It all began when the airlines started levying their own taxes on food, drink, phone orders, curbside check-ins, reservation changes, pillows, blankets, headphones and seemingly any seat that isn’t situated on top of the rear restroom.
It was only a matter of time before the fee for the second checked bag was installed. Soon, perhaps emboldened by a dearth of public outrage, many airlines began charging for the first checked bag as well.
They tell us this is how we LIKE to travel – paying only for the “services” we use, conveniently ignoring the fact that air fares never went down to reflect the new a la carte approach.
But now, a U.S. airline’s plan to charge passengers for straining their own backs while heaving their carry-ons into the overhead bins, combined with a European “discount” carrier’s plan to install coin-op locks on the bathroom doors -- well, those are the last straws for AAA.
“Airline passengers have a sneaking suspicion that the airlines are trying to nickel and dime them to death,” said John B. Townsend II, AAA Mid-Atlantic
’s manager of public and government Affairs. “As it turns out their hunch is not far-fetched, because the evidence shows the airlines raked in nearly $3 billion in baggage fee revenue last year.”
No-frills Spirit Airlines
announced earlier last week that it would initiate a fee for carry-on luggage which cannot be stored below the seat and must be stowed in an overhead bin. Depending on the flight attendants’ mood and powers of observation, the parameters can encompass pretty much anything beyond a purse, medium backpack or laptop. If you pay in advance online, you will be charged $30 for each bag stowed in the overhead bin.
In addition, a European discount carrier, Ryanair
, is reportedly moving ahead with a charge that’s become known as a “pee fee.” Airline officials have said they are working on a plan to use coin-operated toilets on flights with a duration of one hour or shorter.
“Packing light could take on a new meaning because passengers will not only attempt to pack light enough for all of their belongings to fit under the seat in front of them but might also need to lighten their load by purging themselves in airport terminal restrooms in order to avoid restroom fees on some flights,” Townsend
Published at 5:58 PM EDT on Apr 12, 2010