25 February 2009

LET EVERYONE FLY EASIER

By John

WHY CAN’T WE FLY EASIER?

Asks John Weinthal an ex-pat pensioner living in Malaysia since August 2004 and member National press Club of Malaysia

I love travel.

As an AirAsia regular I like the fares, no frills service, enthusiastic staff and the fact that it has one of the youngest big jet fleets.

But even with flying becoming more affordable it is still not notably user friendly, and not just thanks to supposed Security issues.

Maybe the following thoughts – they can hardly be original – are unsupportable thanks to IATA or some other busybody.

Flight Planning:

I want to go to Bali then Jakarta returning to KL via Thailand, but affordable flying seems geared solely for the A-to-B-to-A traveler.

I have just about given up on multiple destination trips, or I pay the penalty for switching flights. Changing tickets is a great profit centre for airlines. It is all profit involving no financial outlay. With a few keystrokes your requirements are met. You could easily do it yourself.

I understand surcharges if flights are changed less than say three days out, but beyond that I suggest it is amoral profiteering. Worse is when you bring a flight forward. Clearly there is an unsold seat or the change would be impossible.

One books a holiday for 14 days but after eight you have had enough. “No problem”, says nice lady. “That will be X amount”. A more appropriate reply would surely be: “Thank you for filling our empty seat and giving us time to sell another.”

Who can doubt that many more would fly, more often and possibly a lot further if there was transparent fair flexibility?

Who Will Fly?

On booking – online, over the counter or with that modern anachronism, a Travel Agent – one reveals all: names, passport details, a couple of phone numbers, email and more.

Fair enough. I accept airlines must know with whom they are entering a business transaction.

However, if I am paying for more than just myself the airline requires similar details for all. Why? The others are my responsibility. They have no business relationship with the airline.

Does this matter?

It can.

The purchaser may want one or more staff to attend a conference or whatever, but is uncertain who.

I need assistance to travel, but do not know who among my friends or family will be free at the time.

I want to give someone a surprise trip; a birthday present perhaps.

Why can I not purchase a number of seats at appropriate fares without detailing who the passenger(s) will be? The airline gets its money. I choose who flies, and when I will advise them of the trip.

I can see no SECURITY bonus in knowing more than, say, three days in advance who will occupy a seat. The only time the passenger is verified with a picture against face-to-face meeting is at the check-in counter.
PRICING ON INTERNET BOOKING AND IN ADS

Why cause delay and added frustration by giving a fare first then later – after all the rigmarole of entering many details – declaring the real cost. We must pay fuel surcharges and various taxes. They are not options like baggage charge or insurance. Declare them upfront – don’t frustrate or confuse your customers.

NOW EVERYONE CAN FLY, says AirAsia.

Why not move ahead of the rest and make it: NOW EVERYONE CAN FLY EASIER

A sound business case can be made for this,surely?
John Weinthal

  • Eu Hon

    On the comment of Who will fly. I believe it’s to curb arbitrage. Imagine, Air Asia is giving out half a million of free seat.

    A ticket to HK is only RM 140 return.
    I have RM 14,000 bought 100 tickets.
    6 months down the road, ticket price resume to normal RM 1,000 level, I sell out, got RM 100,000. Profit RM 86,000.

    Next time, I buy 1,000 ticket. Earn RM 860,000. Heck! I won’t be here to see my bloody boss face la!

    Well, the low fare goes to the minority few. If you wanna know what will happen with this, go to Pudu, and you will see people selling Penang Sekarang, JB Sekarang etc.

    I always view low fare as a risky investment. You pay lower fare, in exchange for the non-flexibility and bearing any risk of unforseen circumstances.

    If you do not wanna take a risk, book only say 3 days in advance!

  • Derrick

    “Why can I not purchase a number of seats at appropriate fares without detailing who the passenger(s) will be? “

    This one is easy to answer: anti-terrorism.

  • AirAsia Blog Team

    The fact is that these are not only safety requirements but if we do not impose these measures, travel agents will be able to book ahead and resell at a much higher price. Why not pass the buck directly to the guests? We believe that AirAsia will accommodate where we can and although we are not perfect, we are always working hard to be the at the top.

  • Adam

    Nice suggestion… but if these suggestions are followed then nobody can fly anymore as no airline can afford to operate unless they own the oilfield and also build their own aircraft. :-)