Flight Blog

February 8, 2016

Need a passport, or is the one you have expiring soon? If so, the U.S. State Department urges renewal ASAP. That's because the department expects an avalanche of renewals this year and next — so many that it may take longer than the typical six weeks to get a new passport.

 

Why the avalanche? Passports are good for ten years. And it was about ten years ago that a new U.S. law required citizens to use a passport to travel to the Caribbean, Mexico, Bermuda, and Canada. All those ten year old passports are starting to expire.

 

Get the lowdown on passport renewal by clicking here.

 

 

 

ROCK 'EM SOCK 'EM AIRLINES

 

Delta and American airlines are at war, so to speak. That's according to the widely read industry publication, Airline Weekly :

 

"They are the two largest airlines in the world and — in terms of total dollars — the most profitable too. And they are at each other's throats."

 

Well that's all fine and dandy, but what does it mean for consumers? A lot it turns out —

 

Among other things:

 

  • Delta has significantly improved its on-time performance. Last September it began offering an on-time guarantee to business travelers.
     
  • Both airlines are phasing out small jets (50-seats). The resulting bigger planes means more customer comfort and, in some cases, the return of a first class section.
     
  • American has brought back free snacks.

But something more fundamental is going on — with the return of a profitable airline industry we seem to be witnessing a return of airline civility — and we're speaking of airlines in general now. Overall, the industry seems better behaved.

 

Just a few short years ago, when airlines were bleeding red ink, merging, and going out of business, surly airline employees seemed ubiquitous. Sometimes flights were cancelled, at the drop of a snow flake, to save money. Airlines were so busy trying to stay alive they didn’t even seem to care what the other guy was doing.

 

Now days airline employees seem generally happier. Rather than cancelling flights on a whim, airlines brag on their operational performance. And rather than ignoring the other guy, airlines are actually paying attention to the competition.

 

Does the industry still give people heart burn? You bet it does — but things are definitely improving — and airline warfare is one of the telltale signs.

 

 


MONTHLY FEE, UNLIMITED FLIGHTS?

 

A new app launched last week hopes to upend the way some of us buy airline tickets. OneGo says it’s “the first booking app for subscription-based flying on major airlines.” In other words, get unlimited flights for a monthly fee.

 

It’s aimed at business travelers. Give it a look by clicking here.

 

 


WHY NOT MINOT?

 

And here’s one from someone who has WAY too much time on their hands. It’s Apex Airways — “the global carrier that touches you personally.”

 

With twin hubs in Minot, ND, and Branson, MO, the airline is proud of its 50-seat jet that features “an all lie-flat bed configuration in a reverse herringbone layout … [and] the first on-board shower available on a regional aircraft anywhere. Used primarily on our longer trans-Pacific routes.”

 

Yes, it’s the spoof that goes long and deep — it features accompanying websites, a Facebook page, and a Twitter account.

 

Spend your time wisely: http://www.apexairways.com/

 

 

Posted in: Airlines, American, Customer Service, Delta | 0 Comment(s) ››

February 1, 2016


PreCheck starts at SGF February 17. That word comes from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

 

If you’re approved for PreCheck you’ll be able to use a dedicated lane at the security check point and receive “expedited screening.” That’s jargon that means you won’t have to remove your shoes, belt, or “light jacket.” And you don’t have to take liquids and computers out of the bag.

 

To use PreCheck you have to apply to, and receive approval from, the TSA. The cost is $85. Find more information on the TSA website:  www.tsa.gov/tsa-precheck

 


FARE WARS

The first three months of the year are SLOW ones in the airline business.  To drum up business airlines cut prices and engage in fare war — in the past couple of weeks we’ve seen the following fares:

 

  • $228 round trip from Springfield to Chicago on American
  • $185 round trip from Springfield to Chicago on Delta
  • $167 round trip from Springfield to Chicago on United
  • $354 round trip from Springfield to Cancun on Delta
  • $170 round trip from Springfield to Atlanta on American

Before you go hunting these fares down there are a couple of things to know:  1) don’t expect to find the low fares with your first search. You nearly always have to hunt for them. 2) More often than not airlines offer low fares for weekend travel, and for odd ball day pairs. For example – you probably won’t find a low fare with a Monday departure, paired with a Wednesday return. A more likely pairing would be a Tuesday departure, paired with a Saturday return.

 

Bottom line: you have to be flexible.

 


FIXING O’HARE

Over the weekend the city of Chicago announced big plans to upgrade the airport nearly everyone loves to hate: Chicago O’Hare.

 

Details of the big plans: the city and the airlines have reached agreement on a new $1.3 billon runway. City officials say the project will lead to terminal improvements and new gates —though they wouldn’t say what kind of improvements, or how many gates — those details apparently still have to be worked out with the airlines. The ultimate goal is to reduce congestion and delays.

 

By the way — Both American and United airlines offer daily, non-stop service between Springfield and O'Hare.

 

Find more details about the improvements here: http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/20160130/BLOGS02/160129759/-1-3-billion-deal-reached-for-new-ohare-runway

 


FREE SNACKS MAKE A COMEBACK


Today American Airlines brings back “free snacks in the economy section and more free entertainment options on some aircraft.” That word comes from the Associated Press. The AP reports that American hasn’t offered free snacks since 2003.
Read the rest of the story here: http://bigstory.ap.org/article/e9b187e44dbf480e92eaed05ac7d26e3/airlines-restore-tiny-perks-pretzels-pacify-fliers

Posted in: Airlines, American, Delta, Fares, TSA, United | 0 Comment(s) ››

January 12, 2016

2015 was a record year at the Springfield airport — the total passenger count was 919,044. It demolishes the old record set in 2005 of 888,738, and is a 9% increase over 2014 passenger numbers.

 

Here’s another way of putting it: over 70,000 more passengers used the airport last year than in 2014. Why the huge growth? It’s a sign that the southwest Missouri economy is much improved — when the economy does poorly, fewer people fly. When it does better, more people fly because they have more expendable income.

 

2015 was marked not only by a record number of passengers, but also by several air service improvements —

American Airlines started new twice-daily service to its major hub in Charlotte, and all the airlines are using some bigger planes at Springfield. Demand is so high that over the past four years airlines have increased the number of seats for sale in Springfield by nearly 16%.

 

Ok, ok — what everyone really wants to know is how will growth improve air service, or change the airport? There are no exact answers, but here’s what may generally happen —

Within the next two to three years the airport will likely have more than a million total passengers. A million passengers is a big deal because once an airport hits that number, the business playing field starts to change. As numbers grow beyond a million, more than one restaurant may be willing to set up shop at the airport. That’s important to some customers because as they tell us, “we want more restaurant choices.”

 

What about more non-stop destinations? Convincing an airline to add destinations is always a tough sell, but beyond the million mark, it may get a bit easier. Much depends on the economy, the price of jet fuel, and the general business climate in the airline industry.

As some of you have noticed, growth does bring challenges — last year the airport’s parking lots frequently ran out of space — there were more cars than spaces! We should have parking lot expansion projects under construction later this year.

 

All in all 2015 was a great year — here’s to another in 2016!

 

Posted in: Airlines, Airports, How the Airport Works | 0 Comment(s) ››

December 23, 2015

 

Airline growth is always good, but the new year, and the growth that comes with it, presents challenges — we need your help to make sure we stay on track .

 

A couple of weeks ago the airlines serving Springfield turned in their passenger numbers for November — those numbers all but confirm that 2015 will end up being the busiest year in the history of the Springfield airport.

 

The all-time airline passenger record for Springfield was set in 2005, with 888,738 total passengers. This year the airlines are on track to move more than 920,000 people through our airport.

 

Airline growth is good for Springfield and the region, but it presents challenges for the airport — we need your help to make sure we stay on track.

 

Earlier this year we commissioned a survey of airline passengers at the airport. They had mostly good things to say, but as you’ll see in a minute, there’s room for improvement.

 

H2R Marketing Research, a Springfield based company, conducted the survey from May 15th to August 15th of this year. 543 departing passengers participated. Overall satisfaction was 4.48 on a 5 point scale. These same passengers rated other airports at 3.61.

 

Jerry Henry, the owner of H2R, says the survey shows that wait time in the check-in line is the single most important thing to passengers — the shorter, the better. They also want clean restrooms, helpful and efficient TSA security staff, and a pleasing atmosphere. In all of these areas the airport gets very high marks.

 

But here’s the kicker —

 

The last passenger survey we did was in 2011. Since then the number of people using the airport has increased more than 20%, while the average satisfaction score fell 3%. That’s the challenge we face — as the number of people using the airport grows, customer satisfaction goes down.

 

Jerry tells us that whenever there a big increase in customers, satisfaction levels tend to go down. As he puts it, “It doesn’t matter what kind of business you’re talking about — a hotel, an attraction, or a retail store. The decrease in customer satisfaction is not unexpected. What was unexpected was how little the score fell.”

 

While it’s good to know that a 3% decrease is good, we want to do better. And that’s where we need your help. Give us your feedback; let us know how we’re doing — not just today, but anytime.

 

There are many things that people dislike about air travel. Those things show up clearly in the survey. They include the cost of airline fare. Airline fees, delayed flights, cancelled flights, airplane mechanical problems, parking rates, security screening, and the price of coffee.

 

We sympathize, but please know that the airport has little or no control over some of these issues. Believe you me — if we could fix some of those airline issues we’d do it in a heartbeat!

 

That being said let us know everything. We’ll let you know if it’s something the airport can’t control, and why. And we’ll do our best to improve those things that we can.

 

You can reach out to us on Facebook, www.facebook.com/flysgf , via Twitter @flySGF, or email: info at flyspringfield.com.

 

You can read the full survey report by clicking here.

 

Posted in: Airlines, Airports, How the Airport Works | 0 Comment(s) ››

August 14, 2015

In our recent post about the slight downward trend in fares Jason Blevins offered this on Facebook:

 

“You (the airport) have a direct influence in fare rates. Your contracted landing fees and SKY HIGH fuel rates drive up the costs.” 

 

Here’s how it really works. Let’s start with fuel. The airport does not sell fuel to the airlines. Each airline has its own contract with the oil company.

 

As for landing fees, that assertion is off base too...

 

The airport/airline business has a metric called “cost per enplanement.” That’s CPE for short.

 

CPE is the cost to the airline, at a given airport, for every passenger who gets on a plane. CPE includes landing fees, and the lease cost airlines pay for facilities at the airport.

 

In April the CPE at the Springfield airport was $5.70 per passenger. In 2012 a report by Moody’s Investment Services stated that the average CPE nationwide was $7.76.

 

Keep in mind that the Moody’s number is an average. At some airports it's much higher. Want to see for yourself? Click here to take the Google search for a CPE spin ....

 

You’ll find in places like Miami International the CPE was $20.39 in 2013. Cleveland: $15.37 in 2013. Dallas: $6.74 in 2012.

 

If you’d like to talk just about landing fees, the current landing fee at Springfield is $1.30 per thousand pounds. 

 

Click here to check out this St. Louis Post-Dispatch story from 2011 on landing fees in St. Louis...

 

What you'll find in the story: in 2011 the landing fee at St. Louis was $8.96. Kansas City: $1.96.

 

I know a lot of you are scratching your head at this point. If CPE is lower in Springfield, why aren’t fares lower? As a matter of principle, most airports, including ours, do everything they can to keep cost low. But in the final analysis CPE doesn't have much to do with fares.

 

Don’t take my word for it. Check out this story from January in the Dallas Morning News...

 

Please note the paper's quote from the chairman of American Airlines, Doug Parker: “What we believe is that pricing is tied to demand… and that’s what we should base our pricing on and not based on our cost structure.”

 

The newspaper reporter put it more succinctly: "On their earnings call Tuesday, American Airlines executives said that demand, not costs, determines what they charge for fares."

 

Posted in: Airlines, Airports, Boloney, How the Airport Works | 0 Comment(s) ››

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