Friday, April 9, 2010

Airline Price-Gouging Reaches A New Low.

As a guy who flies often for his Day Job, the way airlines are continually gouging fliers with trivial fees irritates me to no end. Back in the days, flights were all-inclusive, with snacks, lunch, and baggage handling all covered by your airfare. Of course, those days are long gone, in an era where airlines routinely bill you $35 to merely check a bag, and charge extra money for the courtesy of talking with a live person when booking travel.

Just when you thought it couldn't possibly get worse, peep what Spirit Airlines is up to.
Spirit Airlines will soon be the first of the major U.S. airlines to charge passengers to carry on their luggage. Beginning in August, the carrier will slap on an additional fee of up to $45 for any bags placed in overhead bins, the carrier said Tuesday.

If you pay online in advance, it will cost you $30 to stow your carry-on in an overhead bin, but if you wait until you get to the gate, it will cost $45. Passengers may still place one personal item under the seat in front of them, free of charge.

The new carry-on fee went into effect Monday and applies to flights booked for Aug. 1 or later. Fliers who pay in advance for their carry-on luggage will be the first to board the airplane, Spirit said.

"In addition to reducing fares even further, this will reduce the number of carry-on bags, which will improve inflight safety and efficiency by speeding up the boarding and deplaning process, all of which ultimately improve the overall customer experience," Chief Operating Officer Ken McKenzie said in a statement.

At the same time, Spirit will lower fees for checked luggage. Spirit Airline members will pay $15 for their first and second bags if they pay online, instead of the $19 and $25 that was previously charged. Non-members, however, will pay more: The first bag is $25 online and $45 at the airport; $30 for the second bag.

While many other airlines also charge for checked luggage, they still allow passengers to stow carry-on luggage for free.
Of course, Spirit's ballsy decision to charge for carry-ons will only embolden other airlines to do the same, so in a few months, this will be the norm.

While I understand airlines' needs to raise revenues to compensate for the increases cost of fuel in a recession, at what point is enough enough?

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: pay-per-pee toilets are coming soon. Mark my words.

Question: Are airlines justified in such price gouging, or should there be a limit to this nonsense at some point? Is my "pay toilet" suggestion outlandish, or could it really happen? Are you old enough to remember "pay toilets"?

Spirit Airlines to charge $45 for carry-on luggage [CNNMoney]

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