The Checkout

Feeling Blue about Flyi

Anyone who ever flew on Flyi has got to be feeling down about the airline's demise. It's not just the low fares that made it attractive--but also the customer-service attitude--one that showed the airline cared and had a sense of humor to boot.

And anyone who still has tickets on Flyi has got to be feeling even bluer than the airline's bold blue colors. Because it's unclear whether they will get their fares refunded. Oh, yes, under federal law, other airlines are required to honor tickets from a bankrupt airline--but passengers must fly standby and pay a $50 fee each way. For details, check out today's Washington Post for advice to Flyi ticketholders. Passengers who don't have Flyi tickets will probably see an impact as well: higher fares from the remaining airlines. Flyi's experience shows you can't survive if you price tickets below cost!

Not blue enough yet? Then, consider this prediction from airline expert Terry Trippler:

In an e-mail of prognostications sent last week, Trippler made a rather scary forecast for future airline travel: Just as we now pay extra for services that were once free (gift-wrapped purchases, furniture delivery, gas pumped by an attendant), we will soon be paying added fees for what we now consider part of the standard air fare. To get an advanced seat assignment, much less a desirable one on an emergency row or bulkhead, or even an aisle seat passengers may soon be charged extra. Ditto for pillows or checked baggage. In other words, paying for food--which many airlines now make you do--is just the beginning of a new trend. "In 2006, it's coming folks, it's coming!" Tripper wrote.

By  |  January 3, 2006; 11:43 AM ET
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Comments

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Seems like it could get really complicated, and therefore slow, trying to board an airplace where some of the passengers had assigned seats and others did not. Would you board the assigned seats first then open boarding to everybody else in one mad rush, or would the non-reserved folks receive Southwest-style numbered boarding cards on a first-come, first-served basis, then board according to their numbers after the reserved folks were boarded? And how would you keep a peasant from accidentally sitting in a reserved seat whose frequent-flyer passenger had a late connecting flight but was running through the concourse toward the plane?

Either way you did it, there would be many, many irate passengers on every flight. (Imagine a family of four trying to find seats together when the plane is already 2/3 filled with reserved seat business passengers.) Better to either keep it all reserved, with the low-fare peasants relegated to the back rows near the lavs, or go to all open seating, perhaps with a few rows of reserved seats forward, restricted to first-class and high-mileage frequent flyers. American and some other airlines already practice a form of "seating segregation", with the best seats reserved for their top Aadvantage categories.

Posted by: Scott | January 3, 2006 3:06 PM

The demise of Independence also will likely mean higher ticket prices to the smaller markets Independence served (Charelston, WV and Rochester, NY for example) particularly if Independence was the only discount airline flying into those locations. This likely increase in ticket prices has not been well covered by any media though some commentary has noted that the demise of Independence will reduce excess seat capacity which means - by applying simple supply and demand - there is less supply with a constant demand so prices will rise. This increase in price may help some of the other airlines in bankruptcy, but at the cost of higher tickets to consumers.

Posted by: Big Picture | January 3, 2006 3:11 PM

Like most things you get what you pay for. If everyone ran their business like the the airlines, just imagine how the Post would fair. Early editions would cost more than late editions. If you read the paper when bought it would have a higher cost than if I waited to read it that evening.

Posted by: Ben | January 3, 2006 5:33 PM

About seat reservations:
I think you will be assigned a seat at check-in on the date of departure. So everyone still gets a seat assignment. But if you are a family of four, you might want to pay to try to get 4 seats together. If you're a couple, you might be willing to gamble that they'll assign you together that day. I assume that the computer still tries to seat you together, as long as there is space. But there will probably be no way to let you specify your preference. I can also imagine that the computer assigns people with connecting flights closer to front of airplane, because airlines do not want you to miss your connection.

Posted by: John | January 3, 2006 5:38 PM


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