3:05 PM

Last (Full Fare) Airline
Standing, Part Duex

New revelations into the proposed $8 billion takeover of Delta Air Lines by US Airways came to light this week when ATWOnline ran with this headline:

US Airways: New Delta will be 'low-cost maverick'

The news that US Airways plans to operate the “New Delta” as a Low Cost Carrier (LCC) might end up being great news for passengers, but not so great if you’re American Airlines or United. That’s because if this merger is approved by US Dept. of Justice antitrust officials, and the “New Delta” joins Southwest, Jetblue and Airtran in the highly competitive LCC market, it will leave AA and UA as the two largest full-fare carriers in our sky.

As the number of full-fare carriers dwindle, it gets harder and harder for those legacy carriers to justify their wildly fluctuating fares, when their competitors are offering consistently low (and affordable) fares.

I have always been seriously skeptical of the way full-fare airlines figure out their fares anyway. Depending on how and when your ticket was purchased can mean one passenger snagging a hot deal off of the Internets, and a business person in need of some emergency F2F (face-to-face) time with a client having to shell out $1,200… to sit right next to the priceline dude! Both pax are going from A to B in the same pressurized tube at the exact same velocity – the only difference is that one got a royal screwing, and one got a fair deal.

I have yet to fly Jetblue or Southwest, as they just never seem to ever fly the routes that take me where I need to be. But I did fly Airtran from ATL to IAD (Dulles) recently for $49 each way. That’s cheaper than a train ticket.

Flying an LCC does not mean too many givebacks either these days. The difference between the snack served to me on Airtran’s short hop service and the one American gives me on their sleek 777 coast-to-coaster is…NO DIFFERENCE!

A bag of pretzels is a bag of pretzels, regardless of the price of admission.

So we will wait and see whether the Federalis approve this new deal with US Airways and Delta. But since the marriage of America West and US Airways, fares on the resulting airline have been reported to be on a downward trend. It would be awesome if the “New Delta” continues that slide, and succeeds in bringing LCC fares to a much larger portion of the traveling public.

Now if they can just do
something about those pretzels…

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