I'm going to Montreal, one of my favorite cities, in a couple of weeks. I booked my flight yesterday, but not with Porter Air, as the title of this post may suggest. I was going to fly Porter Airlines because they seemed to have an offer I couldn't refuse. Toronto - Montreal, round trip for $113 each way (fees and taxes included)! I went to the Porter website and clicked on the "Check out the savings from your departure city" box. This took me to a page with prices for 18 cities including Montreal, whose box indicated $113 including all taxes /fees. Naturally, I proceeded to book the flight, but when all was said and done the fare was almost $400! In comes the old reliable device - the telephone. I called Porter, and the friendly attendant told me that the special fares only applied to purchases 21 days out or more. Ok, I said, thanks, I guess that's fine print stuff (old school marketing hooks). So much for the special fare. I booked my flight with Air Canada using Aeroplan points - which miraculously had flights available in 2 weeks time (Aeroplan deserves a blog post on its own, but not today).
And this brings me to the point of this post. Do you think the modern North American consumer is happy with these special offers (from Airlines and others) when they realize that there's always a catch and many a time they end up not accessing the special fare? Do you think it's beneficial to the airline in the short, medium and long term in this age of transparency, instant communication and social media? Are these offers short term tactics for short term gain (market share, quarterly reports, passenger load factors, etc.)? And as a consumer, do these offers turn you off to the brand that uses when, after spending the time to try and take advantage of the offer, you realize it won't work for your needs?