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GBNorman

Should Regionals Fly Under Their Own Colors?

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Here's a thought as I ponder my upcoming "squishable" experience this Friday; flying to RIC on an ERJ-145 (well Aft for "flightseeing" Left side single seat, so I need not "be nice" to anyone)!!!

 

Should the various Regional airlines that fly as "partners" with all the majors except Southwest, fly under their own corporate identities?

 

Without touching the hot button of flight safety, the regionals just seem to me to be simply more "slipshod" than their major "partners". What with "on time" at Flight Status, becoming a CX fifteen minutes before scheduled departure ("no crew") or the terrible PR debacle for which United "took the fall", I would think it's time for the majors to tell the regionals "you can livery your aircraft and uniform your staff any way you like, so long as it is not in our colors".

 

Now I realize I could be called a "United apologist" around here, but hey my first flight during '57 was on them, they had the corporate travel teleprinter at the MILW (even if more of my flights over my eleven years there were on NWA than not), and I know my way around ORD Terminal 1, and not too many other places out there.

 

But think of how United took the brunt for the May '17 incident that actually occurred on Republic Airlines. Republic were the ones who chose to displace already boarded passengers when they should have called for an air taxi to get their Flight Crew down to SDF. That they picked a belligerent one rather than a "yes sir" is how it went down; expect displacing ("bumping") any passenger to be that. That they called Department of Aviation goons - not even sworn peace officers - before the "real cops" got there, was simply "Keystone Kops" - and for which "big Brother" airline took the PR fallout - and apparently made a pecuniary settlement with the affected passenger.

 

In short, the Regionals should fly under their own flags. Naturally, joint ticketing and code sharing should not be disturbed. The major "partners" will still dictate the requirements for insurance and "operated by..." will still be on a passenger's ticket.

 

We have many around here who are stakeholders in the air transport industry. Beyond putting some $5K a year into United's till, I'm not. I gladly defer with discussion to those "closer to the core" than am I.

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Quite frankly, I don't think it makes much difference. And by doing business as a much bigger airline it's much easier to get customers and distribution. So I think it makes a lot of sense for small regional airlines to fly under the umbrella of much larger airlines with a wider reach. JMO.

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I suspect many travelers are unaware that the smaller planes are flown by other carriers under contract with the larger carrier. They may be confused & worried when a SkyWest plane pulls up to their gate when their expecting a Delta plane.

Would your suggestion include having the smaller carrier listed on the arrivals/departures screens in the airport? If so, more confusion which could result in pax missing their flights.

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Well, one reason that United et al, contract with Regionals to fly using the larger carrier's brand is so that the larger carrier can claim breadth and depth of its network without incurring the cost of maintaining the infrastructure for smaller stations themselves. They have absolutely no reason to give that up because they had to tkae the brunt of an incident or two here and there.

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Well, for what it's worth, if I were named Transportation Dictator I would establish a hard and fast rule for domestic departures: A maximum of five gates per airline per airport. Ten gates at the one airport you name your airline's "home airport". International flights, including domestic extensions of international flights (for the first entirely domestic leg) would be exempt. No more "fortress hubs". So at St. Louis, say, American could have five gates, TWA could have five gates, Ozark could have ten gates, Eastern could have five gates, USAir could have five gates...and so forth.

 

Yes, I would decree this in order to push the major airlines into breakup and divestiture. I would allow common ownership, after the model of GN-NP-Burlington-SP&S, as long as the carriers were independently managed and operated competitively. I'd like to see some genuine choices offered to me as a traveler....

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On the contrary to the above opinion, the only change I would like to see, would be that in cases where the regional carrier is wholly owned by the mainline carrier, they should be fully integrated into the major carrier....such as Envoy, PSA, and Piedmont into AA, and Endeavor into DL. I think that would be better if the operation's were completely unified, both for the employees and the public.

Not so sure about the stockholder's though, so probably will never happen....

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Using subcontractors is pretty common. Even with Amtrak, there are arrangements made to varying degrees. Amtrak branded thruway bus service is always performed by a subcontractor. Even some Amtrak trains may be operated by Amtrak employees, but the underlying service is that of a state or regional authority such as Amtrak California or the three states/provinces that own the Cascades route/equipment.

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Would your suggestion include having the smaller carrier listed on the arrivals/departures screens in the airport? If so, more confusion which could result in pax missing their flights.

Well they are; I couldn't help but notice how both flights overseas I used last August, United 952 and 953, had code share flight numbers for both Air Canada and Lufthansa listed on departure boards. Edited by GBNorman

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Would your suggestion include having the smaller carrier listed on the arrivals/departures screens in the airport? If so, more confusion which could result in pax missing their flights.

Well they are; I couldn't help but notice how both flights overseas I used last August, United 952 and 953, had code share flight numbers for both Air Canada and Lufthansa listed on departure boards.

 

 

I've been on some flights where there were maybe 4 codeshare partners and the electronic displays were flashing through all of the codeshare flight numbers.

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Would your suggestion include having the smaller carrier listed on the arrivals/departures screens in the airport? If so, more confusion which could result in pax missing their flights.

Well they are; I couldn't help but notice how both flights overseas I used last August, United 952 and 953, had code share flight numbers for both Air Canada and Lufthansa listed on departure boards.

 

The codeshare relationship is looser than the contract carrier relationship. A codeshare flight segment usually cannot be checked into at the original carrier's checnkin. It has to be handled at the carrier whose iron the flight is on. Typically the seat assignment and other such are also not as seamless as with contract carriers like the Regionals. So no, Code Share like Lufthansa and Air Canada on UA flights is nothing at all like the Regional United Express flights.

 

From a long time sufferer of the code share scam. :(

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I don't think it makes much difference as to whether my regional airline flight's plane from DAY to ORD has the colors/logo of UAL or AA or their own company's colors/logo. I think that most of us who fly in 2018 from smaller airports realize that the CRJ (or whatever small plane it may be) we board is not flown by the mainline airline, but by their subsidiary. I'm OK with that until there is some problem with getting crew for the subsidiary's flight, my flight is delayed or cancelled, and the mainline airline's crew cannot be used if some might be available.

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I don't think it makes much difference as to whether my regional airline flight's plane from DAY to ORD has the colors/logo of UAL or AA or their own company's colors/logo. I think that most of us who fly in 2018 from smaller airports realize that the CRJ (or whatever small plane it may be) we board is not flown by the mainline airline, but by their subsidiary. I'm OK with that until there is some problem with getting crew for the subsidiary's flight, my flight is delayed or cancelled, and the mainline airline's crew cannot be used if some might be available.

 

It's not a subsidiary in most cases. A subsidiary would be like when United had its "Ted" division. It's almost always going to be a separate company with a contract to operate under a bigger airline's livery and uniforms.

 

The arrangements are really complicated. Republic and SkyWest work under United, Delta, and American. I'm not 100% sure of how it all works, but I'm thinking they have the flexibility to move employees to their arrangements with different main airlines.

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Well, for what it's worth, if I were named Transportation Dictator I would establish a hard and fast rule for domestic departures: A maximum of five gates per airline per airport. Ten gates at the one airport you name your airline's "home airport". International flights, including domestic extensions of international flights (for the first entirely domestic leg) would be exempt. No more "fortress hubs". So at St. Louis, say, American could have five gates, TWA could have five gates, Ozark could have ten gates, Eastern could have five gates, USAir could have five gates...and so forth.

 

Yes, I would decree this in order to push the major airlines into breakup and divestiture. I would allow common ownership, after the model of GN-NP-Burlington-SP&S, as long as the carriers were independently managed and operated competitively. I'd like to see some genuine choices offered to me as a traveler....

 

If you think that's going to give you more "choices," then I have a bridge to sell you in Brooklyn.

 

All that will do is make carriers less efficient, less reliable (fewer alternatives in the event if IRROPS), and you're still not going to see more than 2 or, maybe, 3 carriers on the busiest routes. And you'd have to buy a ticket across several different airlines in order to make connections across the country.

 

From Chicago, United might fly to LA, San Francisco, New York, Boston, Washington, DC, Denver, Seattle, and Houston. But what about those that want to fly to Portland? Or maybe it means the carriers cut frequency, but as one who travels routinely for business, I love the fact that I can fly from Chicago to San Francisco with basically my choice of time slots (and the fares aren't even all that high, either). What good does your proposal do me if United can only get me there at 9 am and I want to leave at noon? If the noon flight was only available on a different carrier, that still doesn't give me "genuine choices." Further, what if the plane assigned to the noon flight has a mechanical problem? When an airline has 60 or 70 planes on the ground at the airport at once, they can easily start shuffling things around (plane swapping) to get me out within a reasonable time frame. Or, I can be booked onto the next flight an hour later. If the airline only has five gates, that really means only five planes. It's much harder to financially justify an operational spare for a small fleet like that, so that mechanical delay will just grow significantly, or the airline will have to have a lot more fleet dedicated to spares (which, ultimately, I would have to pay for through higher ticket prices).

 

Long story short, I'm glad you're not transportation dictator.

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All roads to Utopia are lined with disasters bad enough that no one ever gets to the end of it ;)

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I've actually been on a United Express flight on an aircraft that was in a SkyWest paint scheme -- apparently they have a few of those so they can swap them to any of their routes if needed for operational reasons.

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Subsidiary or not, I came close to a cancelled flight after my delay caused by weather in the Chicago/Green Bay region on UAL. UAL had flight crews available as back-ups. They could not be used! But, my plane's crew, on a regional carrier, could not get to Chicago because of the weather. The plane was at the gate and had been for hours. Just no crew! Finally, they were able to make it to ORD and I arrived home quite late.

 

I must say, however, that UAL did keep us in the gate area well informed and even provided snacks and beverages as the delay kept getting longer.

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I've actually been on a United Express flight on an aircraft that was in a SkyWest paint scheme -- apparently they have a few of those so they can swap them to any of their routes if needed for operational reasons.

Yeah, I've seen those multiple times (though I've never flown on one).

 

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Subsidiary or not, I came close to a cancelled flight after my delay caused by weather in the Chicago/Green Bay region on UAL. UAL had flight crews available as back-ups. They could not be used! But, my plane's crew, on a regional carrier, could not get to Chicago because of the weather. The plane was at the gate and had been for hours. Just no crew! Finally, they were able to make it to ORD and I arrived home quite late.

 

I must say, however, that UAL did keep us in the gate area well informed and even provided snacks and beverages as the delay kept getting longer.

Well, if it were a subsidiary, they almost certainly could have used one of those spare crews. Because your plane was owned and operated by a different company, they could not have used a United crew for many reasons. So you can't really say "subsidiary or not" like it doesn't matter, because it very much does.

Edited by cpotisch

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I've actually been on a United Express flight on an aircraft that was in a SkyWest paint scheme -- apparently they have a few of those so they can swap them to any of their routes if needed for operational reasons.

Undeniably, there are some Skywest aircraft liveried in their own colors. For as noted, Skywest is "partner" with each of the Big Three.

Edited by GBNorman

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I find when flying that the airlines are fairly transparent about the planes being operated by another company. For example on the PA, thank you for choosing Delta Connection or SKY partner.

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I think it has more to do with the seamlessness of the customer experience as far as handling of ticketing, checkin and baggage and such goes, more than what livery the plane is striped in.

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Subsidiary or not, I came close to a cancelled flight after my delay caused by weather in the Chicago/Green Bay region on UAL. UAL had flight crews available as back-ups. They could not be used! But, my plane's crew, on a regional carrier, could not get to Chicago because of the weather. The plane was at the gate and had been for hours. Just no crew! Finally, they were able to make it to ORD and I arrived home quite late.

 

I must say, however, that UAL did keep us in the gate area well informed and even provided snacks and beverages as the delay kept getting longer.

Well, if it were a subsidiary, they almost certainly could have used one of those spare crews. Because your plane was owned and operated by a different company, they could not have used a United crew for many reasons. So you can't really say "subsidiary or not" like it doesn't matter, because it very much does.

Subsidiary doesnt mean operational interchangeability. It just means corporate ownership of another corporation.

 

Some majors used to have regional partners (maybe AA still does?) as wholly-owned subsidiaries. Still had separate labor agreements, separate workforces, separate operations teams, etc.

 

Horizon Air is a subsidiary of Alaska, but you cant take a flight attendant from one and staff the others plane.

 

Heck, up until this week, a United flight attendant that came from Continental couldnt work a plane that came from pre-merger United (or vice versa). So, being a subsidiary wouldnt help any.

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Curious about the uniforms...I have only flown on one of AA's wholly owned American Eagle carrier's (Envoy), who wear basically the same uniform as their parent company.

So I wonder if the other's do the same, or wear their own uniforms. That would mean Republic or Skywest crew's might need up to three different sets, if they 'cross-bid' routes.... :unsure:

Edited by railiner

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I think it has more to do with the seamlessness of the customer experience as far as handling of ticketing, checkin and baggage and such goes, more than what livery the plane is striped in.

 

Your post accurately describes my opinion. If I book a flight on Delta, United, or American: I care not what the regional carrier is. (I do care about the equipment used will be and will adjust my booking accordingly.) My ORD-DAY flight was booked on United. I feel they had an obligation to get me to my destination in a timely manner. If issues beyond my control occur between my booking airline and the airline company that is to get me to my destination, that is none of my business. UAL's job was to get me to my destination in a more timely manner than they did. The "big" airline has an obligation to insure that the "small" airline provides the "seamless" customer service of which you speak.

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Hey, the "code share scam" has proven to be fruitful at times. Me and Mrs. Blackwolf are currently in Nova Scotia due to a family emergency; 18 hours before departure for an international flight, a new booking is made. I look at Air Canada and see a round trip for two is $9k in Y (coach) class, no advance seat selection option, no included checked luggage. 4 legs, long layovers.

 

I log into my United MileagePlus account.

 

For 100k points (which I have) I can book last-minute J (business) round-trip tickets with lounge, seat selection, two checked bags at 70lbs per passenger, meals and libations.

 

The monetary breakdown is about $1400 based off the active point sale on United.

 

It pays to know the system. And realize 2/3rds of the flights are on Air Canada Jazz, which is the SkyWest of the Great White North.

Edited by Blackwolf

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