Sun Country is reportedly moving toward being an ultra low cost airline – is that smart?

But is it smart? Here's what people think of the current budget airlines.
Author:
Updated:
Original:

Sun Country is reportedly planning a shift in strategy that would put it in line with the cheap-tickets/lots-of-fees budget airlines of the world.

The Star Tribune has all the details – the paper got a copy of a memo sent to employees from new CEO Jude Bricker.

Basically, they need to cut costs. So they'll be squeezing more seats on to planes, and likely move toward a pricing model that would include a lower ticket price ... but with added fees for things like a carry-on, according to the Star Tribune. 

If you've flown on one of the cheap-y airlines recently, that probably sounds familiar. The strategy is often described more softly as a "no-frills" airline, or "ultra low cost."

Whether it's ultimately a good move for the Eagan-based Sun Country or not, we won't know for years. But we can look at how other budget airlines are doing to give us some clues.

(Note: GoMN reached out to Sun Country for a comment, but did not get a response.)

People are not satisfied with the budget airlines

The first big thing: people kind of hate the budget airlines.

Every year, the American Customer Satisfaction Index asks people how satisfied they are with airlines. Take a look at this year's results – particularly the bottom:

The worst-ranked in 2016 were all budget airlines. Allegiant managed to jump United for 2017 to avoid third-worst, but Frontier and Spirit are once again at the bottom.

And those two actually have a worse satisfaction rating than the year prior. They got worse.

So that's not great.

Allegiant Airlines, by the way, is where Bricker worked before coming on as Sun Country's CEO in July.

And the seat-squeezing might become a problem. The FAA recently was ordered to re-review whether it should regulate the size of seats on airplanes. There was a safety concern from an advocacy group, and the judge called it "the case of the incredible shrinking airline seat."

(It should be noted, Sun Country's CEO in the memo said good customer service would still be a priority, according to the Star Tribune report.)

But then again, they've got passengers

Even if people don't like these cheap airlines, more and more people are flying with them.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation's most recent report, both Frontier and Spirit had more passengers in June 2017 than June of 2016. (Allegiant isn't in that part of the report.)

Spirit went from about 1.7 million enplaned passengers to more than 1.9 million. Frontier went from 1.25 million to about 1.44 million.

The number of passengers for both airlines went up the previous twomonths as well. 

Frontier is growing, and has been adding routes – including at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport recently. The airline says it will be able to serve 90 percent of the U.S. population with all the additions.

Spirit didn't have a great recent quarter because of costly "operational disruptions," as they put it. But revenue was up compared to the same time in 2016, and execs there still like their long-term financials.

Next Up

vote, vote now

MN Supreme Court dismisses attempt to block election certification

Another legal defeat for Republicans challenging the election.

prison, Rush City cell block

Another Minnesota prison inmate dies after COVID-19 diagnosis

The virus has killed at least six Minnesota inmates.

leech lake band of ojibwe sign

11,760 acres of land wrongly taken from Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe will be returned

The Senate and now the House have passed a bill that effectively returns the land. It's now headed for the president's signature.

Karl-Anthony Towns

Timberwolves release first half of 2020-21 regular season schedule

The second half of the schedule will be announced at a later date.

reindeer como zoo

Watch live: Como Zoo's live reindeer cam is back for December

The live feed will run 24/7 allowing you to keep an eye on Santa's antlered helpers.

sleeping

Three simple ways to boost your immune health heading into winter

Eating right is one thing, but there are other ways to stay healthy as the days shorten.

Taylor Rogers

Why Twins fans shouldn't give up on Taylor Rogers

The Twins closer struggled in 2020 but could rebound next season.

Co. Rd. 2 crash, Wakefield Twp.

Teen driver leaves road, crashes into three trees

Fortunately, the 16-year-old was not injured.

mndot deer  tunnel 1

Minnesota is getting its first highway crossing for animals

This will provide a safe way for animals to cross the street, and hopefully limit deer-vehicle collisions.

Related

Sun Country is no longer Minnesota-owned

The airline has been sold to a New York group.

Sun Country will start charging you to put bags in the overhead bins

The airline announced new baggage prices – and they may make you mad.

Sun Country passengers say the airline left them stranded in Texas

Passengers were left in Waco while their flight headed to the final destination.

Fly from MN to Aruba in the winter? Sun Country is sure people will be interested

This would be the only direct flight from MSP to the island of Aruba.

6 Sun Country flights were canceled, no one told passengers

It was because of a glitch in the airline's new technology.

Budget airline Frontier is adding flights to 3 more cities from MSP

The Tampa route is available now, with flights to two more cities coming soon.

Sun Country considers moving HQ from Eagan to MSP Airport

The airline is looking to consolidate its Twin Cities presence into fewer facilities.