Flew on a red-eye on USAir last night to Pittsburgh last night, en route to my in-laws for the holidays. Heard the following announcement before our flight boarded (image source):
"Ladies and gentlemen, tonight's flight is severely oversold. We're looking for volunteers who would be willing to fly to Pittsburgh on our first flight out tomorrow. In exchange you'll receive a round-trip voucher for travel anywhere within the 48 states, or $200 off on a flight to Hawaii or Alaska".
Now we've all heard announcements like this from airlines, especially around the holidays. What made this one unusual is that they repeated it half a dozen times before boarding, plus two more times AFTER we'd boarded. They were really trying to get volunteers.
Arriving at our hotel this morning, I picked up a copy of USA Today at the counter. One of the lead stories titled "Higher fares don't deter holiday fliers" caught my eye, especially this bit:
"The price for flying home for Christmas has jumped nearly 14% in the last two years, but higher fares haven't put a dent in robust holiday demand for air travel...
A major reason for higher fares: More passengers will be squeezing into roughly the same number of airplane seats on domestic flights as a year ago.
To boost fares and make the most of every tank of jet fuel, U.S. carriers have scheduled the same amount of domestic flying capacity as last holiday season despite stronger passenger demand."
Guess we're going to hear more beseeching calls for volunteers to give up their seats on flights across the nation this season.