Triangle Trip

Tag: SFO

How long can Virgin America stay in business?

by on Apr.05, 2009, under Airlines

Virgin America is flying from point to point as opposed to using a hub and spoke model like the larger US carriers. The point to point flights work well on regional hops but don’t think they work as well on coast to coast flights. The coast to coast flights cost too much to operate when you have planes that are 1/4 full.

Virgin America flies from NYC and Boston to Los Angeles and San Francisco. I have been going coast to coast on Delta an United for the past four months, and the coast to coast flights are rarely full. Although I haven’t been on a Virgin America flight but I can’t image they are packed or even 50% full.

United probably has the most loyal business travele customers and they can’t fill up the United P.S. flights which has less seats than Delta and other airlines due to the larger business class cabin. If you have Virgin America miles (I am not even sure how it works), I highly recommend you use them now before they go under like the Virgin retail stores. I don’t see how Richard Branson and his hedge fund partners are making money here.

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How can you benefit from a middle seat on United Airlines?

by on Mar.21, 2009, under Airlines, Business Travel

If you’ve ever flown United’s Premium Service flights from New York’s JFK to LAX or SFO and had the misfortune of getting a middle seat you might’ve missed one of the key features of that aircraft’s configuration: power outlets.

Power outlets on United? Yeah right, you may think. But it’s true. Underneath the middle seats there is actually a power outlet. So next time you are stuck in a middle seat on a United P.S. flight, don’t be so glum, at least you’ll have power.

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How can US airlines make money from JFK to LAX (or SFO) – bailout is around the corner!

by on Mar.16, 2009, under Airlines

There are four airlines (American, Delta, United, Virgin) that operate nonstop flights between New York JFK and Los Angeles LAX. Each airline has six round trip flights per day out of each airport. This means there are 24 flights per day from JFK to LAX. Assuming each flight can carry around 200 passengers which means there are 4,800 available seats from JFK to LAX. Do we really need that many flights each day between the two cities?

The number gets bigger if you include the Greater NYC and Los Angeles areas. Continental which flies out of Newark has about eight nonstops to LAX, Burbank and Long Beach. Jetblue has four nonstops from JFK to Long Beach and Burbank. This means there are 36 flights a day with 7,200 available seats everyday from the Greater NYC to Los Angeles area.

The among of flights between the two metro areas are way too excessive. This is one of many excess and waste we have in America which is part of the reason we are in a recession. Just like having too many Starbucks on one street, too many Citibanks in a two block radius, we have too many airlines flying half empty planes coast to coast. I can see the demand for the flights during peak travel season and peak travel days such as Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays. I highly doubt the Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday flights are full.

For the record, the same airlines have similar among of flights between the Greater New York area and the Bay area (San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose). Also keep in mine that my statistics are only for NON-STOP flights. There are 200 more options if you decide to connect or use multiple carriers. Below is a simple search result from Kayak with a three week advance purchase search:

Kayak Search Result (JFK-LAX)

Kayak Search Result (JFK-LAX)

As a frequent coast to coast traveler, I have been on many half empty plane for the past month flying out on Monday mornings and Thursday evenings (which are peak travel times). Perhaps this is why my round trip tickets has not been more than $400 when I bought it 24 hours before the flight. This week’s round trip JFK/LAX ticket was $210 which was purchased 5 days in advanced. Competition driving prices down is capitalism at its best. I have benefited as a consumer. However we all should know that these airlines aren’t money on these flights. Here’s a link to a WSJ article (March 12, 2009) about fuel-hedging loses are impacting Cathay, Delta, etc. Eventually the airlines will go to the government to ask for money.

Government needs to step in to manage the airline industry or we will see another bail out request situation – which already happened once if you recalled post September 11. The previous bail out also drove every single major airline to bankruptcy. I may sound like a socialist but I rather be a socialist than paying for it like we are funding Wall Street and Detroit. I don’t want President Obama the US to appoint me as the Airline Czar to manage the bailout funds when he decides to distribute funds for airline failures. The airline industry needs government intervention now.

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