Airline Cheapness!

I fly a lot. I’ve taken one to three flights per year for my entire life. Over the years, I’ve seen a lot of changes in the airline industry. For example, we used to get our choice of drinks and honey roasted peanuts on every flight, even the 35 minute connecting trip from Columbus to Pittsburgh.

In the last five years or so, the airline industry has shifted. To cut costs, they eliminated most beverage service on flights shorter than an hour. If you’re lucky, they’ll offer you the choice of Coke or Sprite (and you won’t get the whole can). And instead of honey roasted peanuts, they first changed to plain salted peanuts, and now serve a very small packet of pretzels.

This is cheapness. Plain and simple cheapness. In the last five years, airline ticket prices have skyrocketed and flight scheduling accuracy has plummeted. We get much less for our money. And they are so cheap that I can’t even get honey roasted peanuts or Canada Dry on most flights.

Economically speaking, this was a terrible move for the airline (which is usually USAir). The lack of honey roasted peanuts is certainly sufficient cause for me to look at different airlines. USAir has definitely lost a long-time Frequent Flyer. And look at the money that they’re saving:

When purchased at retail (50%-100% higher than wholesale prices that the airlines probably get) in a quantity as small as 12, a can of Coke, Pepsi, or any of each respective company’s products is approximately 29 cents. Other companies’ carbonated drinks (such as the Royal Crown Co., which makes 7UP and RC Cola) cost about 35 cents. And while you can’t buy airline-sized packets of peanuts in most stores, the price of the full cans of Planters nuts does not differ at all between the plain and honey roasted varieties. A bag of Frito-Lay pretzels of equivalent weight as the peanuts costs about 20 cents less, and could fill at least 40 airline-sized bags.

So USAir lost a regular customer by altering their food service plans on a $250 ticket to save, at most, 35.5 cents.