Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

February 01 2016

Another US Legacy Airline Aims To Compete With Low-Cost Carriers

Staci Wuokko


When travelers search for flight options on sites like Kayak and Expedia, the first results are regularly featuring some new names: Spirit and Allegiant. These low-cost carriers are appealing to budget-savvy passengers who are looking to get from Point A to Point B while handing over as little money as possible. Around the world, more travelers are turning to the low-cost landscape; PwC estimates these low-cost carriers now control approximately 25 percent of the global market. It’s not an ideal experience for travelers, but it is a business model these companies can celebrate. Need proof? Look no further than headlines such as or “Last in Service, First in Profit Margin.”

These airlines aren’t just catching the attention of travelers, though. Traditional carriers are envious of their profits. On its fourth-quarter earnings call, United announced plans to launch an “entry-level fare that will appeal to the purely price-sensitive customer.” The carrier is catching up with its traditional competitors. Delta unveiled its Basic Economy tickets in 2015, which doesn’t allow travelers to make any changes to tickets and doesn’t allow seat assignments until after check-in, and American announced that it will embrace a similar ticketing model in 2016.

Brett Snyder, President of Cranky Flier and aviation trends expert, believes that legacy carriers will continue to adapt as low-cost companies expand. “The growth is going to come from low-cost carriers,” Snyder said in his address at DMAI 2015 in Austin. “Allegiant is moving into a lot of cities where legacy carriers have removed service.”

SEE ALSO: Frequent Flier Miles — Harder To Earn, Easier To Spend

Less Cash, More Travel Challenges For Meeting Attendees

What does all this mean for meeting attendees? Well, it’s clear that they may be able to save some dollars on their travel expenses to participate in a conference. That’s good news, as everyone in the meetings industry recognizes that many attendees are on tight budgets. However, it also means that some of those attendees may arrive already feeling exhausted after boarding in Group 7, failing to find room for carry-on luggage and cramming into a middle seat. This will put even more pressure on planners and suppliers to ensure the on-site experience is valuable enough that attendees can forget all those travel headaches.

Interested in more insights about the future of flying? Check out “4 Predictions For The Next Generation Of Air Travel.”

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