Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Airline to charge for both checked and carry-on baggage

This afternoon's Bad Idea of the Day has been announced, with Yahoo News reporting that Spirit Airlines will "charge as much as $45 each way" for carry-on baggage. The charge is in addition to the fees passengers pay for checked bags (between $15 and $100 per bag, depending on the circumstance).

Yahoo reports that "Spirit CEO Ben Baldanza said having fewer carry-on bags will help empty the plane faster. He said the idea is to get customers to pay for individual things they want, while keeping the base fare low."

Fewer carry-ons will empty the plane faster, eh? Is that a big draw for people? Are travelers going to flock to Spirit Airlines for the prospect of getting off the plane three minutes sooner than with other airlines? Can people set aside the fact that they're being nickel and dimed by an airline? I can only imagine that Spirit Airlines has just committed a big ol' PR blunder. By charging passengers to bring luggage on the plane, the airline is letting its customers know that their needs aren't important, but revenue is.

If the comment traffic under the initial report is any indication, Spirit Airlines is unlikely to have many takers on its offer of "keeping base fares low", since nearly everyone travels with luggage of some kind. Comments range from "Wow, next they will be charging to sit or stand on a plane, " to "Well thanks, Spirit. You just made it easier for me to decide I WILL NOT be flying with you!" and "Sounds like a great plan... if you want to chase away customers to other airlines."

I can't say I disagree. While baggage fees have inspired me to pack lighter, I simply carry on my (fewer) belongings now, instead of paying to have them checked. I can say undoubtedly, that I would never fly an airline that would require such ridiculous fees. I prefer to do business with people who appreciate my patronage, rather than people trying to stick me with unprecedented charges.

What do you think? Will people stop flying Spirit Airlines? Will (far worse) other airlines follow suit and start charging for carry-on baggage?


Cassandra Mortmain said...

I have to say, I completely see the airplanes point. Emptying the planes will go WAY faster, because there will be no passengers on it in the first place. It's like a preemptive strike against lengthy on-runway waits. It's really selfless of Spirit to sacrifice their business like this for the zero people in the world that travel without luggage.

In seriousness, I actually find this not just obnoxious, but pretty much reprehensible. When you charge for any luggage a passenger brings, that stops being an optional charge and becomes the price of the ticket. The only reason to separate the charge out this way is if you're hoping to pull a fast one on your passengers. I think this is an unfair, dishonest business practice. In the long run, their business will suffer because few people will let themselves get duped twice. But that still leaves space for plenty of first time victims, who probably can't afford to pay these hidden fees, and wouldn't but the tickets if they were honestly priced.

And so: reprehensible.

Danielle E. Brown said...

I totally agree; it's such an awful practice that I'll be surprised if it lasts.