Friday, January 07, 2011

Flying the Unfriendly Skies into 2011

With the new year comes all sorts of news, good and bad, expected and unexpected. One of the things we can expect (other than being peed on by the Republicans if you make less than $500,000 per year or don't own a business) is that the cost of flying will continue to go up.

As we saw last year, the airlines have adopted a business model which is a variation on the old bait-and-switch con: they offer incredibly cheap fares (relatively speaking), but then tack an extra fee or surcharge on everything after the mouse click on the basic fare. CNN Travel looked at what we can expect in the coming year in this article: Expert's Take: What New Airline Fees Might Come in 2011? As you might suspect, the airlines haven't even begun to plumb the depths of potential income from new fees, which could include, according to the article:

Infant Fees - today, you can fly with an infant in your lap. While this isn't necessarily safe, up to now the airlines have allowed you to carry that lap-sitting infant for free while they wait for the government to officially declare it an unsafe practice, at which time they can charge you for a seat for that infant and blame it on Big Government instead of greed.

In-Person Check-in Fees. Need to talk to a real person? Bring money. The airlines would save huge amounts of money by replacing all those expensive gate agents with those computer kiosks that never, ever break down. Except when you're in a hurry. Then you'd need to pay for the privilege of having someone help you. Good luck with that.

Credit Card Fees. Credit card companies make money two ways: by charging merchants a percentage of each sale for their service, and by charging you rates of interest that would make a New Jersey loan shark blush. The new proposed fee would pass those credit card fees the airlines pay on to you.

Carry-on Bag Fees. All those people who now delay departures while they try to stuff their upright pianos into the overhead bins would have to pay a fee for each carry on. Coupled with the huge income from charging for checked bags, this could be a real windfall for the airlines. Not so much for you, of course.

There are plenty of other fees that the airlines haven't considered yet. Here are a few I wouldn't be surprised to see ...

Destination Charges. You know how automobile dealerships charge you the cost of transporting the car you buy to the lot you buy it from? You might think this is what the base fare is...but you'd be wrong. I predict the airlines will impose a destination charge on you based on an incomprehensible and ever-shifting algorithm similar to the one they use to calculate base fares.

Preparation Charges. Continuing to take ideas from the automobile industry, I predict that the airlines will impose something like the infamous dealer preparation charge new car dealers put on new cars. This will reimburse the airlines for expenses like washing the airplane, vacuuming the aisles and emptying trash from seat-back pockets between flights, and buying those silly strips of red carpet that frequent flyers get to walk on when they check in at the gate.

On-Board Seat Charges. Want a seat? You can rent one. Otherwise, you'll have to stand in one of those padded contraptions like an average amusement park ride.

Gate Area Seat Charges. Want a seat while you wait for your flight? You can rent one. The charge would be assessed on a sliding scale, with hard, ergonomically torturous seats the cheapest, and the price going up depending on the relative comfort of the seat and its proximity to the gate.

Bathroom Fees. Ryanair is already charging passengers to use the on-board bathrooms. The other airlines can't possibly be far behind.

Fee Fees. No, these are not charges for burlesque dancers to provide on-board entertainment - they are a charge to reimburse the airlines for the cost of the personnel they had to hire to dream up new fees.

Air. Need to breathe? Bring lots of quarters to drop into the slots next to that little yellow mask that drops from the ceiling in case of emergency.

The possibilities are endless. And you can expect to see them all...and more.

Get a horse. At least you can use the manure.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow. No extra charge for the sarcasm.



Amanda said...

Get a horse! LOL!

Leslie David said...

I used to have to travel for business. I can't imagine anything worse than that now. Not only can you not depend on the airline to get you to your destination on time, you get the privilege of no service and being groped or strip searched to add to the experience.

Mike said...

The drive instead of fly distances keep getting longer and longer.

Raquel's World said...

Not surprising at all.

Chrissy said...

After my last experience with flying (when a tsa agent yelled at my 2 year old son for crying when they took his stuffed elephant away)...i have nothing nice to say about flying.
Ok...well outside of 'getting you places much faster' than driving....or boating. That part's nice.

Jean-Luc Picard said...

Just handf over all your money at the check-in. It's easier that way.

KathyA said...