How Airlines Survive by Copying Kohl's, Hertz, FedEx and More

Airlines have come of age. They are businesses, like any other – and have learned a lot from retailers about product pricing. This is good and not-so-great for passengers, and more about that at the end.

Hear Rick Seaney tell editor Anne McDermott all about his first trip to Kohl’s (money-saving tips, too):

The cheapest day to shop for airline tickets

Airlines, Retailers and Pricing

Core product:

  • Airline ticket costs go up and down depending on a variety of factors, like which day you shop
  • Kohl’s prices go up and down depending on a variety of factors, like limited sales

Charges for extras:

Shipping costs:

  • Airlines charge checked-bag fees (exceptions: JetBlue, Southwest) which increase depending on weight, and some carriers now offer door-to-door delivery
  • FedEx charges for shipments which rise by weight and how quickly you want delivery

Best tips for finding the cheapest flights

Change-your-mind fees:

Bottom Line for Passengers

The bottom line is airlines are insuring their survival as they increasingly act more like retailers and other businesses – and we also see this happening with all those mergers. For passengers bemoaning the latest cost of fees and other annoying charges, it may help to remember that extinct airlines can take us nowhere. Plus, if prices get too high – and people quit flying – prices will drop. And deals and cheap flights are still available if you know how to find them.


Published: March 25, 2013