Apr. 11th, 2017

walkitout: (Default)
As I drove to and later from my Dutch lesson today, I was struck by the many, many, many mentions of the current United scandal (Doctor bumped from flight 3411 from ORD to SDF, IIRC; 1 of 4 passengers chosen for involuntary bumping when no one took the $800 plus hotel offered for voluntary bumping. They needed to bump to reposition crew) on the Hits Channel on Sirius. Now, I actually pay money to get Sirius (or Sirius XM or whatever it is called) -- the free months that came with the vehicle have long since expired, but I pay ongoing because it turns out it is really kind of nice as a discovery mechanism and there are no ads. The news covered on the Hits channel tends to be celebrity gossip and then there are descriptions of new in theater/new on streaming movies and that's really the extent of it. Unless the Morning crew gets ahold of something and can't let it go, which happened with the United scandal.

There seems to be widespread awareness that United didn't break any kind of rule or law or regulation by doing this. No one seems to give a shit -- this incident is so raw, and so ridiculous that virtually everyone has focused instead on, why didn't you offer more money to get people to volunteer. Etc. I looked up EU compensation rules for involuntary denied boarding -- they are actually lower than US compensation rules, as near as I can tell.

It occurred to me, that if you are going to be a bottom feeder airline -- and Munoz has made it Crystal Clear that United under his tenure is going to be a bottom feeder airline, and he is going to make it work by clearly communicating and pricing things correctly -- you should monetize the bump queue. The bump queue is already partially monetized: they bump people who paid less, who fly less with that airline first. They bump by fare class in the expected order. There are exemptions to avoid triggering an ADA lawsuit. Why not give people buying Basic Economy (United Continental's you only get under the seat in front of you, you don't get to pick your seat, you will be in a middle seat, etc. class) another $5 off, if they accept an extremely high ranking in the bump queue AND pre-emptively agree to a low bump price? Say, for $5/off the already low fare, you will be one of the first 5 people bumped and you agree to accept $400 to be bumped, hotel voucher if it's overnight before you get on another flight. You could take a cue (ahem) from the EU passenger rights, and make the bump amount commensurate with the distance of the flight.

And for $20 more, you could then sell, on a per ticket basis, to be later in the bump queue. If your fare class would normally make you 12 of 70 on a bump queue, maybe $20 would move you to 30 of 70. Etc. Again, anyone buying a slot (or sector) on the bump queue would be expected to accept a pre-negotiated bump cost. Heck, if you really wanted to take this thing to the limit, presumably you could give someone a half off an already cheap fare -- with the understanding that they're _really_ paying to get ahead of the standby fare class, and if they don't get on at all, they'll just have to wait until there's a seat with no bump compensation at all.

That is, monetizing the bump queue is a way to change perceptions around flying standby that might result in more consistently full seats at lower overall cost to the airline and thus higher profits.

ETA:

Here is some sample coverage at Bloomberg of the ongoing fallout, and whether it is likely to have an impact on United Continental's stock price and/or revenue:

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-04-11/united-airlines-tumbles-as-social-media-storm-spreads-worldwide

Among other things, the article observes that JetBlue does not overbook -- which is one of the many reasons why JetBlue is who I fly if I possibly can, and who I buy tickets on for people I buy tickets for, if I possibly can. (I sincerely hope this never changes, because everyone else I can identify does overbook.)

Other articles observe that 15% of the flying public accounts for half the revenue; the other half the revenue comes from the masses of people who fly once a year (this is how all markets work, so not really a surprise). I gotta believe that people who have more money fly more. I'm surprised at how cavalier many articles are about the possible impact on revenue of United screwing up this badly. What if the people who internalize the Don't Fly United message are the 15%? That's kinda gonna hurt, right?
walkitout: (Default)
I got to walk with M. today. Also, I had a Dutch lesson. A. fed me lunch: chicken stew. It was very tasty. I also took a long walk by myself (3 mile loop). When the kids got home, I read a chapter of the Land of Oz to A. in the afternoon (and of course another one in the evening). Still waiting on the importer, but that's fine. We (R., A. and I) had dinner at Julie's Place.

I got the Chainsmokers CDs in the mail, so T. wanted to play one. R. found a mini stereo for him (I'd gotten rid of almost all the boom boxes in the house). I ripped it to iTunes Match, and then had to figure out why it wasn't showing up on my phone (but was showing up on the iPad, T.'s phone, etc.). Things I have forgotten due to unuse.

It was a very warm day. Big change from last week.

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