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The pay-to-pee business model

(Airlines) Permanent link

When the U.S. airlines began charging customers to check their first bag, more than one Travel Weekly reader commented half-jokingly, "What’s next, pay toilets?"

It may not be a joke, as Ryanair is considering charging passengers to use the onboard restrooms.

"One thing we’ve looked at in the past and are looking at again is the possibility of maybe putting in a coin slot on the toilet door so that people might actually have to spend a pound to spend a penny in the future," Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary said in a BBC television interview.

Ryanair spokesman Stephen McNamara said that the airline may not go through with it.

"Michael makes a lot of this stuff up as he goes along, and while this has been discussed internally, there are no immediate plans to introduce it," McNamara said. "However, this highlights Ryanair's continuing obsession with lowering costs and passing these savings on in the form of lower fares, which currently average just 34 euros.

"Ancillary revenues, all of which are avoidable, help to reduce the cost of flying Ryanair, and passengers using train and bus stations are already accustomed to paying to use the toilet so why not on airplanes?

"Not everyone uses the toilet on board one of our flights, but those that do could help to reduce airfares for all passengers. Then again, maybe O’Leary was just taking the p*ss this morning."

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Bring back commercial seaplane service

(Airlines) Permanent link

It's time to resurrect that icon of 1930s luxury flying, the Pan Am Clipper.

As US Airways recently reminded us by bypassing all three New York airports and landing directly in the Hudson River, water landings are great short cuts.

We understand the emergency nature of that particular landing, but in this era of cost-cutting, we feel compelled to note that deplaning passengers from the wings to passing tugs and ferries is just plain tacky; far more elegant to pull up to a pier.

There are several good business arguments for water landings, as well. On the other side of the pond, Ryanair announced this week that it was closing all its kiosks and ticket counters at airports to save money. Why not just eliminate the whole airport by switching to seaplanes?

Besides, the Hudson, the Thames and the Seine -- to cite just three examples -- are far more convenient to business and population centers than the airports that serve New York, London and Paris.

And best of all, no security lines, metal detectors or surly TSA agents poking through your liquids and gels.

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Look out the window, we're flying!

(Airlines) Permanent link

In a recent appearance on "Late Night with Conan O'Brien," comedian Louis C.K. ripped the "spoiled idiots" for not appreciating what's amazing. Air travel is prominent in C.K.'s rant.

 

Watch more SpikedHumor videos on AOL Video

 

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On hold with United

(Airlines) Permanent link

United Airlines is looking for a few good volunteers (and we’re not talking about overbooked flights). While on hold waiting to speak to a representative, a friend of ours listened to a recording saying Mileage Plus members could add 1,000 miles by going to www.united.com/addmiles.

But going there yielded only a “Page not found” message. He called back and, after 10 minutes on hold, was told that the promotion had ended 43 days earlier.

The Mileage Plus rep offered to transfer him to United’s "technical department" to report the problem. In no mood to do volunteer work for United, he hung up, certain the rep herself didn’t call for the same reason he didn’t want to: More time on hold, listening to the expired message.

Will they find a volunteer? We’ll check in again after another 43 days and give you an update.

-- Arnie Weissmann

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NCFs? Next question, please

(Cruise, Travel agents) Permanent link

Non-commissionable fees (NCFs) are a hot topic among travel agents who sell cruises, but for a panel of cruise executives at Monday's Travel Weekly’s Cruise & Tour Virtual Trade Show, the topic was too hot to touch.

When Charlie Ball, chairman of the U.S. Tour Operators Association, suggested that travel agents might be inclined to sell tours and all-inclusives over cruises because the pay is better, the cruise executives turned a question about agent value into a discussion about what they believe customers value.

Royal Caribbean's Vicki Freed said cruising has a high level of guest satisfaction, and that satisfied guests are repeaters and referrers. Carnival's Edie Bornstein said agents would be better off "qualifying their clients correctly" than trying to sell clients a land-based vacation just because the commission is higher.

The message seemed clear: Don’t try to persuade customer into picking the tour over the cruise. You may be making a big mistake, and may lose the customer because of it.

Going a step further, it appears that cruise lines believe that agents' ability to move market share is no match for the popularity of cruising and the cruise lines' advertising budgets.

If all that is true, the cruise lines will never budge on NCFs.

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Las Vegas promotes affordability

(Las Vegas) Permanent link

Las Vegas promoted loose spending and loose behavior with its memorable "What Happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas" ad campaign.

Now that times are tougher and purse strings are tighter, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority is taking a different approach, sending a message to the working men and women of America that Las Vegas is affordable, and that they deserve a vacation.

With the new campaign, Las Vegas shines a spotlight on Cranfills Gap, a tiny Texas town where 100 tired, stressed-out people got an all-expenses-paid Vegas trip.

As can be seen in the video below, Las Vegas has toned down the provocativeness with the Cranfills Gap campaign, but the city has not turned its back on it: there's a hot tub scene with bikinis and booze, and a pole-dancing class for the ladies of Cranfills Gap who want to cut loose.

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Wyndham Worldwide’s branding problem

(Airlines, Hotels) Permanent link

In a USA Today Q&A with Eric Danziger, Wyndham Worldwide’s new CEO, he said that better defining the identity of Wyndham's 12 brands will be a priority.

He said he has "strong feelings" about "iconic" brands such as Howard Johnson and Travelodge, but wouldn’t it be a lot easier to define Wyndham’s economy brands if the company didn’t have so many of them?

Microtel clearly has a niche as an economy brand for business travelers, but Super 8, Knights Inn, Days Inn, Travelodge and Baymont is a mish-mosh of leisure-oriented budget brands.

Some of these brands have been around a long time, but if Wyndham Worldwide is to sharpen its focus, one or two of these names should be phased out.

Lufthansa, whose Italian airline launched operations yesterday, envisions Milan’s Malpensa’s Airport as a European hub. However, Lufthansa would love to slug it out with Alitalia on the lucrative Milan Linate-Rome route, if European antitrust authorities would allow it.

Hilton is among the sponsors that have stuck with swimmer Michael Phelps since the publishing of a photo showing the Olympic star smoking marijuana from a bong.

The Ritz-Carlton name is prestigious in the hotel industry, but "Ritz" is not a word that corporate travel managers want to see on expense reports these days.

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