making just a little bit more than us are the ones that are going to pay for it. Don't raise my taxes, I own a Toyota Avalon, but that Lexus owner over there obviously needs his taxes to be raised to pay for things I'm not going to use anyway.
     
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  20. ACMM
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    ACMM Gold Member

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    Well stated!!!! From a Canadian :)

    (Posted from my milePoint enabled iPhone)
     
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  21. rwoman
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    rwoman Gold Member

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    I did not realize I belonged to the uber-elite frequent flier tier. :)
     
  22. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    Other than the train example I don't quite understand how taxes come into play here. Did anyone suggest that the government/taxpayers should start the 5-star airline?

    (of course I do realize this is election season)
     
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  23. Sedosi

    Sedosi Gold Member

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    The airlines are already subsidized by the government, I would assume that a 5-star airline would need to be moreso.

    The point is we want all of these neat, shiny things in 'Merica right now but we all want the other guy to pay for them. The tax thing was just an example. The same logic would apply to the private sector. People will clamor for a tall building, or a shiny new grocery store in a neighborhood that doesn't have one but they demand that other people finance it.

    That's all I'm saying.
     
  24. petrapenang

    petrapenang Silver Member

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    As much as I like the 5* airlines, it is not easy to earn the mileage that one can use via credit cards or promotions. Which airline in Asia partners with banks that would give you a credit card application with tons of bonus miles, enough to fly RT locally or BUS class one way cross continents? Good thing for alliances which allow us to trade in our miles for partner's airline. [BTW, I try to avoid US airlines even when using award travels...]

    However, when it comes to paying for international flights, I would not pay for US airlines' flights cuz the service is just NOT there... With majority of the Asian airlines for example, you get the same good treatment (not goodies) regardless of which class you are in. I'm about to fly from Asia to the US on Thai and UA first class so I can compare the service between the two first class soon for myself.

    In a recent experience with UA, I had booked an award, made a change and CS messed up my ticket plus I couldn't revert to the previous itinerary. They were willing to cancel the ticket and refund me ALL the fees. Then, they were willing to rebook me later and not charge me ANY fees due to their mistake. I call that good CS. Try that in Asia! They literally follow the book/rules to the latter so such CS is almost difficult to come by.Not a 5* airline but close to 5* service on the ground.
     
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  25. daemon14

    daemon14 Gold Member

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    I just want a mileage program that will get me onto 5* airlines :)
     
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