Wednesday, May 21, 2008

So Much For The Friendly Skies!

American Airlines is soon going to charge you 15 bucks to check a bag on its flights, and you can expect other major carriers - the Deltas and Uniteds of the world - to follow suit. I wonder what will be next... Will we be advised to carry spare change so we can use the coin-operated oxygen dispenser should emergencies arise? Pay toilets, perhaps?

As much as I would like to blame American for doing this, I really can't. The rising oil prices are hitting the airlines just as hard as everyone else. I do wish they would just go ahead and raise ticket prices instead, or institute an inclusive "travel fee" - say, 30 bucks a ticket - that would cover meals, luggage, seat selection, etc.

Charging a fee to check ALL bags is going to make the already over-crowded overhead bin space even more scarce, causing flight delays and grumpier passengers onboard. These are big deals when you're already asking people to shove themselves inside what amounts to be a human sardine can!

I think part of the reason that Americans are disillusioned with air travel in general is that we were rediculously spoiled when commercial flight was introduced to the masses. Hot meals served in flight... complimentary drinks... free movies. Did Greyhound offer any of that stuff? No! And after all - air travel is essentially the same thing as bus travel. It's transportation. Period.

There may have been a time when airlines needed to drop fares and market their flights as luxurious in order to get the masses on board. But what we've seen over the past decade is that Americans have been hooked, and revenue now rules the roost. (Actually, revenue always ruled the roost, but we were to busy enjoying our warmed over lasagna and drinking our free Coke to notice!)

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