Air Transport World

Come back, business traveler. (airline industry) (Editorial)

American Airlines' bold stroke to simplify the domestic U.S. fare structure and close much of the gap between unrestricted coach fares and discount fares may be just the medicine travelers need to make them feel good about flying again (see "News Briefs," page 9). If so, then chalk up another marketing miracle to AMR Chairman Robert Crandall, who once again has taken the lead in trying to put the airline industry back on course.

But American's decision to eliminate all but four fare classes also means that it recognizes there are serious limitations to the yield-management and incremental-pricing strategies that have driven airline marketing through the past decade. All we can say is: It's about time. Certainly, the ability to offer a mind-numbing array of seat/fare combinations and to shuffle constantly between them depending on how many seats are sold at a given time is a remarkable technological achievement. …

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