I’ve noticed just a tiny bit more vitriol across the interweb this week when it comes to airlines. It began with JetBlue letting the world know that it would no longer ignore reality. Then, an interesting little Tweet from Delta on Friday tied a neat little bow on the week. Let’s start with JetBlue. The gist of things is that they are reducing the industry leading legroom on their planes and eliminating free checked bags, but let’s take a slightly closer look at exactly what they announced.

“Fare Families / Branded Fares — Beginning in the first half of 2015, customers will be able to choose between three branded fare bundle options. The first of these will be designed for customers who do not plan to check a bag, while the latter two will offer one and two free checked bags, respectively, along with other attractive benefits, including additional TrueBlue points and increased flexibility. This new merchandising platform will enable JetBlue to tailor its offering to individual customers’ needs in a way that is simple and transparent.

Airbus A320 Cabin Refresh — JetBlue will build on the successful launch of its Airbus A321 fleet, which has been received with great customer acclaim, by outfitting its A320 aircraft with a similar refreshed cabin. The reconfigured cabin plan for the A320 will preserve JetBlue’s product advantage and highly-rated customer experience while helping to generate higher returns. Using lighter, more comfortable seats, JetBlue will be able to increase the number seats on its planes while continuing to offer the most legroom in coach. Retrofits of the Airbus A320 fleet are expected to begin in mid-2016 and will also include larger seatback screens with more entertainment options and power ports accessible to all Customers.”

Loose translation – some folks that used to check one bag for “free” will now pay extra, and we’re putting more seats on our A320 fleet beginning in 2016. Lost in translation – new coach product is already flying on A321 aircraft. Coach product on E190 already less than what the new pitch will be on A320 based on JetBlue’s website. The reaction? Predictable. Here’s a gem from JetBlue’s Facebook page.

“Charging for checked bags and having less legroom is going to make you just the same as all the “other” airlines (emphasis mine). Big mistake. Unless your price is lower, this customer will be forced to choose based on price and time.”

Really? Let’s see. How much legroom does Spirit offer on its A320s? According to Seat Guru, 28 inches. That’s 6 inches less than what JetBlue currently offers on its A320s and will still be 5 inches less after the “cabin refresh. Delta checks in at 31 to 32 inches on A320s in coach. US Airways – 32 inches according to SeatExpert. American’s A319 checks in at 30″ in economy according to SeatGuru.

In a slightly different take, The Gate covered a little controversy surrounding a Tweet from Delta. Here’s the Tweet in question.

jetblue, jetblue seat changes, delta, delta on immigration

What’s most interesting to me is the Twitter reaction which The Gate included as well. Here’s a small sample.

“Logged 47,000 miles so far this year with Delta. Today that ends. Finding a new cattle hauler.”

“I am DONE with you.”

“never flying Delta again. And that’s a promise.”

Now, it’s interesting to me that an airline is weighing in on immigration policy knowing the politics behind this, but I digress. Let’s get to the gist of my post.

The Problem with I’ll Never Fly Airline X Again

That problem – you will fly airline X again. Why? They’ll eventually offer a fare that is 3 cents less than airline Y. It’s easy to vent nowadays, and Americans do a great job of it online. The problem with venting against an airline is that everybody does it, sometimes deserved, sometimes not, and American consumers have a well proven history of voting with their pocketbooks. That means they’re going to fly whoever is cheapest….with very few exceptions, no matter what. The most interesting thing out of this to me is that even with its reduced legroom, JetBlue is still more generous than anyone else in coach, heck sometimes more even when compared to other airlines’ domestic first class with its “Even More Space” product. Noticeably more.

-MJ, November 23, 2014