27 September 2010 | Airlines have come up with innovative ‘guarantees’ to let consumers book with more confidence. The schemes are intended to take away anxiety from consumers, caused by for example fears of job loss or weather conditions at their destination. Other airlines aim to drum up sales during the traditional slow fall travel season or are using guarantees as a new source of ancillary revenues. For example, JetBlue and Flybe last year offered a refund if a customer would lose his or her job after booking a flight. Flybe also offered a ‘volcanic ash insurance’ to let customers more peace of mind when booking during the Iceland volcano disruption in the spring of 2010. Lufthansa in July 2009 offered a ‘Sunshine Guarantee’, offering passengers who booked early EUR20 (up to a maximum of EUR200) for every day of at least 5mm of rainfall.
SmartWings ‘Weather Guarantee’
To increase advance bookings and generate additional revenues, Czech budget carrier SmartWings offers passengers a ‘weather protection insurance’ for EUR15 in order to receive EUR30 per day (with a maximum of 15 days) when more than 10mm of rain falls at their destination. The insurance has to be purchased 20 days before the actual travel date. The airline is providing the package, dubbed ‘MeteoBonus’, in partnership with ancillary revenue developer Airsavings, which says the product is based on similar services used in the agricultural industry to hedge against poor weather.
airBaltic ‘Delayed Arrival Warranty’
airBaltic from Latvia lets passengers bet against a late arrival of their flight. For a non-refundable fee of EUR17 per passenger per one-way journey, the airline’s ‘Delayed Arrival Warranty’ option gives passengers a guaranteed double refund of their ticket price (including fare and fuel surcharge) if the airline delivers them to their final destination more than 1 hour later than promised on their ticket. The refund is in the form of a gift voucher which can be used to purchase future flights with airBaltic. Valid reasons for receiving a refund exclude bad weather conditions at departure and/or arrival airport, strikes, terrorism, and war. On a similar note, Polish low-cost carrier Wizzair offers a, less generous, warranty delay option, and refunds EUR100 to passengers who bought a warranty for EUR10 in case of a two-hour delay. Read full article »