Category Archives: Weird

Airline Fare Strategy

I’ve been at a conference for the past few days, sans computer, so light posting. Anyway, I’m flying back from DC tomorrow to LA, with a non-stop flight scheduled for 5:30 PM, because I’d thought I’d have some meetings set up tomorrow, but it turns out that I have no reason to stick around, so I’d like to get out earlier.

So there’s a 7:20 AM flight, which I’ve put myself on standby for. But if I miss it, despite the fact that there are many routes from DCA to LAX all day, I won’t be able to go standby on them, because they aren’t non-stops. If I want to take a different route to LA, I have to pay the difference in ticket price plus a change fee (which is up to a couple hundred bucks).

My question is, what is the thinking behind this policy? An airline seat is a depreciating asset, and to me it would make sense to free to up later in the day by offering someone an earlier ticket, if there’s room on the flight. Why in the world would you care if they flew on the exact route that their original ticket was for, as long as you freed up the seat and didn’t have to bump anyone else?

So, since I’m not going to pay the penalty for changing route, if I miss the flight, I have to wait for the next one (which means I’ll leave my stuff somewhere and do something in town, and come back for my scheduled flight).


From what planet was this written?

The truth is, America already has a capable new rocket that dwarfs the capabilities of the Saturn V rockets that took our astronauts to the moon. The Space Launch System will be online and ready later this year.

…Real and robust competition pushes all participants to perform their best. But SpaceX has so far been able to avoid real competition. Without any real requirement that it ultimately succeed, SpaceX has been a technological failure, even while Musk has managed a public relations success and gotten paid based on his public relations campaign, more than actual accomplishment. To make it to Mars we must encourage real competition, not Elon Musk’s fake version of competition where he gets paid regardless of what he produces.

Sure, Jan.

[Update a while later]

I guess I needed a link for those last two words.

Yes, it was written by George Landrith.

Am I “Able” to Open the Exit-Row Door?

OK, this post reminds me of a conversation I had Friday night on the flight I managed to escape to (not “from,” despite the movie) LA last night.

I’d gotten the ticket with miles, because the last-minute prices to DC were nuts, the only way to do so was to (a) go out of IAD instead of DCA and (b) fly into SNA (John Wayne Airport in Orange County) instead of LAX. Thursday, I asked American if I could change it by going same-day standby, and they said, sure, if you want to burn more miles. So I was resigned to going to Dulles, and flying into Orange County, and Patricia picking me up there, with at least a 45-minute drive each way.

Fortunately, God (or whoever controls the weather) intervened, and my flight from IAD was delayed sufficiently that I missed my connection to SNA, and managed to get reassigned to a flight that went to LAX, with no penalty.

So I’m in an exit row on the flight, and the flight attendant comes by with the usual FAA-required question: “Are you willing and able to assist in opening the door in the case of an emergency?”

I’d been asked this question before in similar situations, but this time, I realized that I couldn’t say “yes” with any honesty. Because I had never actually opened an emergency door. Sure, I’d read the instructions, but had I ever done it? No.

So I said to the flight attendant (because I can occasionally be a pain in the ass from my pedantry, and it had been a long day), “Well, sure, I’m willing, but how can I know that I’m ‘able’? I’ve never done it before.”

There was an American captain sitting next to me, dead heading, and I said, “I’d bet no one in this row, except him, has ever opened an emergency door in an aircraft, so when you ask us if we’re able, there’s no way for us to know.”

The flight attendant is now flustered, and asks if I want to be moved.

“No, I’m sort of kidding, but it’s not a useful question, despite the FAA rules. What you should be asking is if I’m willing and have sufficient strength. I am and do. But none of us know if we are able, and we all hope that we don’t have to find out.”