Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Spirit to charge passengers for carry-on items

I guess this was inevitable, but it still annoys me:
With many airlines now charging a fee for checked luggage, the next step had to come sometime: A carrier asking passengers to pay for the privilege of bringing carry-on bags on board.

Well, that time is here.

Spirit Airlines announced Tuesday that it will charge its customers $20 to $45 for items they place in the overhead bins.

The cost depends on whether passengers are members of the airline's ultra-low fare club and whether they "pre-reserve" their carry-on bag in advance.

Each passenger will still able to bring one personal item that fits under a seat for free, such as a purse, briefcase, backpack or laptop computer. They also won't have to pay extra for items such as diaper bags, pet containers and cameras.

Airline officials called it a "bring less; pay less" policy that would ultimately benefit customers.

"In addition to lowering fares even further, this will reduce the number of carry-on bags, which will improve inflight safety and efficiency by speeding up the boarding and deplaning process," Chief Operating Officer Ken McKenzie said in a statement.

In the airline industry's zeal to wring more money from their customers by charging to check baggage, they overlooked the most obvious consequence of such a move: that it would cause more people to pack all their belongings into rollerboards and other carry-ons, thereby crowding overhead luggage compartments and making the boarding and alighting process longer as people tried to cram impossibly overstuffed bags into overhead bins. It was only a matter of time before airlines addressed this issue by doing what they do best: charging their customers another fee. And although I hope it backfires, I'm afraid that Spirit is just the first of many airlines that will attempt this. We've simply come to the point in the ongoing degradation of the commercial aviation industry that, if you deem to do something as extravagant as actually take things with you when you travel, regardless if you check them or carry them on, you'll need to be prepared to pay up.

I wasn't ever planning on flying Spirit before this announcement - they don't even fly to Houston, after all - so I'm sure they won't miss me or my carry-on bag fee.


Seabee said...

I've just booked an Emirates flight and they've increased the baggage allowance to 30kg.

Thomas said...

American carriers could learn a few things about quality customer service from Emirates and other international carriers that still treat their customers like real human beings, rather than seat-mile-units that need every possible penny wrung from them.