Why Fly?

By | Category: Travel rumblings

“I don’t believe people fly because they like the idea of flying.”

That came out of the mouth of Willie Walsh, the head of British Airways in an interview with BBC’s “Costing the Earth” on Radio 4. I listened to it twice because the first time I wasn’t sure that I really heard it but it was still on the repeat so why these intriguing words?

Like any other form of transport you fly because you need to get somewhere and flying is the choice due to time, money or wish. Living on islands as we do, it is the main method in some cases. If you need or want to get from Scotland to France it is about the only viable way unless you want to spend ages driving or going by train. But if you are going from the middle of London to the middle, say of Manchester, Paris Brussels, the train wins from the length of time it takes.

From a price point of view, generally I can fly to Scotland cheaper than I can train it and that includes an allowance for catching the bus in Glasgow or Edinburgh into the middle of the city. I have to go to Milford Haven in Pembrokeshire in a few weeks. I have no flight alternative but it is a close run thing between car hire and taking the train. You might have thought some train pricing person would compare these and undercut what car hire might cost in order to get additional business. After all, the train is going there anyway so my money is extra for them.

And then contrary to what Willie Walsh says, people do fly because they like it. Otherwise why did those lamented Concorde flights over the Bay of Biscay prove so popular? Why does flying seem to be part of the holiday rather than the method to get you there? About ten years ago I believe Thomas Cook did research into the excitement points in going on holiday and it began at the airport with a big boost when people got on the plane.

So Mr Walsh, it can be because we like flying. But equally, you have to provide us with good reasons, good service and the prospect of a pleasant trip to keep the loyalty of those of us who just like flying. And flying with BA.

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