Over the past year the average price on several airline routes has gone up over 200% as Airlines struggle with higher fuel prices, reduced travel, and other challenges. My talk with a Sky West staffer suggested that fuel prices are the overwhelming challenge, so with Oil now down some 20% off highs hopefully we’ll see some ticket price relief. Unfortunately thought there can be a spiral effect as people stop flying and drive instead, challenging the airlines to keep routes that don’t have enough passengers to be profitable.
A solution I hope the airlines will consider would be flight consolidation. I recently travelled from Medford Oregon to Dulles IAD on the same day and similar times to my parents who travelled the same route, yet we were on different airlines and always on different planes. It would seem the computers might reschedule people in ways that flights could be cancelled – though I suppose the number of complications this would cause might overwhelm a system that is already balanced somewhat precariously given all the flight delays and such.
My pal was complaining that the Airlines seem to be failing more and more to make connections and create harmonious travel experiences, and I think he’s right, but I also think the cost for improvements is not supportable by the system. It’s another example where our great American system brought something that was a total luxury item (air travel) to the mainstream during our economic gravy days of the 50′s-90′s, and now we’ll be unable to backtrack and make it a luxury item again. The huge fleets, high fuel cost, and expectations of both Airlines and travellers will take some time to readjust and in the meantime…. bankruptcies and trouble are on the horizon.