Does an Airfare Subscription Service Make Sense for Anyone but the Rich?
John McDermott
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Thanks, John, for your insightful thoughts. You are absolutely correct that Surf Air has, very unfortunately, lost sight of its original purpose of offering an alternate commute alternative for people who want to live in one California city but need to work in another. The have failed miserably to address the needs of that user, and instead, as you rightfully point out, have ‘pivoted’ as they say in startup land to focus on the rich CEO-type, for whom this service really is not a necessity. Had they (or should they going forward) offer(ed) a usable commuter service, it would in fact be incredibly valuable and useable by many more people, and possibly so ‘disruptive’ that it became a necessity like Uber. It could, for instance, help mitigate the massive problem of professionals’ inability to afford to both work and live in Silicon Valley.

By way of example, SurfAir’s abrupt decision to discontinue indefinitely all direct flights between the Bay Area and San Diego starting September 19 is a company-killing mistake. Beyond eliminating one of the most popular Intra-California flights and ‘commutes’, in one single move, Jeff Potter, SurfAir’s recently appointed CEO (and former CEO of the disgraced and failed Frontier Airlines), has effectively eliminated an entire user base while simultaneously destroying the company’s ability to build and keep customer loyalty and trust. No current or former customer can reasonably rely on continued or planned routes for scheduled service when they now know that, with less than 30-days notice, a commute route (like a bus-route to get to work) can be completely eliminated. Rather than maintain its mission of providing a usable ‘commute alternative’ by allowing regular and reliable and affordable commutes to key markets (San Diego being one of its first identified expansions and still listed as a key expansion city on its website), Potter is incapable of making one of the easiest and desired flights profitable (all because of the planes SurfAir chooses to use). Instead, he seems to think flying to Trukee and Tahoe makes more sense for the busy professional. At this point, unless SurfAir immediately reverses and corrects this monumental mistake, Potter and crew have unfortunately for all that really wanted and needed this service, killed a good idea by failing to listen to what the customer really wants, and instead mismanaging to a short term bottom line. SurfAir, please get it right and correct your mistake. Otherwise, SurfAir will become — as John points out — a Santa Barbara based (very limited) use luxury rather than a meaningful option to change the world of commuting.

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