Do Hub Captives Suffer from Stockholm Syndrome?

For those of you who live in Atlanta and love Delta, or Denver and love United, or Dallas and love American; be aware that you might be suffering from a case of Stockholm Syndrome.

When they tell you that if you just obey their rules and do what you’re told when you are told to do so and they probably won’t lose your baggage and won’t charge you too much extra for a direct flight, it’s only natural to feel like they are treating you special.

And in cases where they do have to punish you, well that’s not really their fault. The FAA or the Dept. of Homeland Security is forcing their hand. They don’t want to deny you a seat in the class you booked, but they don’t really have a choice in the matter.

Am I taking it to the absurd? Sure, but I’m only following StayingHomeisBetter’s humorous lead.

The thread that contains StayingHomeisBetter’s post isn’t really about hub captives experiencing Stockholm Syndrome, but rather the discussion is centered around the concept of hub captivity itself. And it’s an interesting discussion, as several FlyerTalk members delve into the various reasons why they do or do not feel captive to a particular airline.

In post #11, BenA takes a particularly in-depth look at the concept of hub captivity based on the following premise:

Hub cities are expensive and residents feel ‘captive’ because the dominant carrier gains pricing power through capacity.

I won’t give away all of his conclusions, but some of his findings include:

  • You are almost always better off living in a major non-hub city that’s well served but a bit smaller from a cost perspective
  • The pricing difference for hubs isn’t due to nonstops.
  • Low fare carriers have a mixed impact. WN may be helping keep DFW fares lower overall, but AS seems to have little to no impact. But the impact of both pales in comparison to Spirit – when they get involved, all bets are off.

Really interesting stuff.

Read the thread in its entirety: I don’t understand hub captivity…

Expensive Freedom” by Juan Tello. CC BY 2.0.


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