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Airlines May Treat Passengers `Like Freight' to Beat Fuel Surge

Airlines May Treat Passengers `Like Freight' to Beat Fuel Surge

Jun 3rd, 2008, 06:35 AM
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Airlines May Treat Passengers `Like Freight' to Beat Fuel Surge

from Bloomberg:



Airlines May Treat Passengers `Like Freight' to Beat Fuel Surge

By Michael Janofsky

June 3 (Bloomberg) -- Imagine two scales at the airline ticket counter, one for your bags and one for you. The price of a ticket depends upon the weight of both.

That may not be so far-fetched.

``You listen to the airline CEOs, and nothing is beyond their imagination,'' said David Castelveter, a spokesman for the Air Transport Association, a Washington, D.C.-based trade group. ``They have already begun to think exotically. Nothing is not under the microscope.'' He declined to discuss what any individual airline might be contemplating, including charging passengers based on weight.

With fuel costs almost tripling since 2000, now accounting for as much as 40 percent of operating expenses at some carriers, according to the ATA, airlines are cutting costs and raising revenue in ways that once were unthinkable. U.S. Airways Group Inc. has eliminated snacks. Delta Air Lines Inc. is charging $25 for telephone reservations. AMR Corp.'s American Airlines last month became the first U.S. company to charge $15 for one checked bag.

Even a cold drink may be harder to come by aloft.

Singapore Airlines Ltd., whose shares have fallen 7.5 percent this year, is ``trying to eliminate unnecessary quantities of extra water'' to save weight, Chief Executive Officer Chew Choon Seng said in an interview.

``When you hear some people talking about putting showers on their planes, that strikes me as counterintuitive,'' he said.

Logical Step

After U.S. airlines reported combined first-quarter losses of $1.7 billion and crude oil jumped to a record $133.17 a barrel on May 21, almost double from a year earlier, fares based on a passenger's weight may be a logical step, said Robert Mann, head of R.W. Mann & Co., an aviation consultant based in Port Washington, New York.

``If you look at the air-freight business, that's the way they've always done it,'' he said. ``We're getting treated like air freight when we travel by airlines, anyway.''

``Laughter aside, the airlines are just in a desperate situation,'' said David Swierenga, president of consulting firm Aeroecon in Round Rock, Texas, who dismissed weight-based ticket sales and steep price increases as unrealistic. ......(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?p...Es0&refer=home

martytravels is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2008, 06:40 AM
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We are already referred to as "self loading cargo" as it is.
Gardyloo is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2008, 07:34 AM
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Jed
 
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Perhaps we should be happy that there still is an airline that will take us to where we want to go. When they all go out of business, what will we complain about?
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Jun 3rd, 2008, 08:45 AM
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Cassandra
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We will complain that no one had the foresight to rehabilitate the rail system.
 
Jun 3rd, 2008, 09:23 AM
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Good point. We have spent so much money building airports, and freeways. Rail is going to be the way to go for the future.
wally34949 is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2008, 10:25 AM
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Jed
 
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I can't wait to see the long bridge to Europe.
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Jun 3rd, 2008, 01:57 PM
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Those that pine for the rail system have never actually looked into the costs. No rail system anywhere in the world turns a profit. No mass transit system supports itself. But, hey, keep believing that things will turn out differently this time.

Enjoy what remains of cheap air travel while you can.
travelgourmet is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2008, 04:52 PM
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Sheesh -- picking a fight? Good grief. A lot of assumptions just to suggest we couldn't possibly know what we're talking about, based on our very short comments. (And DUH: rails don't cross oceans? Ya think?)

Look, it won't be long before people figure out that airlines are no more able to support themselves without subsidy than rail systems are. Travelgourmet, you said yourself, "No mass transit system supports itself," and I wasn't saying the rail system would, just that it needs to be rehabilitated. An integrated [passenger] transportation system would include both rail and air systems in complementary function.

In any case, the compete-for-profit model just isn't going to work with any passenger transportation system that actually serves a national, let alone international, population. The costs are too high AND the resources are uniquely constricted: You can only have just so many airports, air "lanes" overhead, and runways, rails, and roads on the ground. The choice is not whether subsidy is needed, it's how it's delivered and to whom.

But that kind of planning just isn't in the DNA of our form of government, it seems -- too dangerously "centralized" for the "you're not the boss of me" crew. So we are, indeed, going to be self-loading freight that may or may not be delivered intact to the destination on time.
 
Jun 3rd, 2008, 05:15 PM
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And who cares that rail and mass transit systems need subsidies? Nations with vision and foresight realize the benefits of having efficient high-speed rail and extensive public transit outweigh the negatives of the heavy subsidies, as we are so painfully and tragically finding out in the era of expensive gas.
The United States is going to choke and die on its own arrogance.
martytravels is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2008, 09:39 PM
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Rail simply isn't the answer. The population density isn't there and the distances are too large.
travelgourmet is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2008, 10:27 PM
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Rail simply isn't the answer. The population density isn't there and the distances are too large.,

I'm assuming we're talking about US?

If that's the case I have to disagree with you.

We don't need extensive national rail system because as you said, it just wouldn't be practical, but....

Regional high speed, bullet type trains.

Northeast corner - a circle between the major cities with trains running in both directions.

Florida - another circle between the major cities and again with trains running in both directions.

Texas could have it's own as well.

Midwest - circle between the major cities.

West coast up and down the coast, bullet trains in both directions.

Have the slower regional trains connect to major high speed train stations so the high speed does not have to stop in every little town.


That would effectively cancel 1/2 of the air routes in this country.

A dedicated, on time, high speed train system running at all times.

The Europeans seem to be light years ahead of us in that department and it seems to work pretty well for them.

Midcon or cross country journeys can still be served by airlines. In fact, just like in Europe, have train stations at the major airports so people from the region can connect to long distance flights.

Unfortunately, that takes commitment and tons of money, especially at this stage of the game. We were asleep at the wheel for too long. It was always about cars and oil in this country. Now we're paying the price.

AAFrequentFlyer is offline  
Jun 4th, 2008, 02:15 AM
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Rail is so important for freight, too.
wally34949 is offline  
Jun 4th, 2008, 02:47 AM
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AAFF: I was talking about the US. And I still don't agree.

- The Northeast corridor already has extensive service. And the airports are still dramatically constrained.

- Florida still has half the population density of the UK. And there just isn't that much air travel between the cities. MCO to MIA has 10 flights a day, but most are on prop planes, and small ones at that. AA has a couple of 757s, but I would think that is as much about feeding their hub as anything else. So what are we replacing? And how do you replace a Beechcraft with a train? You would have to cut frequencies and that leaves open the door for airlines.

- As you seem to half-heartedly acknowledge, you can't overlay the system onto the current population structure. Places like LA and Florida and Texas are simply not laid out for mass transit. There are not enough people living close enough together to enable building of an intra-city mass transit network. There are many and dispersed cores of development. Simply put, there is no logical place to put the hub for the network. Without concentrations of population, you simply can't drive enough passenger volume. People would still need to drive to and from the train station and ridership suffers dramatically if passengers have to get in a car for any part of their journey.

- I think people grossly underestimate the hassle factor with rail and mass transit. Take Boston, for example. You can get from Somerville to Downtown very easily. But getting from Somerville to Allston is a hassle and not worth the effort. And everything is hunky-dory if the trains run on time and with enough frequency. But it all falls apart if you have to stay late at the office and find yourself staring at the non-rush hour schedule to your suburban home.

The Europeans seem to be light years ahead of us in that department and it seems to work pretty well for them.

And this is something that I guess I just disagree with. Again, the issue is density. Yes, Germany and the UK and France are ahead of the US, but their population densities are much, much higher. You need to compare apples to apples. Denmark, for example, has no better mass transit than Massachusetts. And the mass transit options around New York, Philly, and DC are also very good. I just don't think the US is that far behind, once you factor in the differing population distributions.
travelgourmet is offline  
Jun 4th, 2008, 02:51 AM
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Rail is so important for freight, too.

And it is used extensively for this purpose in the US. But high speed rail lines are a different animal and would likely see limited freight traffic.
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