Friday, October 26, 2012

In-Flight Thoughts for Airlines

The answer to this question is fairly obvious - it's because there is great demand for air travel.  Every time I'm at an airport, no matter what time of day it is, it's busy.  In a physically far-ranging society, people have to travel long distances and airlines, who cut potential travel time from days to hours, still provide are the most efficient option for doing so.

Yet, most airlines in this country remain on the financial brink.  To cope, most airlines in the United States have adding fees and cut back on amenities like snacks and pillows.  Their biggest gripe is volatility of fuel costs.  Any discussion regarding an airlines financial performance begins and ends with the cost of fuel.

Yet, I'm wondering if airlines are missing out on a great opportunity to capitalize on the demand for air travel.  Currently, if you need a flight somewhere, then you buy a ticket. But what if that wasn't the case.

Would major carriers benefit from selling small blocks of time in addition to tickets?  For example,  my current home in Cincinnati is about an hour flight from my hometown of Rochester, NY.  I know I will go home at least twice a year.  Therefore, it would make sense to purchase, let's says a five hour block with a one-year shelf life long before I ever reserved a flight.  Or, what about a reduced fare for purchasing multiple round-trip tickets to the same destination?  For instance, customers could purchase multiple flights between the two destinations in advance and redeem when they finalize their travel plans.    

In exchange for getting their money way up front airlines could provide discounts or other perks to these customers who make an early commitment.  Consider the potential market of college students who travel great distances several times per year.  Wouldn't an airline greatly benefit from lining their pockets well before the passenger even makes a reservation? 

Just floating the thought out there; as always, thanks for listening.  Email your suggestions for how airlines could improve or add them in the comment section?
     

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