Friday, September 05, 2008

I Fear I'm Defeated...or is it Victorious?

Normally the letter below from Continental would send me into an apoplectic fit. Do I think these changes suck? I've already ranted about them. What has me wondering about whether I'm defeated is that I actually feel like complimenting Continental. They made no attempt to explain or justify the changes. They didn't try to commiserate with me. They just said "thanks, here's what we're doing, period and end of conversation. Oh, and thanks for your money." They didn't patronize, they weren't defensive, they didn't say "they feel my pain." They didn't dribble this out over a period of weeks or months; they made all the bad changes at once.

I mean, a few months ago, American's fee imposition led to the beginning of this blog. Now Continental does that and so much more and I don't even whimper? Maybe some of it is because I don't fly Continental very much. Maybe more of it is that OF COURSE we should expect this lemming-like behavior on the part of the old line carriers. Were they not going to impose fees and/or cut services? So I just can't get that worked up over it.

So why might I feel victorious? Let them all die. You've got to love Southwest's new commercial where they compare their "airfare" with that of their competitors. They start with an advantage on the airfare alone and by the time you add in all the extra charges, they end up with a huge advantage. It's not that I believe Southwest is perpetually immune to these pressures -- they'll lost the huge advantage of their fuel price hedge some time soon -- but from the beginning they've just been more transparent about what it will actually cost you to fly. Even JetBlue is getting into this creeping fee-ism; one for more leg room, another for blankets, etc. Give me a number, not an a la carte menu. Bundle your services into tiers and price them accordingly. They're all doing it together; they can either die together or learn, as they so often have had to, that they're out of touch with their customer. Just a shocking way to run a business. Shocking.