Airline Competitive Advantage

When I was younger there were certain assumptions one could make when they traveled on an airplane. You needed to have the actual tickets in your hand. So called last minute bookings could only happened at the airport. A Skycap’s cart looked like a candy store with bag tags in assorted colors with three letter codes printed on them. You bags were checked and no questions were asked. I think our dogs even flew for free in their kennels. The airline tickets came in at least triplicate. There was a smoking and non-smoking sections on the plane. Hot meals and beverages were included. Certain flights had three classes of services. The headphones were goofy looking and the in-flight movies were hard to see on the single screen at the front of the coach cabin.

It struck me this morning as I booked a flight that I choose the airline based on the lack of ‘add-on’ fees. I wanted my bag and skis to travel free to a weekend ski race and United Airlines which I frequent most often does not fly directly to the city so I decided I am going Southwest. Their competitive advantage has become the “bags fly free” campaign. Who would have thought that baggage fees would be the great division upon which branding campaigns could be launched.

What would it look like if we revisited some of our organization’s assumptions? Have they changed? Have trends and customer demands altered?

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