Gone are the days of no-frills flying. Even Southwest, who once embraced "no frills," now offers WiFi and streaming TV on most of its planes. As budgets and profit margins remain tight in the airline industry, their profits are going toward on-board improvements like WiFi, entertainment options, and power outlets at your seat.
In its bi-annual report, industry trade group Airlines for America (A4A) said the nine largest U.S. airlines spent $7 billion on improvements during the first half of 2014. Collectively, the same nine airlines brought in a total profit of $3.8 billion during the same period. So if you hear about airlines making money from your bag fees, that money isn't being used to stoke fires in the lofty offices of airline CEOs. It's going toward making your flight experience more enjoyable, or at least bearable.
Since the year began, American Airlines has added Gogo WiFi to its regional jets, and Delta Air Lines has also added Gogo to some of its international fleet. JetBlue is also full-speed ahead with installing their Fly-Fi to its Airbus A320 and A321 fleet.
John Heimlich, vice president and chief economist at A4A said,
"Airlines are key drivers of jobs and economic growth, and improving finances have further accelerated their investments in people, products and technology to enhance the travel experience for customers."
Not all of the money went toward extreme makeovers of aircraft interiors, however. Some of it also went to adding new planes to the fleet, and replacing worn out, less comfortable, and less efficient planes. A4A says that airlines are adding a plane to the national fleet at a rate of almost one per day. The industry trade group estimates this will include 60 regional jets, 235 narrow body aircraft and 22 wide body aircraft.
Top photo: jetBlue's new economy seats, on Airbus A320/A321 aircraft. Photo by Paul Thompson
Source: Avionics Magazine