Category Archives: General TruPrice Information

The War Between Airlines and Internet Travel Agencies

According to an article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, customers are no longer able to purchase flights on Delta Air Lines through on-line travel agencies CheapOAir.com, OneTravel.com and BookIt.com as of December 17, 2010.

It is the latest in an attempt by airlines to refrain from paying commissions to Internet travel agencies by attempting to direct traffic to their own Internet web sites. Talks and negotiations are still in progress pertaining to American Airlines and their ongoing contract disputes between Internet travel agencies Orbitz and Expedia.

If airlines are successful at cutting out Internet travel agencies and meta-search travel engines who act as “middlemen,” then not only will customers no longer be able to purchase flights on those airlines at those third-party Internet web sites, but they will also no longer be able to access such information as flight schedules, seat availability — and ancillary fees.

Years ago, a similar situation occurred between airlines and “brick-and-mortar” travel agencies where the airlines reduced the commissions paid out at first and then stopped them altogether. As a result, travel agencies either started charging their customers for services that were formerly complimentary, or they went out of business altogether.

Could the airlines successfully collude and deliver a similar fate to on-line travel agencies, which have dropped a nominal fee for their booking services a few years ago, or could the potential strategy backfire and result in a significant drop in revenue for the airlines by not providing its customers with multiple ways to book a flight? Is there a possibility that this war will be done before it gains additional momentum?

Spirit’s Increased Checked Baggage Fees Now Active on TruPrice.net

Yesterday, Spirit Airlines increased its first and second checked baggage fees.  The new fees are live on our beta.

Peter Greenberg Cites TruPrice in His Travel Tip: Car Rental Process Made Easier

In this short entry, Peter Greenberg cites three companies who help consumers get the most for their rental car dollars.

The Clash of the Titans Conclusion: Southwest’s Ancillary Fees Vs. Delta Air Lines’ Ancillary Fees – Is There Really THAT Much Difference?

In a continuing series, TruPrice is analyzing the fee structures of Southwest Airlines and Delta Air Lines.  Today’s segment looks at the whole of Southwest’s and Delta’s fees structures and draws a conclusion that should surprise no one.  And, we offer some parting thoughts that may cast the current outcome of the Clash of the Titans into a bit of doubt….

Since the merger announcement that Southwest Airlines would be gaining a foothold in Atlanta by acquiring AirTran and its ATL gates (and other operational components), TruPrice has been conducting a side-by-side comparison of the two companies’ fee structures.  Without question, when taken side-by-side, we opined very soon after the merger announcement that Delta’s fees put DAL at a very competitive disadvantage when compared with SWA’s.  And indeed, TruPrice fee information confirmed that in many categories, Delta not only is higher, but substantially higher.

Overall, Southwest crushes Delta in this first Clash of the Titans.

But, will this change?  Across the spectrum, many Southwest fees are less than half of Delta’s and in some areas less than a quarter.  But can the two airlines sustain this disparity? And is it competitive for both to continue their current fee structures?  Can Delta continue to charge first and second baggage fees while Southwest charges zero?  And can Southwest leave that revenue on the table?  Can Southwest continue a single class of service (I predict absolutely not) and if not, will their costs rise driving a re-evaluation of their fees?   Will the addition of a new fleet type drive up training costs for pilots or will they be satisfied with a single rate of pay regardless of aircraft type?  Will Southwest add in-flight amenities like meals and entertainment to be competitive with Delta – again driving up costs?

And how will Delta respond?  Anyone who thinks Delta didn’t learn from ValuJet/AirTran growing up in its backyard didn’t watch what Delta did to jetBlue when the folks in NY decided to introduce its unique brand of  single-class service in Atlanta.  And are these same people aware that Delta merged with what is considered the most aggressive airline in the US market at defending its turf:  Northwest.  Rest assured, there is no one in an executive position at Delta who isn’t going to defend ATL like a raging pit bull.  And Doug Parker, US Airways’ leader who spearheaded the ill-fated hostile takeover attempt of Delta in the winter of 2006, found out first-hand what Delta people are capable of when they feel threatened.

TruPrice’s opinion: while Delta’s fees, as of this writing, would suggest that it is vulnerable vs. a lean and mean Southwest, we are going to see changes from both SWA and DAL as they size each other up and punch and counter-punch.  In order to compete with Delta, Southwest will need to add products and services that will cause a re-evaluation of its fee structure and Delta will need to adjust its fees to become more in-line with Southwest’s.

I predict that we’ll be back again soon enough hosting another Clash of the Titans once the gloves really come off and the true competition begins.

Until then, enjoy the battle.

Chris

The Clash of the Titans Round IV: Southwest Vs. Delta on Sporting Equipment/Special Baggage, Unaccompanied Minor, and Pet Fees – Is There Really THAT Much Difference?

In a continuing series, TruPrice is analyzing the fee structures of Southwest Airlines and Delta Air Lines.  Today’s segment focuses on sporting equipment/special baggage fees, unaccompanied minor, and pet fees.

In our earlier rounds of the Clash of the Titans, Southwest pounded Delta on baggage fees, but we’ve seen Delta get up off the mat and close the gap between the two airlines when comparing in-flight goodies and ticketing and boarding fees.  Let’s see how the two carriers fare in today’s Round IV.

Sporting Equipment/Special Baggage, Unaccompanied Minor, and Pet Fees.
* Sporting equipment (some categories where no additional fee is applied are still subject to oversize and overweight charges)
Bicycles on Delta:  $200
Bicycles on Southwest:  $50
Fishing equipment on Delta:  No additional fee.
Fishing equipment on Southwest:  No additional fee.
Golfing equipment on Delta:  No additional fee.
Golfing equipment on Southwest:  No additional fee.
Hockey equipment on Delta:  No additional fee.
Hockey equipment on Southwest:  No additional fee.
Canoes and kayaks on Delta: Kayaks not accepted.  Canoes unknown.
Canoes and kayaks on Southwest:  Unknown.
Scuba equipment on Delta:  $200.
Scuba equipment on Southwest:  No additional fee.
Snow boarding equipment on Delta:  No additional fee.
Snow boarding equipment on Southwest:  No additional fee.
Skiing equipment on Delta:  No additional fee.
Skiing equipment on Southwest:  No additional fee.
Surf board on Delta:  $200.00.
Surf board on Southwest:  $50.
Wind surfing equipment on Delta:  $200.
Wind surfing equipment on Southwest:  $50.

Unaccompanied minor on Delta:  $100.
Unaccompanied minor on Southwest:  $50.
Carry-on pet on Delta:  $125.
Carry-on pet Southwest:  $75.
Pet as checked baggage on Delta:  $200.
Pet as checked baggage on Southwest:  Pets not accepted as checked baggage.

Antlers on Delta:  $200.
Antlers on Southwest:  Unknown.
Wedding gowns on Delta:  No additional charge.
Wedding gowns on Southwest:  No additional charge.
Firearms on Delta:  No additional charge.  Up to 11 lbs. of ammo.
Firearms on Southwest:  No additional charge.  Up to 11 lbs. of ammo.
Musical instruments on Delta:  No additional charge.
Musical instruments on Southwest.  No additional charge.

And the verdict of round IV in the Clash of the Titans:  With many of SWA’s fees 1/2 or even 1/4 of Delta’s fees in the areas above, Southwest once again floors Delta in an apples-to-apples fee comparison.  Further, given the qualifier that many pieces of sporting equipment and specialty items are subject to overweight and oversize fees even if there is no mandatory additional fee, Southwest further pummels Delta in this round because of Delta’s astronomical over-size and over-weight fees.

That concludes the Clash of the Titans.  Be sure to come back tomorrow when we put all of these fees in perspective and declare an overall winner.

Chris

The Clash of the Titans Round III: Southwest’s Reservation Fees, Itinerary Change Fees and Boarding and Seating Fees Vs. Delta’s Reservation Fees, Itinerary Change Fees and Boarding and Seating Fees – Is There Really THAT Much Difference?

In a continuing series, TruPrice is analyzing the fee structures of Southwest Airlines and Delta Air Lines.  Today’s segment focuses on reservations’, itinerary change, and boarding and seating fees.

Since the announcement of the merger between Southwest and AirTran, much speculation has been focused on the impact in ATL – Delta’s gravy train.  In fact, SWA’s CEO Gary Kelly stated that this was as much, if not more, about Atlanta than anything else.  Why?  Because Kelly sees huge opportunity to attack Delta’s fortress via AirTran’s gates.  Conventional logic would say that coming into Delta’s Mecca is a recipe for disaster.  Obviously, Kelly sees a vulnerability in Delta’s ATL strategy that spells opportunity.  Could part of that opportunity be Southwest’s legendary low cost structure?  Of course.  But a trip through bankruptcy in the mid- 2000s and with that two paycuts to employees (a whopping 54% to pilots), the transfer of Delta’s defined benefit pension plan to the PBGC, and health care coverage adjustments have made Delta’s cost structure much more competitive.  But perhaps the newest cash cow for airlines, ancillary fees, also presents an opportunity for Southwest to capture significant market share from Delta that AirTran was unable to capture.

So in today’s Clash of the Titans Round III, we take a side-by-side look at another category of fees to see if there is really THAT much difference between SWA and DAL.

Reservation and itinerary change fees and boarding and seating options.
Delta ticket purchased at a ticket office:  $35
Southwest ticket purchased at a ticket office:  Zero.
Delta ticket purchased by telephone:  $20
Southwest ticket purchased by telephone:  Zero.
Delta ticket change fee:  $150 plus an additional $50 if ticket was issued by travel agency, online travel agency, or another airline, SkyTeam, or codeshare partner.
Southwest ticket change fee:  Zero; but the customer must pay the difference between the original fare and the currently-applicable fare, if any.
Delta same-day confirmed change fee:  $50 and $150 on certain Delta shuttle flights.
Southwest same-day confirmed change fee:  Zero; but the customer must pay any fare difference, if applicable.
Delta priority boarding fee:  Not offered.
Southwest priority boarding fee:  $10 for earlybird check-in.
Neither Delta nor Southwest charges a fee for regular seat assignments (SWA has an open seating policy), extra legroom, or bulkhead seating.

The results of the Clash of the Titans Round III?  Southwest in a TKO.   As a qualifier, though, Southwest does not present its fare information through Online Travel Agent portals (yet another area where Southwest minimizes costs).  Delta does.  So Southwest’s not charging to book with a representative is a fundamental part of that strategy.  The negative for the passenger as a result of SWA’s fare strategy is the inability to conduct side-by-side fare comparisons in the same Internet window.

Please join us again tomorrow as we look at sporting equipment and special baggage fees, unaccompanied minor fees, and a subject near and dear to my heart, carryon and checked-as-baggage pet fees.

Chris