23 Mar 2004|Davis Masten

I await my first SONG flight to taxi here at Tampa airport. I flew in two nights ago on TED. My virgin tours of America’s new airline entries do not inspire hope for the parent companies.

As our group of six executives waited to board we were befuddled by Zone confusion. While Zones may work for Southwest, here they begged coherency. Add this to not being able to hear or read what zones were boarding, it did not did not sing sweetly to us. Once seated the attendant barked directives sharing her obviously bad day with the rest of us. With over 2 million actual miles in the air, I rarely hear attendant say something fresh. But hey, maybe they will sing a new song, play a new tune, whatever. I am open new experiences. Well, here is what we got. We were scolded for putting coats in the overhead bins before all the bags were in. We were instructed to stand up, take out coats out of the bins because people insist on carrying on so many bags. This song is starting off key.


But we all have bad days and blow it occasionally. My concern is one of the customer experience at the heart of the business model. I don’t get why the business models will work. These airlines are hybrids when radical transformation is needed. At Denver, I connected from a United flight to a TED flight. Unable to upgrade out of SFO to Denver, my coach seat was executive class seating on both. In fact, TED has 60% executive class seating, more than United. On United the free food was typical airline coach. At least the TED food was more appetizing. I, however, stuck with my protein bar. This morning we were in Delta’s terminal using their ticket machines, with Song and Delta right next to each other. I just do not see where the significant cost savings are coming from in these “new models”. And I don’t see how these “lower cost” alternatives are going to differentiate from their flagship brands.

I predict TED and SONG will be singing the blues in the long term.

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