Endorsed by @Seasaltv on Twitter, #Flyoutyourairline and ‘2for1’ upgrades are fuelled by the growing demand for rock bottom airfares
The travellers who are turning their backs on airplanes
Cabin crew, baby sitters, ground staff – and even the baggage-pickers themselves. These are just some of the jobs at the mercy of the growing, global popularity of #flyoutyourairline, an unofficial, albeit tongue-in-cheek, hashtag with many a disgruntled passenger using it to refuse to fly with airlines that are generally charging more this summer than ever before.
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The #flyoutyourairline hashtag was originated by @Seasaltv – a relatively new Twitter account that aims to satirize the damage done by high-profile feuds between airlines. (The account already has almost 300,000 followers and is proving a beehive of activity.)
But these sarcastic avatars are doing more than poking fun at the industry and its citizens: #flyoutyourairline tweets are reportedly leading to empty seats in the skies, which, in turn, is improving air travel conditions for everyone else.
For example, many carriers were experiencing a high rate of cancellations for “technical reasons”, which could mean an aircraft could be grounded with hundreds of empty seats on board. @Seasaltv tweeted a screenshot of a tweet from American Airlines: “Dear American Airlines, How you doin?” and followed it with a photo of an empty plane showing off a handwritten message from the airline.
Air travel expert Geoffrey Thomas said it was likely due to the trend of #flyoutyourairline and its effect on airline fill rates. “Supply and demand is important in business and especially so in an industry that is so dependent on human capacity,” he said.
About half of US airlines were suffering from low loads and so were feeling the pinch. “It’s really only through customers’ actions that airlines can manage the market – and if customers are choosing to leave the air and stay at home, that’s going to affect the industry.”
American Airlines, a perennial favourite among flight reservation brokers, announced an overnight deadline for customers to book cheap flight deals through its popular website and travel website Orbitz. The move was made “in response to record low, last-minute bookings and low-cost carriers”, a spokesperson said.
Downtime for such flights is naturally expensive for the airlines, as are fares to empty seats in the skies. This is why many complain if they can’t find anyone willing to fly with them.
“People have chosen to leave airplanes overnight to find someone to fly with them in a particularly challenging economy,” Thomas said. “And that’s not going to change … So, flight reserves are going to be a much more important tool airlines will have in their toolbox than they used to.”
He also noted that while plane cancellations are down compared to past years, they are still part of a thriving business. “That’s part of the environment in which the bookings are so tough this year.”
His advice? “Look at all alternative places to travel and do it before this extreme demand gets even more intense – because that supply situation may turn for the worse.”