Monday, 6 September, 2010 11:40 AM
Say No! Expert Offers Alternatives to Airline Baggage Fees
BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com
Spirit Airlines check-in counter at Detroit Metropolitan Airport
in June 2010.
you thought the flying experience couldn’t get any worse,
this month Spirit Airlines began charging passengers $45 for any
carryon bag placed in the overhead bin. While some may view this
as a necessary step to keep airlines operating in the black, I think
I stand for most when I classify this in one word: CATASTROPHIC.
Before you think this is an overly dramatic reaction, let’s
consider a few facts. First, Spirit is not struggling to make ends
meet--the company has strung together six consecutive quarters of
profits, with the last report being a $22 million profit for the
first quarter of 2010. In the past year alone we have seen fees
for checked luggage raised from $10 a bag to $25, and even $50 in
some circumstances. And now they want to charge for a carry on?
When is it going to stop? $5 for a bulky sweatshirt? $10 if you’re
wearing a sports bra?
nothing more than a move to squeeze travelers for more money while
consumers are trying to find the light at the end of the economic
My issue here isn’t with Spirit Airlines—frankly they’re
like the indie band that sets up in the parking lot at a Dave Matthews
concert. And with fares as low as $10, their small market of passengers
may care less about an additional fee. The issue is if the major
players adopt the precedent Spirit has established.
Some travelers have welcomed the fee, thinking this will solve the
problem of passengers trying to cram everything they own into their
carryon and slowing down the boarding process. I say, think again.
going to convince anyone to pack lighter or to just carry a toothbrush
and an iPod when they travel. Any individual who pays an extra $45
is even more likely to jam their suitcase to the max--its human
While airlines obviously need to make up for lost revenue and the
lingering effects of the poor economy, there are far better solutions
than charging passengers for taking their belongings with them.
Here are several fees that seem much more agreeable (and we would
be much happier to pay):
- $5 fee
to sit in a Crying-Baby free row during red eye flights.
- $7 fee
for a #2-free bathroom. (May have to be enforced via the honor
- $25 fee
to fly the plane for a while. Want to attempt a landing? $50.
- $10 fee
to deliver the safety announcement.
- $15 fee
for the solution to the Sudoku puzzle in the in-flight magazine.
- $20 fee
to swap seats with the person next to Pamela Anderson
A few more industry-saving solutions:
rows by drink preference for a cost-savings of one flight attendant
a raffle for “Guess who’s the Air Marshal?”
a karaoke machine onboard. (They always save a failing business.)
- Buy Sierra
Mist in bulk. (I’m pretty sure those tiny cans are more
expensive than airlines think--at least that’s what I’ve
been led to believe since every time I ask for a full can I receive
a disapproving look from the flight attendants.)
there are more practical solutions such as renegotiating oil contracts,
opening up routes controlled by the legacy carriers to smaller,
more profitable airlines, and simply adjusting ticket prices to
account for higher flight costs.
I really don’t think people mind paying a fair ticket price
if they are guaranteed there will be no hidden fees when they arrive
at the airport. It seemed to be working fairly well from 1903 until
just a couple of years ago. The cost of oil has since retreated
to normal levels, yet the fees remain--it’s high time they
Regardless of the industry, angering your customers has never been
a way to save a business. We want to fly on your big shiny planes.
Please help us.
fun and to join the nationwide campaign against baggage fees, logon
About Jeff Michaels
Jeff Michaels is the author of Please Hug Me--I’ve Been
Delayed, available in bookstores and airports nationwide. His
career as a touring musician found him delayed more often than not,
where he spent his time developing creative ways to pass the time
News and Experts
Airlines passengers are left stranded as strike and negotiations
cover: Green Leaf Book Press
Hug Me--I've Been Delayed