Will Airlines Use Customization For Good Or Evil?

April 29, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

On the horizon for the airline industry: customizable fares.

A little further out on the horizon: angry passengers.

The airline industry is developing technology that will allow them to create a customized airplane fare for you — and only you — using personal information such as gender, marital status, and how often you fly. This information will enter an algorithm that will decide the fare amount you are required to pay. Amazon.com already uses a similar tool which suggests items for you to purchase based on your browsing and previous purchase history.

AA MD80

AA MD80 (Photo credit: Blue Pylons)

Advocates of this method argue that this change will give the travelers more control. In theory, travelers will be able to visit the website of a travel agency, set the desired travel locations and select the airline with the most affordable price. Travelers would also be able to check for other options, such as wireless Internet, and view any extra fees that may be attached to any trip.

The idea of a fare customization has been greeted with skepticism. Opponents of the proposed change argue this is nothing more than a marketing ploy. They worry that by giving away so much personal information, the airline industry could easily check on your credit history and income information. Instead of giving you the cheapest fare based on what you need, they could use that information to determine how much you could afford to pay. Individuals with more disposable income could be charged much more for a flight than the person seated next to them. And without knowing the formula used to set the price, there’s no true way to know who is getting charged fairly and who is being overcharged.

There is no need for immediate concern; the technology for customizable airfares is still in the development phases, years away from actually being implemented. However, the idea still raises a few eyebrows from those who are concerned with how their personal information is being used by major corporations. In the end, it is not the technology that we can call “good” or “evil,” but the intent behind the way it is used.

Myth Busting: There’s No Best Time to Buy Airline Tickets

November 7, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

With the cost of travel continually rising, everyone is looking to save a few bucks when booking airline tickets. However, when it comes to finding the lowest airfare, everyone seems to have their own, often differing, advice to share when it comes to when and how you should purchase a flight.

When it comes to saving money on air travel, many people insist that when you book your ticket has the biggest impact on ticket price. In fact, a quick Internet search will leave you inundated with a wide variety of tips on how far in advance you should book your ticket, the best day of the week and time of day to purchase, and the cheapest day to travel on. But is there any truth to these recommendations, or are these “expert tactics” simply myths?

Travelocity flexibile date fare grid

Travelocity flexibile date fare grid (Photo credit: Joshua Kaufman)

When it comes to selecting which time to fly, many people suggest travelling mid-week and during off hours — particularly on one of those dreaded red eye flights. If you’re hoping to use this tactic to save a bit of money on airfare, you’re in luck – avoiding popular travel times (such as Friday afternoon) can help you save a few dollars on the cost of travel.

Unfortunately, if you’re hoping to score a great deal on airfare by purchasing your tickets on a specific day of the week or at a certain time, you may not be so lucky. Up until a few years ago, it was possible to save money on travel by using this tactic, however, times have changed. While it may work on occasion, purchasing airfare at a certain time isn’t a guaranteed way to score a lower fare.

If you’re looking to score the best deal possible on an upcoming trip, your best bet is to do some research on average airfare prices for the route you’re flying, begin monitoring prices a few months in advance, and snap up your tickets when you find a good deal. Remember, prices can jump very fast, so it pays to simply strike while the iron’s hot!

American Airlines Rolls Out New Fare Structure

April 23, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

The announcement that an airline is introducing a new fare structure is typically met with a resounding groan among consumers. American Airlines recently announced that they are introducing an optional new fare structure which will result in an extra $68 – $88 per trip for economy class tickets, and — believe it or not — travel experts are actually applauding these new fares!

So why is this fare increase getting so much praise.

And why is it optional?

American Airlines

American Airlines (Photo credit: cliff1066™)

According to an Associated Press story, it’s American Airlines’ way of offering increased pricing transparency to their customers. Airline fees have become a hot topic lately, and like every other major airline, American Airlines has received their fair share of complaints — especially regarding baggage fees and the standard $150 fee they charge for reservation changes.

Rick Elieson, American Airlines’ managing director of digital marketing, said the new fare structure “will eliminate the fear about what-ifs.”
Here’s how each tier of American Airline’s new fare structure is broken down, and what customers can expect to receive at each level.

  • Choice Level: This is the normal ticket structure current AA passengers are accustomed to. Fares will remain the same, as will the fees for checked bags and reservation changes.
  • Choice Essential: At an extra $68 per round trip, this level includes a complimentary checked bag, the ability for travelers to change their itinerary with no added fees and early boarding.
  • Choice Plus: At $88 per trip, this level includes everything that Choice Essential does (complimentary checked bag, free reservation changes and early boarding) in addition to bonus miles for frequent fliers, standby privileges, free in-flight drink, and more.

With checked bags costing customers $50 per round trip for one bag, travelers that opt into one of the upgraded price levels will be paying $18 – $38 more per trip — however, the added cost may be well worth it for those that may need to change their reservation — or simply for those that enjoy a few extra perks.

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