Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Top 5 ways to know that your airline is trouble

Madame BOOT's sister lost a day and hundreds of Euros this week with the collapse of Italian low cost carrier MYair as her flight from Paris to Venice ceased to be. Two things came out of this. First - it is one thing to have travel insurance (which my sister-in-law has), but it is another to find in the fine print that the policy excludes costs from airline bankruptcy. This is definitely something all consumers should be checking before buying travel insurance. Second- it turned me to thinking about the top five signs that your airline or flight is in trouble. Here they are

5. Like USAir flight 1549- Kamikaze Canadian Geese are seen in the vicinity for your aircraft;

4 Like United Airlines - you put your very creative but completely incomprehensible sea orchestra advert on Youtube and hit 16,500 views. Then an unknown Canadian country and western band do a cheesy song on your baggage handling stupidity and who cares customer service attitude and it gets 4.3 million views and a distribution deal with iTunes;

3. Like Alitalia - the leader of your country (Berlusconi) promises to revolutionise your national carrier (Alitalia), keeping it in local hands, restoring it to its former glory and bringing back profitability, sunshine and smiling children. Result a much smaller airline, part owned by foreigners Air France, merged with a smaller rival (AirOne), still stuck with the same union contracts and children crying over lost baggage;

2. Like Qantas - you spend 2 years developing a brand new video on demand system and claim that it is the best in the world. It does not matter that it is not the best system in the world but it does matter that for more than two years the VOD system does not work ; and

1. Like Italian Low Cost Carrier MYair - your airline is so badly run that even the Italian Civil Aviation Authority feels compelled to suspend their lunchtime nap and annual "bring your mates to work" day celebration to suspend your licence.

Update - had to add a number 6 that I remember

6. Like World Focus Air - your airline has a "W" as the key brand icon and changes its name from "World Focus Air" to "Ank Air" but keeps the "W" prominently displayed on the plane (check out the original post and picture if you do not yet get the almost not safe for work reference)

What other signs do you have for an uncertain traveller to watch for?

thanks to for the photo


Carl Jackson said...

Like Qantas your airline invests time and money over years developing dominant business travel marketshare in one of its home countries highest growth region (OOL).

Then start a low cost variant, close your lounge, don't provide any real cross over FF benefits.

Then expect everyone to fly your LCC in preference to Richard Branson's Virgin's who greet you better, serve you better and generally provide a far superior flying experience for the money.

Result you loose any/all of these domestic sectors and a good portion of those travellers international travel too.

Tim Hughes said...

@Carl - so true. I also love how Jetstar then goes around saying that they have are flying more passengers at this stage of their development than Ryanair was at the same point in time after Ryanair's launch. They are trying to argue that they have made a better start than Ryanair did. But Jetstar got to the point they are at with huge amounts of "free" traffic/passengers from being given Qantas routes whereas Ryanair had to steal/lure away each customer from BA, easyjet, Aer Lingus.

Stuart said...

It is always a good idea to check that the website actually makes sense.

New Cambodian Airline Cambodia Angkor Air (launched yesterday) has this on their brand new homepage:

"The flight safety always makes air journey comfortable is throughout our vision."

If the airline is skimping on proofreading, pray tell what else are they skimping on?

More seriously though, repeated gossip about financial woes but nothing reported in the press (re a "franchise" of a large budget carrier) set off big alarm bells as far as I'm concerned.

Carl said...

absolutely correct, love the post, great business commentary and entertaining at same time, tweeted as @Tourabout travel read of the day.

will DM you about your Sydney itinerary.

Tim Hughes said...

@Stuart - brilliant. Have added a number 6 above as you reminded me of the brilliant rebranding efforts of World Focus Air to Ank Air while keeping the "W" brand icon

Penny Arabiata said...

Penny's 3 Signs that your airline is in trouble:

1. When the media ceases referring to your airline's "glorious chapters" in history and simply replaces them with references to "Chapter 11".

2. When you paint your aircraft tails with a chequered flag motif and launch with an "All Business Class" product on flights around an hour in length.

3. When your airline spruiks its quirky Passenger Birthday Bonus. For a small fee, they'll drop the yellow oxygen mask from above your seat so you can wear it as a whimsical party hat.

Tim Hughes said...

@Penny - great stuff. Thanks

Professor Sabena said...

And #7 through 10 you know your LCC, Flag Carrier, Airline, Bus Company now become airline, goes belly up when….

#7. You show up at the airport with no prior knowledge with the web site telling you your flight is leaving on time only to find a blaze of TV lights and a well known attractive but very serious looking TV anchor (not reporter) standing in front of the check in desk.
#8. The said check in desk in is unoccupied except for a rather surly looking man armed with a ten ton parrot and a submachine gun (at Stansted).
#9. The boarding pass you have wont scan through the security screening system
#10. There is pile of uniforms left in the middle of the terminal of the same general colors as your boarding pass’s garish logos.

Tim Hughes said...

@Professor S - great stuff- thanks

Jan Peeters said...

# 11: the CEO declares in a press statement that "the company will focus on revenue, not volume". Next step: staff, please work for free!

Tim Hughes said...

@Jan #11A - the CEO leaves with a multi-million dollar golden parachute to "spend more time with their family"

AlphaVictor said...

* A sure sign will be when the ACCC asks Jetstar to start applying for lottery permits every time it runs a seat sale. You have a greater chance of winning a prize in the $2 lottery than making it all the way through the Jetstar booking process during a 1 hour 5000 seat sale. An airline that doesn't want customers - there ya go!

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