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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Delta is the Devil

As many of you are gearing up to buy your plane tickets to go to New York for the RWA conference in June, you are probably watching the airline fares daily and looking for the best fare, or a half-way reasonable one, before you purchase your ticket. You may be like me and have not bought your ticket yet because you cannot believe how much it is going to cost you. All of us who don’t live close enough to drive to New York are going to have to bite the bullet soon and buy our tickets.

As the child of a former 40-year Continental Airline pilot, I have only lived in the ‘real’ world of airline ticket purchaser for a few years. Before my father retired from the airlines, I lived the good life of buddy passes, and even better, when I was younger I traveled in first class for free because I was not yet eighteen and the airlines actually gave their pilots’ families great benefits back then. When my dad retired several years ago, I got a major wake-up call that has only become louder and more annoying with each passing year. Gone are the days I would take a yearly trip out of the country without giving a thought to the airfare. Now, the prospect of having to pay $600.00 to fly to New York this summer has me biting my nails and stalling on purchasing my ticket.

With the rising cost of gasoline my ticket to New York is only going to get more expensive, so I am determined to hit ‘buy’ on my keyboard today.

Yesterday, as I was driving and mulling all this over, I heard a report on National Public Radio that, at first, had me swearing that Delta Airlines was the devil. According to the report on NPR yesterday, Delta Airlines has attempted to raise their airfare eleven times this year, and we are in April, for goodness sake. Five of those times, the airline failed to get the rate raised because the other airlines refused to go along with the hike. Let’s do the math. That means Delta Airlines has raised their rate six times in four month. They have just put another rate hike out there, which if I were a betting woman, I’d say the other airlines will probably take.

Why? Is it because the airlines are made up of corporate pigs who don’t care if the common man, or woman, can afford to fly? No, not really, though it may seem that way to some of you as it did at first to me. The fact is airlines are losing money, and to stay in business, they need to raise their rates.

The Wall Street Journal had an article in MarketPlace this morning in which the headlines read: Airline Net Hits Downdraft. To read the article in its entirety you need to pick up the newspaper or go online. I want to share the bullet points with you.

The first quarter of this year has been particularly brutal for airlines. Why?
  • Winter storms
  • Rising gasoline prices
  • Earthquake in Japan, which weakened demand for travel to Asia
  • 2010 was the first profitable year for airlines in 3 years
  • The first quarter of 2011 is expected to be a loss for Delta Airlines, United-Continental Holdings, US Airway and American.
  • Among the five biggest airlines only Southwest is expected to post a profit. Guess what- that profit is – 3 cents a share.

With another fuel crisis on the rise, we all need to run to our computers and buy our tickets for the summer. Fuel represents 35% of carriers’ cost, up from 24% a year ago. It is a NO BRAINER that tickets will be rising as well.

So Delta may not be the devil, but they are going to be forced to raise rates again if they want to stay in business, which means we, the poor consumers, will pay the price if we want to fly.

Have you purchased your NY ticket yet? If so, did you get a good rate? I’d love to hear how the cost of airlines tickets will affect your decision to attend the RWA conference this summer.

Have a great day!
Julie Johnstone, The Marchioness of Mayhem


  1. It's only one of the many costs that keeps me from going to nationals. With the dear hubby out of work for most of this year, it's an absolute no no for me atm. I keep hoping the next year will get a little better so I can go but I'm not holding my breath lol. You all have fun and I'll miss you much!

  2. Airlines may be losing money, but oil companies are not. They keep posting record profits as travel costs (by plane or by car) creep higher and higher. I actually heard that oil production levels were so high currently that they've slowed down production... which controls the supply and keeps demand high. We need our oil companies to be responsible partners in helping to repair the economy. With summer approaching, lots of folks will have to keep traveling to a minimum which hurts more than just the airlines...

  3. I dread the RWA flight expense on my AmEx and have thus procrastinated on it. I haven't even peeked at the prices yet - am thinking I may need a few glasses of wine beforehand!

  4. I am all for the oil companies becoming responsible partners. I wonder how we can make this come about. I would love to hear ideas and thoughts on this.

  5. Anonymous,

    I am dreading the cost of the flight as well, which is why I have put off buying my ticket!

  6. I do not know what the RWA is...maybee Readers & Writers Association??? No matter...I believe that most people will be cutting way back on their travelling this summer. In the past I have never considered gas for my car a "major expense" in my budget as with a house payment, food, etc., However, that has changed now seeing that I put at least 180-200 miles/day on my car a week. Since I have not done any air travel for almost five years, the cost of an airline ticket really has no effect on me. However, if I were a regular air traveler, I'm quite certain that I would cut my traveling back considerably and also would be looking for "cheap airfare" on whatever webites I could find with offers of such. No, it is not Delta's fault, and Delta is surely not the Devil. It will be great when a solar-powered car has been perfected...or maybe it has and I just don't know it. And if that is the case, are there a significant numbers of solar-powered cars on the road today? Just wondering outloud.

  7. Jane,

    Thanks for visiting and commenting. There are hybrid cars on the road today, but I doubt they are singnificant in numbers, though I can't say I know the exact amount without doing a little research. You are absolutely right that high gas prices effect drivers too. I drive an SUV and it cost me $60.00 to fill up once a week. I remember when I used to feel up my Honda Civic for $16.00 every two weeks. No joke!

  8. luckily, we took our family vaca to d.c. last fall and prices were not bad. our only summer vacation will be a few weeks at the beach. however, a large SUV that gets 14mpg is no picnic these days. i'm filling up once every 5 or 6 days at over $80.00 a tank!! a year or so ago, i considered a mid-size SUV hybrid but the numbers just did not work at that time. the calculation of the gas savings over 5 years was still lower that the higher price of the hybrid over the gas enginge model.

  9. Lorrie,

    Thanks for visiting! $80.00 for one tank is so high! I can't wait to see hybrids come down enough in price to make sense to purchase, from an economy standpoint.

  10. I got my ticket free through a credit card rewards program. I still think Delta is the devil, but it has to do with horrible service, not price.

  11. Clarissa,

    Good point about the service. It's hard to believe we have gone from free meals and drinks on our flight for paying for our baggage and peanuts and drinks. "The times they are a changing."