Skift Take

Today’s edition of Skift’s daily podcast looks at airlines’ marketing woes, the price to see Komodo dragons, and bigger airline seats for bigger passengers.

Series: Skift Daily Briefing

Skift Daily Briefing Podcast

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Good morning from Skift. It’s Monday, August 15 in New York City. Here’s what you need to know about the business of travel today.

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Episode Notes

The airline industry’s brutal summer has infuriated travelers whose plans have been ruined by massive flight delays and cancellations. So Skift Editor-At-Large Brian Sumers reports airlines are facing a massive marketing challenge — quelling widespread consumer anger.

Although Sumers cites Domino’s Pizza as a company that used an apology tour to spark a major turnaround, marketing experts don’t see airlines adopting such a strategy yet. Sumers writes that the general public wouldn’t likely accept airline apologies since no carrier has solved any of its operational issues. Tom O’Toole, United Airlines’ former chief marketing officer, said that airlines would lose credibility if they were repeatedly battered by problems they pledged to fix.

Instead of issuing outright apologies for this summer’s travel chaos, Sumers writes one option for airlines and trade groups is offering transparent explanations for the industry’s struggles. Fred Cook, a professor at University of Southern California, believes airlines should admit they’ve faced enormous challenges coming out of the pandemic. He added that there’s no downside in asking consumers to be patient.

Next, Indonesia is delaying a huge admission fee increase to its famed Komodo National Park after local tour operators went on strike to protest the price hike. The situation highlights conflicts in the country’s ongoing push for more sustainable tourism, writes Global Tourism Reporter Dawit Habtemariam.

As part of its shift away from mass tourism, Indonesia is focusing on higher spending travelers it believes will stay longer and help its villages grow sustainably, Habtemariam writes. The government had planned to raise the park’s entry fee on August 1 from $10 to $252 to help preserve the habitat of the Kodomo dragon, an endangered species.

However, the price hike was postponed to January 1 after hundreds of Indonesian tour operators started a month-long strike. Local tour operator executives argue that the entry fee increase would hurt workers reliant on tourism since travelers would opt for less expensive destinations. And despite taking Indonesia taking a more locals-first approach to tourism, industry stakeholders have expressed frustration about the government not seeking their input about raising the entry fee at Kodomo.

Finally, although the average size of airline passengers has increased in recent years, seats on planes have gotten smaller. But Contributor Ted Reed reports that airline seats could get bigger to accommodate larger travelers.

The Federal Aviation Administration recently started accepting public input on minimum seat dimensions needed for passenger safety. Reed writes the FAA had not previously examined if seats were too small for passengers, instead focusing on whether seats impeded aircraft evacuations. The agency will accept responses until November 1.

The FAA currently has no specific standards for seat width, Reed notes. Meanwhile, airline passenger advocacy group FlyersRights is continuing its fight for an established minimum seat size. It filed a petition in January with the U.S. Court of Appeals to demand the FAA implement minimum seat size standards. Congress ordered the agency to do so in its 2018 FAA Reauthorization Act, but FlyersRights president Paul Hudson argues the FAA has been slow to act.


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Tags: indonesia, paxex, skift podcast

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