I recently did something I’m not proud of. In fact, I have barred my girlfriend from speaking about it and have drank what I can drink in order to erase the deed from my mind so that I might “alter my history.” I literally cannot believe I’m about to tell you this factoid about me. But you know what, Gentle Cash-ist? I’ve always been honest and straight up with you and this blog will be no different. Let me sum up the courage real quick as I uncork a bottle of vintage red. Let me gather my thoughts and prep myself for humility. Ok. Here goes. Reader, friend, admirer…in the last month (don’t think less of me), I flew coach on an American Airlines $AAL flight.
Criticize me all you want, but if we want someone to blame, it’s easily Ricardo, an employee of mine for the last four years. He waited a little too long to book tickets to my last sporadic Vegas trip ($LVS, $WYNN, $MGM) and ended up seating me amongst blue collared parents, newlyweds, and frat boys.
Let me be clear on one thing. When I have a trip that I look forward to and that I plan for, I make most of the arrangements myself. I comb through Priceline $PCLN or Travelzoo $TZOO and I find the deal. Just because I’m rich doesn’t mean that I like to waste money—that’s why I’m rich. So when a distant relative of mine told me within one month that she was getting married in Las Vegas and that I had a limited window to get there, I trusted Ricardo to get me the best deal. He failed (and is no longer living in the good old US of A).
So onto the American Airlines plane I went (thank God not on Spirit $SAVE). Ricardo at least had enough sense not to give me a total hell. And as I sat amongst the legion of middle-classers and prayed no one would photograph or recognize me, my girlfriend popped out her computer and logged on.
“I’ll get you a nice buffet later,” I hissed. “Don’t waste my money on Internet on a 2.5 hour flight!”
“It’s only $10,” she replied. “And it’s the only option for me to catch up on work.”
She had a point. Because right now, plain and simple, $GOGO (the in-flight Wifi system) is a monopoly. No matter what airline you fly, you have one choice if you want to connect your phone or computer to Wifi. ONE CHOICE. We are total slaves to our Androids and iPhones ($AAPL). We cannot live a moment without Facebook $FB or Twitter $TWTR or Instagram or porn or whatever. We MUST be connected to every single thing and any given second.
So if we have reports that 2013 made the most profit in a long while for airlines (+$7.4 billion), it doesn’t matter where that profit came from (i.e. the moderate cost of jet fuel). What matters is that the planes kept flying and the passengers kept being crammed on board…and that they used GOGO if they were…bored. Let me let you reread that a few times to get the brilliance of that pun.
I won’t invest in airlines (though Southwest $LUV is tempting, as I said in an earlier blog). A one cent increase in fuel can spell millions of dollars or losses for a company that translates to earnings and hits me where it hurts. Also, we’re in the midst of some of the most bizarre weather (Icepocalypse, fog, high winds, anyone?) that I’ve ever seen in my lifetime with flights literally being hit or miss. I don’t want to be a part of that industry.
But if another study is telling me that profits and flights are at an all-time high, I know that once an American (or human) body gets afloat in the air, that the hankering to check email and more will afflict them. Just like I’ve seen nonstop charges on my credit card for GOGO every time I Foursquare myself or my girlfriend into an airport.
Guys, $GOGO is risk. It’s plain and simple risk. Think back over the last year how many times you’ve flown, where you’ve flown, what airline you used, and whether or not you paid that $10 fee to surf while you hovered amongst the clouds. After your transaction went though, how did you feel? Satisfied? Pleased? Or angry?
It’s a monopoly and in all honesty maybe only good for short-term gains, though it had its share of them yesterday. But that’s why we have the Risk portion of the #CashPie, isn’t it? If we stick by our principles and our percentages, and you’ve used the service and loved it, then maybe…maybe it’s worth throwing some of your Risk funds at it?