With the first commercial air travel being in 1914; later in the late 1950’s becoming more commonplace, airlines always strive to be the most popular – as would be the case with any business – by offering more amenities, comfort and perks/points, etc to retain repeat business.
The world’s first low-cost airline was Pacific Southwest Airlines, who began operating intrastate flights between northern and southern California in 1949. Their strategy of sticking to just California flights avoided the expenses of federal regulation in other states. For 30 years they were practically the flag-carrying airline of California, until deregulation in 1978 when it expanded to other states.
In March of 1967 Air Southwest Co. was established by Herb Kelleher, later adopting its current name, Southwest Airlines. In 1971, it began operating as an intrastate airline wholly within the state of Texas, first flying between Dallas, Houston and San Antonio.
In the years since the late 1940’s and mid 1960’s, other airline startup’s saw not only the potential of being a low cost airline, but were also actively studying the business model of these two pioneers that made operating a low cost airline a profitable business.
Skipping forward to the 1990’s and into the 2000’s, there were a host of low cost airlines, all vying for their place in the air, as well as on the ground. This also led to enormous expansions of existing airports and new airports being constructed all over the country – and world – to meet not only airline demand, but passenger demand as well.
On a recent flight from North Dakota to Arizona on Aallegiant Air, I was rather impressed by the fact that for a low cost airline, it was amazingly clean on the inside. Knowing that the staff only had 15-20 minutes to clean and restock and airplane left me wondering how a small crew on a regional jet could get this accomplished while still being able to maintain a smile as the mob of people made their way through the boarding ramp.
The secret as it turns out is to get the passengers to do some of the housekeeping while on final approach.
Some of the caveats that I was not happy to see, were the fees. While the ticket it’s self was indeed low cost, there was a push on their website to buy into selective seating, baggage fees and of course, if you wanted anything to drink or eat, you better break out a credit card as it is going to cost you dearly to get the item you want. The other item that I was not impressed with is the push during the flight to sign up for their credit card.
Still, having flown with many different airlines over the years, I was impressed.