The Best Care in the Air

As a long-time Midwest Airlines customer, it was very very mixed feelings that I watched yesterday’s press conference announcing that the Midwest name is going away (to be assimilated into the Frontier Airlines brand).

During the 1990s, I frequently flew Midwest1 for work. So for me, the Midwest brand has always been defined by the focus on the business traveler that the airline pursued in those days — large leather seats for every passenger (not just first class), gourmet in-flight meals accompanied by linen napkins and real silverware, and of course the smell of homemade chocolate chip cookies baking in the plane.2 The reality is that those customer perks didn’t disappear with yesterday’s press conference ... they’ve been gone (with the exception of the chocolate chip cookies) for many years.

When Bryan Bedford, CEO of Indianapolis-based Republic Airways Holdings Inc.,3 explained yesterday how their extensive research showed the Frontier brand was better known and better positioned for growth, I knew at some gut level that his assessment was probably correct. After all, the Midwest flight I flew just last Friday had very little in common with the Midwest flights I flew a decade ago. And although the current Midwest brand embodies plenty of positive elements,4 it is not the same brand that I once voluntarily (and passionately) evangelized as I traveled around the US.

Over the coming months and years, I very well may find myself flying Frontier Airlines, but I don’t know that I’ll go out of my way to fly Frontier. If Frontier ever decides to differentiate themselves and go after the business market, however, give me a call — I’d love to fill out a brand survey for that!

  1. In those days, the company name was Midwest Express. []
  2. What was equally amazing was that flying on Midwest was cost competitive with the major airlines that didn’t offer such great businessperson perks. []
  3. which purchased both Midwest and Frontier in separate deals last year []
  4. strong customer service, great communication and the signature chocolate chip cookies []

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