Thursday, May 3, 2012

Where does NYT get business writers?

On today's front page, NYT leads with a story about declining service to smaller airports, blaming deregulation, consolidation and capitalism in general.  As many news stories do, the lead paragraph includes an airline horror story: the 12 hour ordeal of one Josh Hunter as he took Continental/United  from Mobile to Cincinnati on Easter.  Actually he flew from Mobile to Houston to Cleveland to Columbus and then drove to Cincinnati, with 3.5 of the 12 hours spent in the car.  

Could there be a quicker way to go?  Of course!  Go to Kayak.com and you quickly see that you can take Delta to from Mobile to Atlanta to Cincinnati in 3.5 hours of flying and layover time.  So why did Josh take the longer route?  Maybe it had something to do with price?  And maybe he bought on Priceline or one of its ilk? 

To be balanced, let me just say that the NYT article does raise some more valid concerns.  The price charged for flying in and out of smaller airports has been going up (the cheapest Mobile to Cincinnati round trip fare in Kayak for the days I sampled was $524).  And some airports have lost service altogether, although I am not sure the citizens of Sioux City, Iowa have a constitutional right to air service.

One economic head-scratcher for me: why can I go from RDU to San Francisco for $282 on May 17-21 whereas the cheapest fare from any New York City area airport to San Francisco is $458?

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