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Sunday, June 16, 2013

What an idea…. Innovative ways of charging people – Airliners lead the way

 How often do you travel… what is most preferred mode and what do you do during a travel ?  In olden days, train travel was the most enjoyable one.. one could see newer places, lush green fields, trees running on the opposite side, engine chugging to small village stations, so many edible items being sold by people ~ and making friends with co-passengers… the new generation gets lost to their gadgets and do not even care to see the others… another best thing with Railways is ‘its pricing’ ~ uniformity…

There were days when we looked up astonishingly at those alum birds flying high and dreamt of an air travel.. a show of aeroplane landing in a film used to attract us…. Not any longer… primarily because the rates of travels tumbled down due to entry of new players and the price war…. Last year in US there was furore when an airline [erroneously] put up the fare at $43 ~ a measly Rs.2200/- approx for a distance of 12983 km……… extremely low for travelling from New York to Hongkong… even for a budget airline..

Coming back to our dream so flying  ~ stories were being circulated that you would be taken care of so well aboard a flight and that Airlines would give attractive gifts too…………….  Certainly not any longer… as the Low cost carriers offer lower fares and much lesser comforts – many do not serve food or beverage and passengers will have to buy them.  Still it is better to fly a budget airline rather than spending long hours by road or rail.  For most people, ticket pricing can be the most confusing part of air travel. Fares are constantly changing. By offering a reduced cost, the budget airlines seek to gain a competitive marketing advantage over other similarly priced air transportation carrier's products; even though in actuality fare prices for the passenger may be parallel to other airline options due to the associated add-on fees low-cost, discount etc., 

Human mind often compares everything and many cannot control the thoughts that the person sitting next could have bought the ticket much cheaper……………. [there is also the possibility of them paying more !!]  An airticket was once a luxury…. From the conventional glossy paper tickets with self carbons… life has changed to e-tickets and online boarding passes. Generally people who book tickets too early get a lower price.  As it happens in every other trade, Air companies price their fare to be competitive against their competitors.  Airlines often overbook flights;  Overbooking is the practice of selling more tickets for a flight than there are seats available. Airlines justify this practice by using historical analysis of traveller behavior. Often, travelers don't show up for a flight that they have a reservation for, or they don't make it to the gate in time. There are also travelers who reserve seats on multiple airlines and flights to ensure their travel plans.

When the competition is tough, people try to squeeze money somehow and every possible attempt is made to charge the passengers in some way…  Recently, there was the news of Wedding couples hit with extra charges by venues, photographers and DJs simply because they are getting married; though ideally the pricing should be for the work to be done ~ it was reported that for wedding in UK people were charging more than for other occasions whence these contractors would be doing the same work.

This one would beat them all  !  Today’s Daily Mail has an interesting newsitem of an Airliner who would charge passengers more if they prefer to ensure their sitting next to each other on board their flights… especially for families and honeymooning couples.  It is stated that guaranteed seats together cost £7.50 per seat for each flight, adding up to an extra £30 for a couple on return flights.  A holiday was told she had to pay the charge when she discovered that she and her fiance would be separated by an aisle on their flights to Sicily. This is even when people had booked tickets together. UK trade association ABTA, which represents travel agents and tour operators, said it was the first time they had heard of such a charge.

The operator is ‘Thomson and First Choice’ who would charge Couples and friends to change their bookings so they could sit together - only parents with children would be exempt.  Other than parents flying with their children, the rest such as friends, family and couples would have to pay up to make the change. A spokesman for TUI is quoted as stating: 'A charge is applied for these services, giving the customers the peace of mind that they will be seated together.

The low fare reported in earlier part of post occurred due to a glitch in United's ticketing system making it such a lowly fare.   Subsequently the Airliner was quoted as stating that it would not honor the fares, except for passengers who had already departed – the rules state that airlines must honor fares issued in error, once paid for. There is something known as "error fares" -- rock-bottom fares mistakenly issued by carriers ~ there are some who frequently check online for any such mistake and cash out of the same. 

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

16th June 2013.


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