Lately, I stumbled over the blog post “All around the world, you’re a great way to fly – Selling an experience“. The post contains a list of “profound services, which only the best airlines offer” (1) . It reminded me of heated discussions about the positioning and quality of airlines today, and how low-cost aircarriers’ (LCA) terrible reputation is a constant topic in media. Websites express the ‘general disgust’ about these firms (2), and passengers even take over planes (3). So, is it justified that many people perceive LCAs as the ‘worst airlines’ and most people think similar as the folks below?
Oxford dictionary describes an airline as ‘an organization providing regular public service of air transport’ (4). Not more and not less. Comparing LCAs’ and established airlines’ business models, it seems like the Ryanair logo deserves to be next to the definition of ‘airline’ in the dictionary. The firm does not claim to be a service provider or an entertainment company. It is a point-to-point carrier with exceptionally low airfares.
The Dublin-based entity achieved this status by being one of the earliest adopters of involving the passenger in its operations. Its business model relies on online check-in, self-printed boarding passes and extra-payment for extra-services. All of these severely decrease costs, which benefits the firm (increased payoff) and also the consumer (lower fares).
Why do so many passengers still not want to see the added value of their involvement in an aircraft carrier’s operations, but keep on moaning, nagging and complaining? How convenient is it to check-in online and print the boarding pass by yourself, instead of waiting in a line at an airport for 30 minutes? How convenient is it to just arrive at the airport and go straight through security to the gate in less than 20 minutes? Why do people not think about the money they used to waste, when they travelled only with hand luggage, but paid the same as someone, who travelled with a large suitcase? Why are people eager to sit on a certain spot in a plane, while they don’t care where they sit in a train or a bus?
I believe the old fashioned institutional environment is to be blamed. The times are over when flying was something luxurious and special, solely available for the rich and famous. Today, short and medium-haul flights are on almost the same level as train- or busrides. And people hardly complain as rigorously about the providers of these as they do about LCAs.
For me, the low-cost carrier business model diminished the time I spend on airports by approximately half. It gives me the opportunity to be independent from the airline’s operational ground procedures and in 95% of the cases the LCA does, with a little of my own effort, what I expect it to do. It brings me from point A to point B, across Europe, in a short amount of time, for little money.
So to all the Ryanairs, EasyJets and Germanwings: thanks for selling me a very pleasant experience!