March 24, 2015 Last Updated 7:36 am

NYT business writer calls out airlines over fares; Epicurious app gets a bug fix update

Culinate corrects a few recipes in its new stand-alone app for the retailer Williams-Sonoma (and the Bonnier-owned book publisher Weldon Owen)

The price of U.S. airline tickets is not as much an annoyance for me as the level of service one now receives today. But it is still good to see a major newspaper call out the airlines when it is obvious consumers are being ripped off.

Today, the NYT’s Andrew Ross Sorkin, writing it Dealbook, wonders why, despite lower fuel costs, the airlines continue to maintain their pricing. The reason, Sorkin concludes, is that “the airline industry is increasingly looking like an uncompetitive oligopoly.”

airline-seats-300“Over the last year, oil prices have dropped by more than 50 percent. Motorists filling up at their local gas stations know that prices at the pump have dropped precipitously,” Sorkin writes.

“But consumers who have logged on to Expedia or Priceline or Kayak recently to book tickets saw that airfares had not dropped along with oil prices, an airline’s largest expense,” Sorkin writes.

Sorkin goes on to examine the industry and the way the airlines have chosen not to compete on certain routes, allowing them to control pricing.

But it will be interesting to read the comments as the article sits online throughout the day. Already most readers are more concerned with the quality of air travel than prices. Just yesterday, Frontier announced that they would raise the price consumers pay when checking baggage – again the issue is not so much the increase in cost than that the airlines do this at all – and that baggage service for many airlines can be so bad (caused usually when baggage service is contracted out to third party companies).

Conde Nast updated its app for Epicurious, raising the stand-alone app to version 4.4.1.

Epicurious-screen-300“We cleaned up the kitchen after the launch party,” the app description says playfully. “Missing recipe boxes have been recovered and should be appearing. A pesky recipe search error on iPhone has been eliminated, as well. The app loads smoother and is more stable as well. We also remembered to buy milk and eggs from the store.”

Unfortunately, the app has been getting negative user reviews lately as some have reported crashes and other issues. The first new reader review is also warning of crashes, but we’ll see it others report the same.

It is interesting, at least to me, that several of Condé Nast’s top apps in the Apple App Store are not Newsstand apps but stand-alone apps. We will likely see more of these stand-alone apps coming from magazine brands with the release of Adobe Publish this summer (and following the release of the new Fast Company stand-alone app).

Other updates released today include one for the Williams-Sonoma/Weldon Owen app from Culinate which corrects some of the recipes inside the app.

I checked out the user reviews and none mention errors in the recipes, which I suppose means none were that bad. Mostly, users who complain are not happy with having to pay $2 a month to continue with the app – though that was obviously part of the publishing deal with Culinate.

As for the new app itself, most comments are positive – and those looking to design new stand-alone apps might want to check it out as the app is free to download.

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