The Mpower Group has been talking a lot lately about the need for Strategic Sourcing organizations to move away from a cost focused (savings) mentality and more toward a value focused approach. We believe that this “change in the conversation” will shift the focus to what is really important for their customers (usually an internal business unit) – total value – of which low price may be only a small component or not of value at all.
This concept comes to mind as I think about the recent news about Spirit Airlines’ decision to charge customers $45 for carry-on luggage. To me, this is not only ludicrous but just confirms my opinion that this so called “low price” airline is operating on a completely different plane (pun intended) than both their customers and competitors.
I am a frequent business traveler and decided this year to use Spirit Airlines for my family vacation to Florida. I had been told by many that Spirit was one of the best “LOW PRICE” airlines and that I should consider giving them a try. My only other experience in this sector of the airline industry was with USA3000 and I must admit that I was very satisfied with them.
My experience with Spirit started out poor and just escalated from there. I booked my reservations with them in early January from Chicago O’Hare to Fort Meyers, Florida for travel in late March at a rate that was OK for that peak time of year but would be considered expensive at any other time. They were actually one of the only airlines that had a significant number of flights available – now I know why. The fun began about a week after I booked when I started receiving weekly emails noting that the flight times had changed. I literally received an email every week; by the departure week I was holding my breath to see the latest changes.
When we arrived at the airport to leave, the flight was oversold and because we did not pay for seat assignments (I refused), we were going to be bumped to another airline – if only. They did find us seats (be careful what you wish for) and we left three hours late – to be fair there were weather problems in Chicago. The legroom was non-existent, there were no blankets or pillows (you could pay for them) and NO food or beverage, not even water without a charge.
If you factor in luggage charges, the charge for a seat assignment, the charge for food / beverage (even water) you end up paying full service airline prices with the “low price / no value” airline experience. Don’t waste your time!!! Now, when they pile on the charges for carry-on luggage, I can’t imagine ANY consumer using their services.
As I sit back and think about my experience, I realize that I should have taken a value focused approach when choosing airline services. As airlines continue to nickel and dime us to death, I hope someone takes the time to listen to the “voice of customer” in determining the services that are offered and at what price. Unfortunately for my family, I fell victim to the “lowest cost” mentality and realized too late that this bargain was really no bargain at all.