Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Spirit is Willing, but the Flesh is Cheap

Spirit Airlines, a “low cost” carrier, just announced that they will charge $100 to passengers who show up at the gate with carry-on luggage. This is just one more step in making airline travel more onerous for customers.

Suppose other businesses decided to lowball basic prices and charge customers for “extras.”

A restaurant would charge $2 for a napkin, $5 for a high chair for toddlers, and $10 for premium seating away from the kitchen.

A supermarket would charge $2.50 for use of a shopping cart, and $1 to ask a clerk to point out the aisle where the tomato sauce is found.

Buying a television set? You will be charged $25 extra if you want the remote. After all, you could just get up off the couch and change the channel at the set.

Did you want your doctor to put a clean sheet on the exam table rather than re-use the one from the previous patient? That’s an extra $7.

A la carte pricing has its place. A nominal fee for handling a bag is now the norm, and like the frog in the pot of boiling water, passengers have gotten used to it. So they can plan and budget for this. But a $100 fee from an airline that touts $9 fares on its web site is a bit excessive. 

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