Airline carriers have been trying everything to entice customers to fly with them. Larger carriers have been dipping into their budgets to launch national advertising campaigns to expand their loyal (or not-so-loyal) fan bases. But not all airlines have the means to advertise on a regional scale – let alone a national platform. Despite all of this, it’s the smaller airlines that are currently offering the most value to travelers.
Larger airlines may offer the convenience of more frequent flights, but travelers are subjected to higher fares and additional fees because of high overhead costs. Regional airlines – such as Vision Airlines and Sun Country Airlines are starting to gain more attention, however (check out this New York Times article). Limited services and scheduling means significantly lower overhead which results in lower fares and more direct routes – a dream come true for frequent fliers. The main problem for these little guys is reduced visibility. You won’t find them on booking sites like Expedia or Travelocity because of the listing fees associated with them, but word of mouth has helped these airlines immensely.
So what are the downfalls? Because of their size, there are some concessions that are made for the direct flight and lower prices. For one, flights aren’t run as frequently as can be found with larger carriers – smaller airlines make an estimated 1,000 trips per route a year. You’ll also find more often than not, that checked bags and in-flight snacks are only offered at an additional price. Perhaps the biggest concern, however, is the age of the planes used. Aircrafts flying for smaller airlines are over 15 years old on average, further punctuating the concern about longevity and how much longer the planes will hold together. Have you been reading any of the news around aging jetliners and the likely possibility of compromising safety?
As the airline industry continues to stabilize itself and looks to rebuild out of the downturn, we’re constantly reminded of how many businesses and industries depend on the health of the travel industry. And there’s no mistaking the necessity of airlines like these as the airline industry continues its journey to recovery.
Providing a service that compliments the big boys of airfare and doing so at a reasonable price will make the value of these airlines greater. As their value increases the possibility of benefits is twofold; Greater visibility with consumers as well as larger carriers increases the likelihood of acquisition (think more routes and more service from point A to point B). On the other hand, standalone growth in ridership means equal benefit as more and more money is infused back into the industry – a win-win for everyone.