Heavy Heavy

United States Travel Blog

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Unless you are living under a rock, you all know by now about the “fuel crisis” and how it is affecting travel. A surcharge here, a surcharge there, everywhere a surcharge, oh and don’t forget the fees. Every time you turn around it seems there is a new charge or fee for things that always use to be free. In this latest round of sur-feeing, American Airlines decided to start charging passengers for the 1st checked bag. Outraged passengers by the 1000’s or maybe just 10’s will take their business elsewhere. Did you honestly think the other airlines wouldn’t copy that clever move? You already pay $20 to talk to a real person, $10 to pick a preferred seat in advance, $3 for curbside check-in and, $100 to bring a pet or send a kid alone (both well worth the money if you ask me). Let’s not forget the $100 to change your reservation, $50 if you now want that reservation on paper and an additional $75 for the opportunity to use your frequent flier miles for a free ticket. So you’re telling me this bag charge comes as a big shock?

Wake up boys and girls, this is not some evil plan hatched by airline executives in New York as a last ditch revenue boost. No, this is the evil genius of some executives in London who thought of it ten years ago. If you have ever had the pleasure of flying one of the European low fare carriers, you are probably wondering what all our bitching is about. For years these start up airlines have offered up cheap flights on grubby planes with bitchy staff.  Not only do you pay for each checked bag, they weigh them AND your carry on. Trust me when I say Southern Hospitality does not translate across the pond, too heavy, too bad. Flight attendants are really just salespeople who bombard the passengers with a gazillion ways to separate you from your money while on the flight. No free drinks or peanuts here. You are welcome to purchase them along with a myriad of other items you might need such as lottery tickets, duty free items, barf bags, seat cushions, life vests, oxygen masks, you know, just in case. As far as I know they have not yet begun to charge for the restrooms on the planes, only on the ground. In fact free public restrooms are strictly an American thing.  The airlines are pushing the EU to allow gambling on flights so don’t be surprised to see mini slot machines in your seat back.

These new fees bring to light the American feeling of entitlement. WE as a culture think that WE should not have to pay for things that WE feel are rightfully ours. We all want healthcare, but no one thinks they should have to pay for it. We all like big gas guzzling cars but then cry when we see the figures at the pump. We all want to pack as much crap as we can in a set of big heavy luggage and then haul it around the country for free. I’m not insinuating that I am happy about having to pay extra for a bag, but let’s look at this in a different perspective. Why should a business traveler with a laptop and no luggage be charged the same as a passenger with 3 suitcases, 2 carryon’s a stroller and a lap child to boot? Add to this the likelihood that the businessman paid a higher fare than the vacationer. Anyone in the shipping business knows that freight goes by weight. If I am taking up more space on the plane and adding more weight, then I should pay more than someone who isn’t.

This concept brings up a touchy subject, which I of course plan to grab hold of. Southwest Airlines, often cited for its politically incorrect behavior was the first airline to stand up and use common sense. They decided that since you can’t please all the people all of the time, “how about we just try to please most of them and the hell with the rest.” They have no problem kicking you off a plane if you’re drunk, have really bad body odor or are dressed like a hooker. Sure a few feathers get ruffled, but how many smelly drunk hookers are smart enough to sue them. Ok there are a few, but what are the grounds? You do not have the RIGHT to fly on their airline, it is a privilege. They were also the first airline to require calorically challenged passengers to purchase an additional seat. Let me get a collective hoorah on that one. If you are too big to fit in the seat without having to raise the armrest or get a seatbelt extender then, guess what? In the immortal words of an Easy Jet check-in girl “too heavy, too bad.” Please also refer to my freight by weight comment. Not only are these people causing extreme discomfort to those seated next to them, they also require more fuel to lift their Burger King Butts off the ground. Before any of you try to use the “D” word, please remember that personal hygiene, wardrobe selection and eating and drinking habits are lifestyle choices, NOT inherited characteristics.

The airline industry does need to make some drastic moves to offset its rising fuel costs. Adding fees for extras is not necessarily the end of the world. The problem is that they go about it all wrong. Just what do you think the flying public is going to do now that they have to fork over money for a bag? I think it is safe to say that overhead bin space is going to become a hot commodity. Time at the security lanes will triple with all the extra bags and contraband confiscation. But don’t worry; you won’t miss your flight. It will be delayed by the drunken guy trying to shove his keg in the overhead and the fat guy trying to shove his 40 inch patootie into an 18 inch seat.

 In an effort to help the airlines, I have a few suggestions for new surcharges and fees to help them out of their nosedive into solvency.

$15 fee to use the overhead compartment and $10 fee to put your items under the seat. No fee if you can manage to get them under your neighbor’s seat without them noticing.

$10 to be seated next to someone height/weight proportionate. $15 to sit next to a mute and $25 to sit next to someone attractive.

$5 fine for each time your child kicks the seat of the person in front of them. $15 for crying infants and $100 for temper tantrums.

$20 fee for snoring and $50 for waking up your aisle seatmate in order for you to get up. This fee will be waived in an emergency situation.

$5 fee to purchase your mandatory copy of the boring in-flight magazine. $20 fine for not ordering from the sky mall while in flight.

$2 fee for headphones which you are of course free to take with you for use on future flights. $10 fee to exchange headphones for ones that actually work.

$4.99 for a beer or glass of wine. $5 fee for not having exact change.

$3 for the emergency evacuation brochure, $5 for the audio version of the safety instruction drill and $100 to use the emergency exit door. Airline reserves the right to waive or not waive fees in the event of an emergency.

$1 per minute charge for reclining your seat back. 50% of the proceeds to be paid directly to the person behind you.

$10 to remove your shoes. $50 no sock penalty.

$1 to 20 fee for use of the flight attendant call button. Fees are charged on a sliding scale taking into account the passengers IQ and the flight attendants mood.

$25 to check a bag, $15 to have it x-rayed, $15 plus re-routing costs if your bag is sent to the wrong destination. $50 administrative cost if your bag is damaged by the airline. If your bag is lost permanently by the airline, they will let you know in writing if the bag was damaged BEFORE they lost it and therefore the damage fee will still apply.

 Now if the airlines were smart, they would just give out free beer to passengers and then charge to use the restrooms. Happy Flying!

kranski says:
Love it! Love it!
You must be either a travel agent or a glorified waitress? (Air Steward)
I am a travel agent with my own agency and I think that is just the best...
Cheeers for the humour, got me lauging!
Posted on: Sep 02, 2008
PhinsAndGills says:
Good points. The beer comment made me LAUGH!
Posted on: Jul 29, 2008
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