Please don’t use the C-word at this airline fee conference


airport terminalFor some reason, I never got my invitation to the 2009 Ancillary Revenue Airline Conference, which is being held in Los Angeles next month. Maybe it was this post. Or this one. Or maybe this one?

At any rate, I’m not planning to show my face at this meeting unless I develop a sudden deathwish. I find it strange that my yield-managing friends should be so upset, when all I do is highlight their schedule of events. You’d think they would love the free publicity!

The last time I presented an annotated conference schedule like this, I got a lot of grief from airline apologists who said I shouldn’t use the C-word — collusion. OK, I won’t. Oh wait, I just did.


Here’s what the folks who want to charge you more for your next flight will be discussing next month. My commentary is included.

Drive incremental revenue by taking advantage of all customer touch points
– Michael Fried, formerly the Director of Traffic and Revenue Analysis at JetBlue Airways, MDF Consulting Services

Everything you touch turns to money — for our company.

A New Airline Business Model? Has ancillary revenue, and more importantly ancillary profits, revolutionized forever how airlines have and will do business?
– Barry Biffle, Senior VP and Chief Marketing Office, Spirit Airlines (invited)

If you’re not sure, maybe you’re in the wrong business.

Using ancillaries to enhance your brand as well as being a source of income
– Mike Messeroff, Manager, Business Development, JetBlue

Followed immediately by “It’s easy to be profitable every year when you’re an airline.”

Case Study: Maximizing ancillary revenue from existing ancillary activities: Airlines have quickly added ancillary programs due to recent economic conditions, but how can they now be rationalized for maximum revenue?
– John Swanciger, SVP Marketing and Business Development, EzRez
– Cory Garner, Director of Merchandising, American Airlines

They originally wanted to call this one, “How to lie to your customers and live with yourself.”

A Lesson from FareCompare about the Impact of Social Media on Fare Wars and Transparency – the Ultimate Resource for Ancillary Revenue.
– Rick Seaney, Co-founder, FareCompare

That’s not Rick Seaney. It’s his evil twin.

Currency Value: What’s the value of a mile?
Weighing internal calculations against your published retail value for top-offs and transfers.
– Scott K. Brandt, Strategy Consultant and Managing Partner, Manta Aviation Insight

That’s a great question. The answer: Less than zero. Because you are giving more to the company than you are getting back from it. Miles have negative value.

Customer Impact: Is it worth treating loyal customers differently in terms of fees and ancillary product offerings to price sensitive ones?
– Georgia-Lee Cleland, Ancillary Revenue Manager, EuroStar


Innovative ways to achieve greater return on passengers by adding value to their lives’

– Janet Titterton, Business Planning Director, Collinson Latitude
– Dan McKone, Partner, L.E.K Consulting

You could add a lot of “value” to our lives by telling us the truth when you quote a fare.

Profiting from Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC)
– Paul K. Ackermann, Vice President, Head of Sales – North America, Travelex

That’s evil. Go play the currency market with someone else’s money.

Closing Keynote: Is the future bundled or unbundled? Where is ancillary revenue taking the airline industry?
– John Wensveen, Dean, School of Aviation, Dowling College

John, you’re our last hope. Won’t you tell them what a big mistake they’re making?

I have mixed feelings about a conference like this. On one hand, it’s a free country. These airline managers have the right to meet and discuss their disturbing ideas for adding more fees and surcharges to the price of our ticket.

On the other hand — and I promised I wouldn’t use the C-word — but isn’t this, in a way, illegal?

What do you think?

  • Kelly

    All I can say is WOW. There is really a conference for this stuff? Let me guess everyone gets a free first class ticket to get there!

  • Insider

    Chris, you should go to the airline sales and marketing conference (CASMA) in Las Vegas in October. They’ll be discussing how to file fares in such a way that consumers will have to pay an extra fee for credit cards.