Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Wednesday, January 07, 2021

Are global consumers so accustomed to mobile-phone minute-based pricing plans that they’ll go for the same concept when it comes to travel fares? That’s what South Africa-based Airtime Airlines is banking on. The upstart start-up is selling plane tickets based on total flight time between origination and destination sites.

The carrier still needs regulatory approval, and an actual aircraft fleet, before it gets off the ground at all. That said:

If Airtime irons out those details, passengers will buy minutes instead of a traditional point-to-point ticket. They can buy a “starter pack” of prepaid minutes and top off their accounts by purchasing more minutes — by text message — at the going rate of 5 Rand (about 53 cents) a minute. Flight times have been mapped out in advance, so sitting on a runway for three hours won’t triple the cost of your ticket.

Topping off accounts is where things get interesting. The cost for Airtime minutes can fluctuate, presumably according to promotions and market factors, so topping off becomes an exercise comparable to fuel hedging. Buy a big block of minutes when you think they’re at their cheapest and you look smart, unless the price drops again the next day. Then again, it might go up. The price recently rose from 3 Rand to 5 Rand, meaning the cost of a round-trip flight from Durban to Cape Town climbed from about 750 Rand ($81) to 1,250 Rand (about $134). Still that’s cheaper than the $200 it would cost on South African Airlines.

So if this structure actually catches on, people would start to think of their traveling agendas in terms of time spent — both actual in-the-air and money-wise. It’d go from thinking, “That ticket to Orlando is gonna cost me 300 bucks” to “Going to Orlando will eat up 120 minutes from my account”. Interesting concept. I guess frequent fliers like businesspeople would be the chief target market, as setting up a flight-minute bucket account would be a barrier to entry for regular folks who don’t fly more than a handful of times a year.

Not that I see this taking off, figuratively or literally. But it’s fun to speculate what this brand of timed air travel would be like.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 01/07/2021 08:40:23 PM
Category: Business, Creative
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In a remarkable showing of political repurposing, John McCain is taking his “Putting Country First” Presidential campaign slogan and applying it to his brand-new political action committee, dubbed simply Country First PAC.

And he’s not lifting just the wording from the since-dismantled McCain-Palin ‘08 machine. Even the fonts, colors, and decorative designs from the White House campaign have been transplanted over to the Country First website. I guess that creates instantly-recognizable continuity with the conservative Republican stump issues that McCain championed during his run, and will continue to promote via this new organization. Smart approach.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 01/07/2021 08:04:04 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Politics
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fighting words
Congrats to David Singer, HockeyFights.com founder and a frequent visitor to this here blog, on being interviewed by Yahoo! Sports’ Puck Daddy regarding the recent death of amateur hockey player Don Sanderson during an in-game fight.

Fighting in North American hockey is a recurring point of contention within the sport (it’s generally not in the rules in European leagues and prep/college play). So the Sanderson tragedy naturally has become a lightning rod for now-increased calls to have sanctioned fisticuffs banned from the NHL on down.

As you can guess, someone who runs a site called “HockeyFights” isn’t going to fall on the anti-fighting side of the debate. And the broadbased popularity of David’s site attests to the continuing support for five-minute penalty bouts on the ice. That support clashes with overt efforts to eliminate sanctioned fighting within the game, along with the more subtle de-emphasis by the NHL in rule refinements and marketing efforts that avoid mention of this aspect of the game.

Myself, as a fairly hardcore hockey fan? I can live with the status quo, in that I accept fighting as it’s currently codified in the NHL. If it’s popular enough with some of the fanbase that banning it would upset them, then leave things be. That said:

I’m not much of a supporter of fighting, and wouldn’t miss it if it were outlawed today. Hanging onto an activity that’s considered an ejection-worthy penalty in other team sports strikes me as antiquated. And as iffy as it is to judge any sport by the standard of another, I have to note that basketball, football, and other contact sports manage to function without the “outlet” that flying fists supposedly provides. Not to mention that this argument never ends, with re-flares coming at regular intervals — frankly, I’m tired of rehashing this debate when the value of it, for me, diminishes with each round.

The upshot? The situation brings to my mind Thomas Jefferson’s “wolf by the ear” comparative:

“But, as it is, we have the wolf by the ear, and we can neither hold him, nor safely let him go. Justice is in one scale, and self-preservation in the other.”

Granted, the slavery issue that Jefferson was struggling over was of considerably more importance than how a sports entertainment league governs itself. But the scenario is comparable: Hockey is confronted with a contentious problem, and whichever course of action taken by its guardians will lead to problematic consequences.

Fighting in hockey is indeed a wolf. Keep it or banish it, the resultant course won’t be easy to deal with. Eventually, the NHL and other leagues will make their choice, and hopefully we can all move on from there.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 01/07/2021 11:44:36 AM
Category: Bloggin', History, Hockey, True Crime
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