When Apple introduced the iPod and the iTunes store it effectively brought a la carte pricing to the music industry. If you liked just one song by an artist, you could buy just that one song for $1 – you didn’t have to buy an album with 12 songs for $12 just to get that one song you wanted.
And the world rejoiced. And Apple became wealthier than Exxon, not to mention several small nations.
Cable television consumers clamor for a la carte pricing so that they can buy just the channels they want, presumably at a lower monthly cost than what they pay to have access to hundreds of channels they never watch.
So why is it that travelers feel nickeled and dimed to death by the airline industry’s a la carte pricing model – as evidenced once again in this thread where TripAdvisor members bemoan Swiss Air’s new option giving passengers the option to pay extra if they want a specific seat?
…the airlines just keep dropping another notch in customer service ~abi1234
Fortunately, in the 21st century, we can do more work electronically, with less need for physical meetings & travel.
Unfortunately, vacations/leisure and air travel are becoming more of an oxymoron. ~EarthlingOnline
It isn’t surprising or difficult to find a travel discussion about a la carte pricing in which travelers voice their frustrations about the practice. What is interesting about this thread is the repeated and thoughtful attempts by some to explain/defend the pricing model, and a sincere effort by others to explain what it is about the model that they find frustrating:
Well people can always pay more, and get more. It’s all out there and available. The issue is people go for the cheapest they can’t find and want everything thrown in. Can’t have it both ways, either pay for it and get it, or don’t pay and don’t get it. ~froggyEngland
To which DouglasDC8 replies:
I think the issue is that the cheapest used to include more and now it doesn’t. On airlines like Swiss and Lufthansa and BA for example the cheapest fares used to include seat allocation before check in. Now they don’t. There may be good reasons why airlines are doing this, but for many it is a reduction on what they got before for the lowest fares.
The discussion goes back-and-forth, but ultimately I think it begins to get to the heart of the matter as to why many view iTickets negatively. With music prior to iTunes, and the cable industry currently, we felt/feel like we are paying for a lot of stuff we really don’t want and we can observe a significant price reduction when the model is switched to a la carte. At least that was the case for music, and most consumers certainly expect it should be the same for television.
But the music industry had it easy. It wasn’t like the price of an album was adjusted hourly and was dependent on a multitude of factors such as the day you purchased it, how soon you purchased it before you intended to listen to it, etc.
No, an album cost about $12 and that was that.
So, when airlines go a la carte, because most travelers have no “set” price for a ticket from one location to another fixed in their mind, and so the charges for added options are all perceived as added fees. And in cases where we do have a fairly good idea of what a ticket between points A and B should cost we aren’t seeing a significant reduction in price when we don’t have to pay for all of the “extra” stuff that we don’t use.
Whereas Apple took the item that was perceived to have the most value – the one song you liked – unbundled it and charged far less for it, airlines are unbundling a host of items that have little perceived value and, at least as far as most travelers are concerned, charging extra for those items.
Read the thread in its entirety: SWISS AIR – Beware of new seating policy