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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

Unfriendly skies

I don't quite understand the reasoning behind this:

Under a plan announced Wednesday by American Airlines, passengers already forced to pay extra for amenities like earphones, meals and even snacks will have to pay $15 to check a basic piece of baggage.

This seems almost designed to anger passengers. This is one more petty burden to bear for people who are already upset about what an increasing hassle flying has become. But it's really a small percentage of the overall cost of flying, and people are used to price fluctuations and generally, if grudgingly, accepting of the idea that the cost of most things will go up over time. If American had merely added that $15 to the ticket price, this would have all died down after a day. As it is, it's a much bigger story.

Yes, yes, I know. Luggage adds weight, which requires more fuel. But this doesn't really seem designed to address that issue -- how many people will really fly with less stuff, and how many will just try to cram more into their carry-on luggage? It would have been more effective to just decrease the maximum weight allowed for checked luggage before the extra fees kick in.


Larry Morris
Thu, 05/22/2008 - 9:42am

Course, you realize the other downside, don't you. If you travel with less and less luggage to save money, you will trip one of the TSAs red flags that mark you as a terrorist - no luggage, ...

Harl Delos
Thu, 05/22/2008 - 10:05am

By charging for carry-on luggage instead of raising ticket prices, they accomplish two things:

1. They get more money from people who have already purchased non-refundable tickets. But that's a one-shot deal. There's also

2. Their ticket prices continue to look cheaper than the competitors on websites, where the user asks for the fares in cheapest-first order.

I hate to fly, and swore, 15 years ago, that I'd never fly again, except perhaps inside a casket. OTOH, it occurs to me that people really get ticked off about other passengers' carryon luggage, and they don't really care about checked luggage. I wonder if it would have been smarter for AA to make it $20 or $30 for carry-on luggage, $10 or $15 for checked luggage.

Or for Northwest, they could charge you $20/hour for any time LESS than four hours that they keep you hostage, while parked on the tarmac.

Leo Morris
Thu, 05/22/2008 - 10:37am

Don't you suspect the other airlines are going to follow suit, negating your No. 2?

Bob G.
Thu, 05/22/2008 - 11:03am

Here's what you need to do:

1) wear ALL FIVE pairs of underwear, socks, pants and shirts (sure you'll sweat, but NO luggage)
2) go on a diet 4 weeks before the flight
(when feasible)
3) carry all required meds in body orifices
(watch MSNBC prison shows for "hints")
4) forget the whole thing and take the wife & kids to the movies
(Sorry aunt Martha & uncle Bill)

Any questions?



Harl Delos
Thu, 05/22/2008 - 11:06am

Sure - but that's the way it is in all businesses.

Within a month of WalMart announcing that they had $4 generics, all the other big drug chains had something very similar.

Within a few months of one fast food offering a 99c "bargain" menu, all the others had done the same thing.

And it works that way with products, and services, too. It didn't take too long after Wendy's appeared that the other fast food stores had drive-thru windows. And the new chicken sammich that McD's is introducing this week is pretty much the same thing as Chick-Fil-A's best-selling item.

And when one gas company raises prices, the other gas companies raise prices in lockstep. Oh, wait, that's *raising* prices. Oh, well, you get the idea.

Thu, 05/22/2008 - 1:59pm

It's not just weight of luggage, it is space. What the passengers don't use leaves more room for cargo. Commercial flights haul all sorts of non-hazardous cargo for a fee.