I arrived in Phoenix just before noon after a rather unusually long flight from the east coast.  The pilot noted that there were strong headwinds all along the way which made the flight a bit longer and rather bumpy, which is probably a great metaphor regarding the current economy.

The Kinaxis Customer and Training Conference, Kinexions, is the second significant supply chain conference I’ve attended this month.  For each conference, I’ve flown on discount air carriers Southwest Airlines and JetBlue.  Readers may have made the same observations as I, namely that a lot of business travelers have switched to discount carriers.  At Boston’s Logan Airport this morning I glanced over to the United check-in line and it was rather sparse at 6am.  The JetBlue check-in line, however, was packed with travelers. My five hour JetBlue flight was a on a fairly new and well functioning Airbus A320 vs. many prior flights on United’s or American’s tired, aging aircraft.  A week ago Friday, I flew back from Houston on Southwest, and observed quite a few business travelers occupying departure gates as well.

I read recently where travel experts are noting an increased level of air travelers for September and October.  I suppose what they neglected to mention was that travel remains a very price sensitive endeavor and the discount carriers seem to be all benefitting from this trend.  There is also a supply chain related metaphor here.  In times of uncertainty and potential strong economic headwinds, supplier choice in travel or transportation lies in least cost and value.  So much for all of those other perks.

This evening the conference will kick off with a welcome reception and I look forward to networking and sharing observations on supply chain management. One of the cool aspects of kinexions is that attendees can carry Poken digital business cards which allow two people to beam their business contact and social networks information to each other.  I’m ready for digital exchange.

Bob Ferrari