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Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Technological Overhaul Needs for Airlines

I just spent the last 25 hours sleeping on the floors of two of our nation's finest airports -- New York's LaGuardia and Chicago's O'Hare.

I used to be a fan of flying; however, the last five years have been just awful in terms of customer experience. I spent the day Twittering -- that's text messaging to about 450 people -- my experiences. The prevailing conversations I had at the airport: more people are going to drive in the next few years until the industry is able to overhaul is experience.

Here are some of the problems and solutions coming down the pike:

Wi-Fi Internet Access

  • The good: Delta is the first major carrier to announce that it will offer wireless access to consumers later this year. Prices range from $9.95 to $12.95 depending on the length of the flight.
  • The bad: Most airports that offer wireless connectivity do so at similar prices. That means you could spent $25 for Internet access for just a few hours.

Paperless Boarding Passes

  • The good: The International Air Transport Association, which I've never heard of until today, is pushing for airlines to have completely paperless transactions, which means you'll be able to do all of your transactions by phone or PC.
  • The bad: Paperless works when everything runs smoothly; however, bad weather, mechanical problems and empty flights have sent the industry into a tailspin. For this to work, all the carriers will need to revisit how they sell tickets and do customer service.

Auctioning Air Space

  • The good: The Department of Transportation is looking to auction the right for carriers to offer service at New York and New Jersey airports. The system would require businesses to submit bids for open traffic spots that became available when DOT capped services for airlines that had poor records.
  • The bad: Auctions can always be gamed, and there's no way to promise that the winners will -- or can -- provide better service than traditional carriers.

Airline Fees

  • The good: none
  • The bad: Instead of overhauling their supply and decision chains, the airlines are looking to raise fees on increasingly shoddy service. The latest blow: JetBlue announced pillows and blankets would now cost $7.

By Brad at 06:21 PM | Comments (0)

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