Airlines Will Always Find New Ancillary Fees

Moments in history I wish I could have witnessed first-hand:

– The creation of fire

– The invention of the wheel

– The signing of the Declaration of Independence

– The moon landing

– The exact second in 1928 when Harry Reese thought to himself, ‘Hey, I wonder what this Hershey bar would taste like if I smothered it with peanut butter?’ (Side note: That dude was a genius.)

– And, oh to be a fly on the wall at the first staff meeting / brainstorm session of airline executives when they said, ‘We can’t just keep raising fares so we need some new ideas on how to increase revenue from our passengers. ‘

Why that one? Well, Southwest Airlines’ new ancillary fee made me wonder how all this got started. Southwest this seek introduced a passenger add-on – since the airline has open seating, customers can now purchase an upgrade to get a better boarding pass priority number to ensure they are among the first on the plane and get the best seat choices. This one is $ 30 but comes with the new trendy tag of ‘dynamic pricing’ that could raise the fee.

It got me wondering what the creative flow was behind the thinking – you know, other than, ‘How can we stick it to passengers even more?’ – and, upon greater reflection, led me to think about the thought process that led to the very first ancillary fee or fees.

I imagine the meeting went something like this:

Vice-President No. 1 sheepishly raises hand: “Well, um, we could create a separate fee if they wanted to do something like choose a seat.”

Ticket agent: “Yeah, and we could also charge them extra for their luggage!”

Baggage handler: “Oooh, and those bags get heavy. We could ding them with a fee for a piece of luggage that weighs over, say, 50 pounds! “

Flight attendant: “And no more free food and soft drinks!”

CEO, backed by a raucous round of applause: “Brilliant! You’re all getting raises! “

I don’t begrudge any person or business looking to make money. That’s American capitalism. And frankly, the airline employees who keep coming up with these ideas for more ancillary fees aren’t making nearly enough money, if you ask me. I mean, a couple of years ago I read a story about a man who works for Disney / Pixar and gets paid $ 700,000 a year to come up with catchy, appealing, and marketable movie titles.

Like… Cars.

And Planes.

And Up!

Riveting. And inspiringly original.

But they’re all hits, and you can’t help but think how long can the airlines continue to tap that well of ancillary fees. I guess the answer to that lies with you, dear consumer. How long can the airlines tap that well? For as long as you’re willing to pay for it.

What’s next?

Well, in the interest of capitalism and paying off the loans of one son who graduated college in May and the other who entered college on Monday, I hereby state for the record two ideas I should be given credit and compensation for in the future.

One, if you feel like you’re getting sick on that bumpy flight? No more barf bags in the seat pocket in front of you. $ 5 to get one from the flight attendant or use your own and hope it isn’t flimsy or has holes in it.

Also, airlines should install a machine outside the restrooms that accept dollar bills. You gotta go? You gotta pay.

I’m sure there are more but I can’t give away all my trade secrets and patent pending ideas, while I contemplate the next set of ancillary fees.

What fees do you think they’ll come up with next?


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