As a follow-up to my Weight In the Air post a few days back, I found these comments from Philippe Reines, a senior adviser to Sen. Clinton (D-NY). After logging more than 150 commercial flights during Sen. Clinton’s presidential campaign, Reines has some thoughts about how airlines can get passengers to willingly give up more money to fly.

You’ll smile at some of his ideas, such as charging “an extra $1.99 for the option of boarding the plane from the middle or back doors, rather than parading coach passengers through first class, only to be sneered at by people sipping Mimosas.” But my favorite suggestion was:
“C'mon. My BlackBerry is not going to bring the plane down. I don't know of a single documented case of a consumer electronic device interfering with a plane's avionics. If they did, al Qaeda would just fly around with iPods. Since we don't fear an iBomber, why not just let me use my BlackBerry as much as I want, whenever I want. (I do anyway.) This one would be free, because it would be offset by negating the need for the flight attendant to expend energy cruising the aisle before takeoff searching for perps, like a prison guard working the tiers of Sing Sing.”
I don’t have a Blackberry, but I do think the badgering about consumer electronics on every flight is more than a little tedious.

The gist of Reines’ commentary is that airlines could find creative ways to improve the air travel experience while simultaneously improving revenues. But such a business model can prove problematic. People don’t like being nickeled and dimed to death — particularly when they find themselves paying extra for something they think ought to be included in the first place. Also, sales could drop if people saw the extra cost as an effective rate increase.

I don’t fly frequently, but I have relatives that do. Airlines could probably learn a thing or two about how to improve their services and make more money by searching out and paying attention to the insights of such frequent flyers.
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