Posts filed under “Current Affairs”

The Not So Friendly Skies


I’m excited about, the website that is currently being sued by United Airlines and Orbitz for enabling “hidden city ticketing” (which you should read up on before continuing).

I needed to travel to Cincinnati last spring. During a period in which my plans were tentative, round-trip fares were in the mid-$300 range or so, maybe close to $400. By the time I’d firmed them up, round-trip fares were around $900, and I was seething (along with trying to figure out why, if there was little demand and ample supply, the price would go up instead of down, but that’s another story). Although it was quite time consuming, I did manually what skiplagged has apparently now automated, i.e. found a “hidden city ticketing” opportunity that brought my round-trip price back down to under $400. The solution for me: I found a one-way, multi-city ticket that went NYC > Cincinnati > Chicago and sent an empty (but paid for) seat from Cincy to O’Hare. On the return, I found another one-way, multi-city ticket (different carrier) that went Cincy > NYC > Boston and sent an empty (but paid for) seat from NYC to Logan.

The airlines are, of course, apoplectic that someone has found a way to exploit and expose the inefficiencies and opacity of their ticketing schemes. So they’ve sued:

“Purchasing a ticket to a point beyond the actual destination and getting off the aircraft at the connecting point is unethical,” according to the letter by American, which isn’t party to the case.

Overbooking and bumping people, of course, is perfectly ethical. Also, I’m not sure if any airline official has yet commented on the ethicality of not lowering fares in the face of the price of oil – the airline industry’s single largest expense – being halved. Funny how prices aren’t sticky on the way up, but only on the way down. And before you shed a tear for the industry, read on:

The International Air Transport Association, an industry group based in Geneva, estimated that the industry’s profits would grow 26 percent next year, to reach a record $25 billion, not adjusted for inflation. The group expects $19.9 billion in collective profits in 2014. In 2013, the industry had nearly $11 billion in profits.

Airlines have been screwing passengers for decades – nickel and diming travelers with charges for bags, for peanuts, for earbuds, for blankets, for pillows and, of course, for a few extra inches of legroom. They are among the most reviled industries extant. Now Delta’s going to introduce a five-tiered seating plan. I’m sure that will work out well. Below is a leaked photo of what economy class will look like:

Screen Shot 2015-01-01 at 6.16.13 PM

Technology has – and continues to – let multiple genies out of multiple bottles. And they aren’t going back in. Technology will continue to disrupt all manner of businesses and squeeze out inefficiencies, just as Uber, Netflix, Amazon, eBay, and countless other companies have done. There is no going back. If it’s not skiplagged who gives the airlines their comeuppance, it will be someone else. Either way, the jig is up.

If you want to contribute to skiplagged’s legal defense fund, you can do so here.

Finally, I went to Cincy to meet with Bonddad, who runs one of the most underrated blogs (on economics and markets) in the blogosphere. He should be in your bookmarks.

Category: Consumer Spending, Current Affairs, Really, really bad calls, Travel, Web/Tech

Art Cashin: 2015 Issues to Watch

I am never a fan of forecasts, but I am interested in an informed discussion from knowledgeable people like Art Cashin who have have a half of a century experience on the NYSE floor:

Category: Current Affairs, Investing, Video

Rapidly Changing Social Attitudes

Fascinating comparison of popular acceptance of non-traditional (in some jurisdictions, they were called “Deviant”) marraiges. Note how the slopes of the lines showing legality and popular acceptance have shifted. Not just change, but the rate of change has accelerated. This suggests to me a more progressive attitude on Social Issues. Add Marijuana legalization to the…Read More

Category: Current Affairs, Digital Media, Legal, Psychology

Here is What I Am Watching, Lately

Every few months, I like to pull together an assortment of unrelated items that I find interesting (See this). These items include things that are not quite fully baked in my mind, not yet a full column. While I wait for these to jell, I like to put them on paper to create a bookmark…Read More

Category: Current Affairs, Markets

About That Labor Force Participation Rate . . .

@TBPInvictus here: On April 17, 2012, North Carolina Congresswoman Virginia Foxx stood before her colleagues in the House of Representatives and said (emphasis mine): Ms. FOXX. Mr. Speaker, the March employment report continues to show us that the Federal Government has not been helping to create jobs in our economy. A Wall Street Journal editorial…Read More

Category: Current Affairs, Cycles, Data Analysis, Economy, Employment, Politics

Containing Ukraine

Containing Ukraine David R. Kotok April 25, 2014     The process is simple. Look at the front page of the Wall Street Journal and then the markets. Will Russia move troops across the border and seize Eastern Ukrainian territory? If so, what will be the consequences? There are several geopolitical scenarios being discussed. Punditry…Read More

Category: Current Affairs, Think Tank, War/Defense

Happy Thanksgivingukkah !

~~~ 25 Little-Known Facts About Thanksgiving ~~~

Category: Current Affairs, Weekend

About Our “Spending Problem” (Revisited)

@TBPInvictus here It’s a well established fact that the Obama administration has been spending like a drunken sailor since the day he was inaugurated. I first wrote about his spendthrift ways here, toward the end of 2010 (has it already been three years?). Some time has now passed, so how’s it going? Let’s take another…Read More

Category: Bad Math, Current Affairs, Data Analysis, Economy, Really, really bad calls

Is the Market Rallying on Syria or Summers?

There is a certain school of thought — and I use that word loosely — that seemingly tries to tie each twitch of the market, every noisy jag up or down — to some broader issue. Partisan politics, economics, technology, and of course, presidential elections becomes fodder for this school of thought rationalization. Flip on…Read More

Category: Cognitive Foibles, Current Affairs, Markets, War/Defense

Business is Booming in Texas: Discuss

  Interesting war of words between Texas governor Rick Perry and SacBee’s cartoonist Jack Ohman. Perry is demanding the cartonist be fired for his insensitivity to the deaths at the fertilizer plant. Ohman responded: “When you have a politician traveling across the country selling a state with low regulatory capacity, that politician also has to…Read More

Category: Current Affairs, Humor, Regulation