Bloomberg analysis rates ‘hassle factor’ for largest U.S. carriers

Discussion in 'American Airlines | AAdvantage' started by garyst16, Dec 26, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. garyst16
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    garyst16 Silver Member

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    By Jim Glab (http://executivetravelmagazine.com/...ers?xid=TLCHECKIN122611BloombergAnalysisRates)


    How do you calculate which airlines provide the greatest level of ‘hassles’ for passengers, and which offer the least? Bloomberg Analysis, an affiliate of Bloomberg News, has issued a ranking of U.S. airlines based on the quality of the passenger experience.

    Bloomberg studied the 10 largest U.S. airlines based on an index that combined the kinds and levels of fees charged by the carriers along with their operational performance – i.e., number of delayed and canceled flights. The percentage of seats filled also figured into the analysis, on the assumption that the more crowded a plane is, the more of a hassle it is for all passengers.

    On a 100-point scale, Bloomberg concluded that the lowest hassle factor was for passengers of Southwest, which scored 73.2. At the other end of the list was American Airlines, with a dismal 31.2 score. No regional affiliates were included in the analysis.

    But American had plenty of company on the lower end of the rankings. US Airways had a score of 32.5, while United got a 33.6 and Continental 35.7. United and Continental were scored separately because they are still operating as separately branded airlines.

    Other low-cost carriers fared well in the analysis. Ranked second behind Southwest was Frontier Airlines with a score of 61.6, followed by Alaska (56.3). In the middle of the pack were AirTran Airways (a subsidiary of Southwest) at 45.1; Delta, the highest-ranking legacy carrier, at 44.3; and JetBlue at 38.1.
     
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  2. Mapsmith
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    Mapsmith Gold Member

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    I think this evaluation comes down to the "Friendliness" of the Personnel at the LCC versus the "Professionalism" of the Legacies. Seems like the the folks at Southwest and AirTran are friendlier (part of their training) which will reduce hassles or the appearance of hassles.
    At the Legacies, emphasis tends to be on the "Professionalism" of the GAs and TAs. This can be viewed by people as rude and aloof. If you do not feel welcome in an environment, it seems that small things could be viewed as hassles.
     
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  3. rwoman
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    rwoman Gold Member

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    Determine which type of hassle...bag fees, checking in, airport experience, upgrades, etc. Oh, that's right, no U/G on Southwest...;)
     
  4. gemac
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    gemac Silver Member

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    And yet, somehow, I'd rather fly AA than WN.
     
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  5. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    For me, going to SFO is much more convenient than going to SJC or OAK, which makes WN a lot less convenient and hassle free. Bottom line: a cute idea, but probably way too simplistic to give a useful result for individual travelers.
     
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  6. mhnadel
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    mhnadel Silver Member

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    It also doesn't factor in the impact of status. That is probably fair for most people, but I know that my experience is very decidedly affected by which airlines I do and don't have status on. (With the exception of AS, who seem to do well in treatment of even non-status flyers.)
     
  7. gemac
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    gemac Silver Member

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    Me, too. I accepted a routing back from Maui last year that started with a flight on HA OGG-HNL. I figured it was onl a 20 minute flight, so what? I forgot that I had to go through checkin with HA. Huge long line and had to pay for checked bags. They had a 25-lb. limit for carryons. I felt so common (sob)! Never again. At least with Oneworld partners, you are elite until you get on the plane when flying with them.
     
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  8. Titans26

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    The biggest hassle to me is not having a seat assignment.

    I do fly Southwest if they have the most convenient schedule or the only carrier flying a jet.

    Why purchase SW Business Select fares when there is already 100 passengers on the flight continuing on when you board?
     
  9. mattsteg
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    mattsteg Gold Member

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    Way too much emphasis placed on fees - 20% of the total ranking is based on bag fees alone, including overweight/oversize fees that are much higher at the legacies. Also, onboard food costs constitute "hassle" (and how are cases where it is not offered handled).

    Overall seems like a pretty poor excuse to generate some publicity by calling some airlines good and others bad.

    Actual hassles like not having a seat assignment, not having lounges available for connections, long connection times, infrequent connections, etc. are nowhere to be found.
     
  10. gemac
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    gemac Silver Member

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    I think that they are looking at it from the point of view of the infrequent traveler. While the things you mention are very important to anybody who travels a lot, very frequent travelers are more likely to have sampled different airlines and selected the one that best meets their needs. The very infrequent traveler, the once-a-year-on-vacation traveler, isn't going to worry much about seat assignments or lounges that they won't be in anyway. They can see from the itinerary what connections are like. What they want to know is what extra fees they will be hit with or cost and availability of onboard food. Talk to these people - their biggest gripe is unexpected expenses. They shop on price. They feel like hidden fees have suckered them into making a choice they would have otherwise have decided differently. In fairness to them, they are right - that is exactly why baggage fees and BOB were instituted.
     
  11. mattsteg
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    mattsteg Gold Member

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    Yeah, I understand that the average traveler has no concept of lounge availability. Seat assignment could go either way - I know some people prefer the WN way but Iam not a fan, and was not fond of it even prior to being an elite. Nonfrequent travelers do concern themselves with seat assignments, but don't always have the same preferences regarding how it is handled.

    On the connections side, yes you can see on the itinerary (just like you can see fee schedules if you look them up, BOB costs, etc.), but people still book them, and they're certainly a hassle. Carriers that tend to offer less frequency and longer connections (with fewer options in the event of a cancellation!) offer higher odds that a bad delay can become a disastrous one, so it's worth considering independently of the other factors.

    With the prevalence of bag fees (and WN's widespread efforts to publicize their existence) I'm not sure if they fall into the "surprise cost" category anymore. Same with food (and the importance of food varies with the flight length). I think the expectations bar has been moved on both of these matters to the point where people expect the fees, even if they dislike them.

    And if shopping on price is such a big driver (which it is), then WN should be penalized for making this difficult by not participating in the GDS services. It's certainly a hassle to force people to visit multiple web pages to compare prices.

    The authors just picked a bunch of easy to access metrics rather than make any sort of effort to come up with a meaningful evaluation.

    And the big question of how missing amenities were scored is still out there.
     
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  12. pnoeric

    pnoeric Silver Member

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    I think you're exactly right-- there's a huge gulf between us freq flyers (as an elite I can't even think of the last time I had to worry about a bag fee), and the "rest of the world" who flies maybe twice a year (vacation and Nov/Dec) and packs big heavy bags that they want to check. (Checked bags! Can you imagine? I mean, what are we, animals?!) ;)

    So anyhow, this "hassle index" makes sense when you consider thing things that most leisure travelers actually care about. A factor like "lounge access" is so far off their radar, ya know.
     
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  13. gemac
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    gemac Silver Member

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    You are 100% correct. Of course they did. Journalists are not required to be right, they are required to produce something that people will want to read. Most infrequent travelers think that air travel is a hassle. They are willing to read an article that purports to tell them which airlines are the least hassle and which are the most hassle. Since they don't travel enough to be able to compare the airlines themselves, any ranking at all seems OK to them.

    Every single time that I have personal knowledge of a news event, it is shocking how wrong the news media get it. Any relationship between what is reported and what actually took place is purely coincidence.
     
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  14. Skye1
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    Skye1 Silver Member

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    The article mentions delayed and cancelled flights....yet truly not all delays and cancellations are the fault fo the airline (weather, for example?). I continue to be amazed at how often I hear an infrequent flyer blame the airline for the weather. IMHO, how the airline responds to the problem is what I'd parse the "hassle factor" with.
     
  15. anabolism
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    anabolism Gold Member

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    I like including how crowded the plane is as a hassle factor. Completely agree that it makes no sense to ignore seat selection as a factor.

    I go way out of my way to not fly Southwest, because I hate the cattle call thing, the hassle of paying to be automatically checked-in early, and the complete zoo that is SAN T1.
     
  16. MSPeconomist
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    I agree with the opinions expressed here that Southwest seems to be one big hassle, especially the lack of reserved seats and the race to get good numbers for the line up to board waste of time.

    To me, there is a big difference between hassles and fees. To call a bag fee a hassle is a huge misnomer. While folks might not like to pay extra, especially if it's unanticipated, doing so is not a hassle unless it involves cash in a strange currency or separate long lines to pay the fees.
     
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  17. mattsteg
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    mattsteg Gold Member

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    I'd even go so far as to call an unanticipated fee a hassle, and I suppose if you'd prefer to check (and deal with the hassle of baggage claim, potential lost bags - WN was the worst here in some recent survey or other) bags but feel compelled to carry them on to avoid fees, that would constitute a "hassle".

    There are just so many different ways to spin it that well-known fees should probably just be left out of the analysis.
     
  18. MSPeconomist
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    My hassle list includes overcrowded lounges, no lounges, lack of elite lines, long lines for check in and security, gate lice, bad boarding procedures, Jetway security checks, seat reservations that aren't honored, power tripping GAs and FAs, rude lounge dragons, IROPs, phone hold times, incompetent or rude phone agents, FAs that do not reserve FC bin space for FC passengers, lack of expected meal service on board (running of of FC meals or no meal offered when you reasonably expect it to be available, including BOB substantial choices), delayed arrival of checked bags, lack of information about when the flight will really start boarding which I define as letting passengers enter the plane not a holding pen, BUS GATES, lack of escalators and elevators in both directions so that one must walk up or down stairs with luggage, lines to enter lounges or receive lounge amenities, showers without toilets and sinks in the same locked enclosure, showers with few or small towels, CHILDREN and BABIES nearby, especially lap infants of any size,....

    Yes, I realize that this is the list of an elite HVC FF. In fact, perhaps the biggest hassle is the presence of kettles.
     
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  19. Scottrick
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    Scottrick Gold Member

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    To be fair, Hawaiian isn't a *A partner; they just codeshare with UA. When I flew Spanair between Seville and Barcelona last summer, the *Gold (Business) check-in and early boarding were still available to me. It was kind of funny because I was one of the last to check-in, so I was in the back of the plane, but I was also the only person with early boarding.
     
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  20. DestinationDavid
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    DestinationDavid Milepoint Guide

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    To be fair, gemac never said HA was a *A partner, he just said he'd not accept re-accomodation on a non-OW carrier. ;)
     
  21. Scottrick
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    Scottrick Gold Member

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    Sorry, I misread. I had assumed he was flying OGG-HNL-SFO (or similar) with the first leg on HA and the second on UA. I'm flying OGG-SFO direct but know the other option is there. I just never look at people's status tags in the signature anymore. :oops:
     
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  22. gemac
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    gemac Silver Member

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    It was OGG-HNL-LAX, with HNL-LAX on AA. But my general point is that even a 20 minute flight without status is a real shock when you are used to status.

    Just finished a LAX-JFK-LHR-BRU, everything but the last leg (BA) was on AA. The BA leg was tolerable because we got to use the LHR T-5 Galleries First lounge, got to preboard, and got exit row seats on the 45-minute flight. BA still does a lot for AA elites. But outside of Oneworld, it is a cold, dark, cruel world of flying.
     
  23. MSPeconomist
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    It can even be a bit of a hassle when traveling FC with a carrier you rarely fly. Ticket purchase takes more time to avoid mistakes and enter data, OLCI looks new, you're just a little uncertain of the airport setup, exactly where to check in or drop a bag after double checking bag fee rules, the boarding procedure is different and can be hard to hear in the gate area, different social norms involving gate lice, different social norms on board regarding seat belt use, snack distribution, etc. It's a very minor version of being in a foreign country.
     

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