Buying plane tickets used to be easy. Go to the airline’s website, search for flights based on where you are departing from and where you wish to fly to, select your flight, enter your credit card info and BAM! One plane ticket. Thank you very much. Oh, how I wish it were that easy today.
I’ve purchased a number of plane tickets for clients recently, and although each airline offers a slightly different consumer experience, they’ve all gone to great lengths to monetize the process. And they use the most aggressive digital marketing techniques available to get you to part with as much of your money as they can, which is usually more than you want to pay. If you are planning to purchase a plane ticket anytime soon, here is just a sample of the decision points you face as you run through the gauntlet making your purchase:
1. Where are you going?
2. Are you flying one-way, roundtrip, or multi-city?
3. How many stops can you live with?
4. Do you want all flight segments on the same ticket (yes!)?
5. Is 39 minutes too short for a connection in a major international airport (yes!)?
6. What class of ticket do you want…basic economy, standard economy, premium economy, business class, or first class?
7. Do you want a refundable or non-refundable ticket?
8. Do you want the airline to provide cancellation insurance for your ticket?
Once you get through those questions, you face another round of monetizing questions. And if you answer “yes” to any of those questions, it will likely cost you more…in some cases much more, and the “value” of the enhancements is highly questionable….at least it is to me. Here are just some of the monetizing questions you may face:
1. Do you want to upgrade the economy ticket you just purchase to the premium economy or business class ticket you just said no to?
2. Do you want to choose your seat in advance?
3. Do you want to upgrade your seat selection to premium seating, aisle or window, front of the economy cabin?
4. Are you checking any bags?
5. Do you want priority boarding?
6. Do you want access to the airline’s lounge before and between your flights?
7. Do you want to purchase a value bundle of some combination of several the above (offered even if you want to purchase a ticket that already include those “enhancements”)?
If you pass on paying more for any of the above service “upgrades” you’ll be asked one or several more times if you are sure you don’t want to “upgrade” your experience. Hopefully the price didn’t go up as you were running the gauntlet of options to “enhance” your flying experience. Only after all of that will you have actually purchased your plane ticket. At that point you are at the mercy of the airline to get you where they promise on time. And your luggage.
Buying a plane ticket shouldn’t be so difficult!
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